Letters to the editor for Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015
God and the founding fathers
Kate Morra seems to think that Daniel Webster was a founding father, a bit of a stretch considering that he had yet to be born when the constitution was ratified. And Webster’s argument that Massachusetts had a right to make a profession of Christian faith a requirement for holding public office in that state was as wrong in his day as it is today. Even though Kentucky and other states still have laws requiring such religious affirmations in their oaths, they have been dead letters since at least Torcaso v. Watkins in 1961, a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that state laws requiring oaths to include “so help me God” violate citizens’ rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Morra’s misunderstanding of the Tenth Amendment is obvious enough, but I can’t let her claim that the Declaration of Independence “mentions God four times” pass without comment. The Declaration does mention “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” as justification for the right of self government. But it may have escaped Kate Morra’s attention that this reference wasn’t to a theistic or supernatural God, it specifically references the deists’ God of nature, whose laws were the laws of nature. Jefferson and his fellow patriots were simply stating their belief that America’s colonial ties were outdated and unnatural. They were no more making a profession of religious beliefs than we do today by putting “OMG” in a text message.