Letter-writer Barbara Doughty erroneously states that the word “God” does not appear in the Declaration of Independence or the Federalist Papers (“McDonald-Smith ‘totally wrong’ on founders, religion,” Letters, July 15). We can certainly have our differences about religion and the founders’ intentions regarding the First Amendment, but whether a particular word appears in a particular document is a matter of observable, verifiable fact. Doughty’s own advice is appropriate here: “… Study our sacred, secular documents before touting.”
Thomas Jefferson’s first sentence of the Declaration states that our separation from England was justified by “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” His second sentence states that all people are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Does the word “Creator” count? Jefferson also mentions the “Supreme Judge of the world” and “Divine Providence.”
James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Paper No. 20, express gratitude to “Heaven” for the unusually peaceful deliberations which resulted in our Constitution. Madison repeats this sentiment in No. 38, saying that he saw in that rather miraculous political consensus “a finger of that Almighty Hand which has been … extended to our relief.” In No. 43, Madison writes of “the Transcendent Law of Nature and of Nature’s God.”
This national conversation about religion is gravely important. It touches on the deepest convictions of us all, theists and atheists alike. And the facts really matter.