Nadler’s Comments Ignore Faith of the Founders
Many turning points in American history were overlooked when they occurred but proved groundbreaking in retrospect.
On March 5, 1770, for example, Crispus Attucks threw a snowball that started the Boston Massacre and eventually the American Revolution. Nearly two centuries later, on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.
On March 1, 2021, another potentially pivotal moment in American history went largely unnoticed. Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), speaking beneath a portrait of Moses on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, interrupted a fellow congressman’s quoting of the Bible to say that “what any religious tradition describes as God’s will is no concern of this Congress.”
While the comments elicited a day or two of outrage among people of faith, the significance of Nadler’s statement could foreshadow challenges to America as it has existed since its founding.
Nadler disregards the importance of our Judeo-Christian values system and ignores the principles that formed America.
Scripture had a tremendous impact on our nation’s founding fathers and the country they created. In an influential 1775 Massachusetts-election sermon, Samuel Langdon, the president of Harvard College and later delegate to New Hampshire’s constitution ratifying convention, reflected on important lessons from the Jews of antiquity:
“The Jewish government, according to the original constitution, which was divinely established . . . was a perfect Republic . . . The civil Polity of Israel is doubtless an excellent general model . . . at least some principal laws and orders of it may be copied, to great advantage, in more modern establishments.”
The founders’ focus on Judeo-Christian values in shaping America has played no small role in our country’s success.
Consider that at the time of our nation’s founding, France was also undergoing a revolution. Yet, unlike the American revolutionaries, the French revolutionaries sought to create a government free of any religious principles or acknowledgment of God’s law. France soon devolved into anarchy and, later, tyranny as the mob began sending the masses to the guillotines. The aftermath of the Revolution haunted France for generations in the form of wars, political upheaval, and tyranny.
The contrast between the two revolutions – French and American – could not be clearer.
For hundreds of years, “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” have come to America for what George Washington called the vine and fig tree. Washington referred to this saying from the prophet Micah more than fifty times in his written correspondence: “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid . . . .”
Washington was referring to the dream that birthed America: that the laws of Scripture gave people the right to live the life they wanted, free from oppression, and able to practice their business and religion in peace. The lifeblood of that dream is private property – the notion that every person has a right to ownership of their possessions and can expect justice if that right is violated.
Indeed, private property was heavily emphasized in the Jewish Bible, as seen in Deuteronomy 19:14, when God forbids moving the boundary of a neighbor’s field. Centuries before our nation’s founding, rabbinic scholars were teaching that this commandment was central to preserving social order, and that those who broke it defrauded their neighbor. Other foundational American principles are echoed elsewhere in the Jewish Bible, from properly paying employees to dispensing impartial justice.
The founding fathers knew exactly what they were doing when they made God’s laws the cornerstone of our country. This culture and these rules have created the most prosperous society in the world. It has also created a society in which human rights are respected, a promise that millions of Americans have paid the ultimate price to defend.
If America “progresses” away from these principles and in the direction suggested by Rep. Nadler, we will lose a government built on God’s laws, the golden thread that has weaved its way through our nation’s history. It is ours to defend, and the vine and fig tree spoken of by Washington are ours to fight for.
Charles Mizrahi is founder of Alpha Investor and host of The Charles Mizrahi Show