My previous post asked the question, “how did we get here?” “Here” being a state of near total war between dissenting opinions, with disagreements on policies and principles often being labeled as evil rather than honest differences. This post attempts to answer that thorny question. So we will start with a true U.S. history lesson, because we are in dire need of an antidote to all the revisionist history narratives promulgated by the race and victim hustlers.
The United States of America really started in the Plymouth Colony. It was founded by the Pilgrims, originally formed into two groups known as the Separatists and the Anglicans. When the Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod, several hundred miles north of its planned destination in Virginia owing to storms at sea, the passengers realized they were outside the bounds of the governmental authority they had contracted with in England. The core group of Mayflower passengers were members of a reformed Christian church, referred to at the time as Separatists, who were living in Leiden, Holland. They had originally emigrated from England to Holland in order to worship as they believed right. In separating from the Church of England, they had committed treason, and so faced prison or worse if they stayed and were caught. In 1620, the group emigrating from Leiden was joined by about fifty others recruited by the colony’s investors. These “others” were not necessarily Christians, and their worldview was quite different than that of the Separatists, also known as Pilgrims.
William Bradford, the Pilgrim leader, was alarmed to learn that some of the others felt no obligation to respect the rules of the Pilgrims. In his words, they wanted to “use their owne libertie.” The male heads of Pilgrim and non-Pilgrim families therefore drew up a compact that bound all signers to accept whatever form of government was established after landing. The compact created a “Civil Body Politic” to enact “just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices.” Every adult male had to sign the agreement before going ashore.
This colony had been one of the successful colonies in the early years along with Jamestown, Virginia. The Plymouth Colony did not have a royal charter in order to be authorized to form its own government. The Mayflower Compact was its first governing document. When most Americans today are asked, “what is the Founding Document of this nation”, most will shake their heads in consternation, but those who have an answer will generally say “the Declaration of Independence.” In truth, it was the Mayflower Compact.
During Plymouth Colony’s first two-and-a-half years, the economy was in the form of a communal system. This means that there was no such thing as private property or division of labor. The crops and food were grown for allocation to the whole town and were equally distributed to the people. But in 1623, the Plymouth Plantation had difficulties which led to starvation. These “difficulties” were what you normally run into with forced socialism: the responsible minority worked very hard to grow food, while the majority did comparatively little. When it came time for harvest, you might imagine that those who did the most were not happy about those who did least–the majority–getting most of the food, the total of which was not enough to feed the colony. This led the leaders to try another system. They started to allot private properties, mainly land, to families, which increased productivity and pulled the plantation out of poverty. It was proven that people became more productive when they were tasked to plant the crops that they would later use for their own consumption. Members of the colony were heavily engaged in matters of the soul. They constructed a church where they could worship. They also gave birth to a tradition that is still celebrated up to the present time, Thanksgiving.
So what does this short history of our founding tell us about our ancestors and, eventually, the birth of our nation? They sought freedom to worship even before economic freedom. They believed that a document–an early constitution as it were–that laid down principles of governing, was necessary for just and equal laws. So they believed in the rule of law, but when those laws were unjust and elevated a temporal monarch to be head of the church–the Church of England–they were willing to leave their homes and possessions to go to a place where they could worship properly. They believed that civil government (in England the king and Parliament) was a separate sphere of authority from the church, and that it was unholy for the king or civil government to be head of the church. They were then willing to brave great hardships, including starvation, in a wilderness called the New World, in order to worship and govern in the way Jesus called His people to, as in the following exhortation from Matthew.
Matthew 16:15-19. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
How did this exhortation translate to the foundations of civilization, such as education and governing? Back in the formative years of our nation, churches were following Jesus’ command to attack the “gates of hell,” and they believed a first purpose of “higher education” was to train ministers of the gospel. The first 9 universities chartered in the colonies were primarily for training Christian ministers. What universities? How about 7 of the Ivy League, save Cornell, plus William and Mary, and Rutgers. Each was affiliated with a church or denomination. The Christian universal church was explicitly an attacking force against evil. Remember that scene in the film Return of the King when the Army of the West, led by Aragorn, attacks the Black Gate of Mordor? Before the battle, Aragorn encourages his army: “Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship; but it is not this day! An hour of wolves, and shattered shields, when the Age of Men comes crashing down; but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!” That was the church when our nation was birthed, a spiritual fighting force.
“By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!” That battle cry will come back to haunt us. Haunt how? When “men of the West” got tired of standing, when the church traded attacking the gates of hell for currying favor of the culture and sought popularity over duty, the foundations rapidly crumbled. First it was compromise on the role of the church in society, as in not challenging the cultural misunderstanding the first amendment of the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
What that first sentence meant to the founders was avoiding a situation like the Church of England, where leaving the state church was an act of treason, and allowing everyone to worship according to their own conscience, without persecution from the state. But it wasn’t long before this truth was replaced with the “separation of church and state” misunderstanding, which I call willful (since the meaning of that first sentence is clear to anyone not pursuing an agenda). “Separation of Church and State” is nowhere found in the Constitution or any other founding legislation. Our forefathers would never countenance the restrictions on religion exacted today. The phrase was initially coined by Baptists striving for religious toleration in Virginia, whose official state religion was then Anglican (Episcopalian). Baptists thought government limitations against religion illegitimate. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson championed their cause. The preamble in Act Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia (1786), affirms that “the Author of our Religion gave us our ‘free will.’” And that He “chose not to propagate it by coercions.” This legislation certainly did not diminish religious influence on government for it also provided stiff penalties for conducting business on the Sabbath. The day after the First Amendment’s passage, Congress proclaimed a national day of prayer and thanksgiving.
Further distortions of the first amendment followed, including applying it in any situation where lawmaking is not involved, like defending pornograghy as free speech under the gloss of first amendment rights. The amendment is addressed to Congress. As the church kept failing to challenge these willful misapplications of the first amendment, perhaps thinking it wasn’t their job, more and more emotion-based laws and regulations were made. Now Christians who believe in the same principles as the founders are finding that the bureaucratic state has them in the gunsights. But it is not too late, because a sovereign God still rules the affairs of men.