The men who established our constitutional system of government firmly believed that the Christian convictions of the body politic were foundational to American freedom. John Adams said, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other." By this, of course, Adams was not suggesting that Christians aren't sinners. He knew better. He meant that people needed religious and moral standards to maintain a free society. Adams also said this nation was founded on "the general principles of Christianity." A free government "is only to be supported by pure religion or austere morals. Public virtue cannot last in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics." And Washington said, "True religion affords to government its surest support." Even the secularists' darling Thomas Jefferson said while he was president, "No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has ever been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example."
In fact, so widely accepted was the proposition among the founders that Christianity was necessary for freedom that it is difficult to find anyone influential who disagreed with it, quite unlike the situation in revolutionary France, where anti-Christian secularism was predominant. The Americans' acceptance of the interdependence of faith and freedom was so pronounced that French historian Alexis de Tocqueville observed it some fifty years into the new republic. "There is no country in the world in which the boldest political theories of the eighteenth-century philosophers are put so effectively into practice as in America," said Tocqueville. "Only their anti-religious doctrines have never made any way in that country For Americans the ideas of Christianity and liberty are so completely mingled that it is almost impossible to get them to conceive of the one without the other." And again, "There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion-for who can search the human heart?-but I am certain that they hold it indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions."
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