Someone who has studied American history more than I has weighed in on what role religion or more importantly belief in God and America’s public forums.
I am speaking of Chief Justice Antonin Scalia. His remarks were covered in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Below are quotes from the piece and not necessarily in the order presented there.
There is “no place” in the country’s constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence. “To tell you the truth, there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from?” he asked. “To be sure, you can’t favor one denomination over another but can’t favor religion over non-religion?”
He also said there is “nothing wrong” with the idea of presidents and others invoking God in speeches. He said God has been good to America because Americans have honored him.
Scalia said during the Sept. 11 attacks he was in Rome at a conference. The next morning, after a speech by President George W. Bush in which he invoked God and asked for his blessing,
“God has been very good to us.
- That we won the revolution was extraordinary.
- The Battle of Midway was extraordinary.
- I think one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.
- Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name, we do him honor.
- In presidential addresses, in Thanksgiving proclamations and in many other ways…”
“There is nothing wrong with that and do not let anybody tell you that there is anything wrong with that”
“God has been good to America because Americans have honored him.”
“There is ‘nothing wrong’ with the idea of presidents and others invoking God in speeches.”
During the September 11 attacks Judge Scalia was at a conference of judges from multiple countries. President George W. Bush spoke to the nation. Bush invoked God and asked for His blessing in the speech. “Scalia said many of the other judges approached him and said they wished their presidents or prime ministers would do the same.”
“To tell you the truth, there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from?”
It did not come from American history. The American history is full of references to God and His actions and favor. It is full of quotes from the Bible. Those quotes were made in Congress, by presidents, by governors, by people at all levels of government: federal, state and local. American history is riddled with references to God, quotes from the Bible, stories about how God worked on multiple levels and with authentic faith in God on the part of the persons speaking or writing.
God was daily in the public discourse in an honorable way and He was not shouted down. He was revered with the presupposition that wisdom would come forth and wisdom, His wisdom, would prevail.
We are there now. Will we get back to that state? If not, what will be our state in the future?