Here is the Preamble to the US Constitution as it has read since the beginning, way back in 1787:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.Here's what it could have been:
(1) We, the people of the United States recognizing the being and attributes of Almighty God, the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, the law of God as the paramount rule, and Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior and Lord of all, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.That was one version. Here is another:
(2) We, the people of the United States, humbly acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Ruler among the nations, His revealed will as the supreme law of the land, in order to constitute a Christian government, and in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the inalienable rights and the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to ourselves, our posterity, and all the people, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.And yet another:
(3) We the people of the United States, humbly acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Governor among the nations, and His revealed will as our supreme authority, in order to constitute a Christian government, to form a more perfect union, ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (ellipses as given in source).What is going on here, and why don't we have any of those versions in the Constitution?
That's because since the very beginning, the majority of the so-called Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 wanted it to be clear that there would be a true separation of church and state in the new nation. A vocal but ultimately defeated minority wanted, from the start, to acknowledge the divinity of Christ and the ultimate authority of God over the affairs of state. They were, of course, unsuccessful.
At the time the Constitution was adopted, it was clear to all concerned (even if they accepted it with grave reservations) that this was, in the words of the Treaty of Tripoli just ten years later, in 1797, a government that "is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion".
Fast forward to the Civil War (or, as it's known some places as "The War Between the States" and in the South as "The War of Yankee Aggression"). In 1863 a group of Protestant clergymen from the Northern States saw the Civil War as God's punishment on the nation for turning its back on Him and proposed the wording noted above in (1) as a constitutional amendment.
The next year they founded the Christian Amendment Movement, which quickly morphed into the more neutral-sounding National Reform Movement, and sent a memorial to congress formally proposing the wording in (2) above as an amendment to replace the Preamble to the Constitution. Also in the mix about the same time was the wording of the proposal shown in (3) above.
None of them ever went anywhere, despite getting some support from several senators. Other attempts were made in 1874, 1896 and 1910. In the anti-communist hysteria of the 1940s and 50s, even more proposals were made, including this one in the conventional form of a Constitutional Amendment (i.e., a regularly-numbered one added on the end instead of one changing the actual words of the Preamble):
Section 1: This nation devoutly recognizes the authority and law of Jesus Christ, Savior and Ruler of nations, through whom are bestowed the blessings of Almighty God.
Section 2: This amendment shall not be interpreted so as to result in the establishment of any particular ecclesiastical organization, or in the abridgment of the rights of religious freedom, or freedom of speech and press, or of peaceful assemblage.
Section 3: Congress shall have power, in such cases as it may deem proper, to provide a suitable oath or affirmation for citizens whose religious scruples prevent them from giving unqualified allegiance to the Constitution as herein amended.
It of course went nowhere as well. But the Christian Nation folks did get the consolation prize, which was adding "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance and putting "In God We Trust" on our money.
So the obvious question kind of asks itself: If this is, and was from the beginning, a "Christian Nation", then why did so many people take such great pains over the years to codify it into the constitution? According to such latter-day experts as revisionist "historian" David Barton, professional rightwing wackjob evangelist and founder of the Orwellian-named WallBuilders (dedicated to tearing down the wall of separation between church and state), this is and always was a Christian Nation, the separation of church and state is a myth, and if wasn't for the leftwing-atheist-communist bloc (aka the nine men against America) in the Supreme Court striking down prayer in the schools, kicking God out the back door while inviting Satan in the front, it would be fully acknowledged as such.
So why all of the scrambling, all of the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, all of the desperate attempts to muscle it into the Constitution? As I've often said, it is telling that the framers of the Constitution, although they were certainly free to do so, made absolutely no mention of God or Jesus Christ in the founding document of the United States. There's your "Original intent" right there, Justice Scalia.
And before you even start, shut the fuck up about the date "In the Year of Our Lord" in the signature block. That was the usual and customary form of dating documents, and its presence there means nothing. Nothing. Got that? Nothing. Well, except for the actual date, of course.
Further reading: Blaine Amendment, the Blaine Game and the Christian Right.