“Christians came up with the idea of Tolerance.” Says Bill Federer, an individual whose work seeks to reassert the conveniently ignored influence that Christianity played in history of the United States. Mr. Federer, author of America’s God and Country, and The Original Thirteen, appeared on Frank Turek’s Cross Examined in order to explain his position. “After having read through every charter of every colony, I found that every Colony was started by a different Christian denomination.” (Example: Virginia founded by Anglicans, Massachusetts founded by Puritans, and Rhode Island founded by Baptists)

“After Luther’s reformation,” says Federer, “every country adopted their own favorite religion – which meant that if you didn’t believe the way the king did, you were persecuted. As a result, there was a mass migration of people around Europe in the 1600’s, and some of these came to America to start colonies. The only fear they had was the Federal Government picking one Christian denomination and making it the national one. So they passed the first amendment saying that Congress shall make no law respecting (concerning) an establishment (mandatory membership and taxation) of religion. Why? Because states like Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts already had established denominations of congregationalism – and they didn’t want the Federal Government to tell them to believe something different.”

It was in this way that the newly founded States learned to tolerate (or respect) the differing beliefs of their neighbors. “The States did give favorable status to some of the denominations.” Mr. Federer stated. “Kind of like a racetrack with thirteen lanes. After the Revolution, some states advanced tolerance faster (like Rhode Island), and some states were slower (like Massachusetts). But it was up to the people in the States to decide. It wasn’t the Federal Government deciding.”

However, Federer believes this began to change in the mid and late nineteenth century, with two very important events: Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the American Civil War. English Philosopher Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) believed that Darwin’s theory could be applied to various areas of academia, including law. Meanwhile, Christopher Columbus Langdell (1826-1906), Dean of Law Faculty at Harvard, utilized a similar notion, and came up with a case-precedent theory of law. “So instead of going back to what the Founders intended,” Federer explains, “this theory has influenced our notion of law being something that evolves over time. Combined with activist Judges, and misusing the 14th Amendment, the late 1800’s began to shift towards re-interpreting various laws regarding religion.”

In the aftermath of the United States Civil War, John Bingham of Ohio was instrumental in developing the Fourteenth Amendment, which was initially envisioned as an important means to grant citizenship rights to freed slaves. However, during the debate, concern was expressed that this amendment might be a means utilized by the Federal Government in taking other rights away from the States. As John Bingham stated at the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 28, 1866, “I repel the suggestion made here in the heat of debate, that the committee or any of its members who favor this proposition seek in any form to mar the Constitution of the country, or take away from any State the right that belongs to it, or from any citizen of any State any right that belongs to him under the Constitution.” Although Mr. Bingham believed this wouldn’t happen, this is exactly what has happened.

Perhaps the Federal Government’s most notable intrusion occurred in 1947, when Catholic children were receiving bus-rides to their school. When the State attempts to stop what is perceived to be a misuse of taxpayer resources, the issue is appealed to the Supreme Court in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1. This finally takes religion out of the State’s jurisdiction, and into the Federal, with the Federal Government morphing religion into whatever it decides. “So now, as not to prefer one religion over another,” Federer says, “the Supreme Court has been deciding to remove God all together. The problem is, ironically enough, that this establishes the religion of atheism.”

“Prior to 1947 and the 14th amendment in 1868, religion was under state jurisdiction,” Federer explains. “Any laws that governed personal behavior were state laws. The first ten amendments were handcuffs on the federal government…After 1868, the 14th amendment, the Federal Government incorporates the first eight amendments into Federal jurisdiction – except for the ninth and tenth, because they say that all powers not specifically delegated to the Federal Governments remain with the States.”

As for the current debate towards hate crime legislation, Federer considers whether Thomas Jefferson, the champion of limited government, (and who once quoted Roger Williams 1644 Bloody Tenant pamphlet in regards to a separation of church and state) would frown against such a misuse of Federal power. “Because there’s a wall of separation between church and state,” Federer explains, “the State should not be judging people for their opinions, nor forcing people to change their conscious.”

It should be noted however, that simply acknowledging the United State’s Christian heritage, and role in law, doesn’t mean that Christians are attempting to establish a Theocracy in the United States. Rather, as Frank Turek, host of Cross Examined stated, “whenever I hear people say that Christians are trying to set up a Theocracy, I say that no – we’re not trying to tell people to obey a particular religion. We’re not trying to tell people when, where, how or if they should worship. This would be legislating religion. But what we can’t avoid telling people how they should treat one another, and that’s legislating morality. All laws legislate morality, and everyone is trying to legislate this. Liberals are trying to legislate morality through telling us what to think on abortion, marriage, healthcare, the food we eat, what kind of car we drive, and what kind of light bulbs we use. Everyone is trying to legislate morality. The only question is, whose morality?”

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