Written by Glenn C. Riffey, Cumbelrand, Maryland, and published in Cumberland Times-News Letters April 14, 2009.
To the Editor:
In his letter of “Why shouldn’t we honor the Constitution?” (April 8 Times-News) Mr. Jeffrey Davis makes the comment that the Constitution is truly a secular document.
If he means that it was written without any Christian influence, I totally disagree. Here is why.
During the Constitutional Convention, when things were becoming quite tense, Benjamin Franklin not only called for prayer but stated that “he could hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance — referring to the Constitution — to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live and move and have their being.”
Now, Dr. Franklin was no Christian but he was highly influenced by the British evangelist, George Whitefield, and was a close friend of his.
In addition, convention President George Washington stated, “This event is in the hands of God.” He went on to say, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution and fourth president of the United States stated in the Federalist Papers no. 43 that the authority for ratification of the Constitution by nine states under Article VII of the document was the same “laws of Nature and Nature’s God” to which Thomas Jefferson, our third president, had appealed for our right to exist as a nation in the Declaration of Independence.
In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote that liberty was a gift of God and an “unalienable right” to be secured by government. In the Constitution the preamble states that one of the purposes of the government is to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity [sic]" (should be "posterity").
According to Washington, one of those liberties was the right to worship God.
Last, but not least, John Adams, our second president succeeding Washington said this, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” In other words, Adams knew that unless we kept moral and religious principles that the Constitution would not work.
During these times Christianity was a daily living way of life, and even non-Christians were greatly influenced by Christian principles. Without the guidance of God and Christian influence in the midst of this convention the Constitution would not be the document that it is.
he Constitution of the United States may not be a Christian church document, but it was by Christian reason and influence that gave way for the liberties that it gives, even to the point of one wanting to deny any Christian influence upon the document at all.
This same Christian influence is what gives Mr. Davis the right to say that it is only a secular document and for that he should give thanks to God for the ability to do so.
Glenn C. Riffey