America’s Sacred Roots

By: Dr. Tom Snyder; ©2000
Dr. Snyder explores the basic principles, ideas and institutions upon which the United States of America was founded. How far have we strayed?


Our civilization in the United States of America is based on a set of basic principles, ideas and institutions. These principles, ideas and institutions gave form, unity and conti­nuity to the fabric of American society. As the late historian Christopher Dawson once wrote, “It was only by Christianity and the elements of a higher culture transmitted to them by the Church that Western Europe acquired unity and form (Dawson, p. 27).” Western Europe, especially Ireland and England, entrusted this higher Christian culture to those who founded America, including its political institutions. This fact has been proven, time and time again, by countless other historians, including Russell Kirk, M. E. Bradford, M. Stanton Evans, Forrest McDonald, and Eugene D. Genovese.

Of course, Americans and their leaders have not always lived up to these principles, ideas and institutions. For instance, there is the tragic fact of the history of 400 years of slavery based simply on the color of one’s skin. Such tragic evil does not, however, invali­date the truth, goodness and beauty of these sacred Christian foundations. Nor does it invalidate the ministry of Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone of those foundations, and the one being truly responsible for the founding and continued success of the United States.

Regrettably, though, many people have tried to erode these sacred principles, ideas and institutions. In doing so, they have ripped apart the fabric that holds the United States together. Christians everywhere must begin to mend that fabric and restore these Christocentric, biblical principles, ideas and institutions, which are outlined briefly below:

1. A Christian Culture based on Jewish, European, English, Irish, and Scottish historical roots. This Protestant Culture is the guiding, unifying spirit of the American Republic.

2. A common language, English, with a rich literary history.

3. A common body of philosophical and metaphysical beliefs, such as:

God purposefully created the world, including human beings;
The world contains universal, objective knowledge and truth;

Human beings can discover this objective knowledge and truth by using sound reason and logic and by examining factual evidence;

  • All cultures should be subservient to this objective knowledge and truth;
  • Truth transcends race, sex and socio-economic class, as well as culture;
  • The Bible judges right and wrong because it is a historical, verifiable revelation from God, who is truthful, good and just; and

Individual rights take precedence over group rights, but the local community takes precedence over both unless that community violates God’s biblical rules for human behav­ior and liberty.

1. A common body of moral habits, social conventions, traditions, and customs based on Protestant ideas developed from the Bible, which was written mostly by Jews inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.

2. A common practice of limited, representative government that derives its legitimate sovereignty first from God through the Bible and then from the consent of the people, governed as equally as possible by the rule of law in society based on the Bible. God requires the people to obey the government and its officials only if they don’t force the people to do evil acts, such as commit murder, or force the people to neglect doing good, such as save the life of an unborn child. God requires the government and its officials, however, to be ministers of His moral laws found in the Bible (see Romans 13).

3. A common system of law based on Protestant and biblical principles and moral abso­lutes. Those principles and moral absolutes include giving people unlimited freedom to hold any religious beliefs they choose, but they don’t include giving people unlimited freedom to perform any action they wish to do.

4. A belief in a rigorous education, with strong training in critical thinking skills, philosophy, biblical languages, and the formal study of the Bible, the Word of God.

Historical Sources

Barton, David. Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion. Aledo, Texas: WallBuilder Press, 1996.

Bradford, M.E. Original Intentions: On the Making and Ratification of the United States Constitution. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1993.

Dawson, Christopher. Religion and the Rise of Western Culture. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

Evans, M. Stanton. The Theme Is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradi­tion. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1994.

Genovese, Eugene D. The Southern Tradition: The Achievements and Limitations of an American Conservatism. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Ketchum, Ralph, ed. The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention De­bates. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.

Kirk, Russell. America’s British Culture. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1993.

——. The Roots of American Order. 3d edition. Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway, 1991.

McDonald, Forrest. Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1985.

McDonald, Forrest, and Ellen Shapiro McDonald. Requiem: Variations on Eighteenth-Century Themes. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1988.

Montgomery, John Warwick. Human Rights and Human Dignity. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1988.

Rossiter, Clinton, ed. The Federalist Papers. New York: Penguin Books, 1961.

Rushdoony, Rousas J. This Independent Republic: Studies in the Nature and Meaning of American History. Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1978.

Schmidt, Alvin J. The Menace of Multiculturalism: Trojan Horse in America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1997.

Stanlis, Peter J. Edmund Burke and the Natural Law. Lafayette, LA: Huntington House, 1986.

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