by Matt Lacy –
The head of an historical organization says Hobby Lobby was correct in its claims regarding America’s Christian heritage in a recent July 4th ad.
Hobby Lobby, a Christian based company which is closed on Sundays purchased a full page ad this year for Independence Day titled, “In God We Trust.” The ad is in response to recent attempts by some historians who claim that Christianity played no part in the formation of the United States and that the founding fathers did not subscribe to Christian beliefs.
The ad quotes from several presidents including George Washington, James Madison and John Adams.
James Madison who is considered the father of the Constitution is quoted as saying, “Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the governor of the Universe.”
Washington, the nation’s first President and commander-in-chief of American forces during the Revolution stated, It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”
Washington was also the one to institute the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military. The ban remained in effect for over 200 years before President Obama repealed it in 2010.
The ad also quotes from Harvard and Yale guidelines instructing students to lead a godly life according to the word of God as well as Supreme Court rulings and quotes from Justices.
The ad was recently criticized in an op-ed by William Ziegler appearing in the Fredricksburg.com stating that the ad was borderline lying.
Among its criticism is the ad referencing a pair of Supreme Court decisions.
Ziegler argues that the ad incorrectly quotes the 1884 decision in Vidal v. Girard by saying “Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, be read and taught as a divine revelation in [schools] ?”
The ad notes this was from a unanimous decision commending and encouraging the use of the bible in government run schools.
Ziegler points out that the original decision used the word “college” rather than schools and therefore claims the decision involved an institute of higher learning designed to train adults.
David Barton, an historian and founder of Wall Builders says that while Ziegler is correct about the word college rather than school being in the decision, the word does not mean what it does today.
“The word “college” is indeed used in the original Court ruling; and Girard “college” still exists today, training children from grades one through twelve. So Girard “college” is actually not a “college” in the modern sense that the word is used today, but by today’s standards it is rather a pre-secondary “school” – an elementary, junior high, and high school, but it is not a college as understood today,” Barton said. “Therefore, the use of the word “[school]” in place of the word “college” accurately reflects the object of the Court’s declaration and correctly portrays its intent.”
He went on to say contrary to Ziegler’s claims, the court did in fact rule in favor of religious instruction.
The decision says, “It is unnecessary for us, however, to consider what would be the legal effect of a devise in Pennsylvania for the establishment of a school or college for the propagation of Judaism, or Deism, or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country.”
Barton says, “This is a forthright declaration by the Court strongly endorsing that some form of religious education (i.e., what the Court described as “Divine revelation”) must indeed be taught at the school, and that some “form of infidelity” (i.e., lack of religious instruction) was not to be part of this government-administered education.”
Ziegler also takes issue with comments by John Jay, the nation’s first Chief Justice.
Jay said, “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next,” and that “it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Ziegler states that despite Jay being a chief justice, his comments contradict Article VI of the Constitution which prohibits a religious test as a basis for federal office.
Barton notes that there is no contradiction between the Jay’s statements and Article VI because the Constitution is a reference to a prohibition on the federal government from using a religious test, however voters are perfectly free to do so.