Was the American Revolution sinful?

Was the American Revolution sinful? Was it a violation of Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:13-17, Titus 3:1? Does it fall under the condemnation of Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors, 63 (“It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel against them”)?

Defenders of the American Revolution justify it as overthrowing tyranny. Yet, the government which St. Paul speaks of in Romans 13:1 is that of the Roman Emperor Nero, who literally fed Christians to the lions and burnt them alive and by whom St. Paul would go on to be martyred; if Christians are to obey the Emperor Nero, then surely they must also obey King George III, who never did anything even remotely comparable.

If the American Revolution was a sin, doesn’t it logically follow that July 4th celebrations are sinful too? Is not the public promotion and celebration of sin itself a sin?

Conversely, if the American revolution wasn’t a sin–well, then to be consistent wouldn’t you have to say that forcibly overthrowing the present-day US government need not be a sin either? Increasing numbers of people argue that the present-day US government is more tyrannical than King George III ever was, and maybe they are right.

War is always evil, no one wins at war. What’s it good for? Absolutely nothing! What parts of the Revolutionary talking about? That is much too vague question.

Well it also wasnt a random guy vs a government. It was a government vs a government.

So it was not a random Roman vs Nero, but more like Egypt vs Nero.

And the gov broke the govs authority in that they no longer treated the colonies as part of england but as something else. Which then the govs of the colonies said they no longer held allegiance. Sort of on your line of thinking any power claimed by the UN is inherently given.

So as to say if the UN instituted a poilicy of religious persecution your logic would say the US could do nothing but roll over.

Also note the revolution on the American side was not a war fought on the offensive. They did not go to England to take over and usurp the king. They simply declared independence and the king set troops in. If he never sent troops to conquer the colonial governments who by the above ligic once claimed greater authority auto had it… there would have been no war.

Whether or not George III was a tyrant depends on which side of the border or pond one stood.

I’m sure Americans can come up with all sorts of reasons to give some moral justification to rebellion, but since I stand north of the border, my take, of course, is that your rebellion was unjustified (one country’s patriot is another country’s traitor). Heck, you even consider the Quebec Act of 1774 one of the so-called “Intolerable Acts” when it was one of the laws that gave the earliest emancipation of Catholics in the British Empire long before it was formalized in Europe.

Had your founding fathers been in the Isles, they would have merited hanging, drawing and quartering, since they were traitors to the Crown. I would therefore say their actions were objectively sinful (and as with all cases, I impute no culpability; only God knows the state of their souls).

But here’s also the thing, and why July 4th is not a sin and the United States is a legitimate government.

You won the darned war.

And further, that you won the war and your independence was solidified by treaty (Paris 1783). That legitimizes the end result. The United States has a right to exist–a right it won; its standing as a nation-state and its government are legitimate, and even the Mother Country recognizes that. So, well played. No one sins by celebrating July 4th, and no one bears any moral responsibility for any sin committed back in 1776.

I actually thought that social movements declared that certain groups at certain times are randomly held responsible for the sins of unknown ancestors commited to more unknown ancestors of other groups.

Plus even if you weren’t “here” ancestor speaking, if you look like the people who were you are still responsible?

I could swear that is what they keep telling us :shrug:

:smiley: sorry I had to lol


I immigrated to Canada. I must therefore be guilty of dispossessing the First Nations of their land and committing cultural genocide. :shrug:

Well, if we all believe in personal freedom, I don’t see what’s sinful about saying you want to rule yourself? However, there is a difference between fighting a war and just saying, “Hey guys, I’m just going to leave know. I’m not going to bother anyone so…see you later.”

The war has to meet the justifications of a “just war.” Whether the Revolution met those criteria is a question worth asking. But I don’t believe there is a sin in leaving a government.

Well I’m British so bear that in mind, but a king or queen is the anointed of God. That goes back to King David in Ancient Israel and is not only Biblical but has been the tradition in England certainly into the Middle Ages. There is also as the OP points out various support from the Epistles for this position. Rebelling against God’s anointed sounds sinful to me. Recall Numbers 16 and the rebellion of Korah for instance.

And let’s face it, King George’s actions were not that intolerable. He was not as bad as the Roman Emperors that persecuted the early church. By the standards of the day, he was probably about average. The American rebels wanted independence. Their grievances were based around that desire.

This has to be the 6th time I’ve seen this question asked here in the last year or so. I’m unable to understand the point. Were the Revolution found to be a moral wrong, what would the “restitution” be in a sacramental sense? Asking England to take us back? Is there an implied “sins of the fathers” here such that current US citizens are thought to be under some kind of “moral cloud?” Does someone think our current political and economic state is some kind of ongoing “divine punishment?”

Self-governance is a legitimate desire, especially if a colony has sufficiently departed from the motherland in terms of culture, language, customs, etc. But it can be done peacefully.

Canada is a prime example. Canada became a self-governing Dominion within the British Empire in 1867 (which is why July 1st is Canada Day), with its own Government and Parliament. We were largely autonomous, except in a few areas, such as foreign affairs (which is why Canada automatically entered World War I when the UK declared war).

This changed further in 1931 when the Statute of Westminster was passed, severing the Canadian Crown from the British Crown (even though the two Crowns sit on the same head), leaving Canada legislatively independent, except in matters pertaining to constitutional amendments. That would only be resolved in 1982; before then, only the British Parliament could pass an act amending Canada’s Constitution. So technically, Canada was not 100% independent until 1982.

Our transition to full independence took over a hundred years since Confederation, but is was a gradual, peaceful process, and we’re a great nation because of that, not despite it.

What exactly did George do? Did he direct/order these Acts or did Parliament pass them in his name only?

Even if sins were committed in the initiation of the Revolution, it would not be a sin to celebrate our independence. Every nation has sins in the beginning of its history. And the international presence of the USA has redounded to the benefit of the other nations, including Britain.

Those who fought on the Continental side in the ARW were not sinning, as they were defending their home communities. Their war was one of defense, as except for a brief campaign in Canada, they never attacked enemy territory. They also fought under the Continental Congress, which was a lawfully constituted government.

It was believed at the time that the injustices of the colonial administration were grave enough to require resistance. Britain allowed them no peaceful means of redressing their grievances. And, sadly, NA in the 1700s was a violent place (we are an armed society for a reason). Warfare was not the moral shocker it is today.

Sins were no doubt committed in forming the new nation, but we must avoid judging a prior era by our standards.


IMO, it was still using violence towards a greater good, something usually we frown upon as christians.

Ive wondered this before and have been in similar threads like this one recently on here, whats the difference in justifying this violence versus using violence to resolve other problems? I hope its not just because the US was founded this way, I mean, just because LOTS of people all agree violence and killing is how this should be dealt with, does not mean it is suddenly ok.

Nope. The American colonies did not start the violence. Who fired first at Lexington? It was the Redcoats. Who was oppressing whom? It sure wasn’t the Americans.

If you are really interested in this, you need to read St. Roberto Bellarmino, better known in English as St. Robert Bellarmine. His social teaching, and that of the Salamanca School, was the stuff that Locke and Paine and the rest were working off.

The point that the good Cardinal Bellarmine made was that, while it’s okay for Catholics to meekly obey an oppressive king or government that doesn’t fulfil its part of the social contract, or a non-Catholic king or government who persecutes them, it is also okay for them to rebel or to defend themselves by other violent or non-violent means. He fought against the whole silly “Divine Right of Kings” thing. And he wrote a lot of books and pamphlets pointing this out, which were circulated across Europe. (All over Europe, people also wrote books and pamphlets against his views, which ironically spread them even farther.)

English Protestant writers indignantly protested Bellarmine’s viewpoint, but then various Protestant thinkers made use of his arguments for their own purposes. Bellarmine was a big bugaboo and inspiration to the English, and he also was one of the hidden architects of the thinking behind the American Revolution.

Sadly, Bellarmine isn’t super-available in translation, and he wrote so much in Latin that it’s difficult to dig it all up. If you have access (through a university, usually) to “Early English Books Online”, you can read some translations of Bellarmine and some pamphlets arguing against him.

His famous book “De Laicis” (which is available in translation in various places around the Internet) argues that God grants power and authority to all individual human beings, who then may choose collectively to give it to a king or government, or to bestow it elsewhere when they choose. (That line of thinking comes from farther back than David - you will of course remember the prophet Samuel’s attempt to dissuade Israel from impiously choosing a king other than God, in the first place. Anointing kings was originally a form of divine damage control or softening of the covenantal curse consequences, not a sign of divine right.)

I think you can see where that leads directly to “We the People.” It is also in “De Laicis” that he declares that “All men are equal - not in wisdom or grace, but in the essence and nature of mankind.”

St. Robert Bellarmine, theologian of democracy, pray for us!

I forgot to say…

St. Robert Bellarmine also argues that a people may choose to change their form of government completely, or drop the idea of aristocracy and royalty, whenever they have a serious reason to do so.

(And that’s not surprising since he came from a town close to Siena, and Siena changed its governmental form a lot. Sometimes every few years. Usually very peacefully, too. They just liked messing with their republic, that’s all.)

Another point: the reason Bellarmine’s ideas struck so hard in America was that practically every American colonist saw himself as experiencing a replay of Exodus. They had journeyed “through the wilderness” of the ocean, gotten safely across a sea, and were now living in a promised land. (Some saw Indians as Canaanites, while others were able to see themselves also as being like the apostles sent out to evangelize and live among Gentiles.)

Since Bellarmine’s theories were based on the power of choice and authority to create additional laws held by the Assembly of Israel, an assembly of equals, they went down very well.

Bellarmine’s ideas also harmonize better with Aristotle, who had no problem with city-states having all different kinds of government (a mix which he was used to seeing in Greece).

July 4th is officially called Independence Day. It specifically commemorates the act of rebelling against the legitimate government. I think that being the case you could argue that if you are to have a national day it should be on a different day. For instance it could be the day the federal government was formed. Personally I don’t see why anyone would celebrate that great mistake but I’m sure many would.

King George was great compared to our current government. I’d long for his ‘oppressive’ taxes.

I think if this had happened in modern times, people would have definitely not resorted to fighting a big war, I think most would just sit down and accept it, thats what they basically do now, the constitution gives us the ability to rebel if conditions are met, but its like many people do not even recognize these things and allow themselves to be hoodwinked, or they are just too worried about their own quality of life.

Our current Govt has it great, they realize they will never have to worry about any kind of revolution, no matter what they do, when no one is in any position to rebel and many are reliant on Govt for their daily needs, its really a shame what has become of this country, but I think this was the intended outcome, it is decades and even centuries in the making!

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