Rev. James R. Willson on the advancement of the Christian religion and the U.S. Constitution

James R. Willson (1780-1853)

“The constitution positively declares that nothing shall be done by the government for the advancement of the Christian religion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Amendments, Art. I. The words are not Congress shall not establish any religion; but “no law respecting the establishment of religion.” Whatever has any respect to religion, or tends to give it stability, is prohibited by this article. Any act of homage to Almighty God is religion. Any law that would encourage or countenance act of homage to Jehovah, would tend to the establishment of religion. Here, then, is an institution which some men say is an ordinance of God, but which does solemnly disclaim the doctrine of being ordained by him; and which formally proclaims that it will not do any thing to promote the glory of his holy name. What should we say of the ambassador of a nation who would publicly announce his intention to do no act for promoting the honor of those whom he represents? We have the promise of our God, that in New Testament times it shall be otherwise: “Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their Queens their nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee, with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet.” On the theory of the United States Constitution, this cannot take place.

Why treat thus all religion? Why disfranchise, by a solemn act the church of the living God? Is the benevolent, pure, holy, heaven born religion of Emmanuel, hostile to the happiness of the republic? Shall commerce, agriculture, the arts, literature—all the other lawful pursuits, be countenanced, fostered, protected, and established on as permanent a basis, as possible and the true religion be put under the ban of the empire? But they say, let religion alone. Do they, however, adopt the laissez nous faire, in relation to manufactures and trade? No. We cherish all, but respecting the advancement of religion, Congress shall never do any thing. When the child is born, were the father and mother to say, laissez l’infant faire—leave the babe to itself—would that lie to act as a nursing father and mother? Surely no. There must be a far different kind of constitution among the nations, when the promise is fulfilled, that “Kings shall be nursing fathers.” God Almighty says, in the text quoted above, that civil rulers shall nurse the church—the Constitution says they shall not. Which is right? “Ah! sinful nation, laden with iniquity.” God spares thee for the sake of his redeemed, that his moral subjects on earth may be, by the gospel of his Son, reclaimed from sin and rebellion—that on the earth, through his own holy religion, he may expatiate the glories of redemption. The Constitution says religion shall be discountenanced by the Congress of the United States.”

Prince Messiah’s Claims to Dominion Over all Governments and the Disregard of His Authority by the United States in the Federal Constitution

So much for the Christian right saying the Constitution is a “Christian” document.


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