In 1776 the group of men who would become known as America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.
Thereby they informed King George that the American colonies would no longer subject themselves to the rule of the British Crown. At the close of the American Revolution, many of these same statesmen set about to design a government which was so unique in history that it has been called the Great American Experiment.
In order to fully understand the principles that underpin our founding documents and the philosophies that have led our nation to such incredible success, you must understand a few things about the authors. First, they were overwhelmingly Christian. Nearly all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were members of a recognised Christian denomination. Even such figures as Jefferson, Franklin and Madison, whose religious beliefs were rather unorthodox, had all attended the Episcopal Church at various times in their lives and all spoke favourably of the moral teachings of Jesus.
While today’s landscape abounds with historical revisionists who claim that the founders were indifferent to religion and were committed to creating a purely secular society, it is hard to explain away quotes from early American statesmen such as: ‘Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God ... What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be.’ (John Adams, second President of the United States.)
And: ‘It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.’ (Patrick Henry, Ratifier of the United States Constitution.)
Another important thing to know about the founders is that they represented the best and brightest minds the colonies had to offer. This group of thinkers was learned in the fields of statecraft, philosophy, rhetoric, science, architecture and ancient languages. They were also students of history who had closely examined different forms of government and identified certain organisational pitfalls which would need to be avoided if their new nation were to both thrive and escape falling into the hands of a tyrant.
The founders’ fervent belief in a natural law by which God granted such unalienable rights as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to men rather than to governments was the cornerstone of their new republic. The idea of a limited government that ruled only by consent of the governed was a novel concept in their day. This emphasis on the empowerment of the individual combined with the promise of one being able to enjoy the fruits of one’s own labour led to an explosion of innovation and economic competition that in a mere 250 years has brought mankind from wagons and shovels to space shuttles and smartphones.
A further reason for the success and stability of the USA is that our early leaders’ Christian faith and understanding of man’s fallen nature and tendency to temptation inspired them to establish a government of three separate but co-equal branches, which featured an elaborate system of checks and balances whereby each branch was vested with procedural tools which would allow it to block a consolidation of power by any other branch.
The poet Karl Marx
Later, in the mid 1800’s the American system’s chief nemesis would be birthed by German philosopher Karl Marx. Unlike such American statesmen as George Washington who declared ‘Of all dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports’, Marx believed otherwise. Few people today realize that Karl Marx was a poet in his youth whose verses offer insight into the darkness of his soul and vision for mankind. A few illustrations may be helpful:
‘Thus Heaven I’ve forfeited,
I know it full well. My soul,
once true to God,
Is chosen for Hell.’ The Pale Maiden
‘Till hearts bewitched, till senses reel,
with Satan I have struck my deal,
He chalks the signs, beats time for me,
I play the death march fast and free.’ The Fiddler
‘Then I will wander godlike and victorious through the ruins of the world,
and giving my words and active force,
I will feel equal to the creator.’ Human Pride
These are just a few of Marx’s many writings which present a theme of dethroning God and fulfilling a pact with the devil. Here, I must emphasise that such disturbing verses are not only published by partisan conservative websites but can easily be found on such pages as allpoetry.com and Marxists.org.
When one considers the wholesale butchery engaged in by Russian Bolsheviks during their October Revolution, and the nearly 100 million murders committed by communist regimes during the 20th century, it is not hard to believe that these governments were being guided by malevolent forces.
Let those of us in modern-day America and Britain not forget that while Satan at times stalks the earth as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, at other times he presents himself as an angel of light. The latter has been the modern strategy of left-wing socialist movements. Whereas a Bolshevik may appear upon one’s doorstep with a gun in one hand and a sword in the other, today’s socialist comes in disguise with a harp and a halo.
Revolution to evolution
This is due to the strategic shift from revolution to evolution espoused by such activists as Antonio Gramsci, Saul Alinski, and members of the Fabian Society. All of these were sceptical that the working class of America would ever rise up and murder the members of the wealthy class, as they all shared the same Christian faith, so instead they advocated a patient, incremental change in the average American’s perception of morality. Gramsci proposed a ‘long march through the institutions’ which involved infiltrating the colleges, universities, seminaries, churches, media, labour unions and courts in order to gradually create a shift in the average person’s moral compass. The success of this approach can be seen in the fact that today abortion is hailed as a noble way to exercise one’s constitutional rights, gay marriage is presented as a fundamental human right which seeks only to champion ‘love’, and extreme anti-capitalist environmental groups take credit for ‘saving the planet’.
The Holy Bible has been jettisoned as the objective moral standard by which we should live, in favour of such flimsy pop culture mantras as ‘don’t hate’, ‘coexist’, and the supremely subjective ‘do the right thing’.
As Christians in England and in America attempt to come to grips with the current momentum of societal change it is vitally important to remember the words found in Ephesians 6.12: ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’
Although we should view the political process as a tool by which we can try to slow the destruction that is being visited upon our countries, we must not make politics our primary weapon in the spiritual war we currently find ourselves in. This conflict will not be won at the ballot box or even on the field of battle but rather on our knees as we fervently seek the will of the one true God, the one to whom every single person who has ever lived will one day have to answer.
As our nations’ governments become increasingly active in requiring Christians to affirm the moral relativism of our current Postmodern age, we should steel ourselves for the persecution that is sure to follow.
May our father’s will on earth be done as it is in heaven and may he return soon.
The Honourable Edward B. Vines is a district judge in Jefferson County, Alabama, who hears domestic relations cases. He is a practicing Christian and an active member of Shades Crest Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Hoover, Alabama.