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How America Rejected Its Founders' Faith

The Charlie Kirk Show / Charlie Kirk
The Truth Network Radio
December 8, 2023 5:00 am

How America Rejected Its Founders' Faith

The Charlie Kirk Show / Charlie Kirk

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December 8, 2023 5:00 am

America's First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, but does America even tolerate the faith of its Founding Fathers anymore? Historian Bill Federer explores the origins of America's religious pluralism, and explains how the country was founded on a generalized Christianity, but has now become a state that tolerates virtually everything except authentic Christian belief.

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Brought to you by the loan experts I trust, Andrew and Todd at Sierra Pacific Mortgage at andrewandtodd.com. Bill, welcome to the program. Bill, I'm really been enjoying... Hey, Charlie. Great to be with you. Yeah, there's so much to talk about. I've really been enjoying one of your incredible books here called Backfired. I've never talked to you about this book before.

It's excellent. And it is a nation founded on religious tolerance, no longer tolerates its founders religion. And this Christmas season, I think it's a perfect topic to talk about. On page 136, you have the state constitutions here where you talk about Georgia 1777, we the people of Georgia relying upon protection guidance of almighty God and so on and so forth. Talk about the premise of this book and how we're increasingly a country that is intolerant of what our founders believe. Well, we go back to Europe and in Europe, it was all Catholic and then the reformation happened and then the Muslims invaded, surrounded Vienna in 1529. And the king of Spain was faced with a double dilemma, Protestant reformation on the inside of Europe and this Islamic invasion by Sultan Suleiman, the Magnificent coming from the outside of Europe. And so he makes a deal with these Protestants that it's called the Peace of Augsburg of 1555. It's the first treaty ever to recognize Protestants and in the treaty is a little Latin phrase that had enormous repercussions. The phrase was cuios regio eus religio, which means whose is the rain, his is the religion. In other words, look Protestant king, believe whatever you want. Let's just work together against this Islamic invasion because they sort of want to kill us all.

Well, it worked. And the next century, though, different kings believe different things. And so England became Anglican, Scotland Presbyterian, Holland, Dutch Reformed. Northern Germany and Sweden were Lutheran, Switzerland, Calvinist.

Italy, Spain, France, Austria, Poland stayed Catholic. And of course, Greece was Greek Orthodox. Russia was Russian Orthodox. Serbia was Serbian Orthodox. Romania was Romanian Orthodox.

You get the picture, it was one denomination per country. And what the king believed, the kingdom had to believe. And if you didn't believe the way your particular king did, it was considered treason. And you were persecuted and you fled. Some groups didn't get their own country. The Mennonites, for example, the Menno-Simmons, and it was sort of a Quaker, nonviolent farmers. And they were invited over by the czar to Russia, who said, we've got some land here for you. Well, they move over there only to find out it's buffer land between the Turkish Ottoman Empire and Russia. So they got caught in a lot of wars.

They were called kulaks and became wealthy farmers until Lenin had them all killed off and a bunch of them fled to America. But Europe, it was one denomination per country. And this was the norm. It was considered treason, not to believe the way your king did. Let's focus on England. And interrupt me at any time.

I talk about this a lot. But in England, there was a Henry VIII. He was originally Catholic and married to the daughter of the King of Spain, Catherine of Aragon.

After 18 years, she does not have a son, a daughter Mary, but not a son. So Henry decides to divorce her. The pope won't recognize the divorce because she is, after all, the daughter of the most powerful guy in the world, the King of Spain.

And in 1527, the Spanish army invaded Rome and imprisoned the pope for about six months. So Henry VIII says, you know what, I'm so far away from Italy, I'm just going to declare myself my own pope. He starts the Church of England, puts himself on as the head, and goes on to have six wives.

And their fates were divorce beheaded died, divorce beheaded survived. So Henry VIII was not a really nice guy to be married to. His advisors suggested if he was serious about breaking from Rome, he should stop using the Latin Bible. Get himself an English Bible. The German princes have Martin Luther's German Bible.

That helped them to break away. He needs to get an English Bible. He says, fine, get me one. So it just so happens a few years earlier, he had William Tyndale birth at the stake for doing what? For translating the Bible into English. But now he wants an English Bible. Tyndale's last words were, Lord, open the King of England's eyes. And so Henry, they take Tyndale's work, about 80 to 90% of all English translations go back to Tyndale's work. They take Tyndale's work, polish it up. They call it the Great Bible. Henry likes it. He orders a copy of it put in every church in England. It's called the Great Bible. It was huge. They had to chain it to the pulpit because they were expensive.

They didn't want somebody walking off with it. But this was the first time the common people of England could read the Bible in their own English language. Henry dusts his hands and says, that's it. We've broken from Rome.

And he thinks his problems are solved. But the problem was, people started reading the Bible and began to compare what's in the Bible to this king divorcing and beheading his wives. And so a group starts that wants to purify the Church of England. They are nicknamed Puritans.

Another group said, it's beyond hope of purifying. We're going to separate ourselves. And we call them pilgrims. And so you did not make up your own prayers in England, because you could make up one that's wrong. So the government wrote all the prayers down and put them in a book. It's called the Book of Common Prayer. You feel like praying, you just open it to the right page and read the prayer. And if you're caught with a small group of people in a Bible study making up your own prayers, the police like the FBI will kick in the door and will handcuff you and arrest you and drag you to the star chamber.

It was a government hearing room, sort of like a January 6th hearing room, because they had stars on the ceiling. And they would twist your arm and brand you on the face as a heretic with the letters SL for seditious liable. And then they would cut off your ear or cut your nose in half and make you confess to stuff you didn't do. And then even if you didn't say anything, they put you in contempt of court for not saying anything. Then they would put you in a cell and they would let you waste away in this prison cell for days and weeks and months.

Could you imagine a government doing this to its own people? And so a group of these people in Scotland, when they first read from the Book of Common Prayer in St. Giles Cathedral, a market woman named Jenny Geddes threw her three-legged stool and it whacked into the bishop. And it started something called the Bishop's War. And in Scotland, the king sent his army to force these churches to read from this book. And they said, you know what?

We're just not going to meet in the church building. And they would meet in the open fields. They called them conventicles, where Jesus said, where two or more gathered in my name, I'm there in the midst. And so they were like covenant, small covenant groups. And so the government sent its army into the fields and chased these people down and arrested them and killed them. It was called the killing time, right? All throughout the 1600s.

And so this was sort of the backdrop. The Presbyterians in Scotland did this. They did not want bishops. But the king said no bishop, no king. He wanted a hierarchical form of church government where he was at the top.

Where the Presbyterians and the Puritans and the Baptists and Congregationalists, they liked the congregational model of church government, where it's the pastor teaching the body to do the work of the ministry, rather than the clergy lady model where you watch the clergy do the work of the ministry. And so the pilgrims, and they're the ones that we traced to America, they were a group of them sold their property and bought passage on a ship to Holland. Holland was actually one of the seven Netherlands, and these were seven provinces that spent 80 years breaking away from Spain. And they didn't always believe the same thing, but they were willing to have some give and take when it came to religion because Spain was wanting to kill them all. In 1572, the king of Spain sent the Iron Duke of Alba to commit the Spanish fury and killed 10,000 Dutch reformed in Antwerp, Holland. And so the pilgrims said, you know what, let's go to Holland, the Netherlands.

It's the most tolerant place religiously in all of Europe. And so right before the pilgrim, the ship left, the captain robs them and turns them over to the police and they're thrown in jail. And then so another group of these pilgrim separatists, they arranged for a Dutch ship to sail up the coast and they would be in row boats and they would row out. Pilgrims show up a day early and the waves are rough and the kids are getting sick and the women say, can we just wait on shore? Finally, the Dutch ship comes, the men row out, they're stowing everything, and somebody snitched and the police came over the hill and captured the women and children. And the Dutch captain says, I don't have an army with me. And he pulls anchor. Hold that thought.

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Finally, a judge says, you didn't do anything wrong, go home. And they go, duh, we sold our homes. So just to get them out of their hair, they put them on a boat, sent them to Holland. They found their husbands. They settled and lied in Holland. After 12 years, they came to America.

It's a long story, but the bottom line was they came over here for religious freedom, freedom of conscience. And they based their form of government on the Bible, but what part of the Bible, that first 400 years out of Egypt before King Saul. And so this is called the Hebrew Republic.

And it's the first time in recorded human history where you have millions of people in no king. And it worked because everybody was taught the law and everybody was personally accountable to God to follow the law. But the King of England looked to the Bible for his authority, but he looked to the King Saul and on part of the Bible, the divine right of kings. So King Saul, in a sense, is the divider between England and America. And so the kings of England, the Bible is their authority.

They're the divinely appointed king. America, we're the pre-King Saul period of a republic where everybody's taught the law. I get into it all, but it's for freedom of conscience that motivated them to come over. And then fast forward, every colony is founded by a different Christian denomination. So Virginia was Anglican and Massachusetts was Puritan right after the pilgrims came to the Puritan. And then Rhode Island was founded by Baptists. And New York was founded by Dutch Reformed. And Delaware and New Jersey were originally Swedish Lutheran, Gustav Adolphus of Sweden, and then sent over.

But then it was conquered by the Dutch and conquered by the English. Connecticut and New Hampshire were Congregationalist colonies. And Pennsylvania was Quaker.

And William Penn, who had been imprisoned in the Tower of London because he did not go along with the king's church, William Penn said, force makes hypocrites, tis persuasion only that makes converts. And so Pennsylvania opened it up for anybody to come in who believed in God. And so you had the first Catholic Church, English speaking Catholic Church in 1735 in Pennsylvania.

You had a synagogue in Pennsylvania. And so the idea in America was each colony had its own denomination, and they didn't really get along. And you had the Puritans in Massachusetts burn witches, right, 19 of them.

But that's small compared to what was going on in Europe at the time. But the Puritans also killed four Quakers. And they said, we're not going to have your Quaker stuff here. And they said, if you come back, we'll punish you. They came back. They said, if you come back again, we'll kill you. They came back and they killed them. In New York, it was a Dutch reform colony. They chased out the Lutherans. Maine, which used to be part of Massachusetts, they tarred and feathered a priest and chased him out of town. They literally dipped him in tar and covered him with feathers and then put him on a rail, which is like a two by four between two guys on their shoulders.

And they'd hold this guy's legs down and parade him around town and throw him out of town. I mean, they didn't get along, but then the Revolutionary War started. And they all had to work together against the King of England, very similar to the Catholics and Protestants working together with King Charles V to stop this Islamic invasion of Europe.

So when the problem is big enough, then we work together. And so in America, you had these different colonies did not get along. But then when the Revolution starts, there's an interesting story that a motion was made at the first Continental Congress to open with prayer. And the Anglicans didn't want to hear a prayer from the Presbyterians who didn't want to hear a prayer from the, you know, the Baptist who didn't want to hear a prayer for and it was about to fall apart.

And Sam Adams stands up and he goes, I'm no bigot. I can hear a prayer of any man of piety who at the same time is a patriot of our nation. And so that again, I get Reverend Jacob Duché come and they open with prayer. And so the beginning of our country was this idea of we may not agree on everything, but the threat is so great.

We need to work together so that we can each have the freedom to do what we think is the best way to heaven. So the reason I asked you to lead all of that and it's beautiful is that there's this narrative Christian nationalism, America was never a Christian nation. And I want you to respond to that from a historical perspective.

You do a beautiful job. And also you have a great history of Islam. So I want to talk about all of that together. But this book is excellent, Bill. You know, I have all your books.

I haven't read them all. And it's on page 165. Tolerance, but only for the politically correct. Religion begat prosperity and the daughter devoured the mother.

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Go to lower my drug prices dot com. Bill, respond to that. America was never really a Christian nation. It doesn't say Jesus in the Declaration of Independence.

Connect all this together and respond to this whole narrative out there. So I read through every state constitution and every revision, every amendment to every state constitution was a couple of year project and found some interesting things. Nine of the original 13 state constitutions required all officeholders to be Protestant Christian, to hold office.

Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey. And they thought they were being very generous by saying Protestant because before then you had to be a particular denomination of Protestant, right? And then you had three states in 1776. All they did was require you to be a plain Christian. And so you had Delaware's original 1776 constitutions that every officeholder had to make a declaration, a belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ his only son, the Holy Ghost one, God bless forevermore.

And you think that that was generous? Yeah, because you could be a Protestant or a Catholic and say you believe in the Father, Son, the Holy Ghost. Ben Franklin signed Pennsylvania's constitution and it required all officeholders to believe in God, the Creator and Governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good, the punisher of the wicked, and acknowledge the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration. In other words, Ben Franklin signed the constitution and said you not only had to say you put your hand on a Bible, you had to swear you believed in the Bible. And one state had zero religious requirements to hold state office, Rhode Island founded by Baptists. They said if you required someone to be a Christian they could say they were, even if they weren't, they would be hypocritical, so just vote for the best Christian person you know. So there's different states, there are different denominations.

I gotta cut you off, Bill. I'm sorry, this is such a powerful point. Nine out of thirteen of the state constitutions required officeholders to be Protestant Christians.

And then how long did that stand? That's very powerful because that does reinforce the point that at the founding we were a Christian nation. Yeah, so 98% of the country was Protestant at the time of the revolution, 1% Catholic. So there are 3 million people, 30,000 Catholics, 1% Catholic, excuse me, yeah, 1% Catholic and one-tenth of a percent Jewish.

There's only seven synagogues in the whole country, so 3 million people, 98% Protestant, 1% Catholic, about 30,000 and then one-tenth of a percent Jewish, around 3,000. And so they had one overriding fear and that was that the federal government would choose one denomination and make it the national one, which is what every other country in the world did. Holland was Dutch-reformed. England was Anglican. Scotland was Presbyterian. The Ottoman Empire was Muslim.

And so they were afraid. So the states that required, for example, Massachusetts and Connecticut, they had required the congregational Puritan faith up until 1818 in Connecticut and 1833 in Massachusetts. John Adams wrote Massachusetts's constitution that required the state to have a tax for the public support of Protestant teachers of piety and religion. That was John Adams and that was in effect till 1833.

And so the states wanted to tie the federal government's hand so it would not pick one denomination preferred over the others. I've actually talked to people who have written books on the First Amendment, on the Constitution, and they pretend like they are experts. I said, have you read the state constitutions?

And their face goes blank. It's like, what? I said, yeah, federal government, state government, the federal, the state governments created the federal government. And so it was like playing cards and the states dealt cards out and they only gave the federal government a few cards.

Provide for the common defense like borders, navy, regulate interstate commerce, have a secure currency so that we can, you know, do trade. All the rest of the cards, they kept close to their chest and laws that govern human behavior wonder state's jurisdiction. So some states had blue laws where everything was closed on Sunday and like Massachusetts and Connecticut, but George Washington on his tour after being elected president was going through Milford, Connecticut on a Sunday. And the sheriff stopped the carriage and said, this is Sunday, there's no traveling in a carriage. And so George Washington respected their local laws, went to the nearest house and spent the day. And so the locals, you know, were like, this was a big deal.

George Washington stayed here. But in Virginia, they did not have blue laws because it was agricultural and it took a long carriage ride just to get to the church. And so different states had different laws regarding religion. Sort of like today, some states have laws where there's prostitution like Nevada.

Thank God the rest don't. But back then it was one or the other. So in my book, I trace this progression where first it was the denomination that started the colony. Then it went out to Protestants. And then there was an Irish potato famine in the early 1800s. Millions of Irish died over in Ireland and millions died on their way over. I mean, it was like they said, if you were to put a cross in the ocean, wherever they threw an Irish person overboard that had died, you'd have a complete line of white crosses from Dublin to Boston and Philadelphia and New York. But the Catholic population mushroomed in 10 years from 1% to 20%.

There was a big backlash. There was the stoning of the Archbishop John Hughes's house in New York, and you had the burning of Catholic churches in Philadelphia, the raiding of convents in Boston. I mean, it was Catholics and Protestants did not get along. But then after a while, it settled down and they changed the states from requiring you to be Protestant to just requiring you to be a Christian. So North Carolina, prior to 1835, you had to be a Protestant. But in 1835, they changed it to all you had to do was be a Christian. And then there's a persecution of Jews in Bavaria in the early 1800s. And there's an influx of Jews, they go from one tenth of a percent to one percent of the population.

And then later they grow to two percent of the population. And so Maryland, its original state constitution required all officeholders to be Christian. But in 1851, they changed it to add, and if the party shall profess to be a Jew, his declaration shall be of a belief in a future state of rewards and punishments. So as of 1851, you could hold office in Maryland if you were a Christian or a Jew. People said, what about the First Amendment?

Well, easy. That was to tie the federal government's hands. Have you read the First Amendment?

What does it say? Congress shall make no law. Well, first off, it's limiting Congress, nobody else, just the federal Congress, which was the only lawmaking body. If they would have seen that presidents would make laws through executive orders, they would have said Congress and the president shall make no law. If they would have seen that the Supreme Court was making laws from the bench, they would have said Congress, the president of the Supreme Court shall make no law, doing what? Respecting the establishment of religion.

Well, respecting means concerning, means neither for nor against. In other words, the subject of religion is hands-off to the federal government. So Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Two handcuffs on the federal government. They couldn't pick one denomination to make it the national one, and they couldn't prohibit the individual states from whatever they were doing. And so Joseph Story was the Supreme Court justice appointed by James Madison. And he said, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to state governments to be acted on according to their own state constitutions. But then you have the Civil War and many states rewriting their constitutions. And then you have something called the 14th Amendment. But in the mix of this, you have evolution. And Charles Darwin, 1848, origin of species, descent of man. And you had a guy named Herbert Spencer that wanted to apply evolution to everything, including law.

And so he had someone that he influenced named Christopher Columbus Langdell, and he's the president of Harvard. And he takes evolution and puts it into his law school. It's called the case precedent theory of law. In other words, instead of going back and reading the Founding Fathers, you just take the most important case and bend it a little bit. And Harvard was the only law school in the country that taught case precedent theory of law.

Every other one, you go back and read the debates of the First Amendment if you want to know what they meant. But eventually, Harvard influenced the others. And one Harvard graduate was Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. He was notorious for in the Buck v. Bell decision where they decided to sterilize people they thought were genetically inferior. He said, three generations of imbeciles is enough.

Anyway, this Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., his bugger said he broke new trails of intellectual thought. Instead of the law being something given by God, it's an ever-evolving thing, adapting to the changing economic and social conditions. It's like, I have no problem with it evolving, but it's supposed to evolve through the amendment process, not through a judge on a bench. Amendment process requires two-thirds of the states and then ratified by three-quarters of the states.

It's a supermajority. In other words, we're a country that's the government from the consent of the govern. We have to make sure that the—and we can make amendments. We did the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery, right? The 19th Amendment, letting women vote. We did the 18th Amendment, prohibiting alcohol. But then we did the 20th one, repealing it. We know how to make amendments. And so you can have it evolve, but through the amendment process, not through a judge on a bench or Congress passing laws and leaving it to the executive branch to write the regulations to enforce the laws.

But the regulations end up making all brand new laws themselves, like with the Obamacare. So I sort of got off track there, but you have the—the First Amendment was to prevent the federal government from establishing one denomination in preference to the others, and then from prohibiting the free exercise of religion within the states. So we worked our way from the colonies, which were different denominations founding them, to the revolution.

And the first set of constitutions were nine of the 13. You had to be Protestant. And then they had to be Protestant. And then the Catholic immigration with the potato famine. And then states changing it from Protestant to just being Christian. Then a Jewish immigration.

And so now they—and then after the Civil War, many states rewrote it to just say all you had to do was believe in God. Hey everybody, Charlie Kirk here. Exciting news to share about saving babies by providing ultrasounds. Right now there is a dollar for dollar match, doubling the number of babies you'll save with Preborn. There are babies alive today about to celebrate their first Christmas because of what we did together a year ago at this time providing ultrasounds. And right now you could save twice as many babies. Maybe you're already wondering about end of the year giving and want to give every dollar get the most results. Or maybe you just want to know that a girl making this decision deserves the truth, so that next year at this time she's picking out a Christmas stocking for her baby's first Christmas.

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Go to charleykirk.com right now and click on the Preborn banner. Bill, close that argument out and just kind of land the plane here. America has Christian roots. Right, so Democrats passed Jim Crow laws, right? Republican Lincoln freed the slaves and the Democrats passed Jim Crow laws. And so the Republicans pushed through the 14th Amendment to force the southern states to give rights to the freed slaves. Well, the 14th Amendment became a box of chocolates for judges and they began to reinterpret the first eight amendments. And so in 1947, the Everson case, some Catholic kids are getting bus rides to school and some states say no. And the Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black, said that bus rides continue, but from now on the federal government's in charge of religion.

And that was 1947. In 1957, the Washington Ethical Society wants tax exemption as a secular group and the court says, IRS says no, but the Supreme Court, Hugo Black, says ethical culture is now a religion. They get tax exemption. And then Joe Torcaso wants to be a notary in Maryland, but the Constitution requires him to say, so help me God. He's an atheist. And then the Supreme Court, Torcaso B. Watkins, says there are new religions that don't acknowledge a supreme being.

Among them are secular humanism. And then you have draft dodgers, Vietnam War, wanting to be religious, conscientious objectors as atheists. And the Supreme Court said, when someone holds beliefs with the same conviction as those who believe in a traditional deity to that person, those beliefs constitute their religion. So now an atheist is religious. And so now when they kick God out, they're actually establishing a religion, which the First Amendment forbids, right?

Congress shall not establish a denomination or whatever. And so here we have the Constitution is turned on its head. I love the quote from Ronald Reagan. He says, sometimes I feel if the First Amendment has gotten so twisted that Alice has never left Wonderland.

But this idea that it was supposed to protect people of conscience, now it's being used to forbid people to have their freedom. I liken it to you see somebody on your front yard, you bring them in, you give them a meal, they don't have a place to stay, they sleep on the couch. The next day you wake up, there's two people, he let in his friend. The next day you come home from work and there's a half dozen, they're helping themselves to the icebox. The next day you come home from work and your house is packed and they look at you and say, who's this guy? They shove you out on the front lawn.

And you're like, what just happened? That was America. So you had these Puritans and they let in other denominations and then you had Protestants and they let in Catholics and then they let in Jews and then they let in anybody that believed in any faith. Finally, they let in the atheists and the Islamists and the anti-Christian and they're shoving the Christians out. And they're saying, well, you Christians are intolerant.

Like, we're the ones that came up with the idea, right? America was not founded by Muslims trying to figure out how to tolerate non-Muslims. It wasn't founded by atheists or LGBTQ trying to tolerate non-that.

It was founded by Christians that didn't get along and they learned how to tolerate each other and then they spread that ripple out to tolerate all these others until where we're at today. But we have this Christian founding and the most important part of it is we have a right from a creator and therefore the government's job is to defend your creator given rights. If there's no creator, your rights come from the government and what the government giveth, the government can taketh away it.

Amen. I love the quote from Eisenhower. He said, in some lands the state claims to be the author of human rights.

If the state gives rights, it can and inevitably will take away those rights. Our founding fathers had to refer to the creator in order to make their revolutionary experiment make sense. If every American could listen to this just last hour we did, Bill, we would be in a far better place. God bless you, Bill. We'll have you on soon. Have a great Christmas if we don't talk before then. Thanks so much. Stay with you. God bless. Thanks so much for listening. Everybody email us as always freedom at charliekirk.com. Thanks so much for listening and God bless. Kurt and more unfiltered, unapologetic truth. Find what you're searching for at snc.tv and on local now channel 525.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-08 06:09:51 / 2023-12-08 06:24:38 / 15

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