God is the source of all truth.

Key 1 Analysis

Many colonists came to the New World seeking religious freedom.  They brought with them their Bibles so that they would have the word of God to guide them.  The people recognized that God is the source of truth and strength.  They believed God had revealed His will, His truths, and His laws through the prophets.  These teachings were recorded in the scriptures which they considered sacred writings.  They also believed that God would help them in all areas of their daily activities.  This included their efforts to establish a new form of government.  On June 28, 1787, Benjamin Franklin made a powerful plea for prayer in the Constitutional Convention.  In this plea he exhorted the members of the Convention to appeal to God for enlightenment by referencing both the scriptures and God’s previous responses to their prayers during the revolution.  At a critical time in the debates, Franklin powerfully demonstrated that he recognized God as the source of truth and urged his colleagues to turn to God for help and enlightenment.   (see quote below)

Only God has all knowledge; the rest of us, having gained some knowledge, can share our ideas and exchange wisdom.  If we are as willing to listen as we are eager to expound, we can learn much from each other.  Each of us has varying opinions and a different understanding of the truth.  Allowing differing views of truth is the essence of religious freedom.

In the days of colonization and during most of the history of our Republic, not only the religious leaders, but also the political leaders, as well as the people in general, had no problem publicly acknowledging the hand of God in their daily lives.  The people believed in God and trusted that He would enlighten their minds with truth and wisdom.

Occasions of public worship such as days of fasting, prayer, and repentance, were traditional ways of giving thanks and supplicating help from the Divine Creator.  In the New England area especially, they believed that they were a “chosen people”, a “covenant people”, and “God’s New Israel” who had come to a “promised land” and had fled from “Pharaoh and Egypt” across the sea.  The colonists believed that they had a “manifest destiny” to be a “light on a hill” to other nations, which would also want to seek freedom.  Religion was not something just saved for Sunday inside the walls of the church; it was their duty to God to live their lives daily in accordance with His will. 

A belief in God, that God knows all truth, and that He expects us to be truthful, was the foundation of all oaths of office and also the testimony of witnesses in the courts of justice.  People could not be expected to tell the truth if they had no fear (respect) of God or of a future state of rewards and punishments in the afterlife.  Oaths were held sacred and were taken in courts of justice and before congressional hearings to swear before God that they would tell the truth.

On October 19, 1789 the first Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Jay, took his oath of office which ended with the words “So help me God” as would be required for all judges, under the Judiciary Act of 1789.  The first United States Congress passed this act under which our first federal judiciary was organized.  

Quoting John Jay:

“The greater part of evidence will always consist of the testimony of witnesses. This testimony is given under those solemn obligations which an appeal to the God of Truth impose; and if oaths should cease to be held sacred, our dearest and most valuable rights would become insecure.” John Jay June 25, 1792 to grand jury in Vermont.

President George Washington recognized that freedom would be lost if the oaths before God were ever taken lightly, as he stated in his farewell address:

“Let it simply be asked where is the security, for property, for reputation, for life, it the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice?”

Alexis de Tocqueville, a French jurist, came to the United States in 1831, on behalf of the French government to study American prisons. He stayed for nine months. He studied every aspect of American life, the political, economic, religious, cultural, and social life of the young nation. Tocqueville noted that religion played a leading role in American life. He recorded that a person, to be called as a witness, could not even take an oath or take the stand in a court of justice who did not have a belief in God:

While I was in America, a witness, who happened to be called at the Sessions of the County of Chester (state of New York) declared that he did not believe in the existence of God or in the immortality of the soul.  The judge refused to admit the evidence, on the ground that the witness had destroyed before hand all the confidence of the court in what he was about to say.

In a note de Tocqueville added:

“The New York Spectator of August 23, 1831, related the fact in the following terms:”…The presiding judge remarked that he had not before been aware that there was a man living who did not believe in the existence of God; that this belief constituted the sanction [in law, that which gives binding force] of all testimony in a court of justice; and that he knew of no case in a Christian country where a witness had been permitted to testify without such belief.”

Dr. W. Cleon Skousen, The Five Thousand Year Leap p. 101


Benjamin Franklin:

Mr. President: [George Washington]

The small progress we have made, after four or five weeks’ close attendance and continual reasonings with each other, our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ayes, is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running all about in search of it.  We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics which, having been originally formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist; and we have viewed modern states all round Europe, but find none of their constitutions suitable to our circumstances. 

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understandings?  In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the divine protection.  Our prayers, Sir, were heard-and they were graciously answered.  All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor.  To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity.  And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend?  Or do we imagine we no longer need [His] assistance? 

I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?  We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.”  I firmly believe this; and I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages.  And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move,

That henceforth prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business; and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.

[Benjamin Franklin June 28, 1787  Constitutional Convention] The Real Benjamin Franklin pp 455-456

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It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect,…No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States…Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency…There is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists, in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness,…and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity…the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”     Pres. George Washington  Inaugural Address April 30, 1789 

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” The most effectual means of preventing the perversion of power into tyranny are to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people. It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason. Light and liberty go together. I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue, and advancing the happiness of man. Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day. If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity. ”     Thomas Jefferson  

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“Education is useless without the Bible.”    Noah Webster

“The Bible was America’s basic text book in all fields.”   Noah Webster

“Discipline our youth in early life in sound maxims of moral, political, and religious duties”    Noah Webster  

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Because of a shortage of Bibles, 7/07/1777 Congress requested to print or import Bibles.  9/11/1777 Congress ordered import of 20,000 Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different ports of the States of the Union.  Jan. 21, 1781 Congress authorized Robert Aitken to print “a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools.” Sept. 12, 1782, it was ready to print, and the full Congress approved that Bible, and had printed in the front the Congressional endorsement: “Whereupon, Resolved, That the United States in Congress assembled…recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.”   (This was the first English-language Bible printed in America.)      David Barton Original Intent pp. 103-108

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October 19, 1789 1st Chief Justice John Jay took an oath which ended with the words “so help me God” as required by the Judiciary Act of 1789 under which our first federal judiciary was organized.       Roy Moore  So Help Me God,  p. 138 Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States 1789-1800 vol. 2, 284

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The greater part of evidence will always consist of the testimony of witnesses. This testimony (of witnesses) is given under those solemn obligations which an appeal to the God of Truth impose; and if oaths should cease to be held sacred, our dearest and most valuable rights would become insecure.      John Jay  June 25, 1792 to grand jury in Vermont 

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Let it simply be asked where is the security, for property, for reputation, for life, it the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice?       George Washington  Farewell address

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