The U.S. Constitution is deliberately Godless. Discuss.

From: Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, by Susan Jacoby:

This post is continued in the next post…

From: The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness, by Cornell professor of history R. Laurence Moore, and Cornell professor of government Richard J. Schwartz (all that follows up to the note on sources is a direct quotation from their book):

Americans are continually told that the framers were deeply religious, God-fearing Christians… It follows that such religious men drafted a Christian Constitution in which God presides over and inspires a Christian political system. “The Constitution was designed to perpetuate a Christian order,” the Christian right’s Focus on the Family informs us.

That’s not what happened… God and Christianity are nowhere to be found in the American Constitution, a reality that infuriated many at the time. The U.S. Constitution, drafted in 1787 and ratified in 1788, is a godless document. Its utter neglect of religion was no oversight; it was apparent to all. Self-consciously designed to be an instrument with which to structure the secular politics of individual interest and happiness, the Constitution was bitterly attacked for its failure to mention God or Christianity. Our history books usually describe in great detail the major arguments made against the federal Constitution by its Anti-Federalist opponents: it meant death to the states and introduced an elitist Senate and a monarchical presidency. They seldom mention, however, the concerted campaign to discredit the Constitution as irreligious, which for many of its opponents was its principal flaw. It is as if recognizing the dimension of this criticism would draw too much attention to what was being attacked – the secularism of the Constitution. In fact, this underdocumented and underprivileged controversy of 1787-88 over the godless Constitution was one of the most important public debates ever held in America over the place of religion in politics. The advocates of a secular state won, and it is their Constitution we revere today. …

While passionately debated in the new nation, the “no religious test” clause elicited surprisingly little discussion at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention itself. … [A]ccording to the Maryland delegate Luther Martin, [it was] “adopted by a very great majority of the convention, and without much debate.” No records exist of the exact vote, but Madison’s personal notes of the convention report that North Carolina voted no and that Maryland was divided. According to Luther Martin, “there were some members so unfashionable [his italics] as to think that a belief in the existence of a Deity and of a state of future rewards and punishments would be some security for the good conduct of our rulers, and that in a Christian country it would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism.” …

In Philadelphia the principles of Virginia and New York were written into the new federal Constitution “without much debate,” reflecting perhaps the towering influence Madison and Hamilton had at the Constitutional Convention. New York’s Hamilton had, in fact, earlier given Virginia’s Madison his draft for a constitution, which included the clause “nor shall any religious test for any office or place, be ever established by law.” As for Madison’s views in 1787 on religion and politics, we have the evidence of his contributions to the Federalist papers, written by him, Hamilton, and John Jay in 1787 and 1788 to persuade New York state delegates to ratify the Constitution at their convention. These essays fail to mention God anywhere. (Newt Gingrich, so convinced that the Federalist papers are the final word on American politics that he urged all the members of the House of Representatives to read them when he became Speaker, must realize that nowhere do they discuss America as a Christian people with a Christian government.) Indeed, the one extended reference in the Federalist papers to religion, written by Madison, totally undercuts its value as a governmental means to promote civic virtue. In the famous Federalist No. 10 Madison argues that zealous pursuit of religious opinions, far from leading men to “cooperate for their common good,” causes them to hate each other and disposes them “to vex and oppress each other.”

If there was little debate in Philadelphia over the “no religious test” clause, a veritable firestorm broke out in the country at large during the ratification conventions in each of the states. Outraged Protestants attacked what they saw, correctly, as a godless Constitution. The “no religious test” clause was perceived by many to be the gravest defect of the Constitution… Amos Singletary, another delegate to the Massachusetts ratification convention, was upset at the Constitution’s not requiring men in power to be religious “and though he hoped to see Christians [in office], yet by the Constitution, a papist, or an infidel was as eligible as they.” In New Hampshire the fear was of “a papist, a Mohomatan [sic], a deist, yea an atheist at the helm of government.” Henry Abbot, a delegate to the North Carolina convention, warned that “the exclusion of religious tests” was “dangerous and impolitic” and that “pagans, deists, and Mahometans [sic] might obtain offices among us.” If there is no religious test, he asked, “to whom will they [officeholders] swear support-the ancient pagan gods of Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, or Pluto?”

… The absence of religious tests, it was feared, would open up the national government to control by Jews, Catholics, and Quakers. … Major Thomas Lusk, a delegate in Massachusetts, denounced Article 6 of the Constitution and shuddered “at the idea that Roman Catholics, Papists, and Pagans might be introduced into office, and that Popery and the Inquisition may be established in America.” A delegate in North Carolina waved a pamphlet that depicted the possibility that the pope of Rome might be elected president. Calming himself down, he warned the delegates that in “the course of four or five hundred years” it was most certain that “Papists may occupy that [presidential] chair.” … An anticonstitutional article written for the New York Daily Advertiser that same January and widely reprinted within days in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts papers pulled no punches about the social repercussions of Article 6. No religious tests admitted to national lawmaking: “1st. Quakers, who will make the blacks saucy, and at the same time deprive us of the means of defence-2dly. Mahometans, who ridicule the doctrine of the Trinity-3dly. Deists, abominable wretches-4thly. Negroes, the seed of Cain-5thly. Beggars, who when set on horseback will ride to the devil-6thly. Jews etc. etc.” Not quite finished with the last, the newspaper writer feared that since the Constitution stupidly gave command of the whole militia to the president, “should he hereafter be a Jew, our dear posterity may be ordered to rebuild Jerusalem.”

The prohibition of religious tests was seed by many opponents as the operative sign of the Constitution’s more basic flaw – its general godless quality… Disputants around America complained, as the writer “Philadelphiensis” did in November 1787, of the framers’ “silence” and “indifference about religion.” An anonymous writer in the Virginia Independent Chronicle cautioned in October 1787 about “the pernicious effects” of the Constitution’s “general disregard of religion,” its “cold indifference towards religion.” Thomas Wilson, also of Virginia, insisted that the “Constitution is deistical in principle, and in all probability the composers had no thought of God in all their consultations.” There is some truth in Mr. Wilson’s observation. When Benjamin Franklin, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, urged the delegates to open their sessions with prayers, a request cited often today by the religious right, the delegates… voted to adjourn for the day rather than discuss Franklin’s suggestion. The matter was never brought up again.

Deism was, as we shall see, a powerful force among the intellectuals of the founding generation… It posited a naturalistic religion with a God understood as a supreme intelligence who after creating the world destined it to operate forever after according to natural, rational, and scientific laws. No surprise, then, that a frequent claim heard in 1787 and 1788 was that the Constitution represented a deistic conspiracy to overthrow the Christian commonwealth. …

This view was most powerfully put by the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, pamphleteer “Aristocrotis”… Aristocrotis contends that the delegates in Philadelphia have created a government that for the first time in world history removes religion from public life. Until 1787 “there was never a nation in the world whose government was not circumscribed by religion.” But this was no problem for the Constitutional Convention intent on creating “a government founded upon nature.” … " This, Aristocrotis suggests, “is laying the ax to the root of the tree; whereas other nations only lopped off a few noxious branches.” He argues that the “new Constitution, disdains … [elipsis in original] belief of a deity, the immortality of the soul, or the resurrection of the body, a day of judgement, or a future state of rewards and punishments,” because its authors are committed to a natural religion that is deistic nonreligion. He concludes with irony: “If some religion must be had the religion of nature will certainly be preferred by a government founded upon the law of nature. One great argument in favor of this religion is, that most of the members of the grand convention are great admirers of it; and they certainly are the best models to form our religious as well as our civil belief on.”

Other critics of the Constitution shared Aristocrotis’ demand for the retention of a Christian commonwealth… An Anti-Federalist writer warned in a Boston newspaper on January 10, 1788, that since God was absent from the Constitution, Americans would suffer the fate that the prophet Samuel foretold to Saul: “because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee.” In short, if Americans in their new fundamental law forgot God and His Christian commonwealth, God would soon forget them, and they would perish. …

… [T]hose opposed to the godless Constitution did not just complain; their advocacy of a Christian commonwealth led them to propose specific changes in the Constitution at various state ratifying conventions, all of which were rejected. In Connecticut, William Williams, a delegate, formally moved that the Constitution’s one-sentence preamble be enlarged to include a Christian conception of politics. He proposed that it be changed to read, “We the people of the United States in a firm belief of the being and perfection of the one living and true God, the creator and supreme Governor of the World, in His universal providence and the authority of His laws: that He will require of all moral agents an account of their conduct, that all rightful powers among men are ordained of, and mediately derived from God, therefore in a dependence on His blessing and acknowledgment of His efficient protection in establishing our Independence, whereby it is become necessary to agree upon and settle a Constitution of federal government for ourselves, and in order to form a more perfect union, etc., as it is expressed in the present introduction, do ordain, etc.” Williams also moved that a religious test along these lines be required for all federal officials. One hundred and sixty years later the Pledge of Allegiance might be changed by Congress to include the brief “under God.” But in 1788 the delegates in Connecticut chose not to introduce God, via Williams’s wordy resolution, into the U.S. Constitution.

Equally unsuccessful was the Virginia initiative in April and May 1788 to change the wording of Article 6 itself. “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust under the United States” became “no other religious test shall ever be required than a belief in the one only true God, who is the rewarder of the good, and the punisher of the evil.” This change was rejected.

The defenders of Article 6 were, of course, equally outspoken. Twice in February 1788, in the Federalist Nos. 51 and 56, James Madison cited the “no religious test” clause as one of the glories of the new Constitution…

In North Carolina the critics of the absence of religious tests were pointedly answered by James Iredell, future associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Test laws, he argued, were a vile form of “discrimination.” Their ban was a guarantee in the Constitution of the “principle of religious freedom.” He had no problem with the possibility that Americans may choose “representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans” may be elected. How, he asks, “is it possible to exclude any set of men” without thus laying “the foundation on which persecution has been raised in every part of the world.” For a New York writer the absence of religious tests signified the Constitution’s “relief of the mind from religious thraldom, which has been productive of so many evils in other countries.”

In a wonderfully American coalition, there stood alongside these clerical defenders of Article 6 a number of unabashed advocates of secularism who gloried in the very godlessness of the Constitution. Such was one “Elihu,” whose self-proclaimed deistic defense of the Constitution was printed in Connecticut and Massachusetts newspapers in February 1788. The Constitution, he wrote, is a rational document for a wise people in an enlightened age. The time has passed “when nations could be kept in awe with stories of God’s sitting with legislators and dictating laws.” The exclusion of religious tests was a glorious step, for no longer would politicians and clerics use religion “to establish their own power on the credulity of the people, shackling their uninformed minds with incredible tales.” Sounding much like the French Enlightenment writers who, we shall see, so influenced Jefferson, Elihu claimed that the Constitution created a political order appropriate for the new age when “the light of philosophy has arisen . . . miracles have ceased, oracles are silenced, monkish darkness is dissipated… Mankind are no longer to be deluded with fable.” The most brilliant achievement of the Constitution’s framers, Elihu noted, is that they have refused “to dazzle even the superstitious, by a hint about grace or ghostly knowledge. They come to us in the plain language of common sense, and propose to our understanding a system of government, as the invention of mere human wisdom; no deity comes down to dictate it, not even a god appears in a dream to propose any part of it.”

Yet another thinker holding nondogmatic religious beliefs, William Van Murray, Esq., applauded the absence of religious tests in a 1787 essay in the American Museum. America, he wrote, “will be the great philosophical theater of the world,” since its Constitution recognizes that “Christians are not the only people there.” Religious tests are “A VIOLATION of THE LAW OF NATURE [capitals in the original]”. Governments are created, he held, according to the “laws of nature. These are unacquainted with the distinctions of religious opinion; and of the terms Christian, Mohamentan, Jew or Gentile.”

Lest Elihu’s and Van Murray’s enlightened and secular readings of the Constitution appear to be the eccentric rantings of men hostile to religion, we should note the similarity of their arguments to that offered by the more sober, moderate, and famous John Adams. Writing in 1786, just before the federal Constitution was written, he took it as given that political constitutions were wholly secular enterprises free of godly involvement or inspiration. “The United States of America,” he wrote, marks “the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature.” The architects of American governments never “had interviews with the gods or were in any degree under the inspiration of Heaven.” Government, Adams insisted, is “contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.” Adams’s view of constitution making is also caught up in the secular ideals of the Age of Reason. “Neither the people nor their conventions, committees, or subcommittees,” he wrote, “considered legislation in any other light than as ordinary arts and sciences, only more important… The people were universally too enlightened to be imposed on by artifice… [G]overnments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretense of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind.”

Among those who shared this secular ideal of excluding religion from politics were some, it should be noted, who worried that the existence of the “no religious test” clause might actually imply that politics would, in turn, not be excluded from religion. A wall of separation, after all, prevents trespassing in both directions. Paradoxically, then, some opposed Article 6 because it suggested to them that the Constitution did not go far enough in creating a state utterly uninterested in religion…

Principal Sources for the above material in The Godless Constitution:

Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, ed. Merrill Jensen

The Complete Anti-Federalist, ed. Herbert J. Storing

I cite all this because it has been argued in another thread (Reciting Pledge of Allegiance in public schools ruled unconstitutional. Discuss. ) that either: (1) it was accidental or casual that the Constitution is Godless, or (2) there is no evidence that the decision was deliberate.

I do not agree with either view, of course. But since (2) was so emphatically claimed by some prominent posters, I have used such extensive quotation to provide such evidence.
(MODERATORS: I have whittled down the extremely extensive quotation from far lengthier material. If it is your view that this exceeds “fair use”, is there any way that you could please somehow allow me to re-edit that post to prevent such? I would greatly appreciate your guidance and assistance in this regard.)

Precisely what issue are we to discuss?

I’ve always admired the ability of the U.S. Constitution of still being valid to this day. (Even if I’m no fan of americans being so legalistic and over dependent on Lawyers.) I always thought it hard to comprehend how the Founding Fathers avoided the pitfalls of the Constitution being used to further individuals interests as opposed to the “collective” interests.

The atheist in me was quite happy to read about the “godless” constitution. I dare say that this aspect is probably one of the reasons why the US Constituion is still relevant and respected nowadays. Why the same jews and other non-protestant they feared so much back then flocked to the USA later on, bringing prosperity and willingness to work hard.

I don’t want to say the “B” word… but the way that B has been governing certainly smacks as being an example of what the writers of the Constitution were trying to avoid. That some of the most hardcore religious people in the US praise so much the Constitution is certainly ironic… hehe

Thanks for the text… quite informative…

Reread the second post. Some posters have claimed that the U.S. Constitution’s godlessness was “accidental.” The first and second posts make it clear that it was not, that the Founding Fathers were not the pious religious types our mullahs and their followers like to say they were. The US was not founded as a relgious nation and its current drift toward religion represents a falling off from the great principles on which our nation was founded.

No. They do not make any such thing “clear.”

What they demonstrate is that after the document was presented to the public for ratification, various people attacked it for being “godless,” but there is still no evidence presented that the effort to exclude a reference to a god was specifically deliberate.

Go back and read the reference to the Articles of Confederation. If ever there was a use of genuine “ceremonial deism,” that is it. The entire AoC was writtren without a single reference to God, then, at the very end, they tacked on a little nod to some vaguely identified “Great Governor of the World,” not to have blessed the nation or the enterprise, but simply for having prompted the state legislatures to send delegates to the convention.

I would love for someone to demonstrate actual evidence that every reference to the divine was deliberately eliminated from the Constitution, but since the Constitution makes no reference to the sending of delegates, it is no more godless than the Articles of Confederation.

I agree that the framers appeared to want a truly secular government. However, that is not the same thing as claiming that references to a god were excluded.

The attacks by the religiously inclined in 1787 and 1788 are analogous to charges by Wildmon or Robertson that verious laws are intended to “promote” homosexual “lifestyles.” I doubt that any Congresscritter (not excluding Barney Frank) has ever written a law with the intention of promoting homosexuality. Looking at the claims of people on the outside, frothing at the mouth about their objections, indicates only that they had objections, not that they had a clue regarding the intent of the authors.

I would argue that the simple fact that the Constitution contains no reference to God is proof enough that She was deliberately left out of the Constitution. I would say the burden of proof would be on those who wish to press for the notion that God’s omission was accidental. Good luck with that.

So you’re citing another document that deliberately omitted mention of God as proof that the Constution accidentally omitted God? I don’t follow.

I would love for someone to demonstrate actual evidence that every reference to the divine was deliberately eliminated from the Constitution, but since the Constitution makes no reference to the sending of delegates, it is no more godless than the Articles of Confederation.

How do you respond to the total abscence of God from the Constitution then? I mean, how do you think that really happened?

I found the argument that God was mentioned in almost every other state constitution fairly strong evidence. I mean, if it’s commonplace to omit God from other analogous documents, I could see how the Constitution could be just one of the gang, with religion omitted because that’s how it’s done. That’s not the case however. Putting a reference to God IN is clearly the standard, leaving references to God OUT is different. Unusual. And almost certainly, deliberate.

The point of that argument for me is that it establishes as feel for the religious tenor of the times. That is, if the Enlightenment were a time when no educated gentleman would dare think to mention God as having any business in the affairs of state, you have a point for the “accidental” omission of God, though I would argue that it was a product of the culture and not all that accidental. But the fact that there were mullahs around in those days who used their clout to object to the exclusion of God from the Constitution argues that at least some of the Framers would have brought the issue up. Which argues powerfully for deliberate omission, again.

Frankly, the notion that the exclusion of God from the Constitution is accidental is so weak as to be almost laughable. Given the absence of God from the Constitution and its presence in so many other documents of the time, I’d say the burden’s on the “accidental” camp. Good luck with that.

You’ll have to take that up with someone who believes that it must have been accidental.

Basically, we have two camps that each want desperately to believe that their position is correct–and neither side has the evidence to prove their point.

We have a secular Constitution and I am comfortbale with that. People running around insisting that god was deliberately or accidentally left out ought to stick to IMHO until they can provide evidence.
Until then, it is simply not “clear” that either side is correct.

Theist, atheist, whatever, we all ought to get down on our knees and thank Og, Dog, Sky-Buddy, No-Buddy, Providence, Narragansett, whoever, for Tom Jefferson.

See what I mean?

Evidence and logic simply do not get through to some people.
Tom, since you quite irrationally refuse to acknowledge secondary evidence, see:

Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, ed. Merrill Jensen

The Complete Anti-Federalist, ed. Herbert J. Storing

Oh, silly me. I failed to recognize before posting that last response that these 16-volume an 6-volume assemblages, respectively, of fact are secondary, too. Even though I have cited the words of some of the Framers themselves, nothing is acceptable to tomndebb, apparently, other than sworn affidavits from the Framers themselves along with polygraphic evidence to confirm they weren’t lying.

That wouldbe a description of your position, correct?

You have several references to the “religious test” clause and one statement by Mr. Martin (without date or context) indicating opposition to an unstated declaration regarding belief. (In other words, we do not know from your citation whether these were notes taken during the Convention or observations made later and we do not know the exact statements that drew his reaction. Context counts.)

What you have not provided is a declaration by any member of the Convention that they made a deliberate choice to exclude a god.

I am not arguing that they did nor did not exclude the divine deliberately. There is no mention of the divine, and that is sufficient for me. You are the one who demands that everyone acknowledge that the omission was deliberate while refusing to recognize the level of evidence required to support that claim.

And since one of your primary sources falsely claims that God is not mentioned in the Federalist Papers, I see no reason to swallow his conclusions without first examining them.

(God shows up in #43. It is is not much of a reference and it is clearly deist rather than theist in nature, but it demonstrates that your author cannot be depended upon for utter accuracy.)

Given the frequency of references to God in other important documents of the period, it cannot have been accidental that such references were omitted from the U.S. Constitution. Nevertheless, to say it is “Godless” is needlessly provocative to those who hold religious beliefs, and contrary to the desire of the Framers to establish a national government in which believers and nonbelievers, Christians and others would be able to leave peacefully together, in freedom.

Here is one of my favorite writings of George Washington, from his letter responding to the elders of Touro Synagogue, Newport, R.I., in 1790:

“…The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

“It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under his own wine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

Not having access to a time machine and a supply of truth serum, I guess I can’t say for sure the omission of God from the U.S. Constitution is deliberate, but given the propensity for including references to the divine (“ceremonial deism”) in similar documents before and since, I would call the lack of God in the U.S. Constitution notable. It certainly gives the lie to the sillier claims of some on the Religious Right to the effect that the Founding Fathers wanted to establish a Christian Nation.

Actually, if the omission wasn’t deliberate–if the FF just forgot to mention God, or if it simply never occured to them to mention God in a Constitution, that to me would really drive home just how little the attendees at the Constitutional Convention believed in mixing religion and government.

Well, since you’re making a really huge deal out of it, and drawing all sorts of inferences from the premise, and have stated it several different ways throughout your post and title — the Lord is in fact written in the document. Yes, yes, I’ve heard the naysayers that that’s different, but people who disagree often find some arbitrary difference. Granted, it isn’t an exaltation or an endorsement or anything like that, but it is a mention, and therefore the document is not entirely “godless”.

I’m in the process of reading Jacoby’s book. One of the things she mentions is that the Virginia Law was not a slam dunk. It passed because of Madison’s brilliant writing, and because of support from evangelicals. They, who would not be the established religion, wanted the freedom to proselytize, and were convinced that an establishment might forbid that. So what would today be “conservative” Christians were very much behind this law.

Given the strong feelings against deism by many at the time, I can’t imagine anyone in the Convention blatantly stating that they excluded mention of god. I also can’t imagine that they never thought of it, or somehow overlooked it. Nature’s God was certainly in the Declaration of Independence.

This is quite independent from the secularity of the Constitution. If the preamble mentioned a deistic god, I don’t think it would make the Constitution any less secular. That it did not is telling.

I come into this debate with a completely open mind: I have no clue at all whether the Founders intended the Constitution to be a godless document. I have no doubt whatsoever, however, that the Federal government was intended to be secular in nature: a point one which we seem to have consensus.

Speaking as someone who has done graduate studies in history, the quoted text from Susan Jacoby seems to rely too heavily on bare assertions regarding the debate on whether God was intentionally left out from the Constitution. It also does a middling job of describing the role of secularism in Virginia and elsewhere, but again, the debate does not seem to be whether our government was intended to be secular, but rather should our Constitution be godless.

The Moore and Schwartz quotation seems to present a much more compelling case, but it is, at the heart, a circumstantial case. (Of course, a case can be proven circumstantially, but it is a different proposition than offering direct, primary source material that demonstrates one point or another.) As far as what has been presented here, there was no debate about whether to mention God in the Constitution. The only debate seems to have been about whether there should be a religous test for government service, which was pretty much a slam-dunk debate. The criticism that ensued over whether the Constitution was a godless document really doesn’t seem to shine much light here, because as far as the information presented goes, none of the Founding Fathers actually defended against these charges by presenting the virtues of a godless Constitution. Instead, the authors of the Constitution seem to have defended the document against attempts to insert religous tests, not ceremonial references to God.

So, based on all of this, as far as I can tell, there was no debate about whether to insert a ceremonial reference to God. There was no vote, no argument, nothing. I’m surprised, frankly, that there isn’t even a memoir reference that states why one participant may have argued for or against a honorary reference to God.

To summarize, I’m not convinced that the Constitution was written to deliberately exclude God. It is entirely plausible. But the evidence presented so far relates mostly to the question of a religous test, which is a different question.

Oh, and the argument that “the Constitution contains no reference to God, therefore it must have been deliberate,” put most baldly by Evil Captor, is so deliciously ripe with irony that it must be commented upon. Is this not the exact same argument that fundamentalists use to aruge in favor of intelligent design: “things came out a certain way, therefore things must have been designed to come out that way.” That’s a poor argument for biology, and its a poor argument for history, too.

And, for what it’s worth, I found a review of “The Godless Constitution” that I find much more compelling than either of the two sources quoted by the OP. To pick out a few choice parts:

Now, this is article is a critique, rather than a proposal of an alternate hypothesis, but its scholarship appears much more sharp than the articles quoted in the OP.

Furthermore, I just reread my last post and I’m ashamed of my poor editing skills. Please excuse the misspellings and bad grammar where each appear.

Jacoby notes that the religious went along with the ban on religious tests due to state establishment, as the reviewer notes. She also notes the religious tests in the states - New York, for instance allowed Jews but not Catholics to hold office. I don’t see how this would provide a reason not to include God, even the deistic god, in the Preamble at least.

Nonetheless, it seems clear that the banning of religious tests etc. were modeled on the Virginia Act, thus Madison had his hand in. She does not give quotes or references to debate on this in the Constitutional Convention itself, though. Was it considered too trivial to debate? Was the decision made not in the general meeting? Were there minutes at all?

I don’t get some of the criticism in the review you posted. Without doubt the Constitution is godless and secular. I’d say quoting the religious critics shows that this could not have been a default decision, taken say if the majority of America were deists (not the case.)

So, the lack of god could not have been accidental, and I don’t understand how it could be explained by established religion in the states. We know the intellectual leaders were secular (jefferson, Franklin, Adams and Madison.) So why do you think god was left out?