From 1768 through 1774, the Baptists were persecuted severely. “Baptist preachers were whipped, arrested, fined, imprisoned on bread and water, although the authorities sanctimoniously denied that punishment was for ‘preaching’; the crime they said, was ‘breach of the peace.’” The first instance of actual imprisonment was on June 4, 1768, when John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Childs, James Reed, and William Marsh were arrested at Craig’s meetinghouse in Spotsylvania and charged with disturbing the peace. The magistrates offered to release them if they would promise to preach no more for a year and a day. They refused and were jailed. Many more were jailed and otherwise persecuted until 1774.
“[The persecutors] seemed sometimes to strive to treat the Baptists and their worship with as much rudeness and indecency as was possible. They often insulted the preacher in time of service, and would ride into the water and make sport when they administered baptism. They frequently fabricated and spread the most groundless reports, which were injurious to the characters of the Baptists. When any Baptist fell into any improper conduct, it was always exaggerated to the utmost extent.”
“The enemy, not contented with ridicule and defamation, manifested their abhorrence to the Baptists in another way. By a law then in force in Virginia, all were under obligation to go to church several times a year; the failure subjected them to fine. [Little action against members of the Established church was taken under this law, but] as soon as the ‘New Lights’ were absent, they were presented by grand jury, and fined…. [Others were imprisoned for preaching without a license.] ‘When persecutors found religion could not be stopped … by ridicule, defamation, and abusive language, the resolution was to take a different step and see what they could do; and the preachers in different places were apprehended by magisterial authority, some of whom were imprisoned and some escaped. Before this step was taken, the parson of the parish was consulted [and he advised that] the ‘New Lights’ ought to be taken up and imprisoned, as necessary for the peace and harmony of the old church….’”
“[An Episcopalian wrote,] No dissenters in Virginia experienced, for a time, harsher treatment than did the Baptists. They were beaten and imprisoned, and cruelty taxed its ingenuity to devise new modes of punishment and annoyance.”
Because of the persecutions and oppressions, Baptists began to petition the House of Burgesses for relief. Their first petition in 1770 requesting that Baptist ministers “not be compelled to bear arms or attend musters” was rejected. Other petitions from Baptists in several counties were submitted in 1772 requesting that they “be treated with the same indulgence, in religious matters, as Quakers, Presbyterians, and other Protestant dissenters enjoy.” The petitions continued until 1775. The Presbyterians petitioned also, but for the right to incorporate so that they could receive and hold gifts of land and slaves for the support of their ministers. One of the Presbyterian petitions was improperly hailed as proof “that the Presbyterians anticipated the Baptists in their memorials asking for religious liberty.” An examination of that petition reveals that it “contemplate[d] nothing more than securing for Presbyterians and others in Virginia the same privileges and liberties which they enjoyed in England under the Act of Toleration,” and contained no “attack upon the Establishment, or any sign of hostility to it.”
During this time, James Madison wrote to his old college friend, Bradford of Philadelphia, in a letter dated January 24, 1774. He expressed his belief that if
“uninterrupted harmony had prevailed throughout the continent [in matters of established religion as practiced in Virginia] it is clear to me that slavery and subjection might and would have been gradually insinuated among us. Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence, and ecclesiastical establishments tend to greatly ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects…. Poverty and luxury prevail among all sorts; pride, ignorance, and knavery among the priesthood, and vice and wickedness among the laity. This is bad enough; but it is not the worst I have to tell you. That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some, and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such purposes. There are at this time in the adjacent country not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither patience to hear, talk, or think of anything relative to this matter; for I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed, so long about it to little purpose, that I am without common patience…. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of conscience to all.”
[In another letter to Bradford dated April 1, 1774, Madison wrote that he doubted that anything would be done to help the dissenters in the Assembly meeting beginning May 1, 1774.] He spoke of “the incredible and extravagant stories [which were] told in the House of the monstrous effects of the enthusiasm prevalent among the sectaries, and so greedily swallowed by their enemies…. And the bad name they still have with those who pretend too much contempt to examine into their principles and conduct, and are too much devoted to ecclesiastical establishment to hear of the toleration of the dissentients…. The liberal, catholic, and equitable way of thinking, as to the rights of conscience, which is one of the characteristics of a free people, and so strongly marks the people of your province, is little known among the zealous adherents to our hierarchy…. [Although we have some persons of generous principles in the legislature] the clergy are a numerous and powerful body, have great influence at home by reason of their connection with and dependence on the bishops and crown, and will naturally employ all their arts and interest to depress their rising adversaries; for such they must consider dissentients, who rob them of the good will of the people, and may in time endanger their livings and security.
“… Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind, and unfits if for every enterprise, every expanded prospect.”
 Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 95 citing Edward F. Humphrey, Nationalism and Religion in America (Boston: Chipman Law Publishing Co., 1924), p. 370.
 Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 29-30. Included is a listing of some of those jailed and otherwise persecuted. See also James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), pp. 230-250; William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations in the South (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006), pp. 105-120; William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought:A Biblical Interpretation of American History (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999), Appendix A, pp. 593-598 citing Lewis Peyton Little, Imprisoned Preachers and Religious Liberty in Virginia, (Galatin, Tenn.: Church History Research and Archives, 1987), pp. 516-520 (lists many Baptists and the persecutions they endured in Virginia; persecutions such as being jailed for preaching, civil suit, being annoyed by men drinking and playing cards, being jerked off stage and head beaten against the ground, hands being slashed, beaten with bludgeons, being shot with a shotgun, ousted as a justice for preaching, being brutally beaten by a mob, severely beaten with a stick, etc.).
Different bodies of Baptists came to Virginia during the colonial period. The “Regular Baptists,” like the Presbyterians, “applied for license and took the prescribed oaths.” As for the “Separate Baptists,” the “body spread so rapidly throughout the State from 1755 to the … Revolution,” and “did not recognize the right of any civil power to regulate preaching or places of meeting.” They were the “most active in evangelizing Virginia and most severely persecuted, and … had the largest share of the work of pulling down the ‘Establishment’ and securing religious liberty for all.” “While yielding a ready obedience to the civil authorities in all civil affairs, in matters of religion they recognized no lord but Christ. They were truly apostolic in refusing to obey man rather than God.”
Conditions were favorable for the rapid growth of Baptist principles. “First, the distress of the colonists, consequent upon the French and Indian wars, inclined them towards religion.” Secondly, the distressed people could find no solace or comfort in the immoral established clergy.
“The great success and rapid increase of the Baptists in Virginia must be ascribed primarily to the power of God working with them. Yet it cannot be denied but that there were subordinate and cooperating causes; one of which, and the main one, was the loose and immoral deportment of the Established clergy, by which the people were left almost destitute of even the shadow of true religion. ‘Tis true, they had some outward forms of worship, but the essential principles of Christianity were not only not understood among them, but by many never heard of. Some of the cardinal precepts of morality were discarded, and actions plainly forbidden by the New Testament were often proclaimed by the clergy as harmless and innocent, or, at worst, foibles of but little account. Having no discipline, every man followed the bent of his own inclination. It was not uncommon for the rectors of parishes to be men of the lowest morals. The Baptist preachers were, in almost every respect, the reverse of the Established clergy.’”
Their own authorities prove the bad character and actions of the established clergy. Many of that clergy came to Virginia “to retrieve either lost fortune or lost character….” “Many of them had been addicted to the race-field, the card-table, the theatre—nay, more, to drunken revel, etc….” “They could babble in a pulpit, roar in a tavern, exact from their parishioners, and rather by their dissoluteness destroy than feed the flock.”
The Baptists grew stronger and more numerous in Virginia. Robert Nordin, when he arrived from England in 1714, established the first Baptist church in Virginia. By 1755, there were six Baptist churches in Virginia. 1758 to 1769 was a period of slow but persistent growth in the face of a determined popular hostility. The early opposition to the Baptists came from the lower classes and was based upon prejudice.
The Virginia expansion was intimately tied up with the ministry of Colonel Samuel Harris. Harris—who served at various times as churchwarden, sheriff, justice of the peace, colonel of the county, and captain and commissary of Fort Mayo and its military garrison—was the first person of prominence to join the Separates in Virginia and was just one of many examples of the power of this movement. He was saved at a house meeting after hearing a sermon preached by a Separate Baptist from North Carolina. He resigned from his official positions and narrowed his business interests almost to the vanishing point in order to preach. He began to preach throughout Virginia, and many were converted because of his ministry.
Harris was a fearless preacher. “The excellence of his preaching lay chiefly in ‘addressing the heart,’ and Semple holds that ‘perhaps even Whitefield did not surpass him in this.’” He had the assistance of several North Carolina itinerant evangelists planting the earliest Separate churches in south central Virginia. In 1760, Daniel Marshall and Philip Mulkey with seventy-four charter members, eleven of whom were Negroes, started the Dan River Church. Other churches were soon constituted from the Dan River Church.
Wherever the Baptist itinerants preached, great crowds came to hear them. Many were converted in Virginia, and many Baptist churches were started. In 1770, there were only two Separate churches north of the James River, four south of it. The General Association of Separate Baptists of Virginia was held in May 1771 in Orange County with twelve churches represented, and three not represented.
By 1772, the Separate Churches outnumbered those of the Regular churches. In that year, as many as forty thousand Virginians may have heard the gospel. By 1773, thirty-four churches were represented at the General Association meeting, and they reported a combined membership of 3,195. By May 1774, when Baptist expansion and Baptist persecution were at high tide, the Southern District in Virginia had twenty-seven churches with 2,033 members and the Northern District had twenty-four churches with 1,921 members. By the end of 1774, there was at least one Separate Baptist church in twenty-eight of the sixty counties of Virginia. During the Revolution, Baptist growth continued, but at a much slower pace.
 Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 12-14, 26.
Ibid., pp. 26-27, citing Robert B. Semple, “History of the Baptists of Virginia,” 1810, p. 25.
Ibid., pp. 27-28, citing Foote, p. 38 quoting from the Bishop of London; Bishop Meade, “Old Parishes and Families of Virginia” (Vol. I, 118, 385, etc.; Dr. Hawks, “History of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia,” p. 65.).
 James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), pp. 140-142.
Before 1765 the western counties, made up of frontiersman, a large percentage of whom had become Baptists, were disproportionately taxed and represented in the Assembly. “Sheriffs, judges, and other officials of county government, were notorious for their injustice, and in the western counties they were, as a rule, dishonest, haughty, and overbearing.” A license was required for teachers, and no place of higher education could be administered, except by ministers of the Church of England. The Church of England was given exclusive rights to perform marriages. In 1755, poll and vestry taxes were imposed upon North Carolinians. The settlers mounted protests against these injustices.
When William Tryon became governor of North Carolina in 1765, the troubles moved quickly to a crisis. Governor Tryon set out to strengthen the position of the Church of England. He called for twenty-seven more Anglican clergymen, increased taxes, and raised a military force. By 1770, Governor Tryon had established eighteen Anglican priests in thirty-two parishes in North Carolina. Property was seized for back taxes, people accused of rioting were arrested and set for trial, and others were fined and imprisoned. “In several places the Regulators yielded to mob spirit, broke up courts, and whipped the officers” and “some court records were destroyed.” Armed conflict finally broke out.
In 1771, the so-called War of the Regulation broke out. The government of North Carolina tried to suppress the Separate Baptists, but succeeded only in spreading their movement all along the southern frontier. Before the suppression began, the established church, the Anglican Church, was ineffectual in North Carolina and only had five ministers in the state in 1765. On May 16, 1771, the state militiamen routed a poorly trained and supplied force of two thousand regulators. Although Shubal Stearns and the Sandy Creek Association forbade Baptists to take up arms against the government, many did.
After the defeat of the regulators, Tryon “laid waste to plantations, burned homes, and sent numbers of men in chains to Hillsboro. The countryside was terrorized.” Tryon seized Benjamin Merrill, who appears to have been a church leader. Merrill was convicted as a traitor, hung publicly, cut into pieces—quartered—and his body scattered.
The Baptists had a mass exodus from North Carolina. By 1772, Sandy Creek Church had only fourteen members, down from six hundred and six. Little River Church went from five hundred to a dozen members. Nevertheless, as with the persecution of the first Christians in Jerusalem, the persecuted spread to other parts and carried out the Great Commission. The departing Baptists went into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, spreading the Gospel and reaping the harvest. What Satan meant for evil, God used for His glory.
Shubal Stearns, the chief light and the guiding genius behind the Separate Baptist movement, died on November 20, 1771, at the age of sixty-five. Forty-two churches and one hundred and twenty-five ministers had sprung from the Sandy Creek Church by 1772. Fires, which could not be quenched, had been started in North Carolina and in other states.
 William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations in the South (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006), pp. 72-74.
 James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), pp. 181-182.
Knowing the correct answer to the question, “Is ‘Separation of Church and State found in the Constitution?” Knowing the correct answer to that question is vital in the success of the spiritual warfare of the Christian political activist in America. Does the First Amendment to the United States Constitution establish a wall which is to keep church out of state and state out of church; or does it set up a one way wall: that is, does it forbid state to stay out of church matters, but allow church to enter into state matters? If the latter, since “churches” vary in belief so dramatically, which church is to control in the affairs of state? Most Christians assert that the phrase “One nation under God” on our currency and in our Pledge of Allegiance make clear that the Constitution forbids separation of church and state. They state that the phrase “separation of church and state” is not found in the Constitution; that the Constitution through the First Amendment does not separate church and state. Are they correct in their understanding? [For a thorough analysis of the source of the misunderstandings-revisionist history-set alongside the easily verifiable history with complete citations, see information page on The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus by clicking here.]
I begin with an actual encounter with a “Christian” political activist over this matter of the meaning of separation of church and state. Then I:
1) briefly explain my position with reference particularly to the beliefs of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (with links to more extensive and in depth studies);
2) briefly reveal those who are promoting the incorrect version of “separation of church and state” to conservative Americans (and more specifically to “Christians”) today and their motives;
3) briefly answer the question of whether the Constitution or any other governing document requires the federal government to be guided by God and His principles and explain how a nation can proceed under God without combining church and state;
4) briefly address biblical teaching on the downfall of a nation;
In 2008, I started a seminar in El Paso, Texas with the diagram at left. A activist Christian lady immediately raised her hand and pointed out that the diagram separated church and state and that she did not agree with this. I had anticipated this question because I had struggled with the issue of separation of church and state for many years. Some years before this seminar I had begun to read in books and articles and to hear on Christian radio and from other Christians that “separation of church and state is not found in the Constitution.” I repeated that sound bite many times myself, but I was always perplexed as to where to go from the simple statement. I had read that the Supreme Court totally misinterpreted Jefferson’s Danbury Letter to mean that the First Amendment created a wall between church and state that was never intended. I had also read that the original intent of the religion clause of the First Amendment was to keep the state out of church affairs but not to keep the church out of state affairs; that the wall only functioned one way. Was this true? I found the answers to these questions after years of historical and legal studies.
I answered the lady’s concerns by stating that I believed that she and I were on the same page; that I believe that most of our founding fathers never intended to separate God and state, but that they did indeed intend to separate church and state. I mentioned that the writings of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and most of our Founding Fathers showed that they understood this. They knew that church-state unions have always, without exception, resulted in the corruption of both church and state as well as individual citizens, horrible persecutions (imprisonments, murder and torture) of those who did not bow down to the established “church” and its theology, and many other undesirable consequences. The history of the First Amendment proves this (See the “History of the First Amendment” which is available online in the PDF of God Betrayed Section IVand in Online form). Madison and Jefferson were eyewitnesses to the persecutions of dissenting Baptists in Virginia and they understood the history of the persecutions of all those who exercised their God-given freedom to choose a theology contrary to that of the church-state unions, the establishment. They were aware that all church-state unions, beginning with the marriage of church and state in the early fourth century, continuing throughout the dark and middle ages, the reformation, and in the American colonies up until the time they lived resulted in horrible persecutions of those who would not bow down to the established beliefs.
Jefferson’s writings make clear his position on separation of church and state. For example, in 1779 he wrote the Virginia Act for Religious Liberty which was passed in 1786. The act included three factors: church, state, and the individual. It protected the individual from loss at the hands of state incursion into his church affiliation, and implicitly banned church establishment. See En1 to read the entire act and another quote from Jefferson. Jefferson never swerved from his devotion to the complete independence of church and state (See also pp. 264-283 of God Betrayed to read more about Jefferson’s position. Click here to go directly to PDF of God Betrayed.).
Madison also fought for separation of church and state in Virginia. He wrote, in his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance:”
“… Because experience witnesses that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution. Inquire of the teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest luster; those of every sect point to the ages prior to its incorporation with civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive state, in which its teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall….
“Because the establishment in question is not necessary for the support of civil government…. If religion be not within the cognizance of civil government, how can its legal establishment be said to be necessary for civil government? What influences, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances, they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in more instances, have they been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the publick liberty, may have found on established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government instituted to secure and perpetuate it needs them not. Such a government will be best supported by protecting every citizen in the enjoyment of his religion, with the same equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal rights of any sect, nor suffering any sect to invade those of another….”
Thus, when the First Amendment was introduced and promoted by James Madison, the only question was the exact wording of the Amendment. The representatives at the Constitutional Convention understood that the purpose of the religion clause was (1) to place a two way wall between church and state (This purpose is stated in the establishment clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”) and (2) to provide for freedom of conscious, also known as free will or soul liberty (This purpose is stated in the free exercise clause: “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”). These two purposes go hand in hand. The historical established churches, beginning with the spiritual harlot called the Catholic “church” and then her offspring-Protestant “churches”- violently persecuted (hung, burnt at the stake, drowned, buried alive, imprisoned, tortured with unspeakable horror) those who exercised their God-given free will in contradiction to the doctrines of the church-state establishment and were labeled “heretics” by the established church.
At the seminar, I explained my position in more detail and showed that the same theology that justified union of church and state was initially developed and expanded upon from earlier sources by Augustine, practiced by the Catholic church, and later by Protestant churches (in modified form). Proponents of those same theologies remain at work to achieve the impossible goals of their adherents (peace and unity throughout the earth) in America today. In fact, many adherents of those theologies are very active in, and are leaders in, the contemporary American political warfare. Many believe that they will set up the kingdom of heaven on earth, the millennium, either through the efforts of the church or through a church-state combination and without the intervention our Lord Jesus Christ. Others believe that there is no millennium, and that a worldwide church-state combination will bring peace and unity to the earth. Others, such as myself, are totally convinced that the Bible teaches that Christ Himself will return at Armageddon and set up and reign over the earth for a thousand years by power. See En2 for various explanations of millennialism.
Along with the question of whether First Amendment separates church and state, another question that needs to be addressed is whether the Constitution or any other governing document requires the federal government to be guided by God and His principles? The Founding Fathers while implementing the biblical principle of separation of church and state in the First Amendment did not understand that a nation should, within her organic governing documents, recognize that the God of the Bible, the only God, that He should be honored and hailed as the ruler of nations, and that His principles should be recognized and applied within the laws of the nation and in the interpretation of those laws.
A nation can proceed under God without combining church and state. How? The constitution of such a nation will:
1) name the name of Jesus as the Supreme ruler;
2) make clear that the nation will look to the biblical doctrines of government, church, and separation of church and state in ordering and carrying out its responsibilities under God;
3) lay out its God-given jurisdiction as explained in the Bible;
4) separate church and state. The First Amendment implements the biblical principle of separation of church and state.
5) provide for religious liberty (also called soul liberty or freedom of conscience). The First Amendment does this.
6) guarantee freedom of speech, press, assembly and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment does this.
See En3 for information on an historical example of governing documents which proved that this can be done.
The Constitution allows, but does not require, Americans to recognize the God of the Universe, the God of creation, almighty God, and to operate according to His principles and to pray in the name of Jesus even at government functions. This is obvious from a study of history including the multitude of statements made by Presidents, senators, representatives, government officials at all levels of government; and from a reading and study of state constitutions, laws, and federal and state legal cases.
History also shows that almost everyone in America at the time of the adoption of the Constitution reverenced the Bible and the God of the Bible and that prayers were made to Him at official government functions. Of course, the United States Supreme Court has removed the recognition of God (and especially the Lord Jesus Christ) from practically all civil government affairs. See for an explanation of how the Supreme Court has done this: The Supreme Court Reinterprets the First Amendment and Removes God or Section V of God Betrayed.
However, sad to say, neither the Constitution nor any other federal governing document names the name of Jesus and requires that the United States government be guided by God and His principles (being guided by God and His principles is something entirely different from establishing a church). If you disagree, show me one Constitutional provision or federal law which either requires recognition of God (and specifically the Lord Jesus Christ) and/or His principles as laid out in His Word. I submit that there is none.
Unlearned Christians (this author was once in their fold) argue that the implementation of certain biblical principles in the Constitution prove that the Constitution is a “Christian” document. However, they fail to point out the enlightenment principles which pollute the Constitution. I deal more in depth with these matters in God Betrayed.
Unstudied Christians argue, as this author once did, that the Declaration of Independence did recognize God and that Americans march behind the banner of the Declaration. However, the Declaration was written over a decade before the adoption of the Constitution and the First Amendment, and the Declaration is not law despite the rhetoric which says, “We proceed under the banner of the Declaration of Independence.” This author contends that even the Declaration is flawed when biblically analyzed. Even if the contention that it is not flawed were correct, the Declaration is not controlling law and an examination of the Declaration and the Constitution leaves open the obvious contention that Americans had changed between the time of the writing of the Declaration and the adoption of the Constitution.
The Bible teaches that a Gentile nation, as well as the nation Israel, that rejects the one true God, the God of the Bible, and His principles will become more and more morally bankrupt, will digress to political tyranny, and ultimately be judged by God. The United States is a moral cesspool and is well into the political tyranny stage. You may go to the following audio teaching for a thorough examination of Scripture on this matter: “The Biblical Doctrine of Government.” That teaching is also available in detailed form in Section I God Betrayed in PDF form or which can be ordered by going to Order Information for Books by Jerald Finney. A thorough analysis is impossible in a short article such as this, but here are a few verses from the Old Testament which substantiate this conclusion:
“The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens” Psm. 133:4.
“Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him…. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance…. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.” (Psm. 33.8, 12, 16; see the whole chapter of Psm. 33). [Bold emphasis mine]
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder and case their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.…. Thou [Jesus] shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psm. 2:1-5, 9-12 (The 2nd Psalm gives the order of the establishment of the kingdom.).
The Old Testament details God’s principles for nations, both Jew and Gentile, and lays out the complete history and fate of nations from beginning to end. God ordained civil government, and the fact that God desires nations to submit to Him and His principles is undeniable. That no nation ever has or ever will do so before He returns and establishes His Kingdom on earth is clear from a literal interpretation of scripture.
In spite of the flaws in the Constitution, America, to a great extent, originally honored God. Of course, the First Amendment was not a flaw; the religion clause was a statement of the biblical principle of separation of church and state. With the passing of time, the flaws in the document have made it easier for the natural progression of moral awfulness and political tyranny. This author, like most politically active “Christians” worked-not according to knowledge, understanding and wisdom-to “bring America back under God.” As a result of those efforts in the Republican Party (1982-beginning of the twenty-first century), I saw that America continued to grow worse in every way and at an accelerated pace in spite of our efforts. By 2002, I realized that America had become a grossly immoral nation. America is now a tyrannical and morally awful nation much worse than it was in 2002.
In 2005 God focused my efforts on His doctrine of the church, which is where they should have been in the first place. If Christians cannot get the doctrine of the church right in understanding and practice, how in the world do they think they can get civil government right? Even though many “believers” still seek to honor God in the political arena, they are not proceeding according to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in either their government or their church efforts. God makes clear that when His people do not act according to knowledge (among other things), they will fall (See, e.g., 2 Pe. 1.2-10; Ho. 4).
For more in depth studies of the First Amendment, one can go to the following resources:
En1. Jefferson wrote: “Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.” Jefferson understood that establishment of a church (a church working with, over, or under civil government) always brings the worst of persecution of those who do not bow down to the church-state or state-church union.”
The Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty written by Jefferson and passed in 1786 stated:
“I. Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord of both body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do;
that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such, endeavoring to impose them on others hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;
that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, … that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than [on] our opinions in physics or geometry;
that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; …
that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with, or differ from his own;
that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt [open, or public] acts against peace and good order;
and, finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is proper and sufficient antagonist to error and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors [cease] to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
“II. Be it enacted by the General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
“III. And though we well know that this assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to her own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet, as we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural right of mankind, and that if any act shall hereafter be passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural rights.”
En2. The word millennium means “1000 years” and comes from Re. 20. 4-6 where it says that certain people “came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. There are three major views on the time and nature of the millennium.
Amillennialism takes the position that this is a period during which Satan’s influence has been greatly reduced so that the gospel can be preached throughout the world. Christ does not bodily reign during this period, and there is no future millennium yet to come. Amillennialists believe that the term “thousand years” is a figure of speech for a long period of time in which God’s will will be accomplished. Christ will return at the end of this period, believers and unbelievers will be resurrected, unbelievers will be eternally condemned and believers reunited with their spirits, judged, and will enjoy heaven forever.
According to postmillennialism, Christ will return after the millennium. The church and state, operating during the period in which we now live, will establish peace and righteousness and a millennial age will occur when this occurs. At the end of that thousand years, Christ will return to earth, believers and unbelievers will be raised, the final judgment will occur, a new heaven and a new earth will be established, and we will enter into the eternal state.
Premillennialism teaches that Christ will return before the millennium, believers who have died will be raised from the dead, their bodies reunited with their spirits, will reign with Christ 1000 years. During this 1000 years, Satan will be bound. At the end of that period, he will be loosed and will lead the unbelievers of the millennium in rebellion against Christ. Satan and his followers will be defeated, Christ will raise the dead and they will be judged. Those whose names are not found written in the book of life will be cast, as was Satan, into the lake of fire. At the final judgment, believers will enter into the eternal state.
There are two main premillennial positions. Classic premillennialism says Christ will return after the great tribulation, rapture believers, and that believes will reign with Christ on earth for 1000 years. Pretribulational premillennialism teaches that Christ will return part way to earth before the tribulation, call believers to Himself, , and return to heaven with those believers. This will be followed by a seven year period of great tribulation. At the end of that time, Christ will return, crush all the Gentile armies which have come against Israel, and set up His millennial reign. See, e.g., Wayne Gruden, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2000), pp. 1109-1113.
The first government in history that was to have complete freedom of conscience and religious liberty also declared that the government was to be under the Lord Jesus Christ. Signed on March 7, 1638, the Portsmouth Compact read:
“We whose names are underwritten do swear solemnly, in the presence of Jehovah, to incorporate ourselves into a body politic, and as he shall help us, will submit our persons, lives and estates, unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and to all those most perfect and absolute laws of his, given us in his holy word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby.” 38 [19 signatures followed: Thomas Savage, William Dyre, William Freeborne, Philip Sherman, John Walker, Richard Carder, William Baulstone, Edward Hutchinson, Sen., Henry Bull, Randal Holden, William Coddington, John Clarke, William Hutchinson, John Coggshall, William Aspinwall, Samuel Wilbore, John Porter, Edward Hutchinson, Jun., and John Sanford.].
Three passages were marked in support of the compact: Exodus 24.3, 4; II Chronicles
2.3; and II Kings 11.17.
In August of 1638, the people of Providence approved the first public document establishing government without interference in religious matters, the Providence Compact:
“We whose names are here underwritten being desirous to inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to submit ourselves in active or passive obedience to all such orders or agreement as shall be made for public good to the body in an orderly way, by the major consent of the present inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together into a township, and such others whom they shall admit into the same, only in civil things.” [Signed by Stukely Westcoat, William Arnold, Thomas James, Robert Cole, John Greene, John Throckmorton, William Harris, William Carpenter, Thomas Olney, Francis Weston, Richard Watearman, and Ezekiel Holliman.]
As James R. Beller proclaims, the document was “the first of a series of American political documents promulgating government by the consent of the governed and liberty of conscience” (James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), p. 13). Thus, liberty of conscience was the basis for legislation in Rhode Island, and its annals have remained to this day [when Underhill wrote this] unsullied by the blot of persecution. (Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered. (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon,Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848 (Reprint)), p. xxviii).
Note. This is a modified version of Section IV, Chapter 1 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Audio Teachings on the History of the First Amendment has links to the audio teaching of Jerald Finney on the history of the First Amendment..
“[B]y the dawn of the American Revolution all the colonies were approaching or had reached a readiness to separate Church and State. Only Rhode Island had traveled no road and followed no route to reach that destination; Rhode Island had been there from the start. For Pennsylvania the route was short and direct; full civil rights had to be granted to Catholics and to disbelievers in the Trinity for full civil liberty to be achieved. In the other colonies … far reaching and profound changes in attitude were necessary before the … concept could become a possibility” (William H. Marnell, The First Amendment: Religious Freedom in America from Colonial Days to the School Prayer Controversy (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), p. 93).
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (U.S. CONST. amend. I).
Introduction to “The History of Religious Freedom In America”
Until the colony of Rhode Island was founded, it was unusual for a civil government to provide for freedom of conscience even though God desires nations to provide for religious liberty under Him. Nonetheless, God’s people have always, regardless of the persecution of those who refuse to march lockstep with union of religion and state, come together as local churches, preached the Gospel, and helped their fellow man. Paul wrote in the midst of persecution:
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Co. 4.8-9).
“We, having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak” (2 Co. 4.13).
In the preceding verse, Paul quoted a portion of Psalm 116.10 which says in its entirety, “”I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:” Tied up in the liberty given believers by Christ is speaking (“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16.15)), and associating or meeting together (“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” (He. 10.25a)). Furthermore, God gave mankind the Bible, which in certain times past, was banned and burned. The First Amendment was written and ratified with the intent of protecting God’s churches, the exercise of religion or Christianity (freedom of religion or freedom of conscience), the preaching of the Gospel (freedom of speech), the coming together to worship God (freedom to assemble), the dissemination of literature, mainly the dissemination of God’s Word (freedom of press), and the right to petition the civil government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment was the culmination of a long spiritual warfare between established churches and dissenters, mainly the Baptists. God’s power moved mightily during that period of conflict. Many believers suffered persecution. The roots of the struggle in America were embedded in New England, spread to the south, to Virginia, and then to the new nation.
Revisionists have obscured the true history of the First Amendment. Revisionism is not new. Of course secularists, and especially atheists, must revise in order to support their outlandish positions. Catholics and Protestants, including the Puritans, consistent with their biases have long revised in order to further their agendas. Good examples are the claims made by the Presbyterians and the Honorable William Wirt Henry near the close of the nineteenth century. Mr. Henry “told of Virginia’s leadership in bringing in religious liberty but made no allusion to the Baptists, and said it was ‘under the leadership of Patrick Henry that religious liberty has been established as a fundamental part of the fundamental law of our land’” (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), p. f.). As a result of Mr. Henry’s assertions, Charles F. James—a Baptist, who had preached that “at the date of the [American] Revolution the Baptists were the only denomination of Christians which, as such, held to the idea of religious liberty, and that, of the political leaders of that day, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were chiefly instrumental in establishing that principle in the laws of our land” (Ibid., p. e.)—set out to do a thorough historical study of the Baptists in Virginia. His studies and written work which followed set the record straight, a record which can be verified by honest historical study.
Secular revisionism has influenced the development of the modern concepts of the First Amendment. Influential constitutional “scholars” such as Leo Pfeffer, since they have no concept of God or His sovereignty, have removed the most important aspect of debate from the equation—the spiritual aspect. Pfeffer misrepresents spiritual matters because he does not understand them. He relegates the spiritual to the merely “ideological.” He attributes Madison’s positions on the issue of separation of church and state to his reliance on John Locke, and quotes Locke; then, even though Locke, in the quotes cited by Pfeffer, talks of government interference with the care and salvation of souls which belongs to God, Pfeffer never mentions God in his discussion but rather emphasizes Locke’s “social contract theory.” He overemphasizes the influence of rationalism and deism in gaining the First Amendment. He falsely proclaims that the “first four presidents of the United States were either Deists or Unitarians.” He asserts that the Great Awakening “emphasized an emotional, personal religion” which appealed directly to the individual, stressing the rights and duties of the individual conscience and its answerability exclusively to God (Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), pp. 81-93). He, like all secular scholars, simply did not get it even though he did mention God. He had no choice but to mention God, since a controversy over what God taught in the Bible was at the center of the issues. He simply did not and could not examine that true history of what went on to bring about the First Amendment. Lost men and saved men who were spiritually ignorant have led the way in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
The First Amendment, in what is called the establishment clause, forbids Congress to establish a church and reinforces the establishment clause in the free exercise clause by forbidding Congress to prevent the free exercise of religion. Thus, the religion clause of the First Amendment which consists of the establishment and free exercise clauses, especially when read in the context of the entire Amendment, is a legal statement of the principle of religious freedom, or soul liberty, or separation of church and state which conforms to biblical principles. Bible-believing Christians, based upon their spiritual beliefs, fought the fight which resulted in the First Amendment. They made the spiritual Bible-based arguments which gradually convinced others to accept separation of church and state. By practicing their faith despite persecution, they paid the price. They suffered persecution; they did not deny Christ and their faith in order to avoid persecution. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3:12).
Many of the early colonists were Protestants who thought Luther and/or Calvin were correct in their beliefs concerning church and state. Others, the Anglicans, brought the state-church concepts of England to the colonies. Dissenters believed in and fought for separation of church and state. The First Amendment was primarily the result of a spiritual warfare between those holding opposing Scriptural interpretations, the established churches versus the dissenters, primarily the Baptists.
“Of the Baptists, at least, it may be truly said that they entered the conflict in the New World with a clear and consistent record on the subject of soul liberty. ‘Freedom of conscience’ had ever been one of their fundamental tenets. John Locke, in his ‘essay on Toleration,’ says: ‘The Baptists were the first and only propounders of absolute liberty, just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty.’ And the great American historian, Bancroft, says: ‘Freedom of Conscience, unlimited freedom of mind, was from the first a trophy of the Baptists.’ Bancroft’s History of the United States, Vol. II., pages 66, 67.
“The history of the other denominations shows that, in the Old World, at least, they were not in sympathy with the Baptist doctrine of soul liberty, but in favor of the union of Church and State, and using the civil power to compel conformity to the established church….
“The Reformation which began with Martin Luther corrected many errors of faith and practice among those who came out of the corrupt and apostate church, but not all. It was left to the sect once ‘everywhere spoken against’ to teach their Protestant brethren the lesson of soul liberty, and this they did in the school of adversity in the New World” (James, pp. 14-15).
At times, persecuting established churches in the colonies became persecuted churches. When that happened, the persecutors generally became dissenters seeking religious tolerance or religious freedom.
The First Amendment to the Constitution resulted from “a factual relationship that was rapidly solidifying when the Constitution was amended by the Bill of Rights.” The First Amendment was the final product of a long struggle by men who believed strongly in the God of the Bible and who were willing to die rather than bow down to false religion. Their spirit was fused into the ordering of the affairs of the United States. “A wall of separation which would bar that spirit from making itself felt in secular concerns can never be built, because it would have to bisect the human heart” (Marnell, pp. xii-xiii). William H. Marnell correctly observed that:
“[t]he First Amendment was not the product of indifference toward religion. It was not the product of the deism which prevailed in the Enlightenment, however much the spirit of deism may have been present in certain of the Founding Fathers. Above, all, it was not the product of secularism, and to translate the spirit of twentieth-century secularism back to eighteenth-century America is an outrage to history. The First Amendment was rather a logical outcome of the Reformation and its ensuing developments. It was so far removed from secularism as to be the product of its exact opposite, the deep-seated concern of a people whose religious faith had taken many forms, all of them active, all of them sincerely held. It was so far removed from indifference toward religion [specifically Christianity] as to be the result of its antithesis, the American determination that the diversity of churches might survive the fact of political action” (Ibid.).
Primarily due to the efforts of our Baptist forefathers, a time came, as Baptist pastor and historian John Callender said in 1838, when:
“[e]xperience has dearly convinced the world, that unanimity in judgment and affection cannot be secured by penal laws….
“Indulgence to tender consciences, might be a reproach to the Colony [of Rhode Island], an hundred years ago, [that is in 1738, one hundred years before Callender wrote this], but a better way of thinking prevails in the Protestant part of the Christian church at present. It is now a glory to the Colony, to have avowed such sentiments so long ago, while blindness in this article happened in other places, and to have led the way as an example to others, and to have first put the theory into practice.
“Liberty of conscience is more fully established and enjoyed now, in the other New-English Colonies; and our mother Kingdom grants a legal toleration to all peaceable and conscientious dissenters from the parliamentary establishment. Greater light breaking into the world and the church, and especially all parties by turns experiencing and complaining aloud of the hardships of constraint, they are come to allow as reasonable to all others, what they want and challenge for themselves. And there is no other bottom but this to rest upon, to leave others the liberty we should desire ourselves, the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. This is doing as we would be done by, the grand rule of justice and equity; this is leaving the government of the church to Jesus Christ, the King and head over all things, and suffering his subjects to obey and serve him” (John Callender, The Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island (Providence: Knowles, Vose & Company, 1838), pp. 108-109).
By the time the First Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut had established churches. In 1833 Massachusetts became the last state to disestablish.
Baptists wanted religious freedom. Some probably could foresee the ideal of a church under God, a civil government under God, with neither church nor state over the other. But few knew how to have a civil government under God without establishing a church. Why? Fifteen hundred years of history had witnessed “Christian” establishments made up of church-state or state-church unions. Therefore, one should not be too hard on those early Protestants in America who continued those unions, since, according to Isaac Backus:
“[many things] prove that those fathers [the leaders of the Puritans in Massachusetts] were earnestly concerned to frame their constitution both in church and state by divine rule; and as all allow that nothing teaches like experience, surely they who are enabled well to improve the experience of past ages, must find it easier now to discover the mistakes of that day, than it was for them to do it then. Even in 1637, when a number of puritan ministers in England, and the famous Mr. Dod among them, wrote to the ministers here, that it was reported that they had embraced certain new opinions, such as ‘that a stinted form of prayer and set liturgy is unlawful; that the children of godly and approved Christians are not to be baptized, until their parents be set members of some particular congregation; that the parents themselves, though of approved piety, are not to be received to the Lord’s Supper until they be admitted set members,’ &c., Mr. Hooker expressed his fears of troublesome work about answering of them, though they may appear easy to the present generation” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), pp. 37-38).
Nor should one be too critical of those leaders of the founding era who struggled with the question of how to construct this nation. They produced the best governing document of any nation in history, but that document had some serious flaws which would play out to the detriment of the nation and individuals, families, and churches within the nation. Nonetheless, because of great revivals which began shortly after ratification of the Constitution, huge numbers of people were saved and those regenerated individuals were responsible for at least postponing the spiritual and moral decline of America.
How can a civil government be under God without entanglement with the church? A civil government can choose to be under God. Since God was directly over only one nation, the nation Israel, the only way God chooses to speak to a Gentile government prior to His second return is through His Word, the Bible. Therefore, for a nation to be under God, the leader(s) of that nation must understand and apply biblical principles including those principles concerning church, state, and separation of church and state. As has been shown, only born-again believers have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to understand the Word of God. Only regenerate leader(s) of a civil government can operate the government according to those principles laid down for Gentile nations in the Bible. In America, the people choose the leaders. Therefore, America will have a regenerate leadership only if America should have a population made up of a majority of knowledgeable active Christians who choose Christian leaders.
The Constitution provided for separation of church and state, but the Constitution and the amendments thereto, even when the Declaration of Independence is considered, failed to proclaim that this nation is to be under God and that the purpose of this nation is to glorify God. The primary declaration that a nation can make in its constitution to place itself under God is that its purpose is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through laws, prayers, and proclamations consistent with biblical principles. That nation can model its laws, including its constitution, after biblical principles and seek God’s direction in all things, including lawmaking, enforcement, and judging. In such a nation, prayers should be made at all civil governmental functions in Jesus’ name. One of the principles a nation under God must proclaim, as does the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, is that every man has free will, as ordained by God, and that, since God wants every man’s love, men are free to choose to worship the one true God, any false god or gods, or no god at all. A civil government under God must also legislate criminal law making certain acts concerning man’s relationship with man—but not acts dealing with man’s relationship with God—criminal, according to God’s Word, and provide for judging and enforcing those acts by the civil government.
The chances of a civil government being under or remaining under God’s principles before the return of Christ are non-existent as shown by the Bible and by all history. No civil government will have (a) leader(s) who believe(s) and implement(s) principles in the Word of God except in the unlikely situation where the leader(s) is (are) saved, and no civil government so structured will long remain under God. Godly leaders are inevitably replaced with carnal Christians and/or the unregenerate who cannot and will not lead according to God’s Word.
This Section succinctly summarizes the true history of religious liberty in America, initially pointing out some of the misleading teachings of secular and Christian revisionists. Ultimately, Christians can accomplish nothing with lies (Read James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004) and James R. Beller, The Coming Destruction of the Baptist People: The Baptist History of America (St. Louis, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2005) for a thorough discussion of the theology behind the lies of the Christian nationalists, whom Beller calls catholic Reformed, and a discussion of Christian nationalists other than Peter Marshall and David Manuel.).
Note. This is a modified version of Section IV, Chapter 2 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Audio Teachings on the History of the First Amendment has links to the audio teaching of Jerald Finney on the history of the First Amendment.
Secular and Christian Revisionism
The tactics of Christian and secular revisionists do not change. As Isaac Backus noted, concerning the revisionism and lies of the leaders of the established churches in the colonies:
“[I] appeal to the conscience of every reader, whether he can find three worse things on earth, in the management of controversy, than, first, to secretly take the point disputed for truth without any proof; then, secondly, blending that error with known truths, to make artful addresses to the affections and passions of the audience, to prejudice their minds, before they hear a word that the respondent has to say; and thirdly, if the respondent refuses to yield to such management, then to call in the secular arm to complete the argument” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 150. This comment followed and preceded illustrations of how those in favor of church/state marriage, infant baptism, etc. advance their cause. On pp. 151-152, Mr. Backus illustrated how those in favor of infant baptism argued their position, pointing out the fallacies of their arguments. Their tactics have not changed, although in America, due to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, they no longer can call upon civil government to enforce their beliefs.)?
Religious and secular revisionists (including many United States Supreme Court Justices) of our time are using the tactic mentioned by Backus today, absent the third component which is, to their dismay, unavailable to them.
“Christian” revisionists have either reconstructed and lied about our Christian heritage or relied on “Christian” authors who have reconstructed and lied about history. They refer to what the writers of their persuasion in times past wrote and said without placing those assertions in the context of other writings and facts surrounding their sources and in the context of biblical truth. They would have one and all to believe either that all “Christians” who came to this nation worked together for religious freedom and are to be given credit for giving us a “Christian” nation, that the Puritans and other sects which followed their principle of church-state establishment gave us a Christian nation, or that those sects of which they approved, the established churches and their leaders, had the truth and dissenters, such as the Baptists and others, were proponents of dangerous heresies. The result of revisionism has been chaos and an accelerating slide down a slippery slope to destruction as individuals, families, churches, and the nation.
What is their reason for doing this? Some are probably just ignorant of historical facts and rely on what others have written (the author of this book was in this category since he relied upon “Christian” authors and speakers until he began to do an independent study). Perhaps the motive of others who may be more knowledgeable is to influence those Christians who do not share their theology concerning church and state to get involved with helping them in their attempt to unite church and state in order to make possible their ultimate unattainable goal of bringing in the kingdom of heaven prior to the return of Christ. Perhaps they believe, contrary to biblical directives for the Christian, that it is all right for Christians to lie to “those who have no right to know the truth” and that Christians can better advance the cause of Christ by lying about irrefutable historical fact which true history has recorded.
Baptist historian James R. Beller builds a strong case to show that the modern day “catholic Reformed Reconstructionists,” under the leadership of Rousas John Rushdoony, justify lying based upon a perverted interpretation of certain biblical passages (James R. Beller, The Coming Destruction of the Baptist People: The Baptist History of America (St. Louis, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2005), pp. 30-35). Rushdoony believes in “religious establishments in civil government and that it is acceptable to lie” to promote the cause he supports (Ibid., p. 32).
Andrew Sandlin calls Christian Reconstructionism “a version of the Reformed, Postmillennial Theology that emphasizes the concepts of Theonomy and Dominion” (Ibid., p. 33). The theonomist believes that the magistrate has the duty to enforce the Mosaic law.
“Theonomists believe that Matthew 5:13-16 presents the Church with ‘a mandate for complete social transformation of the entire world.’ The Church is to play the key role in this transformation by spreading the gospel throughout the world, taking over the function of government, and enforcing the Mosaic Law. Thus, Chilton stated, ‘Our goal is world dominion under Christ’s Lordship, a ‘world takeover’ if you will; but our strategy begins with reformation, reconstruction of the church. From that will flow social and political reconstruction, indeed a flowering of Christian civilization.’ Again he said, ‘The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of biblical theocratic republics, in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God’s law.’
“Another theonomist declared that ‘the saints must prepare to take over the world’s governments and its courts.’
“Theonomists optimistically believe that ‘As the gospel progresses throughout the world it will win, and win, and win, until all the kingdoms become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.
“This optimistic belief makes theonomy a genuine form of Postmillennialism….
“[R.J.] Rushdoony wrote: ‘Postmillialism thus believes that man must be saved, and that his generation is the starting point for a mandate to exercise dominion in Christ’s name over every area of life and thought. Postmillennialism in its classic form does not neglect the church and it does not neglect also to work for a Christian state and school, for the sovereignty and crown rights of the King over individuals, families, institutions, arts, scientists, and all things else. More, it holds that God has provided the way for this conquest: His Law’” (Renald E. Showers, There Really Is a Difference: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology (Bellmawr, New Jersey: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1990), pp. 152-154, citing Meredith G. Kline, “Comments on the Old-New Error,” Westminster Theological Journal, p. 41 (1978), pp. 172-173; David Chilton, Paradise Restored: An Eschatology of dominion (Tyler, Texas: Reconstruction Press, 1985), pp. 12, 214, 226, 192; R. J. Rushdoony, “Government and the Christian,” The Rutherford Institute, 1 (July-August, 1984), p. 7; R.J. Rushdoony, “Postmillennialism versus Impotent Religion,” Journal of Christian Reconstruction, 3 (winter, 1976-77), p. 126).
Postmillennialism teaches that the ultimate progress of history is upward. Led by the church and the spreading of God’s Word by God’s people, eventually the whole world will be brought into subjection by that message. In other words, the church, working with civilization, science, and political agencies will bring in the Kingdom of Heaven before Christ returns.
This movement promotes a strategy of lying which states that Christians have “no obligation to speak truthfully to those who have forfeited the right to hear the truth,” and that the “commandment does not say that ‘thou shalt never tell a lie’” (Beller, The Coming Destruction of the Baptist People, p. 33). “Even the famous Reformed lawyer, John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, apparently approves of this strategy: Rahab risked everything in order to follow God, including telling lies” (Ibid., p. 34, citing John Whitehead, “Christian Resistance in the Face of State Interference,” Christianity and Civilization 3: The Theology of Christian Resistance (Tyler, TX: General Divinity School, 1983), p. 8). Based upon their reasoning, they justify lying about historical facts. Obviously, they do not want an honest debate of American history which would reveal that the theology of the established churches justified persecution to include banishment, taking of property, imprisonment, and murder.
These Christian revisionists lie and continue to lie and also to make their secular arguments, polished with allusions to God and maybe even Jesus Christ, even when the enemy is quoting historical truth. Those who observe what is going on must shake their heads at the ignorance of Christians, especially Christian lawyers. Instead of trying to get out the whole truth, which would aid the cause of Christ (at least if Christians including pastors and Christian lawyers and scholars had stood on truth from the beginning of the nation), they lied and continue to lie.
Even the United States Supreme Court is accurate many times as to historical fact concerning persecution by church-state establishments. For example, the Court wrote in 1947:
“See e. g. the charter of the colony of Carolina which gave the grantees the right of ‘patronage and advowsons of all the churches and chapels … together with licence and power to build and found churches, chapels and oratories … and to cause them to be dedicated and consecrated, according to the ecclesiastical laws of our kingdom of England.’ Poore, Constitutions (1878) II, 1390, 1391. That of Maryland gave to the grantee Lord Baltimore ‘the Patronages, and Advowsons of all Churches which … shall happen to be built, together with Licence and Faculty of erecting and founding Churches, Chapels, and Places of Worship … and of causing the same to be dedicated and consecrated according to the Ecclesiastical Laws of our Kingdom of England, with all, and singular such, and as ample Rights, Jurisdictions, Privileges, … as any Bishop … in our Kingdom of England, ever … hath had….’ MacDonald, Documentary Source Book of American History (1934) 31, 33. The Commission of New Hampshire of 1680, Poore, supra, II, 1277, stated: ‘And above all things We do by these presents will, require and command our said Councill to take all possible care for ye discountenancing of vice and encouraging of virtue and good living; and that by such examples ye infidle may be invited and desire to partake of ye Christian Religion, and for ye greater ease and satisfaction of ye sd loving subjects in matters of religion, We do hereby require and comand yt liberty of conscience shall be allowed unto all protestants; yt such especially as shall be conformable to ye rites of ye Church of Engd shall be particularly countenanced and encouraged.’ See also Pawlet v. Clark, 9 Cranch 292” (Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, fn. 6 at 9; 67 S. Ct. 504, fn. 6 at 508; 91 L. Ed. 711, fn. 6 at 720; 1947 U.S. LEXIS 2959; 168 A.L.R. 1392 (1947)).
The Court in Everson and in other cases also wrote of the persecutions going on in the Old World prior to the settlement of America, the persecutions going on in America, and the religious turmoil out of which our First Amendment emerged. Of course, the Supreme Court placed the above facts in a case which gave a new meaning to “separation of church and state.” Additionally, the Court never addressed the false theology versus the accurate theology that resulted in religious liberty and freedom of conscience in America. They never examined the true biblical principles concerning the sovereignty of God over all governments, religious liberty, and freedom of conscience. Had the whole truth been argued by Christian lawyers at that time, as well as before and after that time, the downfall of America may have been at least stalled. At the very least, the name of Christ would have been exalted rather than abased.
In addition, true Catholicism still despises separation of church and state. Of course, most Catholics “laymen” have no clue about Catholic theology on the relationship of church and state and Catholic interpretation of end-time biblical teachings. Catholic theology still calls for union of the Catholic “church” and state and believes that the “church,” working with civil government will bring peace and unity to the earth. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Samuel F. B. Morris discovered and publicized a Catholic political conspiracy against the United States of America (Ireneus Prime, The Life of Samuel F. B. Morse (New York: Arno Press, 1974), p. 730; Samuel F. B. Morse, Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States (New York: Arno Press, 1977), pp. 19-20, 28-29, 31; Samuel F. B. Morse, Imminent Dangers to the Free Institutions of the United States Through Foreign Immigration (New York: Arno Press, 1969), pp. 7, 8; cited in Dr. William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought:A Biblical Interpretation of American History (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999), pp. 221-222)). “At least 45 fanatically anti-Catholic newspapers and periodicals could be purchased in the … U.S. of A…. There were also well over 500 books and pamphlets written on this anti-popery theme as well” (Grady, What Hath God Wrought!, p. 225).
Dr. Morse [wrote]: “From whom is authority to govern derived? Austria and the United States will agree in answering,—from God. The opposition of opinion occurs in the answers to the next question. To whom on earth is this authority delegated? Austria answers, To the EMPEROR, who is the source of all authority,—‘I the Emperor do ordain,…’ The United States answers, To the PEOPLE, in whom resides the Sovereign power,—‘We the People do ordain, establish, grant,’… In one principle is recognized the necessity of the servitude of the people, the absolute dependence of the subject, unqualified submission to the commands of the rulers without question or examination. The Ruler is Master, the People are Slaves. In the other is recognized the supremacy of the people, the equality of rights themselves; the Ruler is a public servant, receiving wages from the people to perform services agreeable to their pleasure; amenable in all things to them; and holding office at their will. The Ruler is Servant; the People are Master.
“The fact and important nature of the difference in these antagonistic doctrines, leading, as is perceived, to diametrically opposite results, are all that is needful to state in order to proceed at once to the inquiry, which position does the Catholic sect and the Protestant sects severally favor? The Pope, the supreme Head of the Catholic church, claims to be the ‘Vicegerent of God,’ supreme ‘over all mortals;’ ‘over all Emperors, Kings, Princes, Potentates and People;’ King of kings and Lord of lords.’ He calls himself, ‘the divinely appointed dispenser of spiritual and temporal punishments;’ ‘armed with power to depose Emperors and Kings, and absolve subjects from their oath of allegiance:’ ‘from him lies no appeal;’ ‘he is responsible to no one on earth;’ ‘he is judged of no one but God’” (Morse, Foreign Conspiracy, pp. 34-35, cited in Grady, What Hath God Wrought!, pp. 226-227).
The Pope determines what writings are heretical, and reading those writings, according to the “Congregation of the Index”—an essential department of the papal court—shall be regarded as an offense against the church and against God (R. W. Thompson, The Papacy and the Civil Power (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1876), p. 91, cited in Grady, What Hath God Wrought!, p. 227). In 1832, Pope Gregory XVI referred to “that absurd and erroneous doctrine, or rather raving, in favor and defence of ‘liberty of conscience,’ for which most pestilential error, the course is opened to that entire and wild liberty of opinion, which is every where attempting the overthrow of religious and civil institutions…. Hither tends that worst and never sufficiently to be execrated and detested LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, for the diffusion of all manner or writings…” (Morse, Foreign Conspiracy, pp. 41-42, cited in Grady, What Hath God Wrought, p. 228). Accordingly, the Provincial Council of Baltimore, in order to guard against error, forbade the reading of Scripture “without the advice and permission of the pastors and spiritual guides whom God has appointed to govern his Church” (Thompson, p. 79, cited in Grady, What Hath God Wrought!, p. 228). If Catholic principles had prevailed in the United States, the First Amendment would never have been adopted because the two are diametrically opposed.
The Vatican planned a Romanized America. The plan was to be expedited through Catholic immigration. Although men such as Samuel F. B. Morse, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and others warned against allowing immigration of those whose principles were contrary to those upon which America was founded, their warnings were not heeded and huge numbers of Catholics came into America, bringing with them their abominable religion as well as their base morality. A lot of money was spent on the significant number of immigrant paupers, and mob violence by immigrants became a new part of the American culture. Catholic mobs disrupted meetings where those of other faiths renounced Catholicism, and Roman shepherds bartered the votes of their flocks to politicians, and fought over the reading of the King James Bible in American’s public schools (What Hath God Wrought!, pp. 229-236, 244-253). Jesuit author F. X. Weninger wrote in 1862, “One of the most glorious enterprises for the Catholic Church to engage in at this day is the conversion of the United States to the Catholic faith” (Thompson, The Papacy and the Civil Power, cited in Grady, What Hath God Wrought!, p. 236). “Vallestigny, a Jesuit priest and deputy of Alva, stated in his address to His Majesty:
“The mass of the human family are born, not to govern, but to be governed. This sublime employment of government has been confided by Providence to the privileged class, whom he has placed upon an eminence to which the multitude cannot rise without being lost in the labyrinth and snares which are therein found” (Morse, Imminent Dangers, cited in Grady, What Hath God Wrought!).
Catholic clergy themselves admitted that there was a conspiracy against the United States and that Catholicism planned to take over America. For example:
“The Shepherd of the Valley, the official journal of the Bishop of St. Louis …, declared in 1851: The Church is of necessity intolerant. Heresy she endures when and where she must, but she hates it and directs all her energies to destroy it… If Catholics ever gain a sufficient numerical majority in this country, religious freedom is at an end. So our enemies say, so we believe” (Charles Chiniquy, 50 Years in the “Church” of Rome (Chino, Calif.” Chick Publications, 1985), p. 285, cited in Grady, What Hath God Wrought!, p. 254).
Naturally, Catholic spokesmen and writers have attacked the phrase “separation of church and state” since religious liberty and separation of church and state are antithetical to Catholic theology and power. For example:
“Father John Courtney Murray described the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ as a ‘negative, ill-defined, basically un-American [sic] formula….’ After the McCollum decision the Catholic bishops of the United States, in a statement issued through the National Catholic Welfare Conference in November 1948, called the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ the ‘shibboleth of doctrinaire secularism.’ Father Robert I. Gannon, former president of Fordham University, in an address delivered in St. Louis in November 1951, used the phrase ‘the current fraud of separation of church and state.’ James M. O’Neill, a Catholic writer whose interpretation of the First Amendment was adopted by the Catholic bishops termed ‘spurious’ the ‘so-called’ ‘great American principle of complete separation of church and state,’ and affirmed that ‘There is no such great American principle and there never has been.’ Father Thomas F. Coakely, on the front cover of a pamphlet, ‘Separation of Church and State,’ published by the Catholic Truth Society, says unqualifiedly: ‘Church and State have never been separated in America.’ Even the Attorney General of the United States, in an address before the National Catholic Educational Association, charged that the Supreme Court had ‘distorted’ the First Amendment in referring to ‘a wall of separation of Church and State’” (Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 118).
In publishing a false history, Christian revisionists have done a great deal of damage to the cause of Christ. Their theology concerning separation of church and state in contravening biblical principles resulted in the persecution of large numbers of believers by established churches and hampered the dissemination of the true gospel for over fifteen hundred years.
Satan’s emissaries have revealed to the public that “Christians” have revised history. Even the unregenerate who possess no true understanding and wisdom, although many have been given brilliant minds by God, can look at history and discover true facts when it is to their advantage. The world, or at least the unregenerate who are aware of the facts of history, even though they themselves are the masters of deceit and revisionism when it furthers their cause, must have been turned off to a “religion” which relies on lies.
The knowledgeable Christian is appalled that supposed brothers would lie about historical fact in an attempt to further the cause of the One who was tortured and killed because of His stand for truth. Our Lord never backed off from truth even though He knew that His stand would take Him to the cross. He instructed Christians to be light, not darkness:
“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light” (Lu. 11.33-36).
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 5.14-16).
All the apostles except John were martyred because of their stand for truth. David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, said, “I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD” (Ps. 31.6). Other Bible verses condemn lying. “I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love” (Ps. 119.163). “Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue” (Ps. 120.2). God hates lying: “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Pr. 6.16-19). Notice that lying is the only sin He mentions twice.
Satan is the father of lies. God, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, stands for truth.
Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (Jn. 8.44-47).
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14.6).
Christian revisionists seem to forget about those verses while taking other verses and perverting them to rationalize lying to promote their cause. For example, they point out the story of the Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1.15-22 who were rewarded by God because they did not obey Pharaoh’s order to kill all the sons born to the Hebrews and also lied to Pharaoh as to the reason they did not kill those babies; and the story of Rahab the harlot whom God commended in Hebrews 11.31 for lying to the authorities of the land in order to help the Jewish spies (Jos. 6.22-25). The proper interpretation of those Scriptures, taken in the context of the Bible as a whole, is that the Hebrew midwives and Rahab were confronted with a moral dilemma. The midwives could either lie or be a party to murder. They chose to lie in obedience to God and to protect innocent life. Rahab realized that the spies were of God’s chosen people on an errand for God. “And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you” (Jos. 2.9). Those and other verses do not support lying as defined and practiced by Christian revisionists.
Attempts to hide truth are in vain:
“And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear” (Mk. 4.21-23).
Christian revisionists are obviously not interested in honest debate because that debate would reveal that some of the founders of this nation, such as the Puritans and Anglicans, were deceived and adhered to a theology which, as the world correctly points out, advocated and practiced the union of church and state, enforced all ten of the Ten Commandments, including those having to do with man’s relationship to God, and severely persecuted dissenters such as the Baptists and Quakers whom they labeled as heretics. The author was mislead by Christian revisionism for over twenty years. When he discovered that he had been lied to by other “Christians,” he had to be willing to face the truth. In this book he is publishing what he totally believes to be irrefutable facts and conclusions based upon biblical principles as applied to those facts.
Churches under Christ Ministry Website: Understanding and Applying God's Principles for Church Headship "Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:1-3). ————————————This Ministry is under the authority of Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo, Texas. Jerald Finney, a Christian Lawyer and member of Charity Baptist Tabernacle, having received this ministry in the Lord, explains how a church in America can remain under the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only. "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10-11; See also, Ephesians 4::1-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-25). "Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it" (Colossians 4:17). "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1.22; See also, e.g. Colossians 1:18).