tv Author Debate on the Influence of Christianity on Americas Founders CSPAN October 1, 2019 9:21pm-10:43pm EDT
mark david hall politics professor at the university and author of said america had a christian founding and andrew, the constitutional attorney and author of the founding myth debate whether the founders were influenced by their religious beliefs. the good evening, ladies and gentlemen. i am a scholar here at the university of louisville and it's an honor to welcome you this evening. in celebration of constitution day we thank you for joining us for a debate. it is my pleasure to introduce the moderator for this evening's
debate. a 24 theme for the brandeis school of law at the university of louisville. prior to coming to brandeis, dean crawford served as a professor of environmental law at tulane university law school in new orleans louisiana. dean crawford was a member of the faculty at georgia state university college of law in atlanta where he founded and codirector of the study for metropolitan growth which developed new models for field-based education and competitive and environmental land-use. a degree from harvard law school and degrees in history from cambridge and columbia universities. he was admitted into the state of new york please join me in welcoming tonight's moderator dean crawford. [applause] >> thank you very much. good evening to all of you it is a pleasure to be back here for the second year in a row at the
mcconnell center. if i have one skill it is being a very strict timekeepers of this evening i'm going to hold the speakers to the time limits that i have been instructed to give them. let me run over that format very quickly. each of the speakers will have 15 minutes for their opening statements. when they have two minutes left, i welled up two minutes and utter the word and say please afterwards tha but i will ask tt you both respect that so that we have time for a robust discussion. and then i will not abuse the te moderators privileging ask a question that each of them as a way to try to incentivize discussions. for that, they will have five
minutes each and then we will start to take questions from the invite will repeat this later but i will make this clear now. we all know that experience of being in the audience is where the audience member raises and makes a statement and i would encourage you to ask the speaker's question so we can hear what they have to say and then take back home our points to discuss so then we will have audience discussion. let me quickly introduce both of them in that order mark david hall who is immediately or is on far to my right will speak first. professor hall is a professor of politics at the university in oregon and the author editor of over a dozen books. he has a phd from the university of virginia in government where
he wrote on one of the founders and i just learned the supreme court justice james wilson. he's also the author of the forthcoming book coming out in october if you have it you can show them what it looks like. did america have a christian founding and she asked me to emphasize it is a book intended for th a general readership. it's not unlike his other word is directed towards academic audiences, so it should be accessible for all of us, myself included. to my immediate right is andrew, a constitutional attorney and the director of strategic the foundation from, i'm getting this wrong. freedom of religion foundation. he has a jd from a school close to my heart a place i taught for eight years at tulane university
in new orleans and was a graduate from tulane and also has from my hometown university the university of denver and he is the author and i only have a copy because the book was published in may the author of the founding myth, which as he pointed out to me and i took note has blurbs from two prominent professors, irwin and geoffrey stone pitc which as i d this came out and may, 2019. so once again i'm going to hold them strictly to the time. without further ado, please begin. [applause] thank you very much and thanks to the mcconnell center for hosting the event and for inviting us to participate. it is an honor to be here.
so, there are two common answers given to the question did america have a christian founding. you have those that say of course the data. not only them but virtually all the founders of ou or godly meng to create a christian nation and these offers often times black academic credentials, sometimes misuse quotations and sometimes they cannot be verified and at the worst they make up stories in the graves account of george washington is just made up. this is a grave concern to me it is very common for academics and popular scholars to insert in the opposite direction to say no if it not have a christian
founding. they desired to separate church and state. i believe these assertions were simply false and i will begin to show that some in my talk tonight and i won't go into further detail in my book. so, what i want to do is contend that if we have to answer the question did america have a christian founding with a yes or no, this gas is definitely the best answer that we need to be careful defining our terms, so over a littloverall the public y christian founding how would we know it if we saw it in if i had more time i would have explored different poundings from the early colonies to the war for independence to the constitutional convention. for the creation of the constitutional order without said let's begin to explore what we mean by the christian
founding. one possibility would be they identifieidentify themselves asn and if that is what we mean an indisputably the christian founding. a 22% were roman catholics and about 2,000 jews in the american cities. that isn't really interesting in my mind. orthodox christians now let me say and i devoted a chapter to this in min my book but there's absolutely no good reason to believe that most or many of america's founders were. it's certainly the case of jefferson and adams and franklin were not orthodox christians but that isn't the same as being
atheist. there are great reasons to believe many of them although in many cases the have to be careful about making that sort of claim. i think the organizers of the debate have it just right. scholars have spent years and killed many trees to identify whether they were influenced by liberalism or classical republicanism or the world sends such a look at the major influences upon america's founders, and i think you could make an excellent case of christianity that it was a very important influence and that would save the most important. christianity proper where it was developed in the tradition of political reflection. the war for american independence because on the surface this seems to be a profound act.
i'm sure you know they were not 13, one and two and if you keep going others are in the beginning that every soul be subject to the governing authority for there is no authority except from god and the authorities that exist are appointed by god is the one cannot make the case that the patriots by rebelling against this duly constituted authority are not engaged in this act. on the surface it does seem to be a problem, however, some scholars begin to work on this problem and ask things but what would happen if a weather became a tyrant, might that ruler ceased to be the sort of governing authority that it speaks about him romans 13, this idea was taken by the protestant reformers especially john calvin and those who followed him. and they developed this robust resistance ideology having the
authority to resist but even as he is doing that, they have the same sort of authority so it's a very important position in the tradition this is very important in the american context for those of european descent in this area or actively identified this sort of connection was noticed by the other side of the loyalist railed against the clergy who took an active part in the rebellion by dissenting daymond congregational's and others. king george himself reported to the independence as the rebellion. the most important document to come out of congress the declaration of independence rests on the claim we hold these truths to be self-evident that
all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. you may object. wait a minute we know that he's not an orthodox christian and he would be absolutely correct that we need to understand that there was a committee of five changed in ways he didn't like and more importantly they went to the entire continental congress that changed it again and it has authority only because it comes from this congress and when they were signing off on displa theye thinking about those who certainly intervene in human affairs. let me press on to another hard case the constitution is this a godless document if you are familiar with state constitution it definitely is different. many have ultimate references
specifically. the constitution is basically silent on this reference to god is datelined there are some notions they are populated by christian. the pocket veto occurs after congress passes a piece of legislation. there's an assumption that they wouldn't b be done on sunday. the constitutional convention every day of the week except for sunday in 1789 the house met once on a sunday. generally people did to legislative business. so, let's move to what kind of argument if i have, god is basically not fair it says we
are not going to have this for federal office. what's going on. i want to suggest we cannot determine whether america is a godless constitution by counting references. we have to look a little bit deeper. i want to look at the literature that was referenced. they are people of the book and if the book was important to them you would expect to see references to the bible everywhere and in fact it is exactly whathat isexactly what e political scientist. they did a wonderful analysis of a whole bunch of articles that eventually published in the american political science review and what he found is that looking simply at political literature and citations within the political literature roughly in the founding we are talking about 35 of them looked at the bible alone and this is as compared to 22% to all combined.
a 22%, the bible alone, 34%. it's important to know the references to the bible he excludes political but don't also add references to the secular thinkers and there is another important reason i voted to. let me jump to a more substantive argument. okay, how were the founders influenced by these ideas and bible points to the main things we can explore them a little bit later. they believe they had fallen short of the glory of god and even christians continue to struggle and this led them to develop a constitutional order characterized by federalism, separation of powers, checks and balance, boo-boo of law, they were very suspicious of concentrated power. some by the way of contrast were very interested in the centralized government with no
checks and balances run by experts and it only makes sense if the reason is to be your guide. let me jump to another one. they were convinced that there were moral standards that apply to all people in all times and places. if you need someone like james wilson and early justice there are two types of law into four types eternal, natural, physical, moral. human law must be based on moral and so forth. every supreme court justice prior to john marshall with exception is on the record saying the supreme court could strike down an act of the legislature for violating a natural law which is really quite an extraordinary claim if you think about it. third, the founders understanding of liberty. for them, liberty is the freedom to do what is right.
they distinguish between one founders were at liberty must be used on the balance of the rights and the duty. he doesn't put in the reference is clearly referencing and goes on in the lecture to say this with the consistency in human life from its commencement and contemplation of the law that begins with the infamous it's
protected not only from the immediate destruction of every degree of natural violence and in some cases every degree of danger. let me give a quotation with respect to the religious liberty and turned to the state relations leader. we owe this to the creator and the manner of discharging can be governed only by the reasonable conviction therefore the toleration and exercise of religion this is pretty good. no healthy argument is grounded in a proposition and the duty that we owe.
james madison wasn't satisfied, he didn't like this were toleration, he proposed the amendment to make it clear that we have a natural right to freely exercise and with that, i think that i will stop. >> those words or poetic and so much more. that was revolutionary. it was indeed revolutionary. all the states followed suit and banning the office and cutting
the churches of from the taxpayer fund through the 1830s. secular government works because there was no such thing of the freedom of religion without the government that is free from religion. the idea was in the nytimes and when it was first implemented in the american expert on it and i'm proud of this fact. i wish every american were proud of this invention. the principles that are central to christianity that can be found in the bible are fundamentally opposed to the principles on which this nation was built. i will get into that in a mome
moment. these are ideas that are unique to his religion claiming the credit for ideas that are out there. for instance the golden rule as did the chinese and the millennia before christianity the golden rules o golden rulese christian principle is a universal human principle john adams called it the great principle of the law. my opponent likes to mention this christian tradition of political reflection in any kind of defined as the discussions of these universal human principles, things like liberty
and the life and acting in self-interest which he labeled sinful. he's sticking a flag and a universal human ideas and to claim life and liberty even if we were to focus on that which we should say they have a bigger problem because historically it gets dragged into modernity by secular ideas and thinkers. they've done excellent work in this area with the tail wagging the dog. i know that this is counterintuitive because it comes along later to claim credit for the progress. think about the historical opposition to divorce the
theological and biblical argument on the side of all of those debates is on the wrong side of history. some groups were absolutely on the right side of the better biblical and religious arguments are on the wrong side. and less orthodox religion is liberal for instant secularism drove them to their conscience and frederick douglass wrote that revivals of religion and of the slave trade go hand-in-hand because you recognize it. they are standing on the sideline with the business is fighting for civil rights. this is only counterintuitive
because the religious responsible for the progress that it didn't accomplish. the opposition is exclusively religious and mark my words it is going to be trying to claim credit for the victory. not simply claim that it's responsible for life, liberty and dignity. talking about the constitution and the era of course we are talking about that and not this yesterday from a time when they were an outpost of a question came when there was no constitution let alone the first amendment to the constitution. everything is owed to us so we don't know how far apart those
are. the declaration of independence is an amazing document love it and encourage everyone to think about it. i have been in the founding. as a justification, it was an announcement that severed our political connection to do two things in terms of laying out political philosophy. it's headfirst, cover comes from the people. and second that the declaration says that we have the right to rebel. of those authorities that exist have been instituted and whoever resists authority resists what god has appointed.
they rely on that idea and it's not enough to show that they were all christian. the conversation i would love to have especially if you want to buy a glass of kentucky bourbon i would talk about that for hours he would still hav still o shows of religious belief influences the choice is for instance the constitutional convention. those religious beliefs must be examined compared against those in the constitutional design, and it's actually hard given that almost never cited when they were writing the founding
documents you may want to show them positively influencing the power showing the negative influences kind of easy. it is recognized twice. he's free to claim that influence and more on that later. show us that influence and incidentally it is the question that i asked. to ask the question did the principles positively influenced the founding of the united states of america and no, they
didn't. the principles are fundamentally opposed to the principles upon which this nation was built. he has the burden of proof here. to meet the burden not only can he not see that burden i could talk about the constitution into rejection and how they followed it would be difficult to write a sentence that conflicts more with the first amendment.
even though the commandment goes on and that means we use it to edit a to punish innocent children and grandchildren or great-grandchildren now if demands proof of guilt to avoid punishing the innocent and it is intentionally harmed to punish the guilty. while the personal responsibility like this punishing or even serious redemption are a biblical
constant jesus dying for our sins is the most prominent example. he was innocent but somehow his punishment absolves others of their wrongdoing. this is the central idea of christianity that jesus died for your sin, and it is a complete abrogation of personal responsibility that is fundamentally at odds with our entire democratic legal and financial systems. i could go on like this. even the ones you are thinking about right now to buy the book to find out why.
they are actually opposed to those principles and the comparison between christianity and american constitutional systems continues like this. we give the power here and we the people have the right to rebel against them when they turn to radical which incidentally are the only type of governance that you see in the totalitarian parties. biblical justice is so severe that if it were implemented, it would violate the constitution. a central tenet of christianity conflicts with the constitution on at least two major accounts both as a place of torture as an internal punishment. the eighth amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. the supreme court said being stuck in a jail cell is cruel and unusual.
don't tell me that goal isn't alsalso original sin another quintessential christian principle transgresses that and be defining christian principle repudiates the personal responsibility upon which all rest so it is unnecessary to debunk every historical tidbit especially before the constitutional convention because the foundational claim that christian principles influence america's founding principles must be discarded. because the christian principles conflict with america's founding principles. christianity didn't make the united states, let alone make it great. we the people make america exceptional. america succeeded as an experiment because it was based on reason. if we abandon reason in favor of faith or the leaders come we are asking to regress, not to be
some golden age with a time when religion ruled the world which we call the dark ages. thank you. [applause] i've heard responses for two different questions that is what was a very historical and historically informed argument i want to ask you a question as informed by the question tonight which is that america has a christian founding and my question to both of you is the following why does it matter if at all to ask this question.
any good constitutional order will pull people back to the first principles. it's incredibly important that we think about the principles upon which the constitutional republic was founded. and i would contend for the political reflection they were very important we need to understand these principles it's
nothing to do with whether or not this one is true or false doing so he presents a form of christianity that i as a lifelong christian find almost unrecognizable. i can absolutely accept the imagimage but also to separate e first amendment that says they have the right to do so. finally i would suggest that the supreme court has made history absolutely relevant and everythintheboard of education o black and the majority and the dissent that we must interpret the religion they go to the simple pause and i would say and might of the founders and in light of the generating history.
justice repeatedly goes back i did a wall review article where i read in full every single clause opinion they are more likely to make historical appeals than the conservatives. now it's a very different historical appeal. from my way of thinking, profoundly historic view and especially the state relations they go to the founders and isolated documents directly related to the first amendment as thomas jefferson and james madison and the statute for religious liberty and the letter to the danbury baptist and the attached memorandum. we need to recognize he wasn't involved in crafting the first amendment or ratifying it.
they look to the virginia statute for guidance and by focusing on these two are among the separationists of all the founders to get a very distorted view of the american founders belief with respect to the church and state relations. if we look at the broad constellation of the founders, we see that even at the federal level, they maintain a support for the idea that the state and federal government can encourage her medicine, atoms, it calls for thanksgiving day proclamation. under jefferson, the treaty was ratified to provide money and build a church and on and on and you cayoucan go to the sort of e to neglect as they pretend that
it's the only document that matters. thank you. it's important because they are using it to interpret the rights today. the recent decision is too handed down on the establishment clause on the backward elevated history over the legal principles. it said this has been there for 90 years so we are going to go ahead and let it stand. when it looks at it says we actually don't know what they meant when they put this up 90 years ago. we could never know what they intended when they put up this giant cross between to know exactly what they meant to increasingly especially when the religion and law are coming into conflict, they are elevating history over legal principles
like the separation of state and church. so i think that is one absolutely critical reason and another reason is that we do want to get history right. it is in working for us to understand. i think that is something that we agree on. it is crucial for us to understand where we are going and where we have the been as a nation. the interesting thing about that, i would love to get into that study a little bit more because if history is important, this is the story of the citation for the service. we do want to get that right. ..
up article one, section nine and article five they were debating the slave trade this is when the founders were at each other's throats. this is a critical, critical debate they went hours over this language. they came up with the year 1808 no year of our lord. it's important to get these things right. and as a constitutional attorney to defend the rights of every americans. it is getting worse not better. >> you have to appreciate those speakers for coming in under time. [laughter] thank you for that as well. please try to have a question and not a statement. i will take the liberty of
cutting people off if they go on at length. >> it was mentioned it doesn't seem like the first amendment actually goes, sorry i'm not a christian but the first amendment. so you said that you have lived your life as a christian and those two ideas don't conflict. i would like to hear how they don't conflict.
>> fundamentally he was making a categorical mistake i am silly firm 100 percent there should be no god before i should only worship only the lord my god, i accept that as a command i will follow in worship only god. however, this is something this is something they have to come to themselves if you were a member of another faith or an atheist you should not be compelled to worship the judeo-christian god or the christian god or the islamic god if you live in saudi arabia. so absolutely support the first amendment and the establishment clause that is a lot less than constitutional principle that congress shall make no law with the respect to establishment of religion would be absolutely inappropriate so everybody has
to worship god but yet it is normative for them. >> so just briefly noted that is what christians believe i appreciate being for the first amendment but that has nothing to do with whether or not christian principles influence the founding of the united states it is you shall have no other god but for me. american principles of the first amendment you can have as many or nine and that is a fundamental concept. >> recognizing the conflict between christianity and the founding principles, wouldn't that conflict in itself to
recognize there is conflict that they shouldn't use christianity? but in a way quick. >> i think i know what you are saying that there is such disagreement between them quick. >> that the disagreement to recognize it could conflict with the principles they want to use so they go the opposite way. doesn't always mean imitation but something you don't want to do. >> absolutely right. one of the founders looked that the history of religious persecution that blood was spilled when religion and government were united. absolutely that was a reason to separate faith and church
here. we are very far removed to the blood being spilled in the name of religion and i think that's one of the reasons you are seeing a push right now away from secular america to a christian america that's why we are seeing a rise of christian net nationalism because he got complacent because the separation of church and state worked we argued for blood he persecution we hope we don't get that experience. >> it is appropriate for him but not for me so they say it's also in bookstores everywhere. [laughter]
i believe america's founders embraced religious liberty for all citizens including non-christians and for theological reasons that they are moving toward separating for christian and theological reasons and the most popular petition that was signed by three times as many people as james madison. the evangelical arguments in virginia they hated the idea. madison says that general assessment hurts the spirit of christianity and things like that so he argues it could hurt christianity. he may have done that as rhetoric but if you use that has to be meaningful to virginia.
>> this is a question for doctor hall who seems like he would be a christian i would want as my neighbor. icon from a line of quaker and his dart a line of atheism in my family and the member of the freedom of religion foundation to comment about the religious rights of the christian block who perhaps had a great influence in the last presidential election and how that has affected the country. >> all right. [laughter] >> technically as a quaker and
then to put that into the u.s. constitution my people believe that jesus meant what he said swear not at all. quakers do not swear but we do not mind affirming them so the u.s. constitution gives the president the choice to swear or affirm. with religious accommodations that didn't make it into the constitution but he brought it back up with the militia act and when it was debated. in terms of the election of donald trump there are many factors that go into that. and to try to sort them out or evaluate so i will pass on that part of the question. [laughter]
i do think it's powerful to use religious arguments. even the people from religion foundation of when matthew says with jesus' sermon on the mount he condemns those as hypocrites so now at government officials who do a day of prayer for instance that can be very effective for go the rise of christian nationalism is what you are talking about but a trauma voter in the 2016 election was not religion is not race or racism thinking it was founded as a christian nation.
so donald trump tapped into this in a way we've never seen before that he rode that wave into the most powerful office in the land and this is why i wrote my book trying to make the argument that christian nationals are fundamentally un-american because in my mind it is a threat to the government of the people for the people and by the people. with the christians against christian all national --dash christian nationalism. >> we have 15 minutes. give only had questions from
gentlemen. >> so you said history recently was cited in a way that trumps legal principle or structure structures, where do you say those come from? and then to hear your response of how the laws change in response to history especially in light of woodrow wilson's redefinition of how justice should be understood according as humans more than a timeless constitution.
>> so in 1983 the supreme court decided marsh. and looking at the interplay of government and separation with a three prong test and in the marsh case that is stated under challenging the players with the state legislature the supreme court said we will focus on that but we will look at history and the continental congress and there is a long history of prayer so we will go ahead and allow that.
's and history is very very valuable you can gather from what's happening right now. so my problem is the histories just says malleable but the prayer from 74 was delivered at the continental congress the guy who gave that prayer was a traitor. he turned traitor actually wrote his letter to washington condemning the continental congress or the army has cowards telling washington he should rescind the declaration of independence and fled to englan england. the traitor who gave america prayer is being cited in the supreme court case. [laughter] so history is more malleable i have a whole review on this on
the use of history in determining prayer at school board meetings. there have been a number of federal judges who have said there is a long history of prayer in eight different states is the number they like to say. and if you trace that back it goes one particular amicus brief written by a right wing christian nationalist outfit not by a historian or legal schola scholar, and it has been cited again and again but if you look at the citation all of them are wrong. there is no history. i will leave it there. sorry. >> yes he's a bad guy ran away and got captured. but actually congress invited him after he ran away they
invited two chaplains to come in at the very end of the confederation they said why don't they pay them they took a vote james madison voted to pay the first federal congress meets put together a chaplain then james madison does on that committee and then a few months later and then he votes for the bill but all that transitions into distinction that the supreme court uses history in two ways they are looking at practices through american history that there is another way that court uses
history that is looking at the original understanding of the establishment clause and what it meant this is what was given to us and it is an excellent case that can be made with the constitutional principle from original is a it it means largely what it says we will have an established church but now it's permissible to have paid chaplains prayers and legislative bodies, these are not a violation of the constitutional principle enacted in the establishment clause. >> in kentucky and several other states to bring us in god we trust to be displayed in public schools i like one -
- i would like your thoughts if that is in line with the founding of our nation or a violation. >> i absolutely think that the current national motto in god we trust is unconstitutional and violates that central principle of separation of state and church that government should be neutral and congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. no law respecting is a significantly broader ban than a law prohibiting which is a much narrower category but when they come into conflict we are deciding these cases based on a secular government
it is just not a national established church no law respecting. so in god we trust i do think is fundamentally unconstitutional for quite know if we can rely on the courts to ever strike it down. they said through rote repetition that they would offend every believer out there imagine that they said john 316 or pray to the rosary. >> i'm done already? [laughter] that was fast. >> but our national motto was decided taking many from one rather than divisive religiousness. >> the day after the house approved the language that became the first amendment they said i have an idea why don't we asked the president to issue a thanksgiving day proclamation and they said we can't do that that's european
practice so the old puritan from connecticut and a paraphrase said we can do this it is worthy of christian imitation. the house agreed with sherman and the senate agreed with the house and president washington issued incredibly robust thanksgiving day proclamation that was a plausible reading of the establishment clause. i offered another but if we look more broadly at what the founders intended the members of the first federal congress or the legislatures, how did they understand it? largely but not solely the creation of a national church never to prohibit congress from putting in god we trust her to the house of representatives or the ten commandments of the supreme
court building where they are today and on and on with god in the pledge of allegiance in this sort of thing. no plausible interpretation with the originalist understanding of the first amendment to reach that conclusion. and if we can agree at that and you want to make non- originalist interpretations more power to you but we should not pretend they wanted that to prohibit things like that. >> gentleman. [laughter] i told you the only reason i was asked back because i'm strict on questions. we will try to get to these hands. we will see if we have additional time but please try to keep your responses shorter as well because the audience members have complied asking their questions.
do we have a microphone quick. >> you are saying that 99 percent of america of the constitutional congress was christian so if you want that you pick the same frame of reference which is religion that's why it's couched in rhetoric so i am a non- originalist but the constitution can grow with society so why do you stick with the originalist and christian why can't the constitution grow with the society that has become more secular as time quick. >> it can that's a plausible approach and it is an honest one i appreciate people like justice stevens that is
intellectually honest and it easily works but close to 100 percent with the exception of 2000 jews to identify as protestant or catholic catholic in the founding era. it said different thing altogether from those orthodox christians that there is no good reason to believe the official from the area on - - from the era. >> but you still have to examine that principle other than life and liberty and human dignity we have not heard christian principles
from the united states of america. but what i haven't touched on that is self-defeating that we created god in our image if you look at the portraits around america blonde hair blue eyes that's it you would expect to see because we make god in our image not the other way around. so they have this profound that means nothing. >> to the lady in the front row. >> i think both of you have some very good points and you are both right. >> did you read our book? [laughter] >> but you're coming from an educated point of view and my
question to you is we don't have that educated population that understands everything as you do. so this is my question they have to change the definitions of everything how does that affect the argument because it may not be relevant of what it was in the past. >> that is a big part of the problem talking about a christian flag with those christian principles that's what i am talking about cmac that's why it's important to do history and i know we are all busy but it's useful to
read the foundational documents the constitution and i encourage you to read both of our books they are making good faith efforts to discern how they understood religion with the american founding. >> we will take two more questions. >> reference has been made with the documents of these percentages so what influence of your arguments do you give to those that are in some form
of christian or influenced like john locke quick. >> that's a very difficult question there are many like that summer radically fundamentally opposed but then on the other hand like hutchinson that it is fundamentally compatible it is hard work to the extent to which they were enlightened by the thinkers were to be more friendly or even compatible with christianity. >> but the faith on christian principles christian entity
ran industrial for 1600 years why were we found it earlier why didn't have to wait for the revolution and the enlightenment was up and running before we saw these ideas put into practice? because a large part they are not christian. >> one final question. >> we talked at the beginning where the christian principles is important and why is it important for you to prove that it was? what does america look like in a nation if you found out that it wasn't founded on christian principles why is that important to you especially
when we see that reflected in the discriminatory laws that almost always. >> that's a good question and don't thank you meant like that but that i had my conclusion trying to prove it but i came out it with an open mind and came to the conclusion that the evidence required if i have a new career in saudi arabia would begin with the assumption islam had an important impact on society that may be as i got into the text i would find out that didn't but with respect to practical implication to understand constitutional order and religious liberty it matters because the court says that matters. >> now we come to the final portion of the program each has five minutes to give closing remarks.
>> thank you very much for hosting this debate and inviting me to participate and also to show how two people can disagree and can discuss this civilly. i argue an even greater detail that far too many scholars serve without any good reason that they had a godless constitution and then their desire to separate church and state there is no good historical reason to support this opposition per i have artie said he does not have to quit his day job he can but those arguments against lake in 2013 the freedom from religion foundation objected to the star of david holocaust one - - memorial you can make
an argument in favor of that proposition that there is no good influential argument to be made for quite want to emphasize as a matter of original understanding in a way or shape or form is the establishment clause is the star of david on public land. >> and now to suggest there are good many reasons that they are influenced by their christian convictions i have to say in many cases we don't know many did not leave papers. they were destroyed but what we do know as the term is defined we had a very good reason to believe that many were christian. and i have argued as well america's founders were influenced by christian ideas like original sin, the
understanding of liberty i actually appreciate mister seidel's point i never claimed they are uniquely christian principles i could see people from other religions can embrace those religions but i could go to quaker school for one can be a pacifist are all sorts of reasons but if you look at my colleagues that would suggest the most obvious reason why they are pacifist because it is a religious tradition against other people. i argue tonight and i give a lot more evidence of a forthcoming book that they embraced a robust understanding because backed by their religious conviction. so washington makes it crystal
clear to the population that you have religious liberties just like everyone else. so to suggest this is good news for all of us now religious liberty cannot be absolute but it cannot always win you cannot sacrifice the babies to the god or discriminate against people of other races. but the first amendment does not require the public square to be free of religion so i will close early and conclude did america have a christian founding? yes good news for all citizens regardless of religious
convictions or lack thereof. thank you very much. [applause] >> the ten commandments held commandments christian punishment fear to obey the rulers the very idea through human sacrifice they are fundamentally opposed to those principles on which the nation was built. this is based on reason and not the christian faith but at a fundamental level. so sitting in an office disconnected from my rhetoric but we handle 500 church complaints every single year teachers telling kids they have to pray before they go down to lunch each day and often times those violations
that this is a christian nation and founded on judeo-christian principles. like my opponent to justify christian nationalism. right now america is in a desperate fight with that exclusionary idea to be a christian is an american. i don't know whether my opponent was identified to be a christian nationalist for instance he appeared on a number of times a couple days ago. and it was pulled off the shelf. and that turns that coalition project that is the religion of legal history act to tell the story of the constitutional history of the united states.
they pass the ceremonial bills first of those that favor christians. so ask yourself what is this debate about? is my opponent just speaking to correct one - - to correct the generational scholars? like give expert testimony on behalf of those businesses on who they are and what they want to marry? washington said the government of the united states no persecution existence he didn't say unless you are christian and have a bakery then you can discriminate. he did not say that. if it's about history when you are in favor of discriminating
lie right briefs that the state can take away women's reproductive choice as my opponent had. i mentioned in my true introduction has a founding on america that if and only if this were a debate about history but it is not. he admitted as much because if it was just about history that he could have claimed any christian influence positive or negative including the christian justifications but he did it because it's not about history this is about providing the christian national like donald trump and mike pence can get back to justify the policy. this justify the child separation policy at the border with romans 13.
they learn to do that it's about moving the embassy to jerusalem and muslims they are not muslim enough for invoking a woman's right to choose to follow them around to a respectable policy that the simple fact that america was not founded as a christian nation we were not built on christian principles because those are opposed to the founding principles. >> he failed to name a christian principle in and staying - - instead claimed them from christianity and could not share who was not there but this is not about history. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you to all of you for being here this evening and to book both of the speakers for allowing us to have this robust debate smith thank you for being with us tonight we have a gift of appreciation will also be holding a book drawing the first is the founding and the other is the unreleased copy.