|Official portrait of our fourth President|
Those who painstakingly laid the foundation of what would become the greatest of all nations spoke frankly about religious tolerance. Yet the intended context of their mutual perspective, which was centered almost entirely upon the tenets of Christianity, is often overlooked, if not dismissed, by a newer breed that swears the Forefathers who authored the Constitution and all its associated doctrines had no intention of instituting God as the cornerstone of our grand republic.
Aside from the fervently irreligious, Believers are also faced with another contemporary nemesis that openly intends to employ their peculiar, if not troubling canons – proven to be the antithesis of the American core – as a means of conquering the unbelieving infidels. And just as shocking, these sanctimonious hordes now have advocates working on their behalf deep within the corridors of power.
One of our nation's finest contributed something to this conversation that remains as pertinent as when he initially spoke it 226 years ago:
"Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe: And if a member of Civil Society, who enters into any subordinate Association, must always do it with a reservation of his duty to the General Authority; much more must every man who becomes a member of any particular Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. . . .
"Torrents of blood have been spilt in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm, to extinguish Religious discord, by proscribing all difference in Religious opinion. Time has at length revealed the true remedy. Every relaxation of narrow and rigorous policy, wherever it has been tried, has been found to assuage the disease. The American Theatre has exhibited proofs that equal and compleat [sic] liberty, if it does not wholly eradicate it, sufficiently destroys its malignant influence on the health and prosperity of the State.
"If with the salutary effects of this system under our own eyes, we begin to contract the bounds of Religious freedom, we know no name that will too severely reproach our folly. At least let warning be taken at the first fruits of the threatened innovation. The very appearance of the Bill has transformed "that Christian forbearance, love and charity," [Virginia Declaration of Rights, art. 16] which of late mutually prevailed, into animosities and jealousies, which may not soon be appeased."
– James Madison, in a speech to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia; June 20, 1785