Yes, that was the title of a full-page add in the July 4 edition of the Chicago Tribune, sponsored by Foundation From Religious Freedom. It was entitled “Celebrate Our Godless Constitution.” Not only were many of the quotes of the founding fathers taken out of context, but the use of the term “godless” was very deceptive. It is like saying “so and so was sober today.” What does that lead you to think? It could imply that the person in question is usually drunk. It is true that not all of the founding fathers were Christians. It is also true that they firmly believed in the separation of church and state because of the religious oppression many of their forefathers and mothers experienced under a State Church in England. It is also true that many of the founders were not a part of any organized religion. However, to call them “godless” is simply a lie.
Among the signers of the Constitution quoted was Thomas Paine: “The revolutionary who gave the United States of America its very name and who fanned the flames of the American Revolution utterly repudiated Christianity and the bible. Paine wrote that ‘My religion is to do good’ and ‘My own mind is my own church.’” However to imply that he was godless is simply untrue. Paine was one of the founders of the Society of Theophilanthropists (lovers of God and man) which existed in Paris during and after the French Revolution. Their motto was “We believe in the existence of God, and in the immortal soul.”
Paine’s Age of Reason, which many believe to be an Atheistic work was written to oppose Atheism. In a letter to Samuel Adams, Paine said, “The people of France were running headlong into Atheism, and I had the work translated into their own language, to stop them in that career, and fix in them the first article of every man’s creed… I believe in God.” Though he is remembered for his vicious attack upon organized religion, he had a deep appreciation for the divine mystery and bristled at the way many religious groups demythologized God to achieve their own selfish ends at the expense of individual freedoms. There are some who believe that Paine recanted and had a death-bed conversion to Christianity, but there are no solid historical facts to back up that claim.
So why is it that so many people in our country were and are against religion and Christianity in particular? There are many reasons, but there is one that is hardly ever mentioned. In the closing chapters of CS Lewis’ Hideous Strength, Professor Frost is trying to initiate Mark Studdock into a diabolical movement designed to take over the world. On the floor lay a life-sized crucifix and Mark is told to trample on Jesus’ face and desecrate it in other ways. Mark is not a Christian and yet finds this command irrational and superstitious, so he refuses. Frost is angry and responds: “If you had been brought up in a non-Christian society, you would not be asked to do this. Of course, it is a superstition; but it is that particular superstition which has been pressed upon our society for a great many centuries. It can experimentally be shown that it still forms a dominant system in the subconscious of many individuals whose conscious thought appears to be wholly liberated. An explicit action in the reverse direction is therefore a necessary step towards complete objectivity.”
I am not going to tell you how the story works out, but in the helplessness of seeing Jesus on the cross, Mark begins to change. He begins to see what the diabolically crooked movements of this world do to those who are good and what they might do to him if he stepped on the “good man.”
Could it be that there is something diabolical behind the anti-Christian movements of our culture because “it (Christianity) still forms a dominant system in the subconscious of many individuals?” Could it also be that our Sovereign God is using this kind of “reverse direction” and irrational opposition to bring many to consider Christ through the “foolishness” of the cross?