The Church in the U.S. Capitol Building

Statuary Hall in the Capitol Building, the old U.S. House Chamber

In his latest Stoplight (see video below), Stuart Shepard takes us to a place where many church services have been held–some recently–that would make secularists swallow their snuff: inside the U.S. Capitol Building.

You see, our nation wasn’t always infested with the current hostility seen in the pop culture toward Christianity.  Until about 50 years ago, leaders and common Americans alike recognized that our nation was founded by Christians on Christian principles, and that these values were absolutely necessary to the good health and maintenance of our republic.

In fact, John Adams addressed both of these truths about our history when he said

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.


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 to the government of any other.

Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) led a prayer service on March 21, 2010 in Statuary Hall, the old U.S. House chamber.  He did so in the same vein as countless church services held in our nation’s capitol in the early years of our republic.  As this article at the Library of Congress states, the church service held in the Capitol Building was the largest (2,000 or more) in Washington D.C. until at least 1867.

Something that might make secularists and historical revisionists swallow even more of their snuff is the fact that Thomas Jefferson (the patron saint adopted by secularists and God-haters nationwide) himself gave official approval for church services in this government building and regularly attended church services in this government building of government buildings.  In fact, he attended church services in there just two days after sending his much-misrepresented letter to the Danbury Baptists which assured them of their freedom of religious expression because of “a wall of separation between church and state” designed to prevent the creation of a national church or religion, and which prevented government from interfering with religious freedom.

Even without an official state church or religion, the principles of Christianity have guided our society and public policy since before we were a nation. The evidence is prolific, and could only be denied by someone with an aggressive agenda to rewrite history.  These are but a few examples:

Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. – Northwest Ordinance of 1787

Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, united their endeavours to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity…in short of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system. – Samuel Adams

Christianity is the only true and perfect religion; and that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obey its precepts they will be wise and happy. – Benjamin Rush, MD and signer of the Declaration of Independence

The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all of our civil constitutions and laws.… All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible. – Noah Webster, Founder, lawyer, Yale graduate, creator of Websters Dictionary

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other. – Alexis de Tocqueville, author of “Democracy in America”

I therefore beg leave to move—that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business… – Benjamin Franklin

I hope I shall never forget the goodness of God in preserving us through all the dangers we have been exposed to. – John Quincy Adams, of his 1778 voyage to France

In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator. – Samuel Adams

It is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand….The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. – John Adams

The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. – Thomas Jefferson

To grant that there is a supreme intelligence who rules the world and has established laws to regulate the actions of his creatures; and still to assert that man, in a state of nature, may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appears to a common understanding altogether irreconcilable. Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed that the deity, from the relations we stand in to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever. This is what is called the law of nature….Upon this law depend the natural rights of mankind. – Alexander Hamilton

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation. – George Washington

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 favors. – George Washington

A State, I cheerfully admit, is the noblest work of Man: But Man, himself, free and honest, is, I speak as to this world, the noblest work of God…. – James Wilson, signer of the Declaration, member of the Continental Congress, constructor of the Constitution, one of the original Supreme Court justices appointed by President George Washington

If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it? – Benjamin Franklin

The hand of providence has so conspicuous in all this [the colony’s victories in the American war for independence], that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to eat knowledge his obligations. – George Washington

Religion, or the duty which we owe to our creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and this is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other. – Virginia Bill of Rights, Article 16 June 12, 1776

No government can flourish without religion. – Thomas Jefferson

“In the Name of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity” – The opening words of the treaty that ended the American Revolution in victory

It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religion profession of sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship…. – Massachusetts Bill of Rights, Part the First 1780

Without God there could be no American form of government nor an American way of life. Recognition of the supreme being is the first-the most basic-expression of Americanism. Thus the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with god’s help, it will continue to be. – President Dwight Eisenhower, 1955

The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions. – foreword of McGuffey’s Reader, 1836 (McGuffey’s books were the mainstays of American education for generations)

No society can escape some form of value judgments as they craft their laws and their way of life. If the people of a nation are predominantly Christian, usually Christian moral values will affect the laws of a nation. If the people of a nation are predominantly Muslim, Islam is usually the primary force that guides the laws.  If a nation is primarily secular humanist (or the religious majority of the people of a nation forfeit their voice), the transient, foundationless estimations of moral expediency will usually form the laws (as they have in wonderful bastions of freedom and prosperity like the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, East Germany, North Korea, Cuba, and more).

In America,  since our founding days religion has functioned as the conscience of our society and government. While some countries operate in a theocratic fashion where religious institutions set policy, and other countries operate with a state-controlled church, America has neither.   In fact, we have never needed either setup for the moral values of a predominately Christian nation to guide public policy.

Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s and from that enlightening visit came his book Democracy in America.  He made several observations about the unofficial influence of Christianity in America including

In the United States religion exercises but little influence upon the laws and upon the details of public opinion, but it directs the manners of the community, and by regulating domestic life it regulates the State.


Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must nevertheless be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country

He concluded, much in the same vein as Adams found and as George Washington (who considered religion and morality “indispensable supports” to a nation’s prosperity):

Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. Religion is much more necessary in the republic which they set forth in glowing colors than in the monarchy which they attack; and it is more needed in democratic republics than in any others. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie be not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? and what can be done with a people which is its own master, if it be not submissive to the Divinity?

There are those in our society and in our government who would much rather live their lives “unencumbered” by the ethics of Christianity.  They prefer sexual autonomy, situational ethics that allow them to adopt a “malleable morality” which bends this way to maximize their current advantage while bending that way to provide them with protection from what they just did to someone else.  In short, they simply don’t want someone telling them that what they’re doing is wrong (while maintaining the option to tell you that you are wrong for telling them they are wrong).

That value system isn’t the one our nation was founded on, and as John Adams pointed out, that fuel won’t work in the engine of America.  If we want to retain the freedoms and prosperity we have enjoyed for 200 years, we must challenge and refute these attempts at revisionism.

Secularists don’t have to like the reality of our history, and they don’t have to like the freedoms that Christians and other religious people have to express their faith in the public square, but they don’t get to sanitize history and they don’t get to eliminate those freedoms in our constitutional republic.

Comments are closed.