County officials in California walked back a proclamation making July “American Christian Heritage Month” after a number of left-wing groups claimed the recognition of Christianity violated the U.S. Constitution.
Critics were ecstatic when the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors caved to the pressure — and threats of litigation — and rescinded the proclamation on Tuesday in a 5-0 vote.
“The purpose of the proclamation was to recognize some of our religious heritage,” Supervisor John Hidahl explained, according to KXTV-TV. “But unfortunately, with a lot of good intents, there’s unintended consequences that sometimes happen.”
The proclamation was approved in July on a 4-1 vote. Immediately, liberal activists began agitating against the celebration of America’s Christian heritage, claiming that it violated the separation of church and state.
“This proclamation is a clear breach of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,” Freedom from Religion Foundation attorney Chris Line said in a letter to the board, according to The Sacramento Bee.
“By issuing this proclamation advancing Christian nationalism and the debunked myth that we are a Christian nation, El Dorado County is ironically violating the country’s true heritage of religious liberty based on a secular government.”
The American Civil Liberties Union also chimed in.
“We are concerned that the Resolution conveys that the County supports, promotes and endorses specific religious beliefs and, as such, violates the California Constitution,” the ACLU wrote in its own letter.
“Our state Constitution protects the rights of individuals to practice and promote their religion as they see fit and, at the same time, prevents the government from promoting a specific religion or religion in general.”
Marla Saunders, who had started a petition against the proclamation, said the decision to rescind it had her “teary with joy,” according to The Times of Israel.
Despite this celebration of supposed constitutional principles, the original proclamation was correct: The U.S. was founded and built mostly by Christians, and Christianity was a chief philosophical tenet in the nation’s founding.
After all, the Founders did not excise God from government — far from it.
Not only is God invoked in our seminal founding document, the Declaration of Independence, but, more to the point, every original state in the union supported Christianity in some way, and some even had an official state church. The Founders spent no time at all trying to change that.
The only thing the Founders did was prevent the federal government from establishing a state church. They had no intention of stopping local jurisdictions from promoting one religion over another.
Furthermore, there really is no such founding principle as the “separation of church and state.” That phrase does not appear in any founding document.
The first time the idea was discussed in any detail was by President Thomas Jefferson in an 1802 letter to Baptists in Connecticut. It did not become a “thing” in government or law until 1947 when the Supreme Court used Jefferson’s letter as a basis for its decision in Everson v. Board of Education.
So the “separation of church and state” is not really a constitutional principle meant to tamp down religion in the public square, as leftists like to claim.
Indeed, the Founders thought faith was central to the survival of the United States.
Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration, wrote, “The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”
In his 1796 Farewell Address, George Washington said, “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
And one more from John Adams, who wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
There are many, many more such quotes, of course. But this will suffice to show that the Founders had no intention of eliminating Christianity from American life or government.
Lastly, we need to address an uninformed but widely disseminated claim that always pops up in this conversation — the idea that the Founders were mostly deists, not Christians. This is flat-out untrue.
The truth is, the ranks of the Founders were filled with Christian theologians, ministers and practicing Christians of several sects. While some deistic ideas were popularly discussed by the Founders, almost none of them actually accepted the label of deist.
Our nation indeed has a deep Christian heritage, and that is worth celebrating. No pressure campaign from left-wing activists who don’t understand the Constitution can change that.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.