To understand the connection between the U.S. Constitution and Christianity in the United States one must first make the connection between the U.S. Constitution and its parent founding charter document, The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America. The Declaration of Independence, infused with biblical principle lays the cornerstone for the governing bylaws found inside the U.S. Constitution. In his 4th of July speech in 1837, John Quincy Adams argued,
“Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, you’re most joyous and venerated festival returns on this day [4th of July]?”
It might appear to some that Adams asked a question that on the surface might seem almost heretical to the devout Christian. Was John Quincy Adams flippantly linking the founding of the nation with the birth of Christ? To understand why Adams was asking such a question, one need only read the rest of his statement on that 4th of July.
“Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon the earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”
Adams quickly answers his own question with an explanation of his meaning. He posited that the birth of the nation is “indissolubly” linked to the birth of Christ. Adams used the phrase “chain of human events” to refer to what Christians call the providential hand of God. He connected the Declaration with the idea of the Social Compact put forth years earlier by men such as John Locke in the mid-17th century. Social Compact theory suggests that in order to live together peacefully there must be a construct or pact that elevates agreement above the whims of men. The Mayflower Compact was such a construct. Before the English separatists would disembark from the Mayflower in 1620, they signed a basic agreement determining how they would live together in what they called the “civil body politick.”
Adams went on to assert that the founding of the United States of America forms a leading event in the “gospel dispensation.” The United States would become the largest liberty promoting nation in the history of the world. The liberty produced under this system propelled the nation into the largest exporter of Christian missionaries and Christian thought for the next two centuries, hence the “dispensation” of the gospel.
Without the Declaration of Independence, and more importantly its unique content and purpose, the U.S. Constitution would never have been drafted. One writer has surmised that “America’s Declaration of Independence birthed a revolution, whereas the Constitution restrained and defined that revolution”.