Liberty and Religious Expression

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Liberty and Religious Freedom

 Declaration Of Independence – 27 Reasons for Separation

The Founding Fathers wanted to ensure the world understood why they were separating from the King of England.  They provided a list of 27 reasons in the Declaration of Independence – take a moment to read them and decide which one impacts you the most.

Liberty and Religious Expression

Today, in the United States, we are told that Church and State, Religion and Government should be kept separate, that we should only discuss or teach Christianity in our homes and churches.

 We are also told that it is unconstitutional to teach Religion on schools and some states have deemed it illegal to sing Christmas carols (in schools).  Many would have us believe that our Founding Fathers did not have a belief in God and that they desired a full separation of Church and State – meaning no prayer, etc should be involved in their daily affairs.

Founding Fathers Requested Prayer and Church Services

It was so important at the time of the founding of America, that Religion was a part of every day life.  It was not an intrusion to freedom.
At the time of Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin stated:

“In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor……….  I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?………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, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service”

Benjamin Franklin believed in the importance of public prayer….this is ironic considering he is considered one of the ‘least religious’

At the time of the Ratification Conventions (to ratify the Constitution) several of the leaders also requested clergy or and prayer.  This shows that our Founding Fathers did not think that having prayer was a common.

Prayer and Church Service During Inauguration

When George Washington was to be inaugurated, three days before the inauguration, the senate resolved that after the oath was administered to the President, that he, the Vice President and members of Senate and House of Representatives should go to Saint Paul’s for services…”The day before the inauguration, The house approved the same resolution…  After being sworn in George Washington stated this:  ”  It would be peculiarly improper to be to omit in this first official act………..every human.”  After his address, the annals state that the fore-mentioned parties went to Saint Paul

Several months later Annals of Congress state that the House requested that President put aside a day to give thanks to God for the many thanks poured down upon them.

The proclamation was issued by George Washington: “Whereas 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 favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:….  Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation…… a nd also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;……   and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.  (paraphrase of George Washington  Oct 3, 1789)

Prayer in the US Court System

Prayer was extremely important in Religious service..and even in the court system. When hearings were held and rulings were issued, the judges made sure there were religious ceremonies
“On Monday last the Circuit Court of the United States was opened in this town. The Hon. Judge Paterson presided. After the Jury were impaneled, the Judge delivered a most eloquent and appropriate charge….Religion and morality were pleasingly inculcated and enforced as being necessary to good government, good order, and good laws, for ‘when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice [Proberbs 29:2].’… After the [jury] charge was delivered, the Rev. Mr. Alden addressed the Throne of Grace in an excellent and well adapted prayer.” (stated by William Patterson – read more about the Fifty Five Delegates here)

Expressing gratitude and evoking God was practiced and not considered unconstitutional.

Last example by Edward Kindle from Great Britain.  He observed how America functioned, the pulpit (the desk) was filled by three, if not four …..  of these one opened the service with a prayer, another delivered a sermon, a third made a concluding prayer and a fourth pronounced a benediction.  Several hymns were sung and a special one for the occasion.  The total number of singers was between 40-50.  The sermon touched upon matters of government.  When matters finished
This event is election day… Prayer and choir singing and religious ceremony as part of election – at the state house!!!

From the founding, Public religious expression was considered a very fabric of liberty in this country.

Note, this information is provided in Original Intent by David Barton of Wallbuilders




Note: “These posts were originally written as a project with The Founders Academy (who created videos and worksheets) to freely promote the education of the Constitution. The information here in was partially derived from those videos, which are no longer available for free. Please contact aformentioned company to purchase the new videos.”



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  1. I have really been enjoying the Freedom Friday posts and videos. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to really get the kids involved. They have other interests right now. But I have learned a lot and occasionally Gwyn will listen to the videos with me so I am sure she is picking up a thing or two (so am I). So just know even though I am not doing a blog post I am reading these and really appreciate all the work you and Lynn are putting into it. Thanks for educating ME!

    • Kathy, our children are going to learn what we are learning…even if they are just listening…that is great! The more you learn and grow…the more you can teach them through your own knowledge! That is one key aspect of interest led learning and the Thomas Jefferson Education….if Mom doesn’t have the knowledge..the children won’t, unless she gains it….that’s tough for me…there’s so much I didn’t learn. Which is why I’m hosting this. You don’t see any pics of the kids doing things…right now, they’re listening…though, this week, we will work on the word search! Thanks for dropping by! Just keep it up…keep watching/listening… both of your children are bright and I’m sure they are picking up on a lot more than you may realize (i know mine do!)

  2. kelli- AdventurezInChildRearing says:

    as for the comments above: it’s amazing how much they pick up when you have no idea – they really do listen all the time – I have a good story about that to share sometime- like maybe on the road trip to TTD- Woot woot!!

    love these resources! thank you for sharing them – I love that it is fitting right in to our studies right now & doesn’t even take too much time to do – just little seeds . . . . .

  3. kelli- AdventurezInChildRearing says:

    btw- my 10 yr old is a huge Ben Franklin fan – cause he was just such an all around smart guy! Parker reminds me of a young BF – curious about everything and understanding how things work in nature. I had to buy the kid an anatomy book when he was 3 because he wanted to know exactly how the body works 🙂

    When I asked him what he was impressed most with in this weeks video he said, “Ben Franklin’s motivation in founding our country the right way.” “I’m a very blessed boy, to come from a country founded with such courage.”

    (yes, chokes me up- teary eyed! thank you for this resource – we love it!)

  4. We didn’t get the chance to do the Declaration of Independence this week. We’ve been battling sickness all week and barely had any school. We’ll be a week behind now. *sigh*