THE MYTH OF SEPARATION
By David Barton
This eighth in a series is an attempt to clarify the differences between Greco-Roman political philosophy which is based on man and human reason, and the legitimacy of government in biblical-Hebraic philosophy which originates from a Sovereign God and His authoritative Word. The rise of humanism in America has brought us into an intense conflict with a purported “separation of church and state.”
America has existed for over 200 years under one constitution. This is an amazing accomplishment, especially when one looks at other countries. France, for example, has gone through seven different forms of government in its 200 year history as a republic. Or consider Italy, now in its 48th form of government. Where did America’s founders get the principles that have caused this stability and success?
In a 10-year effort, the Political Science Department of the University of Houston collected 15,000 pieces of writing by the founders to ascertain where they got their ideas. Of those 15,000 pieces, the researchers selected 3,152 pieces that they believed had the greatest impact on America’s founding. They discovered that the three men
most quoted by the founders were Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), Baron Montesquieu (1689-1755) and John Locke (1632-1704). The researchers were surprised to find that the Bible was quoted 16 times more often than these three men. In fact, 34 percent of all the quotes by the founders were taken straight from Scripture. Furthermore, another 90% of the founders’ quotes were simply quotes of men who had quoted the Bible. In total, the researchers discovered that 94 percent of the founders’ quotes came either directly or indirectly from God’s Word.
Studying the early sessions of the Congress also reveals why our government has lasted. When the founders separated the government into three branches, they derived this idea from Isaiah 33:22. The constitutionally guaranteed separation of powers was taken from Jeremiah 17. And the tax exemption for churches was derived from Ezra 7:24 The journals of these first Congressional sessions are filled with accounts of how lawmakers took principles from the Bible and voted them into our government.
Today, though, we are fast losing much of our Christian history and the knowledge of how our form of government was founded. Additionally, history textbooks seldom mention God’s divine touch on our country. For example, there is an account of George Washington that I discovered in many 19th century textbooks but never in any textbooks published after 1934.
During the French and Indian War, the 23-year-old Washington was fighting with the British against the French who were allied with the Indians. On July 9, 1775, in the Battle of the Monongahela, the British regiments were ambushed by the French and Indians. Of the 86 British and Virginia officers, only Washington was not shot off his horse.
After retreating to Maryland, Washington wrote his mother, “After the battle was over, I took off my jacket and I had four bullet holes through my jacket, but not a single bullet had touched me. I had several horses shot out from under me, but I was not hurt in any way. God’s hand was on me. God protected me and kept me through the battle.”
In 1770, Washington traveled back to the region and an old Indian chief, having heard Washington was back, traveled to meet him. The chief told Washington, “You don’t know me, but 15 years ago you and I were in these same woods. I commanded the Indians you were fighting that day. We saw you riding through the woods and knew your troops would scatter, so I instructed my braves to stop shooting. I have traveled all this way to meet the man God would not let die in battle.” This spiritual account, and many others like it, used to be in our history textbooks.
In examining early U.S. Supreme Court decisions, one can also see how far our present judicial system has regressed. John Jay, America’s first Chief Justice stated: “Providence has given to other people the choice of their rulers and it is the duty, as will as the privilege and interest of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for rulers.” And 100 years later, look what the court affirmed: “Our laws and institutions must include the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind.” For 160 years, the Court handed down these kinds of statements. What changed all this?
On June 25, 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court, ignoring historical precedence ruled in Engel v. Vitale that school prayer was unconstitutional. In reality, the myth of separation of church and state is only 28 years old. Within a 12-month period, the Court consolidated its position and removed prayer, Bible reading, religious principles and instruction. Our Christian heritage was effectively thrown out and the myth of separation created. These and other related rulings have had an incredible impact on America.
Since 1963, for girls 10 to 14 years old, pregnancies rose 533 percent single-parent families increased 160 percent; the number of unmarried coupled living together increased 353 percent; violent crime increased 544 percent and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores have steadily decreased. The Education Department now says this is the first time in U.S. history that schools are graduating a generation of students who know less academically than their parents did. The U.S. now has the highest illiteracy rate of any industrialized country and leads the world in confirmed AIDS cases.
We have rejected God. Surely then, judgment must come. Even the founders knew this. George Mason said of judgment: “As a nation cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, so it must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, providence punishes national sins by national calamities.” God deals with nations on the basis of the stands they take. Jefferson understood this well. He stated: “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.” That is why the founders were so adamant about having leaders who understood God’s principles so that God would always be our ally, never our enemy.
Charles Finney, the great evangelist, once remarked, “The church must take the right ground in regard to politics. Politics are part of religion in a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as part of their duty to God. God will bless or curse this nation according to the course that Christians take in politics.”
Many U.S. Christians seem to ascribe to this myth of separation. They often believe there are not enough God-fearing citizens to turn America around. Yet just last year, I saw a poll which showed that 89 percent of Americans desire prayer back in our schools. If Christians pray and get involved then God can turn anything. Christ and the Bible, not human reason and secular politics, still hold the solutions for every problem we face.
(The above article was published by David Barton)