Saturday, February 7, 2009
The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States by Benjamin F. Morris, American Vision, Powder Springs, Ga. originally published in 1864. I know I am supposed to view this work as diehard proof that this nation was founded on Christian principles and with Christian based insitutions. I do. It is truly a thorough 1,060 page document displaying page after page of speech, constitution, law, government mandated prayer, excerpts from letters, speeches, and other papers that show that our founders intended this to be a Christian nation. The so called establishment clause referred only to the federal government's power and not to the states and the separation of church and state is a myth based on a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to some Baptists. However, that being said, this was written as a propaganda piece during the Civil War to vilify the South and to promote the cause of the Federal Government and the Northern States, some of whom had recently discussed secession themselves, as being a righteous and holy cause, the only righteous and holy cause. So, this book serves better as a propaganda piece rather than as an impartial history of the founding of America's civil institutions. This "big church" type of Christianity certainly did found the upper reaches of American government but without the Baptist demand for civil liberties and for a separation of government powers and religious responsibility there would have been no Bill of Rights (see Pastor John Leland's demands on James Madison). In any event, I don't like this book. It tells the truth but colors it in a certain way and brushes over with broad strokes certain pertinent and unsettling facts that underscore that there would have been no freedom of religion and conscience if some of the very same people uplifted by this book had had their way. Still, it can be a nice reference work since there is so little commentary on the evidence it brings out. Its just troubling in what evidence is used. In that regard it is no better than that rag, The New York Times, or that piece of trash, Time Magazine, in taking the facts and presenting them in such a way as to leave one with the feeling that they've been mugged. Sorry, to my fellow conservatives and libertarians, its not a good book for your arguments.
Posted by Frederick Widdowson