Tag Archives: Benjamin Rush

Why I don’t talk about religion, 1 of 5 THOMAS JEFFERSON LEADERSHIP


 

I am moreover averse to the communications of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance [“approve or encourage,” Webster’s 7th New Collegiate] the presumption [“audacity,” ditto] of those who have endeavored to draw them before that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect itself into that inquisition over the rights of conscience, which the laws have so justly proscribed [prohibited].

 

Source: To Doctor Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803

Koch & Peden’s Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson

P. 519 – 522

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

Leaders should keep personal views private.

Jefferson’s language can be hard to follow. Here’s a summary:

1. He does not make his religious views public.

2. Doing so encourages people with bad motives.

– They would make his private views a matter of public debate.

– That debate could lead to an investigation of his beliefs.

– His beliefs, “the rights of conscience,” are no one’s business but his.

3. The Constitution’s 1st Amendment rightly prohibits such meddling in an individual’s personal choices about religion.

 

This post is part of a series of five, all taken from the same letter:

1. Why I don’t talk about religion publicy

2. Why you shouldn’t talk about religion publicly

3. Although I don’t talk about religion publicly

4. Jesus did talk about religion publicly

5. What made Jesus different

 

The Moral Liberal Thomas Jefferson Editor, Patrick Lee, is a professional speaker, actor and writer. Since 1990, he has inspired, entertained and educated audiences from Maine to Hawaii with his authentic, first person leadership presentations as President Thomas Jefferson, Frontiersman Daniel Boone, and Lewis & Clark Co-Leader William Clark. He also appears as himself, The Hopeful Humorist™, with a program of motivational humor, patriotism and inspiration.

 

His business address is ThomasJeffersonLeadership.com.

 

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Constitutional Convention


 

June 28, 1787

This Saturday (June 28), marks the 227th anniversary of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin calling the Constitutional Convention to prayer after several weeks of difficult discussions and frequent impasses. The Founders well understood the need to seek God and the important part that God played both in establishing this nation and in the writing of the Constitution.

 

Constitutional Convention

 

As Alexander Hamilton reported after its completion:

For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system which without the finger of God [Luke 11:20] never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.

 

James Madison agreed, and reported:

It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it the finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution.

 

As far as these delegates were concerned, the finger of God – that is, His Divine power – had guided their writing of the Constitution.

 

Benjamin Franklin also believed this to be the case, explaining:

[I] beg I may not be understood to infer that our general Convention was Divinely inspired when it formed the new federal Constitution . . . [yet] I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing (and to exist in the posterity of a great nation) should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler in Whom all inferior spirits “live and move and have their being” [Acts 17:28].

 

George Washington (president of the Convention) similarly attested:

As to my sentiments with respect to the merits of the new Constitution, I will disclose them without reserve. . . . It appears to me then little short of a miracle that the delegates from so many different states . . . should unite in forming a system of national government.

 

Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration from Philadelphia who closely monitored the proceedings, concurred, openly testifying:

I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as perfectly satisfied that the Union of the States in its form and adoption is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament were the effects of a Divine power.

(For more about the Founders’ views of the “finger of God” and what that meant historically, see the article on this in the Founders’ Bible, from Luke 11:20).

 

As we look forward to celebrating America’s 238th birthday next week. Let us remember that God truly has had His hand involved in the formation of our government and let us take time out, as George Washington recommended, “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” on America again.

 

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