Without question the vast majority
of US citizens from the founding of the country
until now share the Judeo - Christian Heritage
emerged from Judaism in the first century of the common era. Christians brought from Judaism its scriptures; fundamental doctrines
such asmonotheism; the belief in amashiach(Hebrew
for messiah); this term is more commonly known asChrist(christosin Greek) and means 'the anointed one');form of worship, including a priesthood, concepts of
sacred space and sacred time, the idea that worship here on Earth is patterned after worship inHeaven, and the use of thePsalmsin
Users of the termJudeo-Christian,
pointing out that Christians and Jews have manysacred textsand
ethical standards in common, also generally hold that Christians and Jews worship the sameGod.
The term was used in theUnited States of Americain
an attempt to create a non-denominationalreligious consensus orcivil religionthat
by embracing Judaism avoids the appearance ofanti-Semitism. The original uses of the term have faded and now
usually refers to a general western religious background and the term is commonly used by historians and academics as a shorthand
for the cultural foundation of western society.
the term refers to a moral tradition based on sharedreligious scriptures, referred to as theTanakhin Judaism and theOld Testamentby Christians, including
particularly theTen Commandments. It implies a continuation of values represented by this religious
heritage in the modern Western World.Michael Novakhas identified the distinctive
value of the Judeo–Christian tradition as the joint concept oflibertyandequalitybased onGenesis, where all humans are said to be created equal, andExodus, where theIsraelitesflee tyranny to freedom.Thomas Cahillhas discussed Jewish
belief inprogressandmoral responsibilityas a characteristic of
American culture that can be traced to a Judeo–Christian reading of theBible.The term "Judeo-Christian"
has been criticized by some theologiansfor suggesting more commonality than
may actually exist.
of Judeo–Christian influence on America is most commonly the subject of historians looking at the development ofrepublicanismin America. The deep
roots of Judeo–Christian values they explore go back to theProtestant Reformation, not the theological battles but the bloody struggle to win the right
to translate the Bible into vernacular languages. This led to a religious mandate forpublic educationso that ordinary people
could read the Bible. According to some authors, this development was crucial to the birth of the Enlightenment and rebellion
against divine right of kings.
In the American
context, historians use the term Judeo–Christian to refer to the influence of theHebrew BibleandNew Testamenton Protestant thought
and values, most especially thePuritan,PresbyterianandEvangelicalheritage. These founding
generations of Americans saw themselves as heirs to the Hebrew Bible, and its teachings on liberty, responsibility, hard work,
ethics, justice, equality, a sense of choseness and an ethical mission to the world, which have become key components of the
American character, what is called the “American Creed.”These ideas
from the Hebrew Bible, brought into American history by Protestants, are seen as underpinning theAmerican Revolution,Declaration of Independenceand theUnited States Constitution. Other authors are interested in tracing the religious beliefs of America's
founding fathers, emphasizing both Jewish and Christian influence in their personal beliefs and how this was translated into
the creation of American institutions and character.
To these historians,
the interest of the concept Judeo–Christian is not theology but on actual culture and history as it evolved in America.
These authors discern a melding of Jewish thought into Protestant teachings—which added onto the heritage of English
history and common law, as well as Enlightenment thinking—resulted in the birth of American democracy.
"...Dedicated secularists and some atheists continue to push the idea that a preponderance of America's founders were,
at best, only nominally religious. It is true they were not all Christians.
Some were deists who believed in a Creator, though not one interested in relating personally to His creatures. But choose
at random any man considered one of our nation's founders and examine his life and personal writings. You are almost sure
to find a man deeply influenced by faith in a Creator God. Consider Patrick
Henry, my favorite personality from among the founders. A Virginia attorney and eloquent orator, Henry helped motivate the
move toward independence with his inspirational speeches. Henry was a follower
of Christ and a man of faith. A variety of sources confirm the following incidents from his life. He once said to a neighbor: "This book [the Bible] is worth all the
books that ever were printed, and it has been my misfortune that I never found time to read it with the proper attention and
feeling till lately. I trust in the mercy of heaven that it is not too late." In a letter
to his daughter dated August 20, 1796, he wrote: "Amongst other strange things said of me,
I hear it is said by the deists that I am one of their number; and indeed, that some good people think I am no Christian.
This thought gives me much more pain than the appellation of Tory; because I think religion of infinitely higher importance
than politics; and I find much cause to reproach myself that I have lived so long, and have given no decided and public proofs
of my being a Christian. But, indeed, my dear child, this is a character which I prize far above all this world has, or can
boast." On his deathbed, Patrick Henry was reported to have said: "Doctor, I wish you to observe how real and beneficial the religion of Christ is to a man about to die.... I am ... much
consoled by reflecting that the religion of Christ has, from its first appearance in the world, been attacked in vain by all
the wits, philosophers, and wise ones, aided by every power of man, and its triumphs have been complete." On November 20, 1798, in his Last Will and Testament, Patrick Henry wrote: "This is all
the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed." Henry is best known for the speech he made on March 23, 1775, in Saint John's Church
in Richmond, Va., more than a year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The Virginia House was undecided on
whether to organize for military action against the encroaching British army. Henry argued in favor of mobilizing for war. Henry rarely, if ever, utilized notes for his speeches. As a result, his first biographer,
William Wirt, worked diligently from oral histories to reconstruct a text of Henry's most memorable and perhaps most influential
speech. Consider some excerpts from Wirt's reconstruction of Henry's address: "They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger?
Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed
in every house? "Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of
effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have
bound us hand and foot? "Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper
use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of
liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. "Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides
over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong
alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. "It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter.
Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north
will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! "Our brethren are already in the field!
Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be
purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for
me, give me liberty or give me death!" On July 4 remember that those who laid
the foundation for our nation were very much like Patrick Henry -- men who believed that liberty was a precious right that
flowed from God. And in Henry's life God was preeminent, personal and the provider of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ."
--- Kelly Boggs, columnist for Baptist Press,
a jimwes website
We have staked the whole of all our political institutions
upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control
ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.' - James
So give your servant a discerning heart to govern
your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?
— I Kings 3:9