Dating God

Abstract

The U.S. Constitution is a godless document, except for an appended date: “the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven.” Christian nationalists and zealous politicians use that date to argue that the United States is a Christian nation and to push legislative initiatives that promote religion. This article examines the legal and historical significance of that lordly date by piecing together how exactly it was added to the parchment during the Constitutional Convention, who added it, and what significance it may have had for the delegates and scribe. The article also traces the origins of the argument that “Year of our Lord” is consequential to a preacher writing fifty years after the Constitution was drafted. All the evidence strongly suggests that “Year of our Lord” has no legal, historical, or even religious significance.

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