“Newt Gingrich teamed up with a group called Citizens United to turn “Rediscovering God” into a film in 2007. The 55-minute film gives a tour of the same monuments that Gingrich and his wife described in the book. Two years later, Newt and Callista teamed up with Citizens United again to create an original sequel, “Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage.” In this second film the Gingriches present a guided tour of Jamestown, England’s first New World colony, again focusing on the religious significance of the monuments.”
Most of the population of Jamestown were Anglicans, members of the Church of England that collected a tax to support it. Most Anglains were Loyalists during the Revoltionary War. After the war, hundreds of thousands of Anglicans were forced to flee America to save their lives and practice freeom of religion – in Canada. They lost all their land, their homes, their live stock and goods to poor armed radicals. So much for Christians backing Capitalism in America. Let us call this the Great Rejection of a Religion by the Founders of the United States of America.
Newt Gingrich claims he is a historian, but he is on par with a Nazi Propagandist. There was no great secular rejection of any religion anywhere in the world in 1775. There was a great deal of rejection of religion by other religions – especially the Anglicans, because they had to pledge allegiance to the King of England. They were loyal patriots when they came to America. Anglicans were the upper crust capitalists steeped in American traditions. There were no Devil-led Leftist Communists or Socialist out to get them, and bring them down. The Gingrichs are Liars out to create a one party system of Jesus based upon the Great Awakening, which I will post on next.
Gingrich said that the religious foundation of America is being attacked on two fronts: “We have a secular elitist wing that deeply, deeply disbelieves in America, that wants to create a different country based on a different set of principles,” he said. “And we have a radical Islamist one which legitimately and authentically hates us and should.”
Embracing the symbols of the British presence in the American colonies, such as the monarchy, the episcopate, and even the language of the Book of Common Prayer, the Church of England almost drove itself to extinction during the upheaval of the American Revolution. More than any other denomination, the War of Independence internally divided both clergy and laity of the Church of England in America, and opinions covered a wide spectrum of political views: patriots, conciliators, and loyalists. On one hand, Patriots saw the Church of England as synonymous with “Tory” and “redcoat”. On the other hand, about three-quarters of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were nominally Anglican laymen, including Thomas Jefferson, William Paca, and George Wythe.
On July 11, 1954, just one month after the phrase “under God” was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance, the U.S. Congress enacted Public Law 84-140, which required the motto on all coins and currency. The law was approved by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and the motto was progressively added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966. In 1956 the phrase was legally adopted as the United States’ national motto by a law passed by the 84th United States Congress.(Public Law 84-851)”, and the United States Code at 36 U.S.C. § 302, now states: “‘In God we trust’ is the national motto.”
As the Revolution ended, both states and the federal government stimulated changes that guaranteed freedom of worship and largely removed government from religious affairs. New York, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina abolished their colonial Church of England legal establishments. Virginia’s Patrick Henry sponsored a measure that would have provided tax support and legal privileges to several Christian denominations, but George Washington worried it might “rankle, and perhaps convulse the state.” Instead, Virginia approved Thomas Jefferson’s bill “for Establishing Religious Freedom,” which outlawed government aid to religion generally and protected freedom of worship for all religious groups in the state, not just for Christians.
In 1791 the first amendment to the new federal constitution opened with sixteen now-famous words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Congress spoke about religion generally, not just of churches. The first amendment recognized the wide range of religious belief and practice that typified America before and after the Revolution, and by prohibiting “an establishment of religion,” it created a new model of relations between government and religion that gave individuals and voluntary groups, not government, responsibility for religious practice and belief among America’s peoples.
The Anglican Church in Virginia
Established churches that worked in tandem with the government were the custom and the law for many centuries in Europe. In keeping with this ancient tradition, colonial Virginia law required Virginians to worship in a state church that they supported with their taxes. This arrangement was patterned after the Anglican, or Church of England, establishment in the mother country.
Church of England affiliation required to hold office in Virginia
Almost from the beginning, the establishment in Virginia differed from that in England. By the late 17th century, the power of the church in Virginia had come to rest with Virginia’s ruling elite, who typically made up county courts, Anglican vestries, and the colonial government. Office-holding qualifications at all levels required Church of England affiliation. County courts and vestries handled nearly all governmental functions vital to everyday life. Justices exercised an amalgam of administrative, judicial, and ecclesiastical powers. They passed judgment in all manner of cases, including absence from Anglican church services, bastardy and adultery, and other moral offenses as defined in law.
Anglican parishes levied taxes and gave support to needy
Parish vestries not only levied public taxes to pay the clergy and build and repair churches, but also doled out support for poor orphans and other needy persons in their parishes. The General Assembly created new parishes and set ministers’ salaries. And it spelled out the conditions under which dissenters were allowed to practice their religion.
Although many among the colonial elite supported a church establishment, they opposed centralization of church authority that would take authority to run church affairs out of their hands. Their hands-on management of church affairs taught them (just as service in the strong county court system did) that Virginians were capable, independent leaders. They therefore opposed a movement in the 1770s to secure a resident American bishop.
Dissent and Religious Toleration
By law, colonial Virginians were members of the Anglican church, but in spite of church establishment, religious life in Virginia was not cut of whole cloth for long. Immigrants – Scots, Irish, English,Continental – brought religious diversity to the colony. Virginia officials chose to tolerate (in the legal sense) most non-Anglican Protestants. Legislation granted limited religious expression and practice to persons who did not accept the religious doctrines and ritual of the Church of England.
The law required dissenters to notify the courts of their dissenting status. Dissenting ministers and their meetinghouses needed licenses from the General Court. Legal toleration provided dissenters a means, however cumbersome, by which they could legally worship outside the Anglican church, but it also disadvantaged dissenters by barring them from public office and by taxing them for support of the Anglican church. Moreover, the privilege of religious toleration could be withdrawn at any time.
Religious Freedom and Separation of Church and State
Religious beliefs and the evolution of American organized religion contributed considerably to the restructuring of American society that culminated in a formal break from Great Britain. Freedom of religion, and the unique system of institutional religion it fostered, were integral parts of the process of becoming Americans. As Virginians responded to the appeal of evangelical faith and the tolerant rationalism of the Enlightenment, they grew away from the idea of a single authoritarian church protected by the state and toward the concept of religion disentangled from government.
The personal appeal of evangelical faith together with the ideals of the Enlightenment helped create an atmosphere in which this and other democratic ideals could flourish. In 1786, the Virginia Assembly enacted Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom. In 1791, the First Amendment to the Constitution stated that the federal government could not enact laws establishing religion or “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Baptists and other denominations accomplished a final goal in 1802, when Virginia approved the sale of church lands (glebes) that had been purchased with public tax monies before 1776.
The emotional and personal appeal of evangelical Christianity, particularly Baptist, touched slaves in unprecedented numbers. “New-light” sermons told of Jesus’ teaching that God loved everyone equally, a message that slaves combined with Old Testament themes of delivery from persecution. But Virginia’s celebrated Statute for Religious Freedom would have only superficial meaning for black Virginians until after the Civil War.