Welcome to the American Christian Heritage Group blog where we give you glimpses of our country's early Christian foundations. We hope you enjoy these, learn more about our Christian heritage and undertake reading of the many cited sources and end notes. Please feel free to register and leave comments.

The day our government forbid praying in schools

March 14th, 2012

On MARCH 15, 1984, the Senate voted down voluntary prayer in public schools.

President Reagan said:

I am deeply disappointed that, although a majority of the Senate voted for it, the school prayer amendment fell short.”

On September 25, 1982, Ronald Reagan said:

“Unfortunately, in the last two decades we’ve experienced an onslaught of such twisted logic that if Alice were visiting America, she might think she’d never left Wonderland. We’re told that it somehow violates the rights of others to permit students in school who desire to pray to do so. Clearly this infringes on the freedom of those who choose to pray, the freedom taken for granted since the time of our Founding Fathers.”

Reagan continued:

“To prevent those who believe in God from expressing their faith is an outrage…The relentless drive to eliminate God from our schools…should be stopped.”

Ronald Reagan said February 25, 1984:

“Sometimes I can’t help but feel the First Amendment is being turned on its head.”

Reagan told the Alabama Legislature, March 15, 1982:

“The First Amendment was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.”


American Minute with Bill Federer MARCH 15.

Reagan, Ronald Wilson. May 20, 1984, on School Prayer Amendment.

President Reagan, February 25, 1984, radio address.

Ronald Reagan, September 25, 1982, candle-lighting ceremony for prayer in schools.

Ronald Reagan, March 15, 1982, to the Alabama Legislature.

David R. Shepherd, ed., Ronald Reagan: In God I Trust (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1984), pp. 79-80, 146. Reagan, Ronald Wilson. Aug. 23, 1984 at an ecumenical prayer breakfast at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, on the occasion of the    enactment of the Equal Access Bill of 1984. Jeremiah O’Leary, “Reagan Declares that Faith Has Key Role in Political Life,” The Washington Times (Aug. 24, 1984).

Walter Shapiro, “Politics & the Pulpit,” Newsweek (Sept. 17, 1984), p. 24.

The Speech That Shook The Nation (Forerunner, Dec. 1984), p. 12.

Nadine Strossen, “Constitutional Analysis of the Equal Access Act’s Standards Governing School Student’s Religious Meetings,” Harvard Journal on Legislation, Winter, 1987. p. 118.

Ronald Reagan, Alabama State Legislature, March 15, 1982.

Source: AmericanMinute.com



November 11th, 2011

Thomas Jefferson

You probably have heard the phrase “There is nothing new under the sun.” Thomas Jefferson wrote the following letters that discuss voters dissatisfaction with members of Congrress, weather conditions, and dissatisfaction with public expenses – unlike what we are going through today.


j. mss.
Monticello, September 8, 1816
Dear Sir,

—The jealousy of the European governments rendering it unsafe to pass letters through their postoffices, I am obliged to borrow the protection of your cover to procure a safe passage for the enclosed letter to Madame de Staël, and to ask the favor of you to have it delivered at the hotel of M. de Lessert without passing through the post-office.

In your answer of June 7 to mine of May 18, you mentioned that you did not understand to what proceeding of Congress I alluded as likely to produce a removal of most of the members, and that by a spontaneous movement of the people, unsuggested by the newspapers, which had been silent on it. I alluded to the law giving themselves 1500 D. a year. There has never been an instant before of so unanimous an opinion of the people, and that through every State in the Union. A very few members of the first order of merit in the House will be re-elected, Clay, of Kentucky, by a small majority, and a few others. But the almost entire mass will go out, not only those who supported the law or voted for it, or skulked from the vote, but those who voted against it or opposed it actively, if they took the money; and the examples of refusals to take it were very few. The next Congress, then, Federal as well as Republican, will be almost wholly of new members.

We have had the most extraordinary year of drought and cold ever known in the history of America. In June, instead of 3¾ inches, our average of rain for that month, we only had ? of an inch; in August, instead of 9? inches our average, we had only 8/10 of an inch; and still it continues. The summer, too, has been as cold as a moderate winter. In every State north of this there has been frost in every month of the year; in this State we had none in June and July, but those of August killed much corn over the mountains. The crop of corn through the Atlantic States will probably be less than one-third of an ordinary one, that of tobacco still less, and of mean quality. The crop of wheat was middling in quantity, but excellent in quality. But every species of bread grain taken together will not be sufficient for the subsistence of the inhabitants, and the exportation of flour, already begun by the indebted and the improvident, to whatsoever degree it may be carried, will be exactly so much taken from the mouths of our own citizens. My anxieties on this subject are the greater, because I remember the deaths which the drought of 1755 in Virginia produced from the want of food.

There are not to be the smallest opposition to the election of Monroe and Tompkins, the Republicans being undivided and the Federalists desperate. The Hartford Convention and peace of Ghent have nearly annihilated them.

Our State is becoming clamorous for a convention and amendment for their constitution, and I believe will obtain it. It was the first constitution formed in the United States, and of course the most imperfect. The other States improved in theirs in proportion as new precedents were added, and most of them have since amended. We have entered on a liberal plan of internal improvements, and the universal approbation of it will encourage and insure its prosecution. I recollect nothing else domestic worth noting to you, and therefore place here my respectful and affectionate salutations.(1)
Thomas Jefferson

The next letter reveals concerns with public expenses and comments on the two political parties. These revealing comments are reflecting a similar situation today, although our current state of public spending is plunging us into financial disaster


j. mss.
Monticello, October 29, 1822
Dear Sir,

—After a long silence, I salute you with affection. The weight of eighty years pressing heavily upon me, with a wrist and fingers almost without joints, I write as little as possible, because I do it with pain and labor. I retain, however, still the same affection for my friends, and especially for my ancient colleagues, which I ever did, and the same wishes for their happiness. Your treaty has been received here with universal gladness. It was indeed a strange quarrel, like that of two pouting lovers, and a pimp filching both; it was nuts for England. When I liken them to lovers, I speak of the people, not of their governments. Of the cordial love of one of these the Holy Alliance may know more than I do. I will confine myself to our own affairs. You have seen in our papers how prematurely they are agitating the question of the next President. This proceeds from some uneasiness at the present state of things. There is considerable dissatisfaction with the increase of the public expenses, and especially with the necessity of borrowing money in time of peace. This was much arraigned at the last session of Congress, and will be more so at the next. The misfortune is that the persons most looked to as successors in the government are of the President’s Cabinet; and their partisans in Congress are making a handle of these things to help, or hurt those for or against whom they are. The candidates, ins and outs, seem at present to be many; but they will be reduced to two, a Northern and Southern one, as usual; to judge of the event the state of parties must be understood. You are told, indeed, that there are no longer parties among us; that they are all now amalgamated; the lion and the lamb lie down together in peace. Do not believe a word of it. The same parties exist now as ever did. No longer, indeed, under the name of Republicans and Federalists. The latter name was extinguished in the battle of Orleans. Those who wore it, finding monarchism a desperate wish in this country, are rallying to what they deem the next best point, a consolidated government. Although this is not yet avowed (as that of monarchism, you know, never was), it exists decidedly, and is the true key to the debates in Congress, wherein you see many calling themselves Republicans and preaching the rankest doctrines of the old Federalists. One of the prominent candidates is presumed to be of this party; and the other a Republican of the old school and a friend of the barrier of States rights, as provided by the Constitution against the danger of consolidation, which danger was the principal ground of opposition to it at its birth. Pennsylvania and New York will decide this question. If the Missouri principle mixes itself in the question, it will go one way; if not it may go the other. Among the smaller motives, hereditary fears may alarm one side, and the long line of local nativities on the other. In this division of parties the judges are true to their ancient vocation of sappers and miners.(2)
Thomas Jefferson

1 The Online Library of Liberty, http://goo.gl/qDs6A
2 The Online Library of Liberty, http://goo.gl/K8Us8


October 1st, 2011

“America’s past is a bright and shining light. America was, and is, the city on the hill, the fountain of hope, the beacon of liberty.   “… every colonial settler and every western pioneer understood (that) character was tied to liberty and liberty to property. And the surest way to ensure the presence of good character was to keep God at the center of one’s life, community and ultimately, nation. ‘Separation of church and state’ meant freedom to worship, not freedom from worship. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (2 Corinthians 3:17).'”


Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot’s History of the United States, Introduction – select excerpts (Penguin Group, copyright 2004, All rights reserved )

The Mayflower Compact – Self Government

September 29th, 2011

William Brewster signing the Mayflower Compact (19th century painting by Tomkins Harrison Matteson)

We discussed The Mayflower Farewell Letter to the passengers sailing to America.  It reveals God’s Sovereignty in the founding of our country, its government and social order as a Christian nation.  The next blog was an overview of how God’s Sovereignty has led nations. We then examined the Mayflower trip and the reasons for it. We now come to the Mayflower Compact.  It is an amazing event that took place, yet very profound in its outcome.

Imagine the situation: over 100 people, cut off from any government, with a rebellion brewing. Only staunch determination would help the Pilgrims land and establish their colony. If they didn’t work as a group, they could all die in the wilderness.

The Pilgrim leaders realized that they needed a temporary government authority. Back home, such authority came from the king. Isolated as they were in America, it could only come from the people themselves. Aboard the Mayflower, by necessity, the Pilgrims and “Strangers” made a written agreement or compact among themselves.

The Mayflower Compact was probably composed by William Brewster, who had a university education, and was signed by nearly all the adult male colonists, including two of the indentured servants. The format of the Mayflower Compact is very similar to the written agreements used by the Pilgrims to establish their Separatist churches in England and Holland. Under these agreements the male adult members of each church decided how to worship God. They also elected their own ministers and other church officers. This pattern of church self-government served as a model for political self-government in the Mayflower Compact.

The colonists had no intention of declaring their independence from England when they signed the Mayflower Compact. In the opening line of the Compact, both Pilgrims and “Strangers” refer to themselves as “loyal subjects” of King James. The rest of the Mayflower Compact is very short. It simply bound the signers into a “Civil Body Politic” for the purpose of passing “just and equal Laws . . . for the general good of the Colony.” But those few words expressed the idea of self-government for the first time in the New World.

Self-Government Takes Root

Immediately after agreeing to the Mayflower Compact, the signers elected John Carver (one of the Pilgrim leaders) as governor of their colony. They called it Plymouth Plantation. When Governor Carver died in less than a year, William Bradford, age 31, replaced him. Each year thereafter the “Civil Body Politic,” consisting of all adult males except indentured servants, assembled to elect the governor and a small number of assistants. Bradford was re-elected 30 times between 1621 and 1656.

In the early years Governor Bradford pretty much decided how the colony should be run. Few objected to his one-man rule. As the colony’s population grew due to immigration, several new towns came into existence. The roving and increasingly scattered population found it difficult to attend the General Court, as the governing meetings at Plymouth came to be called. By 1639, deputies were sent to represent each town at the other General Court sessions. Not only self-rule, but representative government had taken root on American soil.

The English Magna Carta, written more than 400 years before the Mayflower Compact, established the principle of the rule of law. In England this still mostly meant the king’s law. The Mayflower Compact continued the idea of law made by the people. This idea lies at the heart of democracy.

From its crude beginning in Plymouth, self-government evolved into the town meetings of New England and larger local governments in colonial America. By the time of the Constitutional Convention, the Mayflower Compact had been nearly forgotten, but the powerful idea of self-government had not. Born out of necessity on the Mayflower, the Compact made a significant contribution to the creation of a new democratic nation.1

When creating the Mayflower Compact, the signers believed that covenants were not only to be honored between God and man, but also between each other. They had always honored covenants as part of their righteous integrity and agreed to be bound by this same principle with the Compact. John Adams and many historians have referred to the Mayflower Compact as the foundation of the U.S. Constitution written more than 150 later.

America was indeed begun by men who honored God and set their founding principles by the words of the Bible. They lived their lives with honesty, reliability, and fairness toward establishing this country “for the sake of its survival.” A great many of America’s Founding Fathers have been quoted in regard to living by Biblical values.

Edmund Burke (1729-1794), outstanding orator, author, and leader in Great Britain, defended the colonies in Parliament. “There is but one law for all, namely, that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator.”

Patrick Henry (1736-1799), five-time Governor of Virginia, whose “Give me liberty or give me death” speech has made him immortal, said: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly, nor too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. . . .”

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third U.S. President, chosen to write the Declaration of Independence, said: “I have little doubt that the whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator, and, I hope, to the pure doctrines of Jesus also.” He proclaimed that it was the God of the Bible who founded America in his 1805 inaugural address: “I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in this country.”2


by William Bradford

November 11, 1620

A copy of The Mayflower Compact with signatures

IN THE name of God, Amen.

We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the 11 of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domine 1620.3

1 The Mayflower Compact, © 2002, Constitutional Rights Foundation, 601 South Kinglsey Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90005. http://goo.gl/XY7jW

2  Mayflower Compact-The Common Anchor, © 2002 – 2011 AllAboutHistory.org, All Rights Reserved. http://goo.gl/v0zlQ

3 The Mayflower Compact, The National Center for Policy Research, http://www.nationalcenter.org/MayflowerCompact.html



September 9th, 2011

“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, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the 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; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”

Thomas Jefferson


-Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.
-Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


April 15th, 2010

[R]eligion, or the duty which we owe to our creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and this is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.

Source: Virginia Bill of Rights, Article 16, June 12, 1776


February 14th, 2010

Generosity in this nation is part of our religious freedom and faith. As a nation, we are known for our generosity. The following article appeared in the January 2010 issue of IMPRIMUS, a publication of Hillsdale College. Imprimis, which in Latin means “in the first place,” is Hillsdale’s national speech digest. It publishes presentations delivered at the College’s many seminar and lecture programs. Begun in 1972 with a circulation of 1,000, it now reaches over 1.8 million readers monthly, the largest thing of its kind. Imprimis promotes the principles of individual rights, limited government, free market economics, personal responsibility and strong national defense. It comes at no cost to anyone who wishes to receive it, as part of Hillsdale’s commitment to “pursuing truth and defending liberty.”

In understanding our Christian foundation, it is important to know not only how it came about in our nation, that is our Christian roots, but also how it influences our nation today. This is an abbreviated version of the article entitled “The Generosity of America.” The full version may be read online by going to: http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis.asp

The Generosity of America

By Adam Meyerson, President
The Philanthropy Roundtable

The following is adapted from a speech delivered in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 2010, in the “First Principles on First Fridays” lecture series sponsored by Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship.

In 1853, a professor and preacher named Ransom Dunn set off on a two-year journey to raise funds for Hillsdale College, a young institution of higher learning in southern Michigan. Ransom Dunn would ride on horseback for 6,000 miles through the farm communities of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and altogether he raised $22,000—the equivalent of about $500,000 today. The rural families then populating the upper Midwest were not rich. They were braving the winters and struggling to make a living on what was then the American frontier. But these families were willing to part voluntarily with $10, $50, $100 apiece—the highest contribution was $200—to support Hillsdale’s mission—a mission set forth in the College’s Articles of Association, whose authors proclaimed themselves “grateful to God for the inestimable blessings resulting from the prevalence of civil and religious liberty and intelligent piety in the land, and believing that the diffusion of sound learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings.”

We can learn several lessons from the horseback rides of Ransom Dunn. To begin with, charitable giving in America has never been the exclusive province of wealthy people. Throughout our history, Americans from all walks of life have given generously for charitable causes. Indeed, the most generous Americans today—the group that gives the most to charity as a proportion of their income—are the working poor.

Second, unlike many of those seeking donations in the charity world today, Ransom Dunn did not raise funds for Hillsdale by appealing to donors’ guilt, or by urging them to “give back” to society. Instead, he appealed to their ideals and aspirations, their religious principles, and their desire to create an institution of learning in the upper Midwest. Hillsdale was also an important center of anti-slavery teaching, and Dunn appealed to the convictions of people who sought an end to this great evil in our nation.

Third, the tradition of private generosity in America has always been central to our free society.

Today, Americans voluntarily give over $30 billion a year to support higher education, and—thanks in part to philanthropy—America has the best colleges and universities in the world.

I have dwelt at length on higher education, but I could offer similar remarks about museums and orchestras, hospitals and health clinics, churches and synagogues, refuges for animals, protection of habitat, youth programs such as scouting and little league and boys and girls clubs, and grassroots problem-solvers who help the needy and homeless in their neighborhoods. Private charitable giving sustains all of these institutions and gives them the freedom to make their own decisions.

Private charitable giving is also at the heart and soul of public discourse in our democracy. It makes possible our great think tanks, whether left, right or center. Name a great issue of public debate today: climate change, the role of government in health care, school choice, stem cell research, same-sex marriage. On all these issues, private philanthropy enriches debate by enabling organizations with diverse viewpoints to articulate and spread their message.

We usually hear about charity in the media when there is a terrible disaster. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, we heard about the incredible outpouring of private generosity that amounted to $6 billion. What gets less attention is that Americans routinely give that much to charity every week. Last year Americans gave $300 billion to charity. To put this into perspective, that is almost twice what we spent on consumer electronics equipment—equipment including cell phones, iPods and DVD players. Americans gave three times as much to charity last year as we spent on gambling and ten times as much as we spent on professional sports. America is by far the most charitable country in the world. There is no other country that comes close.

Reasons for Our Generosity

I would briefly like to discuss three reasons why America is the most charitable country on earth.

First, we are the most religious people of any leading modern economy. The single most important determinant of charitable giving is active religious faith and observance. Americans who attend church or synagogue or another form of worship once a week give three times as much to charity as a percentage of their income as do those who rarely attend religious services. One-third of all charitable giving in America—$100 billion a year—goes to religion. Whether we are Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, or some other faith, we Americans have the freedom to support our own religious institutions, and this philanthropic freedom has been intimately linked to our religious liberty. But the giving by regular religious worshippers is not limited to their own churches. They also give more to secular charities than do those who never or rarely attend religious services.

A second reason America is so charitable is because we respect the freedom and the ability of individuals, and associations of individuals, to make a difference. Americans don’t wait for government or the local nobleman to solve our problems; we find solutions ourselves. One of my favorite examples of this is the subject of a forthcoming Hollywood movie called The Little Red Wagon. In 2004, after Hurricane Charley, a six-year-old boy in the Tampa area named Zach Bonner wanted to help the families who had been left homeless. Pulling his little red wagon, Zach went door to door for four months and collected 27 truckloads of supplies, including tarps and water.

The third reason for our extraordinary charity is that philanthropy is such an important part of our nation’s business culture. Wealth creation and philanthropy have always gone together in America. They are reflections of the creativity and can-do spirit of a free society. From Benjamin Franklin, who founded the first volunteer fire department, to Andrew Carnegie, who brought public libraries to communities across America, to Bill Gates, who is seeking to eradicate malaria, great business entrepreneurs have sought to be great philanthropists. It’s not just because they have the money. It’s because they have the leadership and the passion to innovate and to build institutions, and the analytical skills to assess what works.

Let me give you three brief examples.

As many of us know from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the exodus of homeless farm families from the Great Plains in the aftermath of the Dust Bowl was one of the largest migrations and human tragedies in our history. But thanks to the pioneering plant research and outreach to farmers by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation—founded by an oilman in Ardmore, Oklahoma—agriculture is thriving in Oklahoma today, and we don’t have dust bowls any more in the Great Plains.

When Tom Siebel sold software giant Siebel Systems to Oracle, he decided to apply his business and marketing skills to another cause—fighting the devastation of Crystal Meth. He created and financed the Montana Meth Project, and as a result teen Meth abuse in Montana has fallen by 63 percent in three years. Now philanthropists in other states are seeking to replicate these extraordinary results.

The late Don Fisher and his widow Doris were the philanthropic architects of the Knowledge is Power Program, which is a network of 80 schools across the country where low-income children excel. They were also the earliest large-scale supporters of Teach for America. Using the same principles that enabled them to build the Gap retail chain, the Fishers have built extraordinary philanthropic brands.

These philanthropic achievements have all been made possible by freedom. For over 200 years, Americans have enjoyed the freedom to decide where and how to give away their money—freedom to sustain cherished institutions or to create new ones. And this freedom to give has in turn been central to independent decision-making throughout our society.

Each of us should think about how we can make a difference with our own charitable contributions, following the examples of Zach Bonner with his little red wagon and the generous Midwestern farm families who helped to build Hillsdale College. And our federal and state governments, for their part, should respect and defend the freedom that is vital to the great American tradition of generous giving.

The full version is online at:

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College. Copyright © 2009 Hillsdale College.

Reaffirmation of the United States of America as a Christian nation

January 5th, 2010

It was the year 1982 and Democrats controlled Congress. It was also the year that the 97th Congress passed a Joint Resolution ([S.J.Res. 165] 96 Stat. 1211 Public Law 97-280 – October 4, 1982).  Here is the full Joint Resolution:

Joint Resolution authorizing and requesting the President to proclaim 1983 as the “Year of the Bible.”

Whereas the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people;

Whereas deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early settlement of our Nation;

Whereas Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the constitution of the United States;

Whereas many of our great national leaders­among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson­paid tribute to the surpassing influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the rock on which our Republic rests”;

Whereas the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies;

Whereas this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested before; and

Whereas that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, 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.

Approved October 4, 1982.