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Christianity is part of the Common Law

[COMMENT:  Many Christians do not understand the principles given here, that America was founded as a Christian nation.  That does NOT mean that Christianity is "established" in the sense of Government collecting money for the Church, or enforcing this belief or that.  It DOES mean that the principles of free government came from, and could have come only from, Biblical Christianity.  It means that a significant number of the founding fathers, and a majority of citizens would have agreed that Biblical Christianity was and should be the foundation of American government. 

Supreme Court decisions supported this view right into the 1940's.  See David Barton's book, Original Intent, from www.wallbuilders.com     See also page on William Blackstone.   And see below, comments on this issue.   E. Fox]


American Minute with Bill Federer    August 21

He was one of six founding fathers to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. President Washington appointed him to the Supreme Court.

Born in Scotland, he was an active delegate at the Constitutional Convention, speaking 168 times.

His name was James Wilson and he died AUGUST 21, 1798.

The first law professor of the University of Pennsylvania, James Wilson wrote in his Lectures on Law, 1789-91:

"Law...communicated to us by reason and conscience...has been called natural; as promulgated by the holy scriptures, it has been called revealed...   But it should always be remembered, that this law, natural or revealed...flows from the same divine source; it is the law of God."

James Wilson continued:

"Human law must rest its authority, ultimately, upon the authority of that law, which is divine."

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania records in Updegraph v. Commonwealth, 1824:

"The late Judge James Wilson, of the Supreme Court of the United States, Professor of Law in the College in Philadelphia...for our present form of government we are greatly indebted to his exertions...   In his Course of Lectures (3d Vol. of his Works, 122), he states that... 'Christianity is part of the common-law.'"


From a friend who is a well-equipped constitutional scholar: 

Dear Earle,

    Wilson's statement is a mild one.  A far more powerful, and more accurate one, is the one made by Joseph Story - an equally estimable member of the United States Supreme Court - on the occasion of his inauguration as Dane Professor of Law in Harvard University on August 25, 1829:

    "One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal (civil government) jurisprudence is, that Christianity is a part of the Common Law, from which it seeks the sanctions of its rights, and by which it endeavours to regulate its doctrines.  And notwithstanding the specious objection of one of our distinguished statesmen (referring to Thomas Jefferson), the boast is as true as it is beautiful.  There never has been a period, in which the Common Law did not recognise Christianity lying at its foundations." 

    [See also the statement of Jesse Root on the origin of law and civil government in Connecticut wherein he stated that the Bible was the "Magna Carta" of the common law of his state.] 

    In this same discourse Story went on to say:  "The error of the Common Law was [that] [i]t tolerated nothing but Christianity, as taught by its own established church ... and with unrelenting severity consigned the conscientious heretic to the stake, regarding his very scruples as proofs of incorrigible wickedness.  Thus, justice was debased, and religion itself made the minister of crimes, by calling to the aid of the secular power to enforce that conformity of belief, whose rewards and punishments belong exclusively to God."
    Even Jefferson based his claim for freedom of religion on Christianity as evidenced in the Preamble to the 1786 statute on religious freedom about which I have written many times.
    All of this is addressed in chapters 2 and 3 of my book God, Man & Law in which one of the themes that is developed if the one stated by the great Catholic scholar of the common law - John C.H. Wu who called the common law a "cradle Christian" in contrast to the Roman law which he characterized as a "death bed convert to Christianity. 

Regarding the sad history of Christians persecuting "heretics", see my pieces on Christian Government and legitimate pluralism.  Biblical law rightly understood, forbids conversion by force.   

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