Congress Rules on the Religion
Congress of the United States of America January 19, 1853, as part of a Congressional investigation, records the report of Mr. Badger of the Senate Judiciary Committee:
The [First Amendment] clause speaks of “an establishment of religion.” What is meant by that expression? It referred, without doubt, to that establishment which existed in the mother-country … endowment at the public expense, peculiar privileges to its members, or disadvantages or penalties upon those who should reject its doctrines or belong to other communions,-such law would be a “law respecting an establishment of religion…” They intended, by this amendment, to prohibit “an establishment of religion” such as the English Church presented, or any thing like it. But they had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people… . They did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistic apathy. Not so had the battles of the Revolution been fought and the deliberations of the Revolutionary Congress been conducted.
In the law, Sunday is a “dies non;… The executive departments, the public establishments, are all closed on Sundays; on that day neither House of Congress sits… . Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, recognized and respected by all the departments of the Government.
Here is a recognition by law, and by universal usage, not only of a Sabbath, but of the Christian Sabbath, in exclusion of the Jewish or Mohammedan Sabbath… the recognition of the Christian Sabbath [by the Constitution] is complete and perfect.
We are a Christian people… not because the law demands it, not to gain exclusive benefits or to avoid legal disabilities, but from choice and education; and in a land thus universally Christian, what is to be expected, what desired, but that we shall pay due regard to Christianity.
Congress of the United States of America March 27, 1854, received the report of Mr. Meacham of the House Committee on the Judiciary:
What is an establishment of religion? It must have a creed, defining what a man must believe; it must have rites and ordinances, which believers must observe; it must have ministers of defined qualifications, to teach the doctrines and administer the rites; it must have tests for the submissive and penalties for the non-conformist. There never was as established religion without all these…
At the adoption of the Constitution… every State… provided as regularly for the support of the Church as for the support of the Government…
Down to the Revolution, every colony did sustain religion in some form. It was deemed peculiarly proper that the religion of liberty should be upheld by a free people. Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle.
At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect [denomination]. Any attempt to level and discard all religion would have been viewed with universal indignation. The object was not to substitute Judaism or Mohammedanism, or infidelity, but to prevent rivalry among the [Christian] sects to the exclusion of others.
It [Christianity] must be considered as the foundation on which the whole structure rests. Laws will not have permanence or power without the sanction of religious sentiment,-without a firm belief that there is a Power above us that will reward our virtues and punish our vices.
In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity: that, in its general principles, is the great conservative element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions. That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants. There is a great and very prevalent error on this subject in the opinion that those who organized this Government did not legislate on religion.
Congress of the United States of America May 1854, passed a resolution in the House which declared:
The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
quotes from:America’s God and Country by William J. Federer