Ed Brayton at Dispatches From The Culture Wars had a post the other day about a debate between Dinesh D'Souza (or as I like to call him, Dinesh D'Douchebag) and Susan Jacoby. Brayton highlighted this excerpt from D'Souza's remarks:
If you look at the great social movements of American politics, not only the movement that led to the founding, which was driven in part by the First Great Awakening, but the movements that led to the temperance movement, the suffragette movement, the civil rights movement, the anti-slavery movement, there were not only waves of religious revival that often preceded and sometimes accompanied these movements, but the arguments in favor of these causes were made in explicitly religious terms.
But this cuts both ways, because the arguments for slavery were also made in explicitly religious terms.
While figures on the Religious Right, like David Barton, like to claim that the United States was explicitly founded as a Christian nation, the Constitution of the United States is a secular document. However, if the United States was this Christian nation that Barton and his ilk argue, then we have an example of what the Preamble to the Constitution would have looked like. One need only look at the Preamble to the Constitution of the Confederate States of America:
We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God — do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.
Besides explicitly invoking God, what else did the Confederate Constitution contain that the original Constitution did not?
Well, there's Article 4, Section 2, Paragraph 1:
The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.
Then there's Article 4, Section 2, Paragraph 3:
No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs; or to whom such service or labor may be due.
We can also look at the concluding remarks of Confederate President Jefferson Davis's inaugural address:
...let me reverently invoke the God of our fathers to guide and protect us in our
efforts to perpetuate the principles which by HIS blessing they were able to
vindicate, establish and transmit to their posterity, and with the continuance
of HIS favor, ever to be gratefully acknowledged, let us look hopefully forward
to success, to peace, and to prosperity.
Well, we all know how that turned out.