One individual who undoubtedly gave his all for his country and Christ was James Madison. He is known as the Father of the U.S. Constitution. He was the fourth President of our wonderful country. He graduated from Princeton in 1771 where he spent an additional year to study Hebrew more deeply under another founder, John Witherspoon (DD). When Madison left Princeton, he continued in both biblical and legal education. The scriptures are where he formed his constitutional concepts, and through them he developed his views and governmental principles.
Madison was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1780. He led the opposition on a bill that would establish religion by law. However, he was even more outspoken about religious freedom (which he frequently defended, alongside Thomas Jefferson). These two men would be known as “Champions of Religious Freedom.”
Neither Madison nor Jefferson stood against Christianity, but against providing individual sects governmental privilege, especially where taxation presented a confiscatory policy. Further, independent Christian organizations sided with Madison. He wrote, “Are the Quakers and the Mennonites the only sects who think a compulsive support of their religions unnecessary and unwarrantable?” (Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785).
In providing for a single religion in government, Madison saw an affront to the entire Christian faith. In this sense, he argued for Christianity against the privilege of a single sect. Madison argued that such a favor actually detracted from faith: “…the establishment proposed by the bill is not requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian religion itself…it is a contradiction to fact, for it is known that this religion both existed and flourished…without the support of human laws…in spite of every opposition from them” (Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785). The separation proposed by Madison removes the interference of the state in religious affairs, not the religion from the people in government. Madison argues against the corruptible heart of man as he observed, “…pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity: in both superstition, bigotry and persecution” (Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785). He notes that government and religion fall prey to despotism when they join forces, that “those of every sect point out the ages prior to it’s incorporation with civil policy…to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of civil authority; in more instances have they been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen as guardians of the liberties of the people…” (Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785).
Yet, through all this it is clear that Madison is a steadfast Christian, grounded in doctrine and operating from the roots of freedom and liberty taught in the scriptures. He writes, ”the very appearance of the bill has transformed that Christian forbearance, love and charity, which of late mutually prevailed, into animosities and jealousies, which may not soon be appeased (Madison striving to make peace (Matt 5:9)…The first wish of those, who ought to enjoy this precious gift (Salvation), out to be, that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those who have as yet received it, with the number still remaining under the dominions of false religions…” (Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785). Make no mistake. As strenuously as Madison argued for religious freedom, it was for the overall benefit of man. Where man sees religion tied to government, he becomes supremely skeptical and cannot see the gospel as the free-gift that it is. This is Madison’s argument. Therefore, the author of the Bill of Rights that would become the Amendments to the Constitution wrote in our First Amendment “Freedom of religion” and not freedom from it.
We find this sentence in a letter to William Bradford, “Nevertheless a watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest while we are building ideal monuments of Renown and Bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven” A clear testimony that Madison intends on building treasures in heaven, not on earth (Matt 6:19-21). (To William Bradford, November 9, 1772). Deist? Secularist? Atheist? No. Christian. Most certainly.