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Religion and the American Revolution by Jerald C. Brauer (ed.)


Jerald C. Brauer, is Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor of the History of Christianity at the Divinity School, The University of Chicago. Originally published by Fortress Press, Philadelphia, in 1976. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


Chapter 3: The Revolution and the Civil Religion by Robert N. Bellah


(Robert N. Bellah is Ford Professor of sociology and Comparative Studies at the University of California at Berkeley as well as Vice-Chairman of the Center of Japanese and Korean Studies there.)

There is a sense in which the American Revolution and the American civil religion are the same thing. When I use the term "civil religion" I am pointing to that revolution in the minds of men that John Adams argued was the real Revolution in America. That was the revolution that culminated in the Declaration of Independence, even though the Revolutionary War had scarcely begun.

It is that Revolutionary faith -- what Lincoln called "our ancient faith" -- that I have called the American civil religion, or at least its normative core. In order that there be no ambiguity about what I mean I would like to cite briefly the Declaration of Independence, and also the Gettysburg Address which represents a rededication to and renewal of that primary text:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Natureís God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation -- We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. -- That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

And from the Gettysburg Address the opening and the closing statements:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . . It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- . . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

It is that abstract faith, those abstract propositions to which we are dedicated, that is the heart and soul of the civil religion; but we can, of course, never forget the historical circumstances in which those words originated -- a revolutionary war of independence and a war to decide whether this nation would be slave or free. While there are many other embellishments, symbols, traditions, and interpretations that have become more or less securely part of the American civil religion, I think we already have before us the fundamental form of its faith. The words are so familiar that they have become for many almost empty of meaning. But their meaning has never been more critical for testing the condition of the political society in which we live.

In defining the American civil religion there was a certain ambiguity in my original articleí that I would now like to clear up. In that article I pointed to those classic documents that unmistakably define the special character of the American faith, the documents from which I have just quoted. But in taking the term "civil religion" from Rousseauís Social Contract I was also bringing in a much more general concept, common in America in the eighteenth century but by no means specifically American. Therefore I think it might be useful to distinguish between two different types of civil religion, both operative in America and distinguishable perhaps more in the minds of the analyst than in the consciousness of the people. These two types I would like to call special civil religion, that which I have just defined, and general civil religion, which I would now like to describe.

It is the essence of general civil religion that it is religion in general, the lowest common denominator of church religions. Though religion in general and lowest common denominator religion were attacked in the fifties as a modern perversion of traditional religion by neo-orthodox critics and those like Will Herberg who were influenced by them, actually such general religion has a long and honorable history in Christendom. It is what was called natural religion. And natural religion was generally agreed for many centuries to be an indispensable prerequisite for government. Roger Williams, for example, for all his insistence on the separation of church and state, believed that such general religion was essential for what he called "government and order in families, towns, etc." Such general religion is, he believed, "written in the hearts of all mankind, yea, even in pagans," and consists in belief in God, in the afterlife, and in divine punishments.2 Benjamin Franklin for all his differences from Roger Williams believed essentially the same thing, as indicated in the quotation from his autobiography in my original article on civil religion. Elsewhere Franklin emphasized the importance of general religion when he wrote, "If men are so wicked as we now see them with religion, what would they be without it?"3

But the classic expression of general civil religion is surely to be found in George Washingtonís Farewell Address:

Of all the suppositions 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 labour 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 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 desert 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.4

And a little later in the address he asks, "Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue?"5

It is these statements, I believe, that foreshadow the famous and much criticized remark of Dwight David Eisenhower, "Our government makes no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith -- and I donít care what it is."6 Being charitable to Eisenhower I think we may doubt that he didnít care at all: he meant he didnít care which of the conventional. American religious faiths it was because all of them have the requisite minimal features of general civil religion. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, a man on the opposite side of the political fence from Eisenhower, said much the same thing in a 1952 Supreme Court decision when he wrote, "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being."7

We should not assume, however, that all Americans from the seventeenth century on have been quite so inclusive with respect to general civil religion. Williams, Franklin, and Washington were willing to accept Catholics and Jews along with Protestants, and Williams was ready to include Muslims as well. Indeed some of the noblest sentiments of inclusion in the common fellowship in our history are to be found in the letters and addresses of Washington to religious organizations. Particularly remarkable are his sentiments of strong acceptance and support of groups that have sometimes been considered marginal by many Americans:

Roman Catholics, for example, or Quakers. But the high point in these letters and addresses is certainly the Address to the Hebrew Congregation of New Port on August 17, 1790, well known to Jewish Americans but not so familiar to many of us:

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy, a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. . . .

May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.8

But it was a long and slow process before Catholics and Jews were fully included in our civil consensus. Mark De Wolf Howe and William McLoughlin have argued that there was a de facto Protestant establishment in the early years of the Republic, that this establishment was broadened to include Catholics late in the nineteenth century and that only in the twentieth has America transcended the notion that it is a Christian nation. In any case the idea that religion is the basis of public morality, and so the indispensable underpinning of a republican political order, is a constant theme from Washingtonís Farewell Address to the present. This fundamental function of general civil religion could be carried out by churches that remained indifferent to the special civil religion embodied in such documents as the Declaration of Independence and bound up with the history of the American nation, but most American religious groups have been able to affirm both general and special civil religion as well as their own doctrinal peculiarities. In this fusion Protestant denominations have been joined by Catholics and Jews almost to the present.

The founding fathers believed that religion and morality were the essential basis for that virtue which Washington said Providence always connects with the felicity of a nation. But how hopeful were they that virtue, the very principle of a republic, would survive in America? Our founding fathers, children of the eighteenth century though they might be, were not callow optimists. Washington in his Farewell Address wrote that he dared not hope that his counsels could "prevent our Nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the Destiny of Nations."9

What that course was Franklin made clear in his speech on the very last day of the Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787:

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe further that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall have become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.10

These sentiments are amplified in an earlier letter written in 1775 to Joseph Priestly:

It will scarce be credited in Britain, that men can be as diligent with us from zeal for the public good, as with you for thousands per annum. Such is the difference between uncorrupted new states, and corrupted old ones.11

And Jefferson parallels Washington and Franklin in his "Notes on Virginia," 1781:

The spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion. 12

If we ask what virtue and corruption meant to the founding fathers the answer is clear from the quotations I have just cited and from many more I could have cited. Franklin described it as "zeal for the public good." Jefferson put it a little differently when he described virtue as "a love of others, a sense of duty to them, a moral instinct, in short, which prompts us irresistibly to feel and to succor their distresses." 13 Corruption is the opposite of "zeal for the public good." It is exclusive concern for oneís own good, for, in Franklinís words, "thousands per annum." For Jefferson, corruption consists in forgetting oneself "in the sole faculty of making money."

If we can see the connection between general civil religion and virtue defined as concern for the common good, we can begin to see the connections between general civil religion and special civil religion, for special civil religion defines the norms in terms of which the common good is conceived. Perhaps the central norm in the American civil religion is expressed in that great phrase of Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal." But it is widely asserted that the founding fathers were hypocrites, that Jefferson didnít really mean it. I recently heard it said on a television discussion that since Jefferson believed in slavery he meant "all men are created equal" to apply only to whites; nor was that view contradicted by any member of the distinguished panel. Silly adulation of the George Washington and the cherry tree variety is certainly to be abhorred, but silly debunking is no improvement. As a matter of fact Jefferson never believed in slavery, always argued that it was wrong, consistently tried to limit and contain it so that it could eventually be suppressed, and -- what anyone talking on the subject of the Declaration of Independence should know -- condemned it utterly in his own draft of that document. One of the charges against the king of England that was unfortunately struck out by Congress read in Jeffersonís original words:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people, who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.14

In his Summary View of the Rights of British America of 1774 Jefferson had called for the "abolition of domestic slavery" and the eventual "enfranchisement of the slaves we have."15 In his "Notes on Virginia" of 1781 Jefferson foresaw a future "total emancipation" but was not insensitive to the irony of a people fighting for its own freedom keeping another in subjection. He placed the issue of slavery in the light that Abraham Lincoln would always see it when he wrote in 1781:

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that their liberties are of the gift of God -- that they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever; that, considering numbers, nature, and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of

fortune, an exchange of situation [between masters and slaves] is among the possible events; that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take sides with us in such a contest.16

Jefferson, unlike Lincoln, did not often resort to biblical language, but the injustice of slavery called it forth in him. One cannot but see those words as a foreshadowing of Lincolnís great Second Inaugural Address:

Yet if God wills that [this war] continue until all the wealth piled up by the bondsmenís two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall he paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

There is, then, a biting edge to the civil religion. Not just general civil religion, but virtue. Not just virtue, but concern for the common good. Not just the common good defined in any self-serving way, but the common good under great objective norms: equality, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.

The American civil religion could not guarantee the instant fulfillment of its precepts. No religion has ever been able so to guarantee. Do all Christians love their neighbors as themselves? The world, as Christians have long known and as the founding fathers certainly knew, is a wicked place. Compromise with existing evil is necessary for survival. But religions have a way of going beyond necessary compromise and tacitly condoning or even supporting evil when it could be effectively opposed. I would not deny that the civil religion has been used to condone evil, any more than I would deny that Christians have used their religion to condone evil. And yet the fundamental tenets of the civil religion have continued to work among us. How different our history would have been if the Declaration of Independence had read, "All white people are created equal and all black people are created slaves by nature."

I have concentrated on slavery because it has occasioned the deepest moral and political trauma in our history. A tragic civil war was required to abolish it, and its effects are still far from eradicated today. But slavery is only an image, an emblem, an example of the more general problem: how to actualize on this earth the great religious and moral insights that have been given to us.

I have spoken so far as though the tenets of the civil religion are self-evident, as though they need no interpretation, as though the only problem is their implementation. Actually that is far from the case. Conflict, explicit or implicit, over the deeper meaning of the civil religion has been endemic from the beginning. The conflict over the meaning of the civil religion, over the very meaning of American, has never been more severe than it is today,17 and how we as a people make the great decisions that lie ahead may depend on how we resolve that conflict of meaning.

To put it -- for the sake of argument -- a bit too simply: there have been behind the civil religion from the beginning two great structures of interpretation, the one I shall call biblical, the other utilitarian. The biblical interpretation stands, above all, under the archetype of the covenant, but it is also consonant with the classical theory of natural law as derived from ancient philosophy and handed down by the church fathers. The utilitarian interpretation stands, above all, under the archetype of the social contract and is consonant with the modern theory of natural rights as derived from John Locke. The meaning of every key term in the civil religion -- certainly liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but also equality and even life -- differs in those two perspectives.18

As an expression of the biblical archetype that stands behind the civil religion let me turn to that great initial sermon of John Winthrop, "A Model of Christian Charity," delivered on board ship before the landing in Massachusetts in 1630. This sermon was designed to sketch the religious and ethical foundation of the new society the colonists were to build:

From hence wee may frame these Conclusions.

1. first all true Christians are of one body in Christ 1 Cor. 12.12. 13. 17. [27.] Ye are the body of Christ and members of [your?] parte.

21y. The ligamentes of this body which knitt together are love.

31y. Noe body can be perfect which wants its propper ligamentes.

41y. All the partes of this body being thus united are made soe contiguous in a speciall relacion as they must needes partake of each others strength and infirmity, joy, and sorrowe, weal and woe. 1 Cor: 12, 26. If one member suffers all suffer with it, if one be in honour, all rejoyce with it.

51y. This sensiblenes and Sympathy of each others Condicions will necessarily infuse into each parte a native desire and endeavour, to strengthen defend preserve and comfort the other.

To insist a little on this Conclusion being the product of all the former the truthe hereof will appeare both by precept and patterne i. John. 3. 10. ye ought to lay downe your lives for the brethren Gal: 6.2. beare ye one anothers burthens and soc fulfill the lawe of Christ.í19

Only a little further in the sermon he adds:

The next consideration is how this love comes to be wrought; Adam in his first estate was a perfect modell of mankinde in all theire generacions, and in him this love was perfected in regard of the habit, but Adam Rent in himselfe from his Creator, rent all his posterity alsoe one from another, whence it comes that every man is borne with this principle in him, to love and seeke himselfe onely and thus a man continueth till Christ comes and takes possession of the soule, and infuseth another principle love to God and our brother.20

In Winthrop, then, there is a great tension between the situation of fallen men, whose disobedience to God rends them also from each other so that they love themselves alone, and the truly Christian community where all are one body in mutual love and concern. The whole Puritan project was an effort to overcome the failings of fallen or natural man and create a holy community, based on love. In an effort to actualize the biblical commandments Winthrop and his friends sought to create a holy commonwealth in England, and if not there then in America. The moral and religious fervor at the root of that effort was the source of much that is good in American society ever since, but we must not forget its dark side: the moral crusade, the holy war, what Paul Tillich called the sin of religion, to confuse oneís own will with the will of God. And Winthrop, for all his moderation and humanity, did display that dark side as when several times he turned persecutor and drove religious dissidents from the Bay Colony.

Partly in reaction against the Puritans the great founders of modern philosophy in England, Hobbes and Locke, created a position that was in a sense the dialectical opposite of that of the Puritans. Disturbed by sectarian fanaticism, finding the Puritan goal utopian and finally destructive because, they thought, unrealistic about human nature, they drastically lowered the moral demand, abandoned the principles of Christian politics, and started with natural man, the fallen man of Winthrop, the man who loves himself alone. Thus when, over fifty years after Winthropís sermon, John Locke discusses the purpose or the end of government he finds it to be not love, as Winthrop would have said, nor justice, as Aristotle would have said, but:

The great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property."

Or again:

The commonwealth seems to me to be a society of men constituted only for the procuring, preserving, and advancing their own civil interests.

Civil interests I call life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like.22

Now one can read the great tenets of the civil religion in either of the two perspectives -- as Winthrop would have read them, or as Locke would have read them. Is equality a condition for the fulfillment of our humanity in covenant with God or is it a condition for the competitive struggle to attain our own interests? Is freedom almost identical with virtue -- the freedom to fulfill lovingly our obligations to God and our fellow men -- or is it the right to do whatever we please so long as we do not harm our fellow men too flagrantly? Is the pursuit of happiness the realization of our true humanity in love of Being and all beings, as Jonathan Edwards23 would have put it or is it, as Locke would contend, the pursuit of those things -- notably wealth and power -- which are means to future happiness, in Leo Strauss s words, "The joyless quest for joy"?24 Does life mean biological survival in our animal functions or does it mean the good life in which our spiritual nature and our animal nature are both fulfilled?

It would simplify matters if Christians had consistently followed what I am calling the biblical interpretation of our civil religion, and deists and rationalists had followed the utilitarian interpretation. Such was not, however, the case. Not only have Christians been on both sides of the fence but we can find the same cleavage in the Enlightenment thought of the founding fathers. The stress on virtue that we have already noticed -- Jeffersonís "love of others," Franklinís "zeal for the public good" -- is very close to the biblical archetype, while the stress on self-interest that is also common among the founding fathers suggests the powerful influence of the utilitarian archetype.

I would argue that it is the idea of virtue that was the organizing center of that initial Revolution in the minds of men that I have identified with the civil religion, the very spirit of the Declaration of Independence. Although in Jefferson the utilitarian side is never absent, the idea of virtue is never eclipsed by the idea of interest. Others of the founding fathers were less constant. Adamsís great enthusiasm for virtue during the Revolutionary War turned to skepticism and a reliance on interest in the following decade.25 Hamilton was never more than mildly intoxicated with the idea of virtue and rapidly became the greatest theorist of the interest-conception of the Republic.26 Though most in the founding generation kept some balance between the two sides, there was a perceptible swing toward interest by the end of the 1780s. Indeed, if we can say that virtue is the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, then interest is the principle of the Constitution. Between the two documents there is a great lowering of the moral sights. Madison, who was very much himself of two minds on the subject of virtue and interest, nonetheless gave the clearest exposition of the interest-doctrine in the 51st Federalist:

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may he a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. . . .

This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power, where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other -- that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights.27

There were several references to God in the Declaration but none in the Constitution. The Constitution was a document of compromise, as it had to be. Powerful interests had to be taken into account, even when they violated the spirit of the Declaration. It was therefore a document of potential tragedy, as Madison, its chief architect, well knew when he wondered how well it resolved or failed to resolve the problem of slavery. Franklinís words spoken on the last day of the Constitutional Convention and quoted above express the somewhat somber mood. Jeffersonís words already quoted, that the "shackles not knocked off" would lead to a "convulsion," proved prophetic, for the shackles of slavery were not knocked off and the seeds of the Civil War were sown from the moment the Constitution was ratified.

I do not mean to say that I think the Constitution was a counterrevolutionary document or that it marked a Thermi-dorean reaction. It is itself one of the greatest political documents ever produced, one that has stood up incredibly well through nearly two hundred years of enormous social change. But if we can see it as the body of which the Declaration of Independence is the soul then we must see that it was a very imperfect body from the beginning. Almost the first act of the new government was to amend it ten times. It was not until the great Civil War amendments that slavery was finally abolished and the promise of "equal protection of the laws" was made -- a promise that has not yet been kept. It was not until the twentieth century that the equality the Declaration promised to all human beings -- for that is what "men" meant in the fundamental phrase -- began to be fully extended to females as well as males. And the Constitution will undoubtedly have to be changed again in the future if it is to reflect more adequately the truth of its soul. Yet the Constitution was not a betrayal of the Declaration but the inevitable compromise that was necessary if the Declaration was to be incarnated at all.

Thus we have it -- virtue and interest, covenant and utilitarianism -- the American civil religion has always ranged between those heights and those depths. I would not deny it. Generations of believing Christians have seen it in its highest light, though often on Monday morning in the counting house they have seen it at its lowest. Some of our greatest leaders, Jefferson and Lincoln included, though profoundly influenced by modern philosophy, have risen to a biblical level of insight in our times of need. On the other hand Christianity has been profoundly infected with the utilitarian spirit, the primary stress on property and wealth. Since the middle of the nineteenth century we have seen the rise of the gospel of work, the gospel of wealth, the gospel of success. By 1901 Episcopal Bishop William Lawrence could say, "Godliness is in league with riches."28 And with the idea that the godly are rich and the rich are godly the idea of a covenant based on love was just about gone.

My original article on civil religion was written in 1965 and published in 1967 in an issue of Daedalus on "Religion in America." Looking back now it seems that the article and the widespread response it evoked reflected some kind of break in the line of American identity. Civil religion came to consciousness just when it was ceasing to exist, or when its existence had become questionable. Nor was it only civil religion that was affected by the upheaval of the sixties. Sydney Ahlstrom in his Religious History of the American People speaks of the end of the "Puritan Era,"29 by which I think he means the Protestant hegemony of American culture. But indeed all religious traditions in America were called in question in that decade and are still in doubt. The legitimacy and authority of all our institutions, political, economic, educational, even familial, as well as religious, has never been shakier. We are, then, not only in an economic depression but in a political and religious one as well. This profound loss of confidence in our institutions and our traditional identities is even more serious than the economic troubles that seem to plague us chronically in recent years.

It is a situation of hope as well as danger. The coming-apart of unholy alliances, such as that between utilitarianism and biblical religion, could lead to some new imaginative visions, some alternatives to the ever-increasing dominance of governmental and corporate bureaucracy into which we have fallen. Only the biblical religions, I venture to think, can provide the energy and vision for a new turn in American history, perhaps a new understanding of covenant, which may be necessary not only to save ourselves but to keep us from destroying the rest of the world. Such a revitalization of biblical religion in America would find, I believe, an ally rather than an enemy in the highest aspect of the civil tradition.

Alas, we have no Jefferson or Lincoln today to educate us and rededicate us to our Revolutionary ideals. Or if we do, I have not yet discerned him or her. But that is no reason to despair. Our greatest leaders have always been exemplars and teachers, not dictators who did what the people could not do. If there are no great teachers, we must teach ourselves.

But if we let our heritage slip from our hands, if we do not understand what we are, then Lincolnís great words about us, words we find it hard to understand in these closing years of the twentieth century -- that we are "the last best hope of earth" -- will in the end be nothing but a mockery, a sarcastic epithet for a fallen republic.

 

End Notes:

1. Robert N. Bellah, "Civil Religion in America," Daedalus, Winter 1967. Reprinted in Robert N. Bellah, Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditional World (New York: Harper and Row, 1970)

2. Roger Williams to Daniel Abbot, January 15, 1681, in Edmund S. Morgan, ed., Puritan Political Ideas (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1965), p. 224.

3. Ralph Ketcham, ed., The Political Thought of Benjamin Franklin (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1965), p. 144.

4. Saxe Cummins, ed., The Basic Writings of George Washington (New York: Random House, 1948), p. 637.

5. Ibid., p.638.

6. Dwight D. Eisenhower, in Will Herbert, Protestant-Catholic-Jew (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., l955), p.97

7. Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.s. 306 (1952), 312-313. Cited in Mark De-Wolfe Howe, The Garden and the Wilderness: Religion and Government in American Constitutional History (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1965), p. 13

8. George Washington, in Paul F. Boller, Jr., George Washington and Religion (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963), p. 186.

9. Cummins, Basic Writings of George Washington, p. 642.

10. Ketcham, Political Thought of Benjamin Franklin, p. 401.

11. Ibid., p. 288.

12. Thomas Jefferson, "Notes on Virginia," Query 17, in Saul K. Padover, ed., The Com~plete Je/jerson (New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1943), p. 676.

13. Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814, cited in John R. Howe, Jr., The Changing Political Thought of John Adams (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966) p.31.

14. Padover, The Complete Jefferson, p. 32.

15. Ibid., p. 14

16. Notes on Virginia, Query 18, in Padover, The Complete Jefferson p. 677.

17. On February 10, 1976, James Kilpatrick, former speechwriter for a former president, declared in a column published in the San Francisco Chronicle that the phrase "all men are created equal" is a "palpable falsehood." In an Associated Press dispatch of September 13, 1975, it was reported that Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller had declared that the "Judaeo-Christian heritage" is at odds with "free enterprise" and that too much charity may destroy the country. "One of the problems in this country is that we have the Judeo-Christian heritage of wanting to help those in need," the Vice President is quoted as saying.

18. A more developed treatment of these contrasts will he found in Robert N. Bellah, The Broken Covenants American Civil Religion in Time of Trial (New York: Seabury Press. 1975)

19. Morgan, Puritan Political Ideas, pp. 84-86.

20. Ibid., p. 86.

21. John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government, paragraph 124.

22. John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1950), p. 17.

23. Jonathan Edwards, The Nature of True Virtue, (Ann Arbor The University of Michigan Press, 1960).

24. Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1953) p. 251.

25. See Howe, The Garden and the Wilderness, chaps. 2 through 6.

26. See Gerald Stourzh, Alexander Hamilton and the Idea of Republican Government, (Stanford: University Press, 1970) chap. 2.

27. The Federalist (New York: Modern Library, 1937), p. 158.

28. William Lawrence, in Ralph Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought (New York: The Ronald Press, 1956), p. 158.

29. Sidney B. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972) , chap. 63.

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