American Vision ran an ad on Facebook that elicited some uninformed and disturbing comments. I mentioned some of them in “Were the July 4th and 1787 Founders Deists?” In offering the 1864 book The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, all kinds of responses were posted, from the witchcraft trials to young children found in “mass graves” in Canada. There were some poorly constructed historical arguments.
Some blogger who commented on the AV Facebook post sent me the following: “‘The American Vision,’ Whose President Gary DeMar HARASSED ME All Afternoon… is a HYPER-POWERFUL Presbyterian Minister!!!” This is where we are today. He comments on an ad that American Vision posted, and I responded to his silly comments, and he accuses me of harassing him. Then he sends me unsolicited emails. By the way, I am neither hyper-powerful (and wouldn’t want to be) nor a Presbyterian minister.
When I asked some of those who commented how they could be so certain about their historical perspective given that they had not read Benjamin F. Morris’ 1000-page book, there was silence or indifference: “I don’t need to read it.”
Here’s something most people do not know. Stark states that “some of the very same people who were active in witch-hunting played leading roles in declaring that slavery was an abomination in the eyes of God. It was that conclusion, and only that conclusion, that enabled the West to abolish slavery.” Slavery was practiced all over the world since ancient times. It is not unique to the West. “In fact, slavery was abolished in much of the non-Western world only because of Western pressure and interference—and slavery continues in some non-Christian areas” (3). The Christian William Wilberforce (1759–1833) led the way in Great Britain in abolishing the slave trade.
Wilberforce’s involvement in the abolition movement was motivated by a desire to put his Christian principles into action and to serve God in public life. He and other evangelicals were horrified by what they perceived was a depraved and un-Christian trade, and the greed and avarice of the owners and traders. Wilberforce sensed a call from God, writing in a journal entry in 1787 that “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners [moral values].”
Atheists talk a big game when it comes to virtue, but there is no way to account for the value of human beings if the origin of those beings is the result of raw materialism who evolved over time. If the Bible had been followed because of the command prohibiting “man stealing” (Ex. 21:16), we never would have had the slave trade. The New Testament is equally specific on the subject:
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me (1 Tim. 1:9–11).
Yes, people were accused of being witches on the slimmest of evidence none of which could withstand biblical scrutiny under cross examination where perjury was punished in terms of the penalty that would be pronounced on the accused (Ex. 20:16; 23:1–3; esp. Deut. 19:16–21). The following is from the Study Guide from American Vision’s To Pledge Allegiance textbook series that puts the witchcraft trials in biblical perspective:
As always, when the Bible is abandoned as the basis of law in a society, that society suffers under arbitrary law. In the case of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, the justice system failed to uphold biblical standards. Had the people of Salem followed biblical principles for legal procedures, the whole disgraceful affair would never have happened, innocent victims would never have been imprisoned or put to death.
The courts failed to follow the biblical requirement that a person could be convicted only upon the testimony of at least two witnesses. In place of two witnesses, the court admitted hearsay and bizarre behavior as proof of demonic affliction. This approach gave rise to the hysteria that ensued.
Increase Mather, a prominent Puritan pastor and president of Harvard College at the time, led the protest against the witchcraft trials. While admitting that witchcraft was real and dangerous, he challenged the loose standards the court was employing for admitting evidence, and he pointed out the Bible’s requirement of two witnesses. Mather personally dealt with people accused of witchcraft through prayer, fasting, counsel, and evangelism, and resolved all such cases in a peaceful manner.
In addition to the above topics, some who commented brought up the recently discovered graves of indigenous children in Canada. “This is not a mass grave site. These are unmarked graves,” said Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme.
It is not yet clear if all of the remains are linked to the school. It was one of more than 130 compulsory boarding schools funded by the Canadian government and run by religious authorities during the 19th and 20th Centuries with the aim of assimilating indigenous youth. An estimated 6,000 children died while attending these schools, due in large part to the squalid health conditions inside. Students were often housed in poorly built, poorly heated, and unsanitary facilities.
In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “terribly saddened by news of the discovery. He said it was “a shameful reminder of the systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice that Indigenous peoples have faced.”
We’re not sure why all these children died or when they died. Some have postulated that the deaths were the result of the Spanish Flu that hit Canada hard in 1918–1919 killing 55,000 and between 20 and 100 million people worldwide. “The 1918 flu pandemic arrived in Canada with returning troops and made its way into even the remotest communities. Some entire villages were wiped out by the disease. Labrador, Quebec and First Nations reserves were particularly hard hit. We’ll have to wait and see about how and why the people in these graves died.
If religious people were involved in the direct death of these children, then the biblical prohibition against murder — the Sixth Commandment — applies. Do religious people use religion as a cover for their sinful acts? Yes, they do. Jesus spent more time condemning the religious leaders in Israel than the Roman Empire because Israel’s religious leaders should have known better. Jesus devotes a large section of Matthew’s gospel to them, chapters 21–23, especially chapter 23. Consider the following:
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers (vv. 1–4).
Trudeau, in addition to acknowledging the sadness and horror of finding these graves denounced “the wave of church arsons and statue-smashing sweeping Canada, calling the attacks ‘unacceptable’ but defending the anger fueling them as ‘fully understandable.’”
The death of children at the hands of the Canadian government and Church is a great moral evil, if that’s what it turns out to be, but Trudeau is a strong supporter of making it legal and a fundamental right for women in Canada to kill their unborn children.
At one time, Trudeau said that “while he opposed abortion personally, he supported a woman’s right to choose to” kill her unborn baby. He has since said that he has “evolved past that particular perspective…. I no longer feel like I can or need to say that I’m against abortion. That is not for me, as a man, to say.” Approximately 100,000 abortions of preborn babies take place each year in Canada. “Decolonization” among indigenous people is making it easier for them to kill their indigenous children in the womb. And this is supposed to be progress?
Christian Life and Character
Organizations like the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have done their best to ignore the content of the massive compilation of original source material found in this book. If Americans ever become aware of the facts assembled by the author in this historic encyclopedia of knowledge, arguments for a secular founding of America will turn to dust. Reprinted by American Vision for the first time in over 140 years in 2007, we can’t keep this book in print!