Predictably, Jim Wallis’s Religious Left Sojourners blog dishonored Independence Day by featuring an op-ed headlined “Why Christianity and July 4th are Incompatible.”
In it, a young pacifist pastor explained why Christians can’t “celebrate” having “killed thousands upon thousands of people because they [the British] were taxing us without giving us representation in parliament.”
Townhall.com | by Joseph C. Phillips | Apr. 15, 2010
Such was our founder’s belief in the preeminence of God that when the First Continental Congress convened in 1774, Massachusetts delegate Thomas Cushing suggested to the assembly that together they pray for divine guidance and protection. The historical events that would forever change the world were preparing to unfold: war loomed on the horizon; the Declaration of Independence would be signed, and a nation “conceived in liberty” would be born. In this moment, men of varied religious beliefs — Presbyterians, Episcopalians, some Quakers, others Baptists or Congregationalists – were led in prayer by an Episcopal priest in an appeal to the almighty that was described as “extraordinary…filling the bosom of every man present.”
It would not be the last time the founders appealed to the Almighty God.
James Madison acknowledged God’s favor in our founding in Federalist 37 referring to “a finger of that almighty hand, which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.” I dare say that men like Madison and Cushing would not recognize the America of today, filled with politicians afraid to confess their faith or educators fearful of offending the sensibilities of their students with any mention of God. Math teacher Brad Johnson of Westview High School of the Poway School District in San Diego, California, is a case in point.
One of today’s most contentious culture wars is over the religious commitments of our nation’s founders.
Were most of them orthodox Christians, deists, or agnostics? Scholarly books, college classes, radio talk shows, and blogs all debate this issue, and the Texas Board of Education recently joined the fray. Because of Texas’ large number of students, its huge educational fund, and its statewide curriculum guidelines, this board strongly influences what textbooks are published in the United States. Last month the board reviewed the state’s social studies curriculum, and its conservative Christian members injected more analysis of religion into the guidelines, including assessment of whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation and how Christian were the founders.
This year, America is receiving a subliminal holiday message that Nativity scenes pose a more imminent threat than Gitmo detainees being tried on American soil. Regardless of personal Christmas traditions, most Americans agree that the Nativity visually represents the biblical story of Jesus’s birth. Thus, controversial crèche issues are not about Christmas, but Christianity.
Founding Father Thomas Jefferson said that “[t]he Bible is the cornerstone of liberty … Students’ perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”
Critics often miss the point by trying to validate or invalidate the American Founding Fathers as Christian. According to Orthodox Tradition this doesn’t matter. In fact according to Tradition it doesn’t matter whether the ruler is Christian or Pagan or some other monotheistic religion, or even atheist.
Reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower, an account of the voyage of the Pilgrims and the settling of Plymouth Colony, what strikes me most is not simply the extraordinary suffering of those who made the crossing, or how close to failure the entire venture teetered for years, or even the author’s recounting of the first celebration we’ve since dubbed Thanksgiving.
What leaps out from the pages of the history, probably because it’s so little a part of the common narrative of the Pilgrims, is a crucial decision by the colony’s governor, William Bradford, to change the fundamental organization of Plymouth’s economy, a move which secured the colony’s future. As Philbrick describes it, after three years in America the Pilgrims “stumbled on the power of capitalism” and in the process ensured the colony’s survival.
Over three hundred years ago, a group of settlers fleeing religious persecution decided to set a new course for human history in a new frontier. Those early pioneers chose a rocky shoreline to establish their way of life. Centuries later, America continues to set the example of what can come from a free and hardworking people. We truly remain the shining city upon a hill that the colonial leader John Winthrop implored us to be.
With the United States under direct assault from the evils of Socialism (or other forms of “Collectivism” including: Communism, or Fascism…pick your tyranny), and with Thanksgiving Day upon us, it’s timely, appropriate, and necessary to visit the nation’s very first attempt with Socialism, nearly four centuries ago.
One of the great mysteries in today’s United States is how a country founded on the principle of individual freedom, having achieved great wealth and world influence, could have developed a political class bent on transforming the nation into a collective dominated by a powerful central government.
Roman Polanski and his allies seek to rape the United States and her Constitution. While this metaphor may seem repugnantly acerbic, it rings true. Webster defines rape as the act of seizing and carrying away by force. The thin raiment that hid the left’s hatred and disdain for our Nation’s Constitution has been torn to shreds by their vocal support of a convicted rapist and sodomist. Instead of defining what ‘is’ is, the left has stooped to define what ‘rape’ rape is. The left has laid bare its enmity towards justice and the rule of law. According to the left, the Constitution is “fundamentally flawed” because it is a concrete, tangible document based on moral absolutes, granting individuals superior power over their government.
Recently, some misguided Republicans caucused and advised us all to “get over our nostalgia for Ronald Reagan.” Is that what they think it is? With such confusion all around, it’s no wonder that some liberals are poised to bring back Jimmy Carter’s “malaise.”
No kidding. This past weekend, the Washington Post’s Carlos Lozada favored us with a long book review in the paper’s Outlook section. Lozada finds much to praise in Prof. Kevin Mattson’s new book, What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President? It’s a lengthy study of President Jimmy Carter’s famous-or infamous-speech of July 15, 1979. That’s the address to the nation that came to be characterized as “the Malaise Speech”
Americans appear to be losing faith in God and in our cultural institutions. Is the loss of confidence in one related to a loss of confidence in the other? The answer is unequivocally yes.
How we view God inevitably determines how we view our fellow man. And how we view our fellow man, in turn, determines how we treat him. Created in God’s image or creature of chance? The answer makes a difference because what we believe determines how we behave.
We have a rock star president who for the first time in American history fired the President of a private corporation, General Motors, then immediately flew to Europe with an entourage of 500 courtiers and a worshipful media, bowed waist-deep to the King of Saudi Arabia, and proceeded to accuse his own country of arrogance. In France, of all places.