Orthodox Forum | by Pastor Symeon | Nov. 28, 2009
Critics often miss the point by trying to validate or invalidate the American Founding Fathers as Christian. According to Orthodox Tradition this doesn’t matter. In fact according to Tradition it doesn’t matter whether the ruler is Christian or Pagan or some other monotheistic religion, or even atheist.
The Orthodox fathers have written tomes to justify their capitulation to Emperors and Kings (Christian, Pagan, Islamic – alike) – arguing that those powers (governments) were “God Ordained” and that one, as an Orthodox Christian, was required to cooperate and be a good citizen as long as the state didn’t require conduct antithetical and detrimental to moral conscience and The Faith. The history of this argument goes all the way back to the Saint Paul’s writings, confirmed in the writings of Justin Martyr. Can’t find a principle of the Church more ancient than the Christian’s responsibility to be a good citizen.
The difference in America is what Good Citizenship requires: Now here is why the Christian or non-Christian complexity of the collections of Founding Fathers is unimportant. It was not their individual beliefs, but the pattern of governance they created, which made every individual citizen the initiator and validator of local, state and national governance. They even went so far as to placed upon the citizens the responsibility to confound governments, if at any time they ceased to function according to the God Ordained Model. American Citizenship is an awesome responsibility.
You see you cannot argue the Divine Right of Governments with power flowing from God to King and Emperor down to the common man, without validating the American Model where the Divine Right of Governance flows from God to citizen upward. This IS the model the American Founding Fathers created, and the form and reality of authority we as Christians and good citizen must honor, even to the point of confounding local, state, or national government that fails to honor the God Ordained Model.
This is the difference between the hellish and killing humanistic “liberty” screamed in France, where God was rejected, insanity ensued and innocent blood flowed; and the life-giving liberty forged in the U.S. where God was honored in all the written principles and the God given value of the individual codified into law. The American Model, rightly honored and followed is a culture of life.
The Founding Fathers personally held a collection of divergent philosophies, theologies and even theosophies. Thomas Jefferson was a theosophist, history is clear. But so what? If he had been a Pagan of Ancient Rome and he and other pagans created this form of government, where the initiation and validation of governance was placed in the hands of each individual citizen because that same citizen held recognized inalienable rights – “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights” the implication remains clear. As Christians and American Citizens it is OUR God Ordained responsibility to initiate and validate governance and even to confound any government that fails to recognize this God Ordained principle.
Critics could dredge up proof that Thomas Jefferson was a Luciferian and Benjamin Franklin a Wiccan witch and even produce quotes where they suggested violence to the Virgin Mary and devotion to Pan and Baccus, it would make absolutely no difference, because the Nation was not founded upon the men, or even upon their personal “ideals” but rather it was founded upon the principles they produced and codified into law, under the watchful eye of the Almighty. They surrounded the Constitution with a Judeo-Christian wall of protection. We have no doubt the nature of the principles they produced; they are self-evident.
When we start introducing the writings of the Founding Fathers where later in life they expressed opinions and start treating those personal opinions as holding sway over the constitution itself, that’s a slippery-slope employed by both sides. The constitution was created to mirror the standards of the populous, and part of that reflection is religious and moral. Those who say not try to turn the Constitution into a strictly “humanistic” document absent both religion and morals.
Who cares that Jefferson talked about a “wall of separation” between church and state? The constitution itself only speaks of “non-establishment of Church by government.” Freedom OF religion is clearly outlined; freedom FROM religion is no place to be found on its pages. Yet, judges accepting the “wall of separation” concept have expanded the “non-establishment clause” out of all proportion and reason, trying to create that non-existent “freedom FROM religion- wall of separation.”
Only ONE document holds sway over the U.S. Constitution proving its origins and color, reinforcing the tenor of its meaning and the motivation of its writers; it is in fact the legal predecessor of the U.S. Constitution, upon which men fought, surrendered life and property and gain the freedom to codify the U.S. Constitution. That document was the first document produced by an American Congress, and was properly entitled, “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled.” This was in fact the Declaration of Independence.
We can bat all the ruminations of all the signers of that Declaration and the signers of the U.S. Constitution back and forth ad infinitum and what is gained but the further deterioration of the documents themselves. The principles of the U.S. Constitution are self-evident. We have to exercise OUR Citizenship to protect those principles, because without out active and vocal participation other forces will use whatever means necessary to thwart its meaning and force.
– Archpriest Symeon