“You had divine providence, intuitive intervention, or something like that,” Mr. Manship, 57, said of the Constitution in a recent phone interview from his Northern Virginia home. “God’s words, the concept of godly government, are woven into the warp and woof of the fabric of our nation and this Constitution. It’s rightly called the ‘Miracle in Philadelphia.’”…

Seen through such a frame, the Constitution is the Tea Party’s bible, and that holy book is embraced as an inerrant text. The denunciations of the Progressive movement, the New Deal and the Great Society by the Tea Party and its de facto televangelist, Glenn Beck, recall the religious battles throughout American history between literalists and interpreters of Scripture…

As that range of preachers and preachings suggests, Constitution worship has not historically been the province of any one political faction. Despite the Constitution’s tolerance of slavery, the black abolitionist Frederick Douglass intoned its language about equality and inalienable rights. Even as several of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs were being struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the president was recommending in one of his fireside chats that families read the Constitution again and again, “like the Bible.”