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The Rights of the People

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    After this deliverance the court proceeds to cite historical evidences to prove the proposition that this is a “religious people” and a “Christian nation.” The first is as follows:-ROP 114.1

    “The commission to Christopher Columbus, prior to his sail westward, is from ‘Ferdinand and Isabella, by the grace of God, king and queen of Castile,’ etc., and recites that ‘it is hoped that by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered,’ etc.”ROP 114.2

    What religion did Ferdinand and Isabella have in mind when they issued that document? What religion did they profess? And what religion did they possess, too?-The Catholic religion, to be sure. And not only that, it was the Catholic religion with the Inquisition in full swing; for it was Ferdinand and Isabella who established the Inquisition in Spain under the generalship of Torquemada, and who, because Spain was a “Christian nation,” sentenced to confiscation of all goods and to banishment every Jew who would not turn Catholic. 11This sentence was inflicted, too, after the commission to Christopher Columbus under which he discovered this “Christian nation.” And by virtue of such religious activity as this Ferdinand and Isabella fairly earned as an everlasting reward, and by way of preeminence, the title of “THE CATHOLICS.” And this is the first piece of “historical” authority by which the Supreme Court of the United States adjudges American citizens “to be a religious people,” and by which that court decides that this is a “Christian nation.”ROP 114.3

    Now that is quoted to prove that this is a “religious people” and a “Christian nation,” and it is declared that this language, of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the language of the Constitution of the United States, “have one meaning.”ROP 115.1

    Then, in view of that quotation and this decision, should it be wondered at if the Catholic Church should claim that this is so indeed, and should demand favors from the government as such? Everybody knows that the Catholic Church already is not slow to take part in political questions, to interfere with the government, and to have the government recognize the Catholic Church and give it every year from the public treasury nearly $400,000 of the money of all the people. The people know that this is already the case. And now when this Catholic document is cited by the Supreme Court to prove this a Christian nation; and when that court declares that this document and the Constitution have one meaning, should it be thought strange if the Catholic Church should claim that that is correct, and act upon it.ROP 115.2

    However, it is not denominational or sectarian Christianity that the court proposes to recognize as the national religion here, but, as was attempted in Virginia, simply “Christianity, general Christianty.” Accordingly, British documents are next quoted which designate the “true Christian faith” as professed in the Church of England in colonial times. And here is the quotation:-ROP 115.3

    “The first colonial grant, that made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, was from ‘Elizabeth, by the grace of God; of England, Fraunce, and Ireland, queene, Defender of the Faith,’ etc.; and the grant authorized him to enact statutes for the government of the proposed Colony; Provided, That ‘they be not against the true Christian faith now professed in the Church of England.’ ... Language of a similar import may be found in the subsequent charters, ... and the same is true of the various charters granted to other colonies. In language more or less emphatic, is the establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant.” 12It may very properly be noted here, in passing, that this and the previous quotation just as certainly prove the divine right of rulers in this country, as they prove that this is “a religious people” or “a Chrisian nation.” And this is the logic of the discussion, too; for it is plainly declared that these documents and the Constitution have all one language and “one meaning.”ROP 116.1

    It is true that the “establishment of the Christian religion was one of the purposes” of all these grants. But are the American people still bound by the purposes and intentions of Queen Elizabeth and her British successors? Does Britain still rule America, that the intent and purposes of British sovereigns shall be held binding upon the American people?-Nay, nay. After all these documents were issued there was the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, by which it was both declared and demonstrated that these Colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent States-free and independent of British rule, and the intents and purposes of British sovereigns in all things, religious as well as civil. And then after that the national Constitution was formed, expressly repudiating “establishments of the Christian religion.”ROP 116.2

    It is true that the “establishment of the Christian religion was one of the purposes” of these grants. But shall the Constitution of the United States count for nothing, when it positively prohibits any religious test, and any establishment of religion of any kind? Shall the supreme law of this nation count for nothing in its solemn declaration that “the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion”? Has the Supreme Court of the United States the right to supplant the supreme law of this land with the intents and purposes of the sovereigns of England? Is the Supreme Court of the United States the interpreter of the supreme law of the United States? or is it the interpreter of the intents and purposes of the sovereigns of England, France, and Ireland, “Defenders of the Faith”?ROP 116.3

    It is true that “the establishment of the Christian religion was one of the purposes” of these grants, and that purpose was accomplished in the Colonies settled under those grants. But, though all this be true, what possible bearing can that rightly have on any question under the Constitution and laws of the national government? The national system was not intended to be a continuation of ‘the colonial system; on the contrary, it was intended to be distinct from both the colonial and State systems. And the chief, the very fundamental, distinction that the national system was intended to have from both the others, was in its complete separation from every idea of an establishment of religion.ROP 117.1

    And though it be true that all the Colonies except Rhode Island had establishments of “the Christian religion” in pursuance of the purpose of these British grants; and though all the States except Rhode Island and Virginia had these same establishments of “the Christian religion” when the national system was organized; yet this had no bearing whatever upon the national system except to make all the more emphatic its total separation from them all, and from every conception of an establishment of “the Christian religion.”ROP 117.2

    Let us reduce to a short argument this reasoning of the court. The proposition to be proved is, “This is a Christian nation.” The principal statement is, “The establishment of the Christian religion was one of the purposes” of the British grants here. We have then these two statements of the court. But this is not enough; we must know how the conclusion is derived from the principal statement,ROP 117.3

    So far the argument stands merely thus:-ROP 118.1

    (a) “The establishment of the Christian religion was one of the purposes of the British grants in America.”ROP 118.2

    (b) Consequently, “this is a Christian nation.”ROP 118.3

    But this will never do; there is a destructive hiatus between the antecedent and the consequent. This blank must be filled, or else there is a total absence of reasoning, and the conclusion is nothing. With what, then, shall this blank be filled? It could be filled thus:-ROP 118.4

    (a) “The establishment of the Christian religion was one of the purposes of the British grants in America.”ROP 118.5

    (b) America is subject to British sovereignty.ROP 118.6

    (c) Consequently, “this is a Christian nation.”ROP 118.7

    This would complete the formula, would give the conclusion something to rest upon, and would connect it with the chief statement. But the difficulty with it is that it is not true. It is not only contrary to the history and the experience of the nations concerned, but it is contrary to the argument of the court itself; for the court, in its argument, does recognize and name the Declaration of Independence and the national Constitution. This thought, then, is not allowable in the argument.ROP 118.8

    What thought, then, will fit the place and make the argument complete? There is one, and only one, possible thought that can fit the place and make the connection between the court’s principal statement and its conclusion. That thought is given by the court itself as the turning point, and is indeed the pivot-the very crucial test-of the whole argument presented by the court. Here is the argument complete:-ROP 118.9

    (a) “The establishment of the Christian religion is declared to be one of the purposes of the [British] grants [in America].”ROP 118.10

    (b) This declaration and the national Constitution have one language and “one meaning.” 13Immediately after quoting the First Amendment to the Constitution, along with all these others, the court’s words are these:-
    “There is no dissonance in these declarations.(!!) There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning (!!!) They affirm and reaffim that this is a religious nation.”
    ROP 119.1

    (c) Consequently, “this is a Christian nation.”ROP 119.2

    This and this alone is the course of reasoning by which the court reaches its conclusion that “this is a Christian nation.” This is the thought, and, indeed, those are the words, of the court. The thing is accomplished solely by making the language of the Constitution bear “one meaning” with these quoted declarations, whose purpose was plainly “the establishment of the Christian religion.”ROP 119.3

    But some may say. This formula encounters the same difficulty as did the other one, viz., it is not true, and is contrary to all the history and experience of the nation in the times of the making of the Constitution. It is true, as the preceding chapters of this book plainly show, that the connecting statement between the premise and the conclusion in this latter formula is, in itself, as false as is that one in the former. It is true that the Constitution was never intended to bear any such meaning as is here given to it in harmony with the declarations quoted. It was both intended and declared to bear a meaning directly the opposite of that which these declarations bear. And if any other person, persons, or tribunal, on earth (except all the people) had said that such is the meaning of the Constitution, it would have amounted to nothing. Such a statement made by the Supreme Court, however, does amount to something. And-ROP 119.4

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