America’s Founders understood something that most modern politicians do not understand. Liberty fourishes best where there is boundless faith and limited government. Liberty and governmental power do not mix. As power is centralized in Washington D.C., there occurs a corresponding loss of liberty throughout the heartland.
Socialism, on the other hand, requires a strong, centralized government to implement its policies Socialism and political power, therefore, go hand in hand. Wherever socialism is implemented, there is a corresponding loss of individual and religious liberties.
The Founders, Faith, and Freedom
America's Founders, their parents, and their grandparents had fled oppressive governments that sought to control their lives with tyrannical laws and regulations. They came to America with visions of individual and religious liberty. They were not looking for help from any government.
They were people of faith. Government for them was a nuisance and a pain. They agreed with Thomas Paine, who in his book, Common Sense, wrote, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
They issued the Declaration of Independence, not from a quest for political power, but from a deep desire to protect the liberties they had experienced in the New World. This would require a government with limited power for they knew from their study of both the Bible and human history that human nature cannot be trusted with power.
Their distrust of power is why they divided the powers of government into two legislative branches, an executive branch, and a judicial branch. It is why they implemented checks and balances to keep absolute power out of the hands of any person or group.
It is also why they instituted the 2nd Amendment--to give the citizens the right to defend themselves against a tyrannical, over-reaching government that might arise in the future. The Founders would agree with the adage of Sir John Dalberg-Acton, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Socialism Loves and Needs Power
Socialism, on the other hand, requires a powerful, centralized government for its implementation. This in turn requires a ruling elite, like the old Soviet politburo, that controls every facet of society, spreads the wealth around, and enriches itself.
In socialism, which is rooted in Marxism, the God of the Bible is replaced by the god of the state. People no longer need God to help them deal with life; they now can look to the government to solve every problem and meet every need. Faith in God, therefore, is viewed as an enemy of the state.
This is why, during the 20th century, millions of Christians were imprisoned and put to death in socialist/communist regimes such as China, Cambodia, Cuba and the Soviet Union. This is why, alongside the rise of socialism/Marxism in modern America, there is a corresponding rise of hostility toward people of faith.
Have you noticed that the Democrat party seems to be moving further and further from any open identification with God and Christianity? This always happens as a people move from individual liberty to socialism. The god of socialism is a jealous god and will tolerate no rivals.
If you want to understand the passion of the new progressive wing of the Democrat party, this is it. They have visions of power. They have exchanged the God of the Bible for the god of power, which they envision being expressed through themselves in a powerful, centralized government.
A Revitalized Christianity is the Answer
The ultimate answer to the challenge of atheistic socialism in American today is not a political one, but a spiritual one. America must return to the vision of the Founders who saw liberty and faith as being joined together in an indissoluble bond. They did not believe one could flourish without the other.
That is why the First Continental Congress opened with an extended time of Bible reading and prayer. It is why George Washington insisted on taking the oath of office with his hand on a Bible. It is why he said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 137).
For this same reason John Adams wrote to his cousin, Zabdiel, a minister of the gospel, two weeks before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and said,
Statesmen, my dear sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles, upon which Freedom can securely stand" (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 173.)
The Bible-believing Christian who takes his faith seriously is socialism’s worse nightmare. This is why we must pray for another Great Awakening across the land. This is why we must challenge the contemporary church to move beyond an entertainment culture and begin training people the to be salt and light and live out their faith in this culture.
Dr. Eddie Hyatt is the author of numerous books, including Pilgrims and Patriots, which documents America's birth out of a great, spiritual awakening. His books are available from and Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.
In a meeting with Delaware Indian chiefs
in 1779, George Washington shared with them the importance of the Christian
faith. After commending them for their request that their youth be trained in
American schools, he said,
You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and
above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and
happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you
in this wise intention.
freedom in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with this Indian tribe was normal
for the founding generation for such freedom was rooted in the original
American vision, which was to be a land of religious liberty from which the
gospel would spread to the ends of the earth.
Missionary Vision of America’s First Immigrants
the Jamestown settlers disembarked at Cape Henry, VA on April 29, 1607, their
first act was to erect a 7-foot oak cross they had brought from England. They
then gathered around the cross for a prayer service in which they dedicated the
land of their new home to God.
desire to reach those who did not know Christ was expressed by their chaplain,
Rev. Robert Hunt. In his dedicatory prayer, he declared, “From these very
shores the gospel will go forth to not only this New World, but the entire
years later, off the coast of New England, the Pilgrims drew up the Mayflower
Compact in which they declared their 2-fold purpose in coming to the New World:
(1) for the glory of God and (2) the advancement of the Christian faith.
1643 the United Colonies of New England was formed to arbitrate land disputes
and to facilitate cooperation in matters of economy and security. That the many
thousands now living in New England shared a common vision to spread the
Christian faith is indicated by the opening statement of the constitution,
Whereas we all came into
these parts of America with one
and the same end and aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus
Christ and to enjoy the Liberties of the
Gospel in purity with peace (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 52-53).
is no accident that the first Bible printed in America was printed for
missionary purposes. It was produced by John Eliot (1604-1690) in the
Massachusetts language. Eliot was also instrumental in the founding of
America’s first missionary society in 1649. It was called “The Company for the
Propagation of the Gospel in New England and Parts Adjacent in North America.”
missionary vision of America’s earliest immigrant had a far-reaching impact,
even influencing America’s Founding Fathers.
America’s Founders Had the Vision
For example, in a 1756 letter to George
Whitefield, the most famous preacher of the Great Awakening, Benjamin Franklin
proposed that they partner together in founding a new Christian colony on the
Ohio frontier. He wanted to populate it with a religious [Christian] and
industrious people. He also presented a missionary motive for the new colony,
Might it not greatly facilitate the introduction of
pure religion among the heathen, if we could, by such a colony, show them a
better sample of Christians than they commonly see (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 105).
Franklin had met Whitefield 18 year prior to this,
and they had become close friends and business partners. Since Franklin is
writing this proposal to the fiery revivalist of the Great Awakening, there can
be little doubt that the “pure religion” he wants to introduce to the native
tribes in that region is the evangelical revivalism preached by Whitefield.
president, Thomas Jefferson negotiated a federal treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians, a treaty that, among other
things, stipulated that federal funds be made available to pay for a Christian
missionary to work with the Indians and for the building of a Christian church
in which the Indians could worship (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 150). Jefferson
I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus . . . The
philosophy of Jesus is the most sublime and benevolent code of morals ever
offered man. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen
(Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 149-50).
Samuel Adams has
been called “The Father of the American Revolution.” He was a member of the
Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. While
serving as governor of Massachusetts, he proclaimed a Day of Prayer in which he
exhorted the citizens of that state,
that the peaceful and glorious reign of our Divine Redeemer may be known
throughout the whole family of mankind.
John Hancock served
as president of the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of
Independence. His signature is the largest and most obvious on that document.
While serving as governor of Massachusetts, he also proclaimed a Day Prayer in
which he exhorted the people,
that all nations may bow to the scepter of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
and that the whole earth may be filled with his glory.
chief architect of the Constitution and America’s fourth president, voiced his
opposition in 1785 to a bill that he perceived would have the unintended
consequence of hindering the spread of the gospel. He said,
policy of the bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity.
The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift ought to be that it may be
imparted to the whole race of mankind (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots,
Washington, America’s first president, not only shared the gospel with American
Indians, he once publicly prayed,
Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind, and let
the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son, Jesus Christ (Hyatt,
Pilgrims and Patriots, 138).
Real Liberty Without the Gospel
Founders believed so strongly in the gospel as the basis of human freedom that
they unashamedly prayed and publicly expressed their desire to see it spread
throughout the earth.
presidents have sought to export American style democracy to other nations
apart from the gospel of Christ. Indeed, the entire Western world is seeking to
secularize liberty and remove it from any association with faith.
Founders would say that such efforts are futile since true liberty cannot be
had apart from the gospel of Christ. Washington made this plain in his Farewell
Address where he warned the fledgling nation that two things must be guarded if
they were to be a happy people--“Christianity and morality,” which he called
“indispensable supports” for political prosperity (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 169).
About “Separation of Church and State”
oft-quoted phrase, “separation of church and state,” is nowhere to be found in
America’s founding documents. It is a reference to the First Amendment that
reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or
hindering the free exercise thereof.” The day after ratifying the First
Amendment, those same Founding Fathers issued a proclamation for a National Day
The First Amendment was
merely their way of saying that America would never have an official, national church like the nations of Europe at the time. By instituting the First
Amendment, the Founders rejected the model begun by Constantine in which civil
government establishes and upholds by force an official, state church, and
persecutes all others.
of banning faith from the public square, as many moderns suppose, the Founders,
by this act, created a free and open marketplace for religious ideas. They were
not concerned about false religion getting the upper hand for they believed in
the inherent power of the Christian message.
were convinced that on an open and even playing field, truth would always
prevail. They agreed with the Puritan, John Milton, who wrote,
Let Truth and Falsehood
grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse in free and open encounter? She
needs no policies, nor strategems, nor licensings to make her victorious . . .
Give her but room.
the Founders believed in the inherent power of Christianity, which is why Jefferson wrote,
Truth can stand by itself … If
there be but one right religion and
Christianity that one, we should wish to see the nine hundred and ninety-nine
wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. But against such a majority we
cannot effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable
instruments. To make way for these, free inquiry must be indulged; and how can
we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it ourselves.
is Time to Recover the Vision
the original American vision was for a land of religious liberty from which the
gospel would spread to the ends of the earth. Modern secularists have robbed
the American populace of this vision by rewriting America’s history and turning
the First Amendment on its head.
truth, however, will make us free as Jesus declared in John 8:32-33. As we
recover the truth about America’s overt Christian founding and ask God to visit
this land with another Great Awakening, the original American vision could well
be revived once again.