Today’s letter-to-the-editor — it’s actually a column — appears in the Anza Valley Outlook of Fallbrook, California, which calls itself the “Avocado Capital of the World.” It’s titled God referenced five times in the Declaration of Independence, and the newspaper has a comments feature.
Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today’s author is an exception. It’s Harold Pease Ph. D, described as “a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and to applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College.”
Taft College is a public community college located in Taft, California. We searched for Harold’s name in the faculty directory, but for some reason it’s not there. Anyway, we’ll give you a few excerpts from his column, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis.
It always amazes me when otherwise intelligent people are unable to find evidence of God in our governing documents.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It always amazes your Curmudgeon when people do find such evidence. As we explained in Is America a “Christian Nation”?:
The “Christian Nation” advocates typically begin their spin by pointing out that the Declaration of Independence says we’re endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. … [E]ven if Jefferson actually were referring to the scriptural deity, which is dubious, the “Christian Nation” advocates fail to grasp the basic point that the Declaration isn’t the law of the United States. It was a statement made for the king, and for the world, announcing that the Americans were declaring their independence, and the reasons why they were doing so.
The Articles of Confederation — our first constitution — was drafted by another committee of the Continental Congress, and was presented to Congress for approval the same month as the Declaration — July of 1776. … Did the Articles — drafted mostly the same month as the Declaration — create a “Christian Nation”? No. There’s no mention of religion — Christian or otherwise — in the document. Well, there is a vague (probably Deist) phrase in the signature section … .
For contrast, we quoted some of the Colonial Charters, which were drenched in religious language, and with which the Founders were undoubtedly familiar. Nevertheless, neither the Declaration, the Articles, nor the Constitution contain any language even remotely like that which had theretofore been employed in the beginning of such documents. We also pointed out that the Constitution is specifically non-religious, and the Federalist Papers, written to explain the Constitution clause-by-clause, has no scriptural references.
That was a long comment, but it was necessary. Then the junior college teacher says:
The Declaration of Independence, the signing of which we commemorate July 4th, alone has five references to God – two in the first paragraph, one in the middle and two in the last. It begins, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Yes — that’s the Declaration’s first “reference to God.” But it says “nature’s god.” Who’s that — the supernatural, miracle working Yahweh? It doesn’t sound like Yahweh, but the junior college teacher thinks otherwise. He tells us:
Who is responsible for “the laws of nature” but God – certainly not man nor nature itself? From the “laws of nature” sprang an awareness of natural law, sometimes called common sense, understood by early philosophers to be a source of higher law that never changes.
Okay. Somehow the junior college teacher thinks “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” counts as two references to God. He continues:
The third reference to God is the word “creator” found in the second paragraph. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” …
Whoopee — that’s three! Let’s read on:
The fourth and fifth references to God in the Declaration of Independence are found in the last paragraph. The rightness of our cause was left to God as judge. Here is stated, “We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in general congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown…”
That’s four. Here’s the last one:
The fifth and last reference to God asks for his divine protection in our revolutionary course of action, “and for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
Verily, the Declaration is steeped in supernatural references. It’s an abominable mystery how Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, also wrote The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and produced the Jefferson Bible. Anyway, now we come to the end of the junior college teacher’s column:
There was no dissent noted with respect to these references to God and their placement or emphasis in this document by any of the participants then, nor should there be now. The signers of the Declaration of Independence clearly viewed God as justifying revolution from existing government in the protection of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” rights he had endowed upon man.
Amazing, isn’t it, that the same people who approved the Declaration also wrote the virtually godless Articles of Confederation. And somehow, less than a dozen years later, the Founders wrote the totally godless Constitution. Perhaps you can explain it, dear reader.
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