Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice’s comment that America is a “Christian nation” touched off a storm of controversy in November. Fordice’s comment came during a meeting of Republican leaders after President Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton. The remark was meant to remind people that Christian principles were important in the formation of our nation and continue to be important to the majority of Americans.
The fact that this statement should cause controversy foretells a coming resurgence of debate over the role of Christianity in determining public policy in America. It is also foretells a re-examination of our national roots – a focus that is much needed at a crucial juncture in our history.
America has lost the roots of its heritage. To recover the quality of life we knew as our kind of Western Civilization, we must rediscover the source and determine to re-establish these teachings as guidelines of conduct in every facet of our lives and teach them to our children.
What are those mysterious principles discovered by the Founding Fathers that made this a great country, envied by so many that millions endured hardship to enter and gain the freedoms, safety and opportunities found here and almost nowhere else on earth?
The answers two generations ago were taught with pride to every child in home, school and church. But somehow we have lost our way. It is imperative that we retrace our steps, learn how we became lost and recapture our inheritance through knowledge and dedication.
The United States of America is not a Christian country or state. The writers of the Constitution said, very wisely, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In other words, there will be no state church (such as the Church of England), but the people may worship according to their wishes, anytime and anywhere. A “country” is a geographical area inhabited by a certain people under a particular political government.
However, the United States of America is a Christian nation. A nation is an aggregation of people bound together “by common ideals and a common purpose. A rich inheritance of memories and the desire to preserve those memories … a nation is a spiritual entity brought into existence by complex historical conditions, by similar traditions and a similar imagination.”
A nation is not produced by a common language, race, religion or geographical outline, but these things may contribute to the unity of a people – a nation. Several different “nations” make up the Yugoslavia of today. The Jewish people were a “nation” during the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness but they had no land of their own.
Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are based on Judeo-Christian teachings. The textbook of these teachings in the Holy Bible. It is the “Owners Manual” or “The Book of Instructions” for our nation. The Founding Fathers and many others in position of authority ever since have recertified that fact. “America is a Christian nation.” This does not mean that all the people were or are Christian. It merely means that there was a Christian consensus and all our founding documents, laws, moral codes and institutions are based on Christian principles from the Bible.
In broad sense Buddhism and Confucianism made China what it is. Shintoism made Japan what it is. Hinduism made India what it is. Islam made the middle east and North Africa what it is. Communism made 30 nations what they became.
Reformation Christianity made America what it is – and this is the country we choose – and so would millions of others if they could.
In an Arabian country a few years ago, a princess, daughter of a Sheik, had an affair with her boyfriend. She was taken to the village square and beheaded. This was legal, moral, and proper according to their laws based upon the Koran. This is not to say that there is nothing good in other religions. There are good teachings in most religions, and certainly many evil things have been done in the name of Christianity. But don’t blame Jesus and His teachings for man’s aberrations.
To know the Christian basis of our country is to learn what every schoolboy and girl learned two generations ago about the writings and early documents executed by those who built the greatest nation in all history.
1620 – The Mayflower Compact written by the Pilgrims before they got off the Mayflower said: “In the presence of God, Amen. We … do by these presents solemnly and mutually in ye presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves into a civil body politic.”
1638 – The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (often called the first American Constitution) said, We “enter into a combination and confederation together to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ which we now profess.” It also stated for the first time that men’s rights come from God, as later stated in the Declaration of Independence.
The Great Law of Pennsylvania Colony said, “Whereas the glory of Almighty God and the good of mankind is the reason and the end of government and therefore government itself is a venerable ordinance of God…”
1772 – Samuel Adams: “The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty … The rights of the colonists as Christians may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”
1777 – The First Continental Congress appropriated funds to import for the people 20,000 Holy Bibles as “the great political textbook of the patriots.”
1776 – The Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men … “
There you have some profound statements:
- There is such a thing as Truth, and Truth can be known by man.
- Men are “created” and their rights come from God, their Creator.
- Governments exist to protect these God-given rights.
This is the very essence of our Americanism!
1787 – The Constitution was written to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.”
1787 – George Washington said regarding the Constitution: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God.”
Thomas Jefferson, on his memorial: “God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that the liberties are the gift of God?”
2 Corinthians 3:17: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.”
1787 – At an impasse of several weeks at the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin rose and sai:, “I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can arise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this.” He then moved they resort to prayer.
1787 – Washington’s Inaugural Address: “The propitious smiles of heaven cannot be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which heaven itself has ordained.” All inaugural addresses and state constitutions refer to Almighty God, the author and sustainer of our liberty.
1789 – Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation: “Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly to implore His protection and favor…”
1797 – Washington’s Farewell Address: “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”
Patrick Henry: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
John Quincy Adams: “The first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention if the Bible.” The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: “It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
1789-1795 – John Jay, first chief justice of the United States: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest, of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
1843 – Emma Willard, educator and historian: “The government of the United States is acknowledged by the wise and good of other nations, to be the most free, impartial and righteous government of the world; but all agree that for such a government to be sustained many years, the principles of truth and righteousness, taught in the Holy Scriptures, must be practiced. The rulers must govern in the fear of God, and the people obey the laws … A nation cannot exist without religion. France tried that and failed. We were born a Protestant Christian nation, and, as such, baptized in blood. Our position ought to be defined as that.”
1861 – Abraham Lincoln: “It is the duty of all nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
1863 – Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “That we here highly resolve … that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
1892 – The Supreme Court of the United States after citing 87 precedents decided: “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of Mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise: and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian … This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation … we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”
1983 – Oct. 4, 1982, Joint Resolution of Congress: “Whereas the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation of people. Whereas Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of The United States … Whereas that renewing our knowledge of, and faith in God through Holy Scriptures can strengthen us as a nation and a people. Now therefore be it resolved … that the President is authorized and requested to designate 1983 as a national “Year of the Bible” in recognition of both the formative influence the Bible has been for our nation, and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”
February 3, 1983 – President Ronald Reagan issued the above requested proclamation. President George Bush declared 1990 to be the international year of Bible reading.
Considering the small sampling of evidence presented, it is no wonder that our motto: “In God We Trust” is found on all our coinage, engraved on walls of both houses of Congress, and that every session begins with a prayer by its chaplain, that a prayer room is in the Capitol with a glass window depicting Washington in prayer surrounded by a quotation of Psalm 16:1. The Ten Commandments are emblazoned on the wall in the Supreme Court just over the head of the Chief Justice as a symbol of the source of all our laws. Biblical quotations are etched on and in the Washington Monument, the Lincoln memorial, the Library of Congress and many other official buildings. Our Pledge of allegiance is to the flag of “One Nation under God.”
Surely, with even these few stated facts, no intellectually honest person can deny that our nation exists on the bedrock of biblical Christianity and has so prospered. But strangely, and in spite of our strong spiritual heritage, as so often happens when man becomes prosperous and feels self-sufficient, he ignores his early teachings and begins to create for his own pleasure, an immoral society. He turns his back on God. And thus it is that we find ourselves living in the presently decadent, pornographic, licentious, violent and often godless society in fear for our own safety. If you doubt this, just read through your daily newspaper. There are always evil forces willing to contribute to the expedition of the downturn in spiritual and moral values. America was no exception.
Early in this century, some of the “intellectuals” in our society became enamored with philosophical bantering of some European philosophers of the last century. They read the doctrines of Freud, the Materialism of Feurbach, nihilism of Nietsche, dialectic of Hegel, the communism of Marx, and of behaviorist-socialism, existentialism, rationalism, fabianism and humanism. From this gathering of intellectuals was formed the Intercollegiate Socialist Society and in promoting socialism, they became advocates of the ideology of Karl Marx. Chapters of this organization, now the League for Industrial Democracy, were formed in 125 colleges by the 1930s.
They were joined by John Dewey, who became president of the organization in 1941. John Dewey, the “godfather of progressive education,” was also a member of the American Humanist Association and signed its Manifesto in 1933. Humanism teaches atheism, autonomous man, amorality, evolution and one-world socialism. Through Dewey’s influence at Columbia University, the teachings of humanism permeated our educational system and excluded from our textbooks the moral and biblical teachings which were so much a part of our American culture. Now after two generations of Americans have been subjected to this “godless” philosophy through our schools, what are the results?
It has created a spiritually apathetic society that hardly murmured when in 1962, citing no precedents, a liberal Supreme Court abolished prayer from the public schools and the next year abolished Bible reading from the schools. The American public was conditioned to accept this and so from that time there was a startlingly great rise in teenage pregnancies (up 556%), venereal disease (up 226%). Family divorce which had declined for 15 years, then tripled each year since. S.A.T. scores, previously stable, declined remarkably. The high principles that made America great were lost.
A 1982 survey of top discipline problems in the public schools listed: Rape, robbery, assault, burglary, arson, bombings, murder, suicide, absenteeism, vandalism, extortion, drug abuse/pushing, alcohol abuse, gang warfare, pregnancies, abortions and venereal disease. Contrast this with discipline problems in 1940: Talking in class, chewing gum, making noise, running in halls, getting out of turn in line, not putting papers in waste baskets. What happened to our children?
People try to blame television programs, family breakdown, drugs, alcohol and many other things as the cause of this decadence. But this thinking is too superficial, it doesn’t go deep enough.
We must recognize that those who create, participate in and accept the raw-sex and violence of T.V., movies, magazines and books, the casual attitude towards family breakdown, drug abuse, uncommitted sex, sodomy, drive-by shootings, wholesale murders, child molestation, racism, gay-bashing, greed and scandal in politics, business and practically all the ills of society are products of the amoral, permissive educational system and the two generations of people produced by this system and now they determine the moral tone of society.
There is no other cause for society’s breakdown. Think it through! It will be interesting to see all the artifices and contortions some will go through to try to deny the truths of this study. Perhaps it takes someone more than two generations old (such as I) to note the drastic change from the peaceful, neighborly, spiritually conscious society in which I grew and was taught.
Only when enough Americans resolve to restore our national character can we hope to see a society wherein people of all classes, colors and religious beliefs can live together in peace and harmony. It is going to take a generation, but we better begin right now.
I do hope that indeed true Americans must seek to recapture it’s nation’s lost heritage – the heritage which made America great; which if lost, would cause the downfall of the two century miracle.