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God In The Constitution

( Originally Published 1902 )

THE United States, in the beginning of the war with Spain, expressly stated that it was not the intention to appropriate, but to protect Cuba. After the war, the Government at Washington administered the affiairs of the island till the people should be ready to undertake the experiment of self-government.

In the Constitutional Convention there occurred quite a struggle over the question of the separation of Church and State. Article thirteen originally contained the declaration that the Church was to be separated from the State. The Central Committee struck it out, leaving the Church and State united. A motion was made for a restoration of the original article, and an animated debate followed, participated in by the ablest speakers. On motion, the original article declaring a separation between Church and State was carried ; and to make the separation more emphatic, another motion was carried that no subsidies or financial aid from the State should be granted to the Church. The members, we think, did wisely. History has shown that while it is a good thing to have a union between God and the State, a union between Church and State is dangerous to both.

Another question which excited the deepest interest in the Convention was that of God in the Constitution. In the preamble there occurs the phrase, " Invocando el favor de Dios." Salvador Cisneros moved to strike it out. Sr. Lolrente, one of the ablest men and lawyers of Cuba, arose and made an eloquent plea for the retention of that part of the preamble which implored the favor of God.

The venerable speaker presented a beautiful picture. He was more than three score years and ten, with hair and beard white as the driven snow. The snow was on his head, but the fires of a volcano were burning in his heart. His face was a study in its play of eager and absorbed expression. There was something finely dramatic as this man stood with earnest tone and gesture to declare as one who stood " near to the close of life " that the members of that Convention were not the representatives of an atheistic people. His views were shared by a majority of the members, and the word of God was put in the Constitution of the republic of Cuba.

I trust that the verbal declaration in the preamble may be the expression of the prayers of the Cuban people that the God of nations may lead them. It would have been well to have put in the Constitution of the United States a recognition of Divine Providence. But we rejoice in the fact that the Spirit of God has been in our Constitution and in its administration from the beginning until now, and that, despite the weaknesses and faults and sins of our people, we have been and are now a Christian nation—" that nation whose God is the Lord."

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