A Christian chaplain has written to officials at the nation’s historic Independence Hall in Philadelphia asking them to provide a better experience for visitors after a tour guide there discounted the Christian beliefs of the Founders, saying, “Washington didn’t even go to church.”
Independence Hall in Philadelphia
The letter from Pastor Todd DuBord, now the chaplain for the enterprises of actor, martial arts champion and philanthropist Chuck Norris, was sent to the superintendent of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, where some of the nation’s founding documents were assembled and where the Liberty Bell now is exhibited.
DuBord for years has worked with tours of patriotic citizens who have visited Washington and other locations to see the markers of America’s Christian heritage. He previously exposed when tour guides at the U.S. Supreme Court building were denying the multiple representations there of the Ten Commandments.
He also exposed the agenda at work in the District of Columbia when the replica of the Washington Monument capstone, which is engraved with “Laus Deo,” or “Praise be to God,” was positioned in the visitors’ center so observers were not able to see the inscription.
Chaplain DuBord was on a recent American heritage tour that included well-known Pastor Jim Garlow of Renewing America Leadership and history expert David Barton of Wallbuilders in Boston, Washington and Philadelphia. It was there he and others experienced what prompted him to assemble the letter, also published as a report on his National Treasures website.
DuBord at one point asked the guide, “Can you tell me about these men’s religious affiliation?”
The response was a series of statements that discounted the religious faith of the Founders, he wrote.
“The NPS guide went from being an expert on the Founders to someone who was fumbling to formulate his words and get even a coherent and accurate sentence about our Founders’ religion,” DuBord wrote. “It struck me from his initial utterances on their religious views that he knew very little if anything about the real issues at all – and that made me wonder how many presentations he had done over the years to school children and guests from all over the country and world without ever discussing the Founders’ religious nature with any accuracy.”
Among the guide’s statements that DuBord challenged:
- “George Washington didn’t even attend church!”
- “While the NPS guide physically hunched over, mimicked and mocked one carrying and swinging an oversized Bible in his hand, he said to the crowd: ‘Even if I said the founders were Christians, how could we really know? Just because people carry a big ol’ Bible in their hand, they can still be atheists!”
- “Most of these men owned slaves. How could good Christians do that?”
- “We know that Benjamin Franklin was a deist.”
- “We don’t really know for sure about their religion. It’s open for interpretation. You’ll have to do your own study on that.”
“In the very house in which they adopted a Creator-filled Declaration of Independence, not one positive comment was made about any one of the Founders’ Christian faiths,” DuBord wrote.
He said the group was stunned, then ordered quickly by the guide into the next room.
But in the letter, DuBord said the statements just aren’t right.
Liberty Bell, with biblical quote: Leviticus 25:10
“Washington attended Christ Church (the first Episcopal Church) just a few blocks away from Independence Hall with Betsy Ross, John Adams (our 2nd president), Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, Robert Morris and many other signers of our founding documents,” he wrote. “He also had reserved pews at two churches in Virginia, at Pohick Church near Mount Vernon and one at Christ Church in Alexandria.
“The NPS guide could have cited any of a number of examples in Washington’s life and even presidency,” he wrote, citing Washington’s reference as he took the oath of office in 1789 that, “we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the external rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”
He reported, too, that during Washington’s first inaugural, the president praised God, saying it would be 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 … that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States.”
Ten years later, DuBord wrote, Washington addressed some Delaware chiefs, saying, “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. … Congress will do everything they can to assist you.”
Said DuBord, “Of all Washington’s speeches on religion and morality, however, one stands out among all others: his ‘Farewell Address’ as president”:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
He said the mockery by the guide of the Founders’ Christian beliefs “was simply unbecoming.”
George Washington statue outside Independence Hall
“For the Founders, God and government were intricately linked. Even Thomas Paine, perhaps the most religiously exempt among the founders, echoed one year earlier, ‘Spiritual freedom is the root of political freedom … . As the union between spiritual freedom and political liberty seems nearly inseparable, it is our duty to defend both,'” DuBord quoted.
Regarding Franklin’s “deism,” he wrote that Franklin himself told Congress he believed “the Creator was very much involved and engaged in the affairs of men … . He echoed his belief as he appealed to the Constitutional Convention to remember the place the Lord had in the inception of America.”
There, Franklin said, “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 the sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”
Regarding slavery, he wrote that the Founders struggled with what – at that time – was socially accepted and even expected.
Washington said, “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it.”
John Adams said, “I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in … abhorrence.”
Wrote Benjamin Franklin: “Slavery is … an atrocious debasement of human nature.”
Alexander Hamilton: “The laws of certain states…give an ownership in the service of Negroes as personal property … .But being men, by the laws of God and nature, they were capable of acquiring liberty – and when the captor in war … thought fit to give them liberty, the gift was not only valid, but irrevocable.”
Continued DuBord, “Even Thomas Jefferson, hailed as the great separatist who fought against the tyranny of religious denominational sectarianism in the state (and vice versa), nevertheless endorsed the use of government buildings (like the Capitol) for church services, weekly attended the church services there while president, signed a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that allotted federal money to support the building of a Catholic church and to pay the salary of the church’s priests, and repeatedly renewed legislation that gave land to the United Brethren to help their missionary activities among the Indians. Can you imagine any president doing so today? He would be labeled a radical … .”
While the NPS could not be reached on the weekend for a comment on its procedures, DuBord documented that one minister and two sons of clergy were signers of the Declaration.
“Most signers of the Constitution were also Protestant Christians, except two … who were Roman Catholics.”
Christian testimonies have been found documenting the faith of Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett, Franklin, Elbridge Gerry, John Hancock, Samuel Huntington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas McKean, John Morton, Robert Treat Paine, Benjamin Rush and others, he said.
DuBord also confirmed to WND he’s been in dialogue with the park service about the issues.
“While they told me just this past week, ‘We’re working on it and will let you know our course of action,’ the fact of the matter is nothing happens without a grassroots swell speaking up to these historical distortions,” he said.
He suggested America’s patriots should speak up by contacting the park to express their views.
“Then teach what you learn to your children and grandchildren, and be prepared to address any and all false statements at Independence Hall and all other U.S. historic parks that teach history about our republic, because America’s godly heritage is disappearing as fast in these places as it is in public schools’ textbooks!” he said.
WND has reported on a series of other efforts to remove mention of God and references to the religious faith and influences of the Founding Fathers from government grounds.
In 2008, an “oversight” at the nation’s $600-million-plus Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., left the national motto “In God We Trust” absent from the historical displays and at one point prompted WND columnist and veteran actor Chuck Norris to ask if he could help correct the situation.
That “oversight” was fixed in 2009 after U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and 108 members of Congress expressed concern the historical content was inaccurate, prompting the committee’s determination to make changes.
Also, WND reported in 2006 when DuBord told WND he was more than startled during his visits to the U.S. Supreme Court and two other historic locations to discover the stories of the nation’s heritage had been sterilized of Christian references.
He visited the courthouse and was surprised that what the tour guides were telling him wasn’t what he was seeing.
“Having done some research (before the trip), I absolutely was not expecting to hear those remarks,” which, he had told WND, “denied history.”
DuBord wrote to the Supreme Court and several other groups, asking them to restore the historic Christian influences to their presentations. He said he was most disturbed by what appeared to be revisionism in the presentations given to visitors at the Supreme Court.
There, he said, his tour guide was describing the marble frieze directly above the justices’ bench: “Between the images of the people depicting the Majesty of the Law and Power of Government, there is a tablet with 10 Roman numerals, the first five down the left side and the last five down the right. This tablet represents the first 10 amendments of the Bill of Rights,” she said.
“The 10 what?” was DuBord’s thought.
Dubord began researching and found a 1975 official U.S. Supreme Court handbook, prepared under the direction of Mark Cannon, administrative assistant to the chief justice. It said, “Directly above the Bench are two central figures, depicting Majesty of the Law and Power of Government. Between them is a tableau of the Ten Commandments.”
Further research produced information that in 1987 the building was designated a National Historic Landmark and came under control of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Under the new management the handbook was rewritten in 1988. The Ten Commandments reference was left out of that edition, and nothing replaced it.
The next reference found said only that the frieze “symbolizes early written laws.” Then in 1999, the handbook referred to the depiction as the “Ten Amendments to the Bill of Rights.”
“The more I got into [his research], the more I saw Christianity had been abandoned from history,” DuBord said at the time.