Jewish Journal


July 6, 2012

The Declaration of Independence’s Inclusiveness


Yesterday’s blog described my visit to the National Museum of American Jewish History and the George Washington letter to the Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island of 1790.


Wall Street Journa

l has an op/ed by law professor Michael Meyerson titled “Was the Declaration of Independence Christian?” which concludes that the document was “deliberately designed to be as inclusive as possible, it was a quintessentially American achievement—-specific enough to be embraceable by those with orthodox religious views but broad enough to permit each American to feel fully included and equally respected.”

The Declaration of Independence (1776) antedated the Washington letter (1790) to the Newport community by fourteen years, yet its sentiment clearly set the tone of tolerance that Washington later reflected as president.

Was the Declaration of Independence Christian?
The religious phrases in our founding document were deliberately designed to be as inclusive as possible.
Americans of all political stripes invoked the Declaration of Independence this Fourth of July week. Some read the document and found, as Harvard Prof. Alan Dershowitz has, that it “rejected Christianity, along with other organized religions, as a basis for governance.” Others saw the same language proving the opposite, that our nation was founded on “Judeo- Christian values.” Such definitive statements do not tell the full story. The American Framers, in their desire to unite a nation, were theologically bilingual—not only in the Declaration of Independence but beyond.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.


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