|VOL. 9, NO. 10||Nov. 21, 2007|
By Virginia Armstrong, Ph.D., National Chairman
Consider the following statements included in the 1892 opinion by Justice Brewer. . . .this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. The commission to Christopher Columbus, prior to his sail westward, is from 'Ferdinand and Isabella, by the grace of God, king and queen of Castile,' etc., and recites that 'it is hoped that by God's assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered,' etc. The first colonial grant, that made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, was from 'Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England, Fraunce and Ireland, queene, defender of the faith,' etc.; and the grant authorizing him to enact statutes of the government of the proposed colony provided that 'they be not against the true Christian faith nowe professed in the Church of England.'
The Court notes that "Language of similar import may be found . . . in the various charters granted to the other colonies." And many of us are familiar with the celebrated words in the Mayflower Compact of 1620:
Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid.
In citing a long litany of events and documents that undeniably reveal early Americans' reverence and appreciation for God, the 1892 Court included an examination of state governments.
If we examine the constitutions of the various states, we find in them a constant recognition of religious obligations. Every constitution of every one of the 44 states contains language which, either directly or by clear implication, influence in all human affairs is essential to the well-being of the community.
The Court found no evidence that America was not a Christian nation. All the evidence of worth revealed the United States to be a Christian nation.
There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning. They affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons. They are organic utterances. They speak the voice of the entire people.
This Holy Trinity Church decision was recognized as precedent by U. S. Supreme Courts as late as 1931, in U. S. v. Macintosh. The 1931 Court specifically quoted from the 1892 decisions. (Note: Just sixteen years after Macintosh, the Court took a radical leap off the solid foundation of its earlier decisions when it read the "wall of separation between church and state" into the Constitution in Everson v. Board of Education. What a difference a decade or two make!)
It is also most interesting that the 1892 case was an illegal immigration case. Faced with the flood of late Nineteenth Century immigrants, the national government passed major immigration limits (President Bush and Congress, take heed!) The 1892 Church had hired an English rector a "non-citizen." The Court resolved the dilemma by going to the spirit of the 1892 law, "cheap, unskilled labor which was making the trouble." (Further note: parallel to today?!) The Court concluded that the English rector, E. Walpole Warren, clearly did not fall into the category of aliens Congress was outlawing. But the major import of the 1892 decision was its defense of the fact that America is a Christian nation.
Court Watch wishes you and yours a most blessed Thanksgiving holiday as we celebrate America's Christian heritage and pray for her Christian future!!!