Independence Day Observations

As the last Independence Day of the 20th Century rapidly approaches, I think it is appropriate to delve into our nation's history to scrutinize our often-scorned religious heritage. It is a heritage, I fear, that is being increasingly imperiled by the civil libertarians and leftists who wish to purge our Christian ancestry from contemporary culture. We need look no further than first President George Washington to understand the significance of godly acknowledgment by our forefathers.

In September 1779, the House of Representatives, after passing a resolution calling for a day of national prayer and thanksgiving, received Mr. Washington's response: "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 ... That great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that ever will be, that we may then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people ...." Second President John Adams frequently referred to "an overruling providence" and "devotion to God almighty" in his writings, and recurrently contended that human freedom was founded in the ordinance of the Creator.

Washington and Adams were not alone in their beliefs. These were predominately-held convictions of our Founding Fathers. Even Benjamin Franklin, often seen as a secularist member of the group, stated in later-life, "the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men." Our forefathers' commitment to God would be fiercely shunned by the secularist media and leftist political camps in 1999. "Nowhere is the cultural conflict of the modern era more apparent than in dispute about the place of religion in the civic order," wrote M. Stanton Evans in his classic book, The Theme Is Freedom. "Here the battle is overt, relentless, and pervasive -- with traditional belief and custom retreating before a secularist onslaught in our courts and other public institutions."

This secularist onslaught began gaining rapid momentum only thirty-seven years ago -- in 1962 -- when the Supreme Court ruled that an officially sponsored prayer recited in New York public schools was a restriction of our freedoms. Here is the prayer, in its entirety, that was found to be so offensive and dangerous:
"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country."
I truly believe that such a simple prayer could have a sweeping impact in our nation's schools today. The prayer establishes no religion and offers only hope of betterment through a dependence on a merciful God. Instead, our nation's students are inundated by aimless and empty doctrines that discourage absolute concepts of faith and truth and that discourage them from understanding the precipitous price of our precious freedoms. On June 12, 1775, our nation's Congress actually called for "a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer," wherein "{we} offer up our joint supplications to the all-wise, omnipotent and merciful disposer of all events." In initiating this day, Congress attended an Anglican service in the morning and a Presbyterian service in the afternoon. Congress even commissioned the printing of the Bible on October 26, 1780, stating that "it be recommended to such of the states who may think it convenient for them that they take proper measures to procure one or more new and correct editions of the Old and New Testaments to be printed ...." Later, Congress allocated money for the Christian education of Indians. There are countless examples of such actions by Congress. So, how can our Christian history be so obviously ignored by those blatantly attempting to demonize Christian activism in the modern culture? They look to a simple phrase -- "a wall of separation" between church and state -- that was once written in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptist worshipers. (Please note that this statement does not appear in the Constitution, even though network reporters frequently refer to the false notion of a "constitutional separation of church and state.")

M. Stanton Evans encourages a deeper search into the heart of Thomas Jefferson. There, we find what he terms an "irresistible conclusion" that there was no wall of separation between the federal government and religious institutions. In a letter to a Presbyterian clergyman, Jefferson fully explained his reflections on the national days of thanksgiving. "Certainly," wrote Jefferson, "no power over religious discipline has been delegated to the general government. It must thus rest with the states as far as it can be in any human authority." The "wall of separation," of which he earlier wrote, was between the states and the federal government "meant to make sure the central authority didn't meddle with the customs of local jurisdictions," wrote Mr. Evans. He continued: "In point of fact, America's constitutional settlement -- up to and including the First Amendment -- was the work of people who believed in God, and who expressed their faith as a matter of course in public prayer and other governmental practice."

That, my friends, is our nation's true heritage. It is a birthright of prayerful endeavors by admittedly imperfect men who truly believed in an active and loving God. The politically-correct dictators, who require history to reflect their shameful efforts, cannot alter the truth of our splendid historic record. May the words and deeds of our brave forefathers take root in our hearts once again as we attempt to recapture the glory of our beloved nation. I wish you and yours a wonderful and fulfilling Independence Day weekend!

[ The Falwell Confidential e-mail list -- from Cindy ]


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