I find myself lately continually engaged in frustrating verbal exchanges with surprising numbers of my fellow citizens, who are prepared to argue that this country was “not” specifically founded as a Christian nation at its inception.
Eliminating the few ardent atheists and Thomas Paine hard deists (Ben Franklin warned Mr. Paine by the way that if he insisted on publishing Age of Reason that he would be “spitting in the wind.” He did with the obvious result!), I’m still left with a sizable number of Americans who ought to know better. And surprisingly, there are many in the Tea Party movement who maintain this notion as well. And that’s just fine if one insists on living in a fanciful bubble as a member of a Tea Party! Why shouldn’t the Tea Party have a few? We are a big diverse movement with room for lots of opinions (and fanciful bubbles). But as the Good Book declares, “Iron sharpens iron.” (Eventually all bubbles burst…)
Now it might be one thing if one wanted to argue that “today” we are no longer a Christian nation. That discussion could make for wonderful back and forth, dramatic point/counterpoint parrying and thrusting, and above all – great media circus. And I might just agree with our current president, but for different spiritual reasons of course. He could even begin the contest for his side, teleprompter in sight, since he has already taken the lead confidently, ordaining this nation post-Christian (PC) openly to the world. Now who to oppose…? Newt?
But while I don’t think this group is by any means a majority of Tea Par-tiers, since religious folks of all flavors have jumped in, there are still many of those that propound the view (often touting the “Libertarian” moniker) who dismiss out of hand the whole “religion topic” as politically insignificant to the future health and wealth of our national restoration; consigning the subject to the trash-bin they term: “Social Issues.” And this despite our “Bill of Rights,” guaranteeing, not least among them, “the free exercise of religion.” (The rub for many being “free exercise.”) And most often I find the deniers of our national spiritual founding to be younger people. (Younger than me at any event!) Their public indoctrination…er, “education,” has borne forth strange fruit I think. And I hear this discussion among them often enough as to be very worrisome. And this factoid of history is parroted without the slightest hesitation or embarrassment; especially on long, energetic, and inane threads on Facebook. Often those who make this argument are convinced that simply by declaring it in multiple repetitions to one another, it will somehow necessarily makes it so. (Young people are easily led. I know, I was one.)
Well, “lol”! (I’m glad I found out what this acronym actually means, after more than two weeks as one of the uninitiated Facebook rookies, sermonizing on my and other “friends” pages. I mistakenly presumed initially that these letters morphed into something close to: “lots of love,” and elated by the presumption that so much Facebook love was flowing so freely towards me with each thread response.)
But despite the opinions, bubbles, and Libertarian social sensibilities, there is always that problem of the cold hard facts. At the “Wake Up America Conference” in Oklahoma City this last week, where I participated as a pastor/patriot speaker along with a cadre of other pastors from around the world, I was rocked by the response of so many Christians to those same cold hard facts. Hear are just a few of our founding fathers’ words:
Patrick Henry to the House of Burgesses, May 1775 – “ It cannot be emphasized too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” (The implication being that other religions and governments don’t allow us that same kind of asylum.)
George Washington – “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible.”
John Adams, Oct. 11, 1798 – “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made [only] for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (Has our whale gone through the net John?)
Ben Franklin at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 – “God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice (quoting Jesus), is it probable an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.” (Are we laboring in vain Ben?)
Thomas Jefferson in notes on the State of Virginia, 1781 – “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis (And what is that Thomas?), a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath. Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of independence, 1800 – “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time, they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.” (Do you think he would favor the removal of the 10 Commandments from public places, prayer in public schools, or the display of Nativity scenes today?)
James Madison at the General Assembly of the State of Virginia, 1778 – “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of our political institutions (Someone tell Congress!) upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
Noah Webster – “All the miseries and evils which men suffer, from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.” He also said, “The Bible was America’s textbook in all fields,” and “Education is useless without the Bible.”
James Madison at the Constitutional Convention, 1787, proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches, after finding this model in Isaiah 33:22 – “…for the Lord is our judge (judiciary), the Lord is our lawgiver (legislative), the Lord is our king (executive). He will save us.”
John Jay, Oct. 12, 1816 – “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
Noah Webster in the “The History of the United States” – “Let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God [Ex. 18:21] ….If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted…. If our government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.” (We get the government we deserve I guess.)
William Temple is a historical re-enactor, a pastor of a Bible church in Brunswick, Ga., and a well-known figure at Tea Party events across the country.