Just as we were on the verge of enjoying another secular Christmas season, along comes some flaky politician spoiling it all by blurting out the name of “Christ” in a political debate. This egregious effrontery to delicate liberal sensibilities was committed by George W. Bush, who when asked to name the “thinker-philosopher” who had influenced him the most, gave a one word reply: “Christ.” When pressed to elaborate, he added insult to injury by explaining that “When you accept Christ as the Savior, it changes your heart. It changes your life — and that’s what happened to me.”
Liberal pundits could not repress their outrage at this serious transgression of politically correct, liberal dogma. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd accused Bush of using “the son of God” to make political points. “Jesus is a niche,” she wrote, “… the new wedge issue.” Atlanta Constitution columnist Cynthia Tucker wrote that Bush “… just wanted some cheap points for shallow piety.” TV talk-show host Chris Matthews was in shock. He thinks Bush’s remarks should have been reserved for a revival tent. The Anti-Defamation League was, as usual, deeply offended.
In his column in the Washington Post, the usually brilliant and sensible Charles Krauthammer had this reaction: “Such ostentatious religiosity is unseemly. … For those who take God seriously, it is sacrilegious. For those who are secular, it’s scary. You watch these debates brimming with God talk, and you catch a whiff of the Taliban.” (The Taliban is a group of religious fanatics who enforce Islamic law with stonings, amputations of limbs and beheadings.)
These hysterical outbursts reflect the fear felt and the offense taken by spooked, left-wing alarmists They do not want to hear the word “Christ” in any public forum. Their collective advice to Christians is this: keep it to yourself. They are terrorized by the idea that the Christians are coming to get them. They live in fear that there is a vast conspiracy to destroy their lives by imposing goodness upon them. The same people who are panting to get homosexuals out of the closet are working hard to put Christians in it.
What we have in view is a picture of religious intolerance and judgmentalism, bordering on paranoia, and rooted in a colossal ignorance of American history.
America was founded as a religious, indeed, a Christian nation. Until the latter half of the 20th century, references to faith in God and moral codes were standard in the editorials and political commentary found in newspapers. This followed a pattern clearly evident in the founding documents, the inaugural addresses of presidents, history texts and campaign oratory.
Alexander Hamilton and George Washington were devoutly religious, and stressed the vital connection between political freedom and Christianity.
The famous historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”
In a letter to the Ministry of France, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.”
Patrick Henry, a patriot and five-time governor of Virginia, wrote, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here.”
In a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Thomas Jefferson said, “My views … are very different from the anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. … I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished any one to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others …”
James Madison, recognized as the father of the Constitution, wrote the following on June 20, 1785: “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions … upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
Daniel Webster, famous orator and secretary of state to three presidents, said the following in a speech delivered in 1820: “Let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. …They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political or literary.”
The Christian foundations of our Constitution and the active faith of the founders have been stripped out of our textbooks and out of our memories. It is time to restore the truth and reclaim our rightful heritage.