Rousas John Rushdoony, “Were There Christians in the Continental Armies?,” Our Threatened Freedom: A Christian View on the Menace of American Statism, Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon/Ross House Books, 2014, pp.37-38
In 1832, about fifty years after the War for Independence ended, Congress passed a pension act for the veterans of that war. The applicants were interviewed, and their stories were recorded by a court reporter or clerk. Some of these recorded stories, edited by John. C. Dann, have been published recently under the title The Revolution Remembered: Eyewitness Accounts of the War for Independence.
Something is at once apparent upon reading these accounts: almost none of the applicants for pensions were churchgoers. Does this mean that Christians were absent from the ranks of soldiers during the War for Independence? Were there no Christians with Washington at Valley Forge or elsewhere? Were not most Americans supposed to be Christians in those days? How do we account for the absence of Christians in these narratives?
The answer is a surprisingly simple one. Almost all the Christian veterans refused to apply for pensions. Many churches then were against any Christian receiving public funds. They took very seriously the requirement of 1 Timothy 5:8 “[I]f any provide not for his own, and specially those of this own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” These churches believed it was necessary for a family to care for its own needy members, and, lacking godly relatives, a man’s fellow believers must care for him. As a result, there were few churchgoers among these first American pensioners. The church then stood for something.
Today, although 53.8 percent of all adults eighteen years old and above profess to be born again Christians, not half of them can name five of the Ten Commandments. (How many can you name, by the way?) They stand for next to nothing because they know next to nothing about faith. They “have” it as a form of life insurance.
We also have――in 1980――numerous politicians who profess to be born-again Christians. It seems to make very little, if any, difference to their lives and politics. Like all too many Americans, they are warm bodies in church, not living souls.
But without the faith, the character necessary for freedom quickly disappears. No politician can make much difference to a country. It take a free people to create the climate of freedom, and today we have a people who regard it as smart to get all they can out of the public trough. As a result, freedom is giving way to slavery. How many churches today who claim to be faithful would stand in terms of 1 Timothy 5:8 as the churches of 1832 did?