Supposedly Deistic nature of the Declaration of Independence
Hamilton02 at aol.com
Hamilton02 at aol.com
Sun Dec 19 18:04:32 PST 2004
I would not lump the Declaration with the Constitution in terms of
God-consciousness. The two times are radically different.
The Declaration was penned at a time when Americans believed that they were
God's chosen for the first successful republican form of government in
history. The optimism was Enlightenment-inspired and as much as hubris as faith.
The Constitution was drafted after they learned they were an utter failure
at crafting government the first time around (the Articles). The Calvinist
instinct at the time to distrust all humans kicked in with some force, so the
focus was on how to limit and deter the power of those in positions of
power--not on how they were ascending to the greatest free government in history.
They no longer believed they were God's only chosen, but rather fallible men
who could do no better than to experiment with whatever structures and people
they had at hand. The horizon was no longer God's horizon, but man's. The
result is a Constitution that focuses on structure and does not engage in
In either case, it is impossible to argue this is a "Christian" country with
any plausibility. It's as much as Christian as it is Enlightenment, Greek,
and Roman, theology and philosophy, which is to say it is all of them put
together and more.
As for Franklin's suggestion regarding prayer, it was not so much politely
ignored as no one was willing to pay for the cost of having a cleric come into
their deliberations and deliver a prayer...
Had TJ wanted to use words like "the Great God of the Bible" or The Father,
Son and Holy Ghost, or The Jehovah, he certainly could have. The language of
the Declaration (and the utter lack of any mention of God in the
Constitution) illustrates the general diestic flavor of the founding and the general
view of the founding generation to avoid discussion of religion in their
political development. It is not insignifcant, I think that none of the existing
records of the federal convention contain any references to God or the Bible
(much less the 10 C) and that when Franklin suggesting beginning the sessions
with prayer, as a desperate attempt avoid a collapse of the Convention, he was
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