The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States by B. F. Morris was published in 1865. Recently, the Right Wing of the United States discovered this book, and wishes to present it as evidence that the United States is officially Christian.


I’m sure they are wrong, but the United States definitely is, and the Right Wing is in particular, driven by mercenary tendencies. So Human Events (which I monitor) is now hawking a commercial reprint of this early book. Here are some of the things the Right Wing is saying about this book:

…. page after page of original source material making the case that America was founded as a Christian nation. The evidence is unanswerable and irrefutable. This 1000-page book will astound you and send enemies of Christianity into shock. Keep in mind that it was published in 1864 and has been out of print for more than a century.

“I was debating an ACLU attorney at Christmas on an NPR station. I pulled out a Xerox copy of The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States and said to her: “Until you answer this book, the ACLU can’t make a case against America’s Christian founding.” She was shocked when she saw it. She asked where I had gotten it. The only thing that gave her relief was the fact that the book was not in print…”

… and so on.

These quotes come from an email sent to me by Human Events.

Anyway, guess what. This book is actually free! Here. On Google Books. Get your copy now!!!!

Or, download the Free PDF file here, on!!!!


  1. #1 Philip H.
    June 19, 2008

    Then these guys need to read some of the Founding Father’s writings. hey all took great pains to emphasize that, what ever your beliefs, the U.S. was a secular entity, though perhaps made up of believers. Many of these folks were no more then one generation away from active persecution for their beliefs, so I highly doubt they would supports the Christina Right’s proposition. Never mind that these modern day religious charlitans aren’t actually practicing Christianity, and seem to have taken up the mantle of religious persecution themselves.

  2. #2 JThompson
    June 19, 2008

    Hmm. I’ll have to remember that the next time I debate someone.
    Just pull about 600 pages of random printouts out. “Until you refute this entire book that you’ve never heard of, much less read, you don’t have a leg to stand on!”
    I expect the real reaction from the ACLU lawyer would’ve been to laugh her ass off.
    As a debate tactic, it’s right up there with inventing your own language and declaring yourself the winner because your opponent hasn’t refuted your arguments.

  3. #4 Ahcuah
    June 19, 2008

    Jonathon Rowe does a pretty good take-down of the book at Positive Libery, here:

    As he says, the book even quotes from Parson Weems (the guy who brought us the “chopping down the cherry tree” fraud).

  4. #5 JanieBelle
    June 19, 2008


    Your link goes all 404 on that blog.

    Try this one. (It took me a minute to see the difference between your link and mine; you’ve included the final period in the URL.)

  5. #6 JanieBelle
    June 19, 2008

    Look, it is so totally not my fault that the blog stopped dead this time.

    I didn’t even say anything sechshul.

  6. #7 kschu
    June 19, 2008

    So this book is probably about as accurate as the bible??

  7. #8 themadlolscientist
    June 20, 2008

    Bah. Humbug. Another wingnut tempest in a teapot based on a tired old appeal to dismally outdated “scholarship”……..

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la męme chose.

  8. #9 mark
    June 20, 2008

    Not long ago, the WingNut Daily announced a new publication that disproved evolution…it was a reprint of Paley’s Natural Theology.

  9. #10 Umlud
    June 20, 2008

    Ummm… So a book was written 150 years ago by someone with what we might call a less-than-objective point-of-view, and people want to use it as a factual basis upon which to build an argument? Why does this not surprise me?

    From the Introduction of the book:

    This is a Christian nation, first in name, and secondly because of the many and mighty elements of a pure Christianity which have given it character and shaped its destiny from the beginning.

    Umm… Does anyone else think that this was a book written during that time in our history when the concept of “Manifest Destiny” was on the rise? Doing a search for the word “destiny” shows 28 references and “providence” (not the city) shows at least 30 (there’s a limit of 30 hits, but “Divine Providence” comes up with another 30 hits).

  10. #11 Anne Gilbert
    June 20, 2008

    The right Wingnutters do this all the time. They’ve been claiming, literally for years, that the US is a “Christian nation”, on evidence equally flimsy. And they tend to do it during times of great stress, when people are seeking answers to what appears to be unanswerable problems. There was such a push during the 1950’s, when people were supposed to “pray together”. America was no more “religious” then than it is now, although churches of various denominations and traditions tended to be better-attended. That these folks would use a book written in 1864 and appealing to such dubious sources as Parson Weems(for his account of “Christian” George Washington, is just laughable. I don’t know what Washington’s religious inclinatios were, but he was more a man of the 18th century than anything else, and AFAIK, supported the idea that people’s religious beliefs did not belong in the public realm.
    Anne G

  11. #12 Jamie C
    January 20, 2009

    As a Christian, I’m probably the most unpopular person to respond to this blog. Although, It may surprise you to know that I agree with allot of the sentiment expressed. It frustrates me greatly any time I hear a “Christian” try through argument, debate, or manipulation force their views on others. None of these methods would cause me to change my mind. They would in fact further alienate me from the speaker. If the God I believe in requires such methods to cause people to follow him, then that is not a God I would want to serve. Fortunately he does not. Romans 1:20 For since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made they can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

  12. #13 Lou FCD
    January 20, 2009

    Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

    Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

    1 Samuel 15:2-3

  13. #14 John Martinez
    March 18, 2009

    This book is packed with so many actual facts, it seems you poor, liberal sheep can only respond with the most trifling attacks against the obscure Parson Weems, and with your own completely unsupported assertions.

    Of all the men who attended the Constitutional Convention, only two — Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Frankin — can be accurately identified as being opposed to organized Christianity. And even they, in arguing for such things as “a wall” separating church and state, never went so far as to call for the absurd (and unconstitutional) limitations on the free exercise of religion that some on the radical left now espouse.

    I’m not even Christian, but feel pity for them as constant victims of your secular hate speech and bureaucratic persecution.

    We should all be grateful that America was, indeed, founded as a Christian nation (nearly all such nations having evolved into liberal democracies over the past half-century) and not as an Islamic, atheist, or pagan one (all such nations being bastions of despotism and poverty to this very day).

  14. #15 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 18, 2009

    So, what the fuck are you,then, John? I mean besides a rightwing nutjob?

  15. #16 DDeden
    March 19, 2009

    “her lawyers argued that she and other immigrants in Staten Island’s thriving community of Liberian Christians ate monkey meat for spiritual reasons… thereby protected by the First Amendment”

  16. #17 Tom
    March 21, 2009

    Wow! Another blog by a well-educated person who gives the impression that he operates from an intellectual/philosophical position that is beyond reproach…how novel! It amuses me that so many develop a delusion that the presuppositions and methods of our endeavors are solidly grounded on absolute and irrefutable ideas…so much so that we are now able to state without equivocation that there is no God and no universal moral truth. How refreshing and productive. Hope that works out well for you.
    Examine your assumptions, presuppositions, rhetoric, vocabulary, and conclusions…tell us of their origins and how you came to embrace them so passionately. We each have a personal history from which we cannot detach, just as we collectively have a history. No manner of intellectual contortions will free one from this. However, there is the hope that our capacity to analyze information and acquire understanding of what makes us tic, so to speak, will result in more compassion and justice in our world. Of course I am assuming that these are desireable virtues(picked that idea up in church…please don’t hate me!).

  17. #18 Greg Laden
    March 21, 2009

    Tom, you’re just mad because you paid Anne Coulter for a copy of this book and all you had to do was download it here for free!!!11!!!

  18. #19 Tom
    March 22, 2009

    You got me! Dang, you’re good. Took the wind right out of my sails. Have a great week.

  19. #20 aratina
    March 22, 2009

    It amuses me that so many develop a delusion that the presuppositions and methods of our endeavors are solidly grounded on absolute and irrefutable ideas…so much so that we are now able to state without equivocation that there is no God and no universal moral truth. How refreshing and productive. Hope that works out well for you.

    While you are waiting for the next breath of hot air from your favorite deity to hit your sails, Tom, you might want to consider replacing the word “God” with “fairy.” The delusion is all yours. Now, as to there being or not being a universal morality, there actually could be a universal morality based on shared life experiences of sentient beings that we can currently observe here on Earth such as pain, hunger, jealousy, love, etc. That is, universal morality could be an emergent property of the facts of life, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible to diverge from it on a whim.

  20. #21 Greg Laden
    March 22, 2009

    aratina: well said.

  21. #22 Tom
    March 23, 2009

    TouchĂ©! Okay, I looked it up, and I may just be one of those sentient beings you are referring to…gotta love Google. And, uh, anywho, you cannot take away my guns, religion, and antipathy toward those who are not like me just because you know better words. There, take that! (Hold on a second, I have to catch my breath). The god, the one with the big G, is intent on revealing himself to sentient beings, at least, I suppose, those of the human order. I know, call me crazy, but I think very soon someone writing or reading here may become a believer in Jesus as the son of God. Sounds ridiculous, even as I write it. I mean, gosh, I went to college, even studied science for Pete’s sake, and I still find an irresistible urge to think there is an omnipotent creator who designed, among other things, the genome of living creatures…or at least the mechanism of replication.
    Well, I’ve got to go. My brain is all tired and full for the day. All this thinking is doing me in…whew! Hard work, refuting you people. It is a dirty job. Somebody call Mike Roe.
    Anyway FOX News is about to start…catch you later.

  22. #23 Tom
    March 31, 2010

    This isn’t the only book out there that goes back to the Massachusettes Colony and the Pilgrims who came her to escape the Church of England and to Worship God the way He should be worshipped. However, I don’t expect any of the Leftouts to understand where we came from. Read and search and you will see. But I expect you to call me a right wingnut so be it. I am what I am and You are what You are. Weigh the facts before you throw things in anyones face.

  23. #24 Stephanie Z
    March 31, 2010

    Actually, Tom, I think you’re completely incoherent. I have no idea what you’re trying to say. By the way, were your people part of the church that kicked people out of the colony of Massachutsets for being the wrong kind of baptist or the ones who had to leave?

  24. #25 DuWayne
    March 31, 2010

    Wow Tom, you have gone on quite the little tirade there buddy. My paternal genetic line has a very long history here, as I am given to understand that I have French ancestors who decided they really liked it here after they helped the British colonists (you know, the ones who came from those British subjects who settled here to worship in the various ways they saw fit) win independence from their Brit overlords.

    I have paid some attention to the history of the British colonies that were settled here and more to the birth of the United States. It may just be your lack of coherence, but I get the impression you are conflating the settlement of the British colonies, with the birth of our nation. Please be advised, these were two separate events.

  25. #26 Medicine Woman
    March 31, 2010

    The only people who have the right to claim that a certain way of worship be respected on this land are the Native Americans. Everyone else is a visitor and should respect the Native Ways.

  26. #27 Pierce R. Butler
    March 31, 2010

    Recently, the Right Wing of the United States discovered this book …

    For a fairly liberal value of “Recently” – the earliest offer (using the same ACLU debate blurb) found in my email archive dates from September ’07, sent by American Vision.

    Human Events claims TCLaCotCIotUS was “our best-selling book in 2007”, according to an ’08 email from them (otherwise devoted to Newt Gingrich pushing a coastal-oil-drilling plan that someBHOdy else seems to have adopted).

  27. #28 Greg Laden
    April 1, 2010

    Pierce, good, but the iron I was going for was the one about the book having been published two centuries back.

  28. #29 Pierce R. Butler
    April 1, 2010

    Highlighting irony in the 21st-century US right wing goes beyond shooting barrels stuffed with fish.

    It’s more like looking for pebbles in a stream bed – the art lies in spotting the prettiest ones and holding ’em up to the light. This un’s a nice specimen, but it was your finding and replicating the free copy that put the polish on it.