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GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND THE FOUNDING OF OUR COUNTRY

September 15th, 2011

Before we continue the history of the Mayflower and the Puritans, let us consider the term “Christian nation.” It originates in the fact that our country was founded by those who believed in God and His sovereign rule over the universe, nations, and humanity.

God’s sovereignty determined our country as a Christian nation. As Creator of the universe, nations and humanity, He administers His grace and mercy over all, believers and non-believers; He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). The Old and New Testaments state that He created the nations; “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.” (Genesis 17:6) and “From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live” (Acts 17:26).

God’s promise to Abram, “In you all families of the earth will be blessed,” (Genesis 12:1-2; 17:6), was a promise to the world. The promise embraced land, family, social order, government and blessing. The specific reference to “all nations will be blessed” is a pronouncement of future destiny and goodness. More specifically, God’s blessing brings freedom, peace, joy, and prosperity (both spiritually and materially) to people and a nation. A great example of how God blesses a nation was during the reign of the Pharaohs (Genesis 41) in Egypt. A young Israelite, Joseph (read Genesis 39:3, 5), ends up in Egypt and rises to power as Administrator over the entire country. An interpretation of a dream predicted a seven-year famine. He set his hand to prepare for it and as a result saved Egypt and its people. “You have saved our lives,” they said (Genesis 47:25). What is amazing about God’s blessings on this nation was the Egyptian people did not worship or follow God, but were believers in false gods! 1

How did God’s sovereignty lead to America? Norseman reached Iceland in 874 and Greenland a century later. Leif Erickson, around the year 1,000, established a short-lived colony in Vinland (Newfoundland). There is speculation he may have reached the coast of Maine and Massachusetts, but there is no documentation or proof of this. During a stay in Norway, Leif converted to Christianity.2 Interestingly, his visit or visits had no influence on North America other than possibly being the first to discover it.

Christopher Columbus

The next and more important event was Christopher Columbus.  He made four voyages between 1492 and 1504. Columbus was “earnestly desirous of taking Christianity to heathen lands.”3   He declared his purpose was to be led by the Holy Spirit and The Word of God was his foundation, he said. God sent him as a forerunner to prepare the way for those who were to possess the land. He wrote; “No one should be afraid to take on any enterprise in the name of our Savior if it is right and the purpose is purely for His holy service.” (Fols. 4-6 of Book of Prophecies by Christopher Columbus).4   He landed in the Bahamas and then Cuba. Over the course of three more voyages, Columbus visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming them for the Spanish Empire.

Columbus’ voyages led to the first lasting European contact with America and inaugurated a period of European exploration and colonization of foreign lands that lasted for several centuries and had, therefore, an enormous impact in the historical development of the modern Western world.5 Columbus himself saw his accomplishments primarily in the light of the spreading of the Christian religion.

What is evident is how God led the discovery of our country. Columbus had opened up the trail for others to follow and Christianity came throughout the settled areas and eventually in the western and southern regions of the United States. Spain, France and England moved to establish their presence from South America to North America and from Canada to Mexico. Even though Christianity came to parts of what was to be our country, it was the English and Puritans that led to establishing our government as a Christian nation. This brings us back to the Mayflower.

Pastor John Robinson’s letter7 to the passengers of the Mayflower spoke clearly about living in peace with all men, living godly lives, and work for the good of all and to establish a civil government promoting the common good based on God’s ordinance for your good. These are Christian principles as taught by God and recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the bible. His instructions reflected their belief in God’s sovereignty and determination of the nations. In other words, he was encouraging those coming to America to obey God, and apply God’s principles in their lives and in establishing a government. He wrote in the conviction that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (Psalm 33:12). His letter was prophetic.

The Mayflower voyage was to settle in Virginia: Before the Pilgrims sailed, they were granted a charter that authorized them to start a settlement in the northern part of the Virginia Colony.”7The

Mayflower

Mayflower never got to Virginia: “However, since they were in Massachusetts instead of Virginia, the charter was no longer considered valid, and leaders worried about a possible mutiny. The Mayflower Document was originally drawn up to be an interim governing document between charters. The Pilgrims eventually requested a new charter, and in 1621, they were granted the Second Peirce Patent. However, the Mayflower Compact remained in effect until 1691.”8

It was clearly an Act of God that the Mayflower never reached the intended destination. Instead, they reached Massachusetts where they settled.  Prior to departing from the Mayflower, the original Charter no longer applied and another Charter (Mayflower Compact)was formed. 9 It was this simple Compact and the lives of the Puritans that led to the foundation of our country as a Christian nation. What is even more interesting is that earlier Christian settlements by the Spanish and French that came out of Christopher Columbus’ voyages did not play a role in the formation of our nation. Most of that land remained under foreign control until the Louisiana Purchase, which took place in 1803.10  What did occur was the Christian influence through all these settlements that added to the transformation of our nation.

1 Sarita D. Gallagher and Steven C. Hawthorne, Blessings as Transformation, Mission Frontiers magazine, September-October 2011, p 10-14

2 Leif Eriksson, Encarta Encyclopedia, Archived 2009-10-31

3 Esmond Wright, The Search for Liberty: From Origins to Independence (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995) 5

4 http://acheritagegroup.org/blog/?p=196

5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus

6Scholastic Teacher – Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) Teaching Resources, Children’s Book Recommendations, and Student Activities. Milton Meltzer. Author, Columbus and the World Around Him

7 The Mayflower Farewell Letter, ACHG Blog, http://acheritagegroup.org/blog/?p=632 (September 8, 2011)

8 The Mayflower Compact, ACHG Blog, http://acheritagegroup.org/blog/?p=91 (January 19, 2010)

9 IBID.

10 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Purchase

WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION SAY?

April 9th, 2010

Part of our efforts in presenting early American Christian history is to know and understand the Constitution of the United States.

That being said, there is a national debate going on about recent health legislation passed by Congress. A major issue is that parts of this health bill are unconstitutional. One glaring part is about every citizen being required by law to purchase health insurance and being subject to penalties if they do not. The reply to this is the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution contains that power. The National Center for Constitutional Studies disagrees and recently issued this reply:

Background of the Power of Congress to Regulate Interstate Commerce

One of the challenges facing the states after the Revolutionary War was raising money to pay their expenses and debts. Most states knew taxing the people would be futile because the people had no money and they had just fought a war over the subject of oppressive taxation. So some states decided to set up taxes on commerce, that is, goods coming into or leaving the state, either at the ports or the inland borders. This tactic, however, tended to set states up as individual nations rather than as a common market. It would pit state against state and would lead to discriminatory taxation on certain industries.

Virginia was one of the principal offenders in this respect. While the Constitution was up before the convention of the various states for ratification, Washington wrote to Lafayette that his own state had recently tried to pass “some of the most extravagant and preposterous edicts on the subject of trade” that had ever been written.

But the other states were also gouging their neighbors with discriminatory regulations of commerce. Rhode Island , for example, met all of her expenses out of duties levied at one port where commerce had to enter from other states. New York also demanded oppressive duties on all imports coming through her major shipping channels. It was apparent that if the regulation of commerce were left to the states they would soon degenerate into isolated economic fiefs with each one using discriminatory and retaliatory regulations against surrounding states.

The question had to be resolved as to how to keep states from setting up these tariffs and regulations on goods flowing into or out of a state. To leave this to the states to solve might lead to civil war. It would certainly lead to dissolution of the union. There was no other way to keep a state from setting up these restrictions than by giving the authority to do so to a neutral entity, and that was the federal government.

James Monroe of Virginia (while serving in Congress from 1783 to 1786) had unsuccessfully tried to include the federal regulation of commerce in the Articles of Confederation. He is also credited with suggesting it for the Constitution. Madison felt it was “necessary to preserve the Union,” for “without it, it (the Union ) will infallibly crumble to pieces.”

So by the time the Constitutional Convention was held in 1787 it was clear to many of the delegates that unless the regulation of interstate commerce was placed in the hands of the national government, the states would wreck the union with their petty regulations designed to promote local prosperity at the expense of the general welfare.

Emphasis was on Maintaining a Free Flow of Commerce Among the States

Giving the national government the power to regulate interstate commerce, as a constitutionally delegated power proved to be the answer to maintaining a common market among the states. The commerce clause has consistently served as a barrier to the suppressive efforts of individual states to favor their own industry or economy. In more than 2,500 cases which have been brought before the state and federal courts, tax laws, license laws, and regulations of an infinite variety enacted by state legislatures have been held invalid as interfering with the free flow of interstate commerce.

As Economics Professor Gary Galles of Pepperdine University recently wrote: “The Commerce Clause was designed to take that abusive power from the states by giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce; ‘regulate’ meant ‘to make regular or normal’ or ‘to remove impediments….” ( Washington Times , March 27, 2010)

As with most constitutional provisions, the United States was the pioneer in discovering the advantages which the free flow of commerce among its several states contributed to national economic prosperity. Australia followed the opposite policy until 1900, when she conceded that provincial or state barriers to commerce were repressive. Brazil , Canada , and other nations with modern constitutions have generally followed the American Constitution in this respect.

It is crucial to note that, in the Founders’ formula, the whole power to regulate interstate commerce dealt only with matters to ensure the free flow of goods, or in other words, transportation of interstate commerce, not with any control over the production, manufacturing, or sale of goods going interstate. As W. Cleon Skousen explained:

Doctrines relating to the protection of the states’ sphere of power were set forth by the Supreme Court in the Sugar Trust Case. The court’s decision stated:

Production is always local, and under the exclusive domain of the states.

Commerce among the states (interstate commerce) does not begin until goods commence their final movement from their state of origin to that of their destination.

The sale of any product is merely an incident of its production and is therefore under the domain of the state because its effect on interstate commerce is merely incidental

Combinations or associations organized for the sale and distribution of goods are under the regulatory power of the state since the effect on interstate commerce is indirect, not direct.

As Justice George Sutherland pointed out in Carter v. Carter Coal Co.:

“Much stress is put upon the evils which come from the struggle between employers and employees over matters of wages, working conditions, the right of collective bargaining, etc., and the resulting strikes, curtailment and irregularity of production, and the effect on prices; and it is insisted that interstate commerce is greatly affected thereby. But … the conclusive answer is that the evils are all local evils over which the Federal Government has no legislative control. The relation of employer and employee is a local relation. As a common law it is one of the domestic relations. The wages are paid for the doing of local work. Working conditions are obviously local conditions. The employees are not engaged in or about commerce, but exclusively in producing a commodity…. Such effect as they may have upon commerce, however extensive it may be, is secondary and indirect.” ( The Making of America, p. 406)

Changing Emphasis from Commerce to Regulate

In the decades following the passage of The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 and usually under the pressure of war and depression, the Supreme Court twisted or reversed traditional cases on interstate commerce and introduced the unconstitutional doctrine that the federal government may regulate anything that affects interstate commerce directly or indirectly. (For a list of cases, see The Making of America , pp. 403-408) One must ask: “What doesn’t affect interstate commerce indirectly?” This has resulted in usurpation of power in the form of sweeping federal regulations over nearly every aspect of American life. These doctrines include:

Anything affecting the “current of commerce” from manufacturing to distribution is under federal authority.

Commerce includes all aspects of selling, trading, and trafficking, as well as interstate transportation. Therefore, the federal authority extends to every aspect of commercial activity connected with interstate commerce.

The federal government can regulate any activity which affects interstate commerce either directly or indirectly. It can therefore fix prices, wages, working conditions, health conditions, and the retirement of employees.

All interstate industries automatically come under federal authority for the purpose of intervening in strikes and labor relations. As the Supreme Court said: “When industries organize themselves on a national scale, making their relation to interstate commerce the dominant factor in their activities, how can it be maintained that their industrial labor relations constitute a forbidden field into which Congress may not enter when it is necessary to protect interstate commerce from the paralyzing consequences of industrial war?” This now includes all major industries in the country.

A Graphic Example – the American Hamburger!

In 1980, U. S. News and World Report published a Pictogram entitled, “Your Hamburger: 41,000 Regulations.” It reads:

“The hamburger, staple of the quick, inexpensive meal, is the subject of 41,000 federal and state regulations, many of those stemming from 200 laws and 110,000 precedent-setting court cases.

“These rules, cited in a three-volume study by Colorado State University, touch on everything involved in meat production—grazing practices of cattle, conditions in slaughterhouses and methods used to process meat for sale to supermarkets, restaurants and fast-food outlets. Together they add 8 to 11 cents per pound to the cost of hamburger.”

And that was 30 years ago!

In a cut-away graphic, the report gave several examples, two of which are: “Ketchup—to be considered Grade A fancy, it must flow no more than 9 centimeters in 30 seconds at 69 degrees Fahrenheit” and, “Pickles—Slices must be between 1/8 and 3/8 inches thick.” ( U. S. News and World Report , February 11, 1980, p. 64) (This Pictogram can be viewed at www.nccs.net/seminars . Scroll down the right side to Webinar Archives – Part 3, let it load, then slide over to 1 hour and 20 minutes into the presentation.)

Mandatory Health Care Invents even more
Authority in the Interstate Commerce Clause

As stated earlier, the proponents of the Health Care legislation recently passed by Congress and signed by the President cite the Commerce Clause as authority for doing such a thing. As we have just shown, any honest student who reads the Founders’ must admit there is no authority in the Constitution for such legislation, but, of course, the proponents like to cite Supreme Court cases to show how the authority has been added to the “living constitution” by the federal judiciary.

However, in citing court cases, no one can cite a single case in the history of the United States where it has been held constitutional for the federal government to require every person in this country to purchase a product or a service. This is exactly what this new legislation requires. Furthermore, it provides for a penalty to be paid if such health insurance is not purchased. This provision is so far beyond any authority in the history of this country, that it is difficult to envision even the Supreme Court of today approving such laws. The lawsuits are being filed. People are challenging. States are challenging. It seems that if by some irrational means the majority of the court does go along with this edict, which is far beyond even a liberal interpretation of the Commerce Clause to this point, there may be wholesale numbers ready to invoke the following paraphrased idea in the Declaration of Independence:

“…and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind [Americans] are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing [changing] the forms to which they are accustomed [that is, the form by which the people give Congress its power]. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government [or abusive power], and to provide new guards for their future security.”

Surely, this will push modern Americans to the point we reached in 1776.[2]

[1] National Center for Constitutional Studies, 37777 West Juniper Road, Malta, ID 83342; www.nccs.net
[2] Background of the Power of Congress to Regulate Interstate Commerce, by Earl Taylor, Jr.

THE GREATEST THREAT … SPIRITUAL DECAY!

March 31st, 2010

Lt. General Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr.

It may be hard to imagine that only 18 years ago a white paper was written by a Lt. Colonel (now General) of the United States Army at the United States Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania that addressed the spiritual decay of our nation. He wrote a 57-page study on the subject stating spiritual decay is a real threat to our national security.

We print a part of the opening Introduction to this paper. To access the entire document for reading, see the notes at the end of the article. He writes:

This study examines the “real threat” to our national security– that we are no longer a “Nation Under God” and are no longer led by those who understand the spiritual dimension of leadership envisioned and demonstrated by our founding fathers. Our founding fathers knew and accepted their role as spiritual leaders and did their best to reflect that in the documents they produced. Most leaders today get caught up in the trap of “secular humanism” and neglect their responsibilities.

The Army of Northern Virginia under General Washington was clearly a reflection of the society it served. The society was God fearing, upright, enduring, and understood the need to be under authority–first God and then those appointed over them. Our society is sick with perversion, immorality, and a host of attitudes which were once unthinkable. Can an army from a sick society endure?

The importance of faith in combat is well documented. It links us to values worth fighting for, sacrificing for, dying for. Leaders must be capable of evaluating the moral and spiritual fitness of the soldiers they lead. Many are ill equipped to meet this need because of their lack of personal faith and spiritual training. In Southwest Asia, commanders discovered the importance of the “faith” dimension of combat readiness. They discovered that the “moral/spiritual” fibre of the soldier is a critically important part of being ready.

Leaders cannot ignore the soldier’s need for spiritual training and the need to see model spiritual leaders any more than they can ignore tough, demanding field training, leadership development, and leadership by example. This type of leadership is provided by those who have a strong personal faith, a leadership style based on Biblical Principles, and have developed the order spiritual climate in their organization. The hope for our nation and the Army rests with today’s and tomorrow’s spiritual leaders.

Lieutenant General Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr., M.Sc., M.B.A., P.Eng.  is the Chief of Engineers of the United States Army, which is the title of the Commanding General of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Van Antwerp graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1972. He completed Ranger, Airborne and Air Assault training, the Engineer Officer Basic Course and the Engineer Officer Advanced Course. He served in the Gulf War. He is a Registered Professional Engineer. He is responsible for approximately 36,000 civilian and 600 military employees, who provide project management and construction support to 250 Army and Air Force installations in nearly 100 countries around the world.  He served for a number of years as President of Officer’s Christian Fellowship.

Source: The Greatest Threat . . . Spiritual Decay by Lieutenant Colonel R.L. VanAntwerp (His rank in 1992), United States Army, 1992; A Study Project Paper, United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania #92-12122; Complete PDF at http://goo.gl/KJTS

Military Biography: http://goo.gl/j4MJ

GRAVE DANGERS ARE UPON US

March 24th, 2010

The ongoing loss of our identity as a Christian nation brings with it grave dangers. The Age of Enlightenment, a philosophical movement of the 18th century that emphasized the use of reason to re-evaluate previously accepted doctrines and traditions, set the foundation for the rationalistic reasoning that taints everything today. Simply put, it created man as a god to himself – self-sufficient and self-reliant. It removes God as the Creator and Sovereign Lord over all, and thus man answers to no one but himself.

This loss of our identity as a Christian nation did not come as an avalanche but as a gradual erosion introduced by the philosophies and practices of state-ism and secularism. State-ism and secularism are the enemies of Christianity. State-ism is the principle or policy of using extensive economic and political controls in the operations of a state or nation. When the government operates in such a fashion it makes choices for the citizens rather than by the citizens. And although the byproduct is often attractive social services, the result is always a loss of personal liberty. State-ism believes the government is sovereign. Secularism is a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship. Secularists hold the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element. The growing and pervasive doctrines of State-ism and Secularism in our nation have introduced an expanding federal government that goes far beyond the powers granted it by the founding Constitution of the United States. It is developing an age of entitlement that brings the people of our land to depend on the government for their life, health and welfare. These are directly opposite our founding father’s establishment of this nation. Entitlement translates to socialism. The danger is that the government in this process becomes our source of life – our god. When we accept such ideals we willingly grant the leaders of such a government much greater powers than any human should hold, to the point of deciding what is good for us – what is right and wrong for us. Such power belongs solely to God. Christianity simply does not fit into the outworking of State-ism or Secularism, thus, in the age of supposed enlightenment, those who practice the same revile it. American Christianity is in a battle for its life.

It is important to understand the place we are at today to enable ourselves to understand the importance of our nation’s foundation and beliefs. History has been rewritten for years to eradicate Christianity and the name of Jesus Christ. We, our generation of American Christians, are left with the task of preserving the ideals our founders lived and died for. The American Christian Heritage Group is working to proclaim the truth of our American Christian heritage. So that generations to follow might know fully the graciousness of God through time guiding and blessing America.

As we continue to educate through publishing our country’s Christian history, we want to encourage you to exercise your God given freedoms towards building upon and maintaining that heritage. And, if you believe in this and want to help we would appreciate hearing from you. There are many ways you can help; telling others about our web site and blog is most important. Contributions such as historical research and sourcing of information, suggestions of articles, and financial aid are some of the ways you could help.

God bless you for standing on the truth given us by the Lord Jesus Christ and the Judeo-Christian ideals left to us by our nation’s founders.

Send us e-mail at info@acheritagegroup.org

Visit the American Christian Heritage Group web site at http://www.acheritagegroup.org/
Source: Mark R. Levin, Liberty and Tyranny, A Conservative Manifesto, Simon & Shuster Threshold Editions, 2009

EARLY AMERICAN CHRISTIAN COLLEGES

March 17th, 2010

Dr. David S. Dockery

Dr. David S. Dockery is President of Union College (Jackson, TN). He has written an article entitled “Integrating Faith and Learning in Higher Education” where he gives an overview of early American history of colleges and Universities. The web site is listed below where you may read the entire article. Here are a few excerpts of that article. [1]

The integration of faith and learning is at the essence of authentic Christian higher… This was once the goal of almost every college in America. It is no longer the case. Prior to the 19th century, every college started in this country—with the exception of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia—was a Christian based college committed to revealed truth. All of that changed with the rise of secularization and specialization, creating dualisms of every kind—a separation of head knowledge from heart knowledge, faith from learning, revealed truth from observed truth, and careers from vocation.

What happened was a loss of world view in the academy. There was a failure to see that every discipline and every specialization could be and should be approached from the vantage point of faith, the foundational building block for a Christian worldview. The separation of faith from learning and teaching was the first step toward creating the confused and disconnected approach to higher education, even in church-related institutions. [2]

A brief overview of Christian higher education will help us see the shifts and changes in purpose and focus across the years. Early Christian education emphasized catechetical purposes as foundational. Medieval universities (those developed between the 11th and 15th centuries) were largely for the purposes of professional education with some general education for the elite. Of the 79 universities in Europe during this time it was Salerno that was best known for medicine, Bologna was best known for law, and Paris was best known for theology.

The Renaissance period emphasized the revival of Greek and Roman literature with the addition of newer subjects developed during the medieval period like arithmetic, geometry, and music. The Reformation and Post-Reformation period placed all aspects of education within the context of a Christian worldview. Higher education reached its zenith, building on what had gone before, in America. Early American colleges governed by trustees from related religious groups provided education within the context of faith and grounded in the pursuit of truth (veritas). Some of these schools included:

  • Harvard College [University], Massachusetts founded in 1636 was founded as a Congregational school.
  • William and Mary, Virginia founded in 1693 was an Anglican school.
  • Yale, Connecticut, founded in 1701 was a Congregational school.
  • Princeton, New Jersey, was founded in 1746 as a New Light Presbyterian school.
  • Columbia, New York, was founded in 1754 as an Anglican school.
  • Brown, Rhode Island was founded in 1765 as a Baptist school.
  • Rutgers, New Jersey, was founded in 1765 as a Dutch Reformed school.

Pennsylvania and Virginia were essentially the first secular institutions. The German model espousing research and academic freedom began to widely influence American Higher Education in the 19th Century. Johns Hopkins, founded in Maryland in 1867, was the first pure research institution in this country.

During the 19th Century state supported higher education began to flourish, following the University of Virginia model, which had separated the theological influence from the curriculum by abolishing the chair of divinity in its reorganization of 1779. The University of Michigan adopted a credit point system; Harvard introduced an elective curriculum, and majors and specializations followed as we moved into the 20th Century. [3]

The rise of enlightenment thought was a watershed in the history of western civilization; it was a time when the Christian consensus was broken by a radical secular spirit. The enlightenment philosophy stressed the primacy of nature, a high view of reason and a low view of sin, and an anti-supernatural bias; and it encouraged revolt against a faith-affirming perspective of education. [4] Friedrich Schleiermacher’s On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultural Despisers severed faith from philosophy and morality. Faith was understood only in pietistic terms having no connection with matters of truth. Though Schleiermacher tried to save the Christian faith, in reality he separated it from the exploration of truth—even the Jesus of history and the study of the Bible was separated from the Christ of faith. [5]

Early twentieth century American education was impacted by this mindset in the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversies. Both groups in various ways tried to save “faith” through various pietistic approaches, on the one hand, you could find the separatistic pietism of American fundamentalism, and on the other there was the pragmatic pietism of William James, the common faith civil religion of John Dewey, and the a historical experiential religion of Harry Emerson Fosdick. The result, however, was the divorce of faith from teaching and scholarship in universities across the country in the arts, the humanities, the sciences, the social sciences, and all other spheres, including the scholarly study of religion. There was during this time still a belief in objective truth in all fields, but the dominant perspective, with rare exceptions, maintained that faith had to be bracketed from this search for truth. The situation has changed even more drastically at the end of the twentieth century with the rise of postmodernism, which includes the loss of a belief in normative truth, and the influence of relativism in almost all spheres of knowledge. [6]

Following World War II a rapid expansion of higher education has taken place all across America. As we enter the 21st Century there are approximately 3,600 institutions of higher learning: 2,000 public and 1,600 private. Many of the public institutions are community colleges. Others are large research universities. Of the 1,600 private institutions almost 800 maintain some church relationship (about 400 mainline; a little less than 300 Roman Catholic; and few more than 100 Evangelical).

In thinking about Christian higher education we cannot rapidly leap over the foundational issues. We need carefully and intentionally to think about the importance of integrating faith and learning as the essential issue for defining Christian higher education.

[1] http://www.uu.edu/dockery/092000-erlc.htm
[2] This disconnection has been ably documented by George Marsden, The Soul of the American University (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994); and James T. Burtchaell, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from their Christian Churches (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998). Burtchaell sadly acknowledged that the story of the disengagement of the schools from their denominations and constituencies is in fact “more melancholy than the author expected.” (p. xi); also Mark R. Schwenn, Exiles from Eden: Religion and the American Vocation in America (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981).
[3] See Robert Rue Parsonage, Church Related Higher Education (Valley Forge: Judson, 1978); Bernard Ramm, The Christian College in the Twentieth Century (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963); Arthur Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975); Douglas Sloan, Faith and Knowledge: Mainline Protestantism and American Higher Education (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994); Charles D. Johnson, Higher Education of Southern Baptists (Waco: Baylor University Press, 1955).
[4] See Colin Gunton, Enlightenment and Alienation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), pp. 111-52; also Thomas C. Oden, After Modernity…What? Agenda for Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990).
[5] See Schleiermacher’s posthumously published Leben Jesu (1864).

GENEROSITY OF AMERICA

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:
http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis.asp

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

WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA

February 11th, 2010

G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, journalism, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy and detective fiction. He had published over 111 books before his death in 1936. One major work was Orthodoxy (1908), which has become a classic of Christian apologetics.

G. K. Chesterton, on coming to the United States for a series of lectures, wrote an essay entitled, “What I saw in America”. In the opening he made the statement that America is the only nation in the world founded on a creed, referring to the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence that states, “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”.
Here is what he wrote in the opening of his essay:

“America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly.” [1]

Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson, as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, was echoing what he understood in the Christian New Testament. His terms Creator and self-evident echoes Paul’s statement in the New Testament, ” . . . because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” [2]

Jefferson was writing to Christians who understood these terms. He was also establishing our independence by severing our ties with Great Britain on the grounds that it had violated the laws of nature and of nature’s God. He based the statement of “unalienable rights” on the gift of God towards men. He wrote:

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Establish a law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state and on a general plan.” [3]

G. K. Chesterton certainly saw the greatness of America in the Declaration of Independence as the Creed of a nation. Thomas Jefferson, prime author of the Declaration of Independence, indicated that on his death it was important to reflect what he had given the people, not what people had given him. In line with his wishes, his epitaph reads,

HERE WAS BURIED
THOMAS JEFFERSON
AUTHOR OF THE
DECLARATION
OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
OF THE
STATUTE OF VIRGINIA
FOR
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
AND FATHER OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S.
DIED JULY 4. 1826

The epitaph is a fitting tribute to Thomas Jefferson, yet a stronger testimony to the Divine Providence of God that led to the founding of this nation and guiding our founding fathers.

[1] What I Saw in America, G. K. Chesterton, The Project Gutenberg EBook, November 2008; “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. We . . . solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states. . . And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”, as quoted on Panel One, Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.
[2] Romans 1:19-20 (NAS)
[3] As quoted on Panel Three, Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

The Covenant Origins Of The American Polity

January 26th, 2010

Entire article is an excerpt from The Covenant Origins Of The American Polity, Steven Alan Sampson, Liberty University, Professor of Government; Copyright 1994; http://www.americanreformation.org/Philosophy/Polity/polity.htm#fn4

It is not uncommon for historians to view America as an experimental laboratory in political theory and practice in which the American character is represented as a triumph of common sense over ideology. The title of one influential book, Inventing America, and the subtitle of another, How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightenment, together reflect a long fascination with the “Yankee ingenuity” and “can do” spirit of a nation of tinkerers. [1]

This may help explain why history books often neglect to acknowledge the religious dimension of this experiment. Yet far from being inconsequential, religion — and particularly the Christian concept of vocation — is the wellspring of this spirit of practicality that gave substance to the desire for a greater degree of self-government and led to the development of greater religious and political liberty.[2] The so-called Protestant work-ethic to which Max Weber attributed the material progress of northern Europeans is simply one expression of the Pauline injunction to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

It may be true, as well, that “pure Religious Liberty… may be confidently reckoned as of distinctly American origin”, as Sanford Cobb claimed.[3] But like the Yankee ingenuity thesis, it is an oversimplification which fails to acknowledge the long train of historical circumstances and preconditions that made such liberty possible. After all, religious liberty did not spring, like Athena, in full armor from the head of Zeus. Unlike Eli Whitney, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Alva Edison, not to mention a host of less famous figures, the inventors of our familiar liberties — if any existed — are practically unknown. Yet who would claim that these liberties are less important than the invention of interchangeable parts, the telephone, or the light bulb? Are they simply the result of historical accident? Or is there perhaps some rhyme or reason to their appearance at certain times and places?

Earlier Americans, including our most influential historians, generally regarded the settlement and development of our country less as a testimony to frontier inventiveness than as an indication of God’s providential blessings. Indeed, they believed that America, both the land and the people, had been designed for a specific purpose and destiny. [4] Franklin Littell offered the following synopsis of this motif:

For many of our forefathers, at least, the planting of America represented a major break from past history and a radical advance into a new age. God had hidden America until such a time as the Reformation could guarantee that the religion planted on these shores would be pure and evangelical.Certain writers linked three great events by which God’s Providence prepared the coming of the New Age: (1) the invention of printing, whereby the Bible was made available to all; (2) the Reformation, whereby cult and confession were purified; (3) the discovery of America. Even such relatively sober men as Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards linked the discovery of America with the coming triumph of the eternal gospel. [5]

The once commonly held conviction, that God providentially directs the historical paths of men and nations, is a missing note in contemporary scholarship. So thoroughly secularized have our academic and popular histories become that any mention of Providence sounds quaint, insincere, or irrelevant. [6] Evocations of a distinctly Christian viewpoint on public occasions are rare today even compared with just forty years ago when Judge Learned Hand said the following in his famous “Spirit of Liberty” speech:

What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which waives their interest alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near 2000 years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest. [7]

[1] Garry Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978); Henry Steele Commager, The Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightenment (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977)
[2] A recent exception is the first volume of a massive cultural history that identifies and compares the contributions of “four British folkways” to the development of the American culture. See David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). The author contends that regional and cultural differences in America are the legacy of several distinct groups from the British Isles — particularly the Puritans, Cavaliers, Quakers, and Borderers — who hailed from different regions, migrated during different historical periods, and took up residence indifferent regions: Massachusetts, Virginia, the Delaware Valley, and the Backcountry respectively.
[3] Sanford H. Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America: A History (New York: Macmillan, 1902; Burt Franklin, 1970), p. 36. David Hackett Fischer, op. cit., by the way, distinguishes different conceptions of liberty that prevailed among the four British folk groupings: the ordered liberty of the Massachusetts Puritan (and later Yankee), the hegemonic liberty of the Virginia Cavalier, the reciprocal liberty of the Delaware Valley Quaker, and the natural liberty of the Backcountry Borderer.
[4] The idea that America has a divine mission to perform was not limited to the majority Protestants. For example, shortly after the Civil War ended, Orestes A. Brownson wrote: “The United States, or the American republic, has a mission and is chosen of God for the realization of a great idea… Its idea is liberty, indeed, but liberty with law, and law with liberty. But its mission is not so much the realization of liberty as the realization of the true idea of the state, which secures at once the authority of the public and the freedom of the individual –the sovereignty of the people without social despotism, and individual freedom without anarchy.” Orestes A. Brownson, “The American Republic [1866]”, in The Brownson Reader, ed. Alvan S. Ryan (New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1955), pp. 70-71.
[5] Franklin H. Littell, “The Churches and the Body Politic“, in Religion in America, ed. William G. McLoughlin and Robert N. Bellah (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968), pp. 25-26. The Rev. S. W. Foljambe strictly adhered to this formula as late as 1876 in the annual election sermon he delivered in Boston. The sermon has been excerpted and reprinted as “The Hand of God in American History” in Verna M. Hall, comp., The Christian History of the American Revolution: Consider and Ponder (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1976), pp. 46-50.
[6] This is not to say that the idea of Providence has disappeared from the secular mind. It simply assumes new guises. Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983), p. 6, makes a similar point: “Western society, in turnings away from Christian faith, has turned to other things. This process is commonly called secularization, but that conveys only the negative aspect. The word connotes the turning away from the worship of God while ignoring the fact that something is being turned to in its place.” Walter Lippmann, for instance, suggested that when a totalitarian regime like the Soviet Union describes its vision of a “socialist commonwealth embracing the whole world…”, it ascribes to it the attributes of God: perfect authority and justice, miracles, omnipotence, and omniscience. “It is to believe not in human government but in a Providential state.” Walter Lippmann, The Good Society (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1936: 1943), pp. 70-71.
[7] Learned Hand, The Spirit of Liberty: Papers and Addresses, ed. Irving Dilliard (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952), p. 190.

AMERICAN CHRISTIAN HERITAGE FAR FROM DEAD

January 13th, 2010

The Christian Heritage of our country is far from dead. One of the places that our Christian heritage is in the forefront is Congress. Surprised? Don’t be. Over 50 members of Congress from all political persusions, demographic backgrounds and geographic locations are members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus.

The Congressional Prayer Caucus is an official organization of the United States House of Representatives. It’s purpose is to recognize the vital role prayer has played throughout the more than 200-year history of our nation. In that role the group holds prayer meetings, collect, exchange and disseminate information about prayer and use the legislative process to assist the nation and its people in continuing to draw upon and benefiting from this essential source of our strength and well-being.

Make no mistake about this prayer caucus – they are intent on keeping the Christian heritage of America in the forefront, acknowledging God publicly and to protect the rights of individuals to excerise their faith privately and publicly in the United States.

They have introduced House Resolution 888 to affirm the rich 200-year plus Religious History of America and Establish an “American Religious History Week.” They have taken many other actions. One is introducing a bill protecting the ability of military Chaplins to pray according to their conscience. Another was ensuring that Our Nation’s Religious History is Included in the Capitol Visitor Center. Members of the Prayer Caucus supported and voted for H.Con.Res.131, directing the Architect of the Capitol to engrave our national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ and The Pledge of Allegiance in a permanent and prominent location in the Capitol Visitor Center. This bill passed the House on July 9, 2009 by a vote of 410-8-2 and passed the Senate on July 10 by Unanimous Consent. Read other efforts here: http://forbes.house.gov/CongressionalPrayerCaucus/legislation.htm

We can play an important part in these efforts. First and foremost, we should pray every day for our leaders and specifically for the Congressional Prayer Caucus. We can write to the members of the Caucus encouraging them in their efforts. We can write to our Congressman and ask their consideration in joining the Prayer Caucus. You can sign up on the Caucus’ web site to receive their newsletter and information.

Source: The Congressional Prayer Caucus
http://forbes.house.gov/Issues/Issue/?IssueID=5261

Visit the American Christian Heritage Group web site at http://www.acheritagegroup.org/

AMERICA’S SPIRITUAL HERITAGE WEEK

January 6th, 2010

There is hope when there are 77 cosponsors of a bill in 2009 to establish an annual “America’s Spiritual Heritage Week”. The bill is still in committee as of this date. A reading of the bill is a reading of our Christian history as a nation. Here is an excerpt of the House of Representatives Resolution 397:

111th CONGRESS
1st Session

H. RES. 397
Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as `America’s Spiritual Heritage Week’ for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
May 4, 2009

RESOLUTION
Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as `America’s Spiritual Heritage Week’ for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.

Whereas religious faith was not only important in official American life during the periods of discovery, exploration, colonization, and growth but has also been acknowledged and incorporated into all 3 branches of the Federal Government from their very beginning;

Whereas the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed this self-evident fact in a unanimous ruling declaring `This is a religious people . . . From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation’;

Whereas political scientists have documented that the most frequently cited source in the political period known as The Founding Era was the Bible;

Whereas the first act of America’s first Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of 4 chapters of the Bible;

Whereas Congress regularly attended church and Divine service together en masse;

Whereas throughout the American Founding, Congress frequently appropriated money for missionaries and for religious instruction, a practice that Congress repeated for decades after the passage of the Constitution and the First Amendment;

Whereas in 1776, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence with its 4 direct religious acknowledgments referring to God as the Creator (`All people are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’), the Lawgiver (`the laws of nature and nature’s God’), the Judge (`appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world’), and the Protector (`with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence’);

Whereas upon approving the Declaration of Independence, John Adams declared that the Fourth of July `ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty’;

Whereas 4 days after approving the Declaration, the Liberty Bell was rung;

Whereas the Liberty Bell was named for the Biblical inscription from Leviticus 25:10 emblazoned around it: `Proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all the inhabitants thereof’;

Whereas in 1777, Congress, facing a National shortage of `Bibles for our schools, and families, and for the public worship of God in our churches,’ announced that they `desired to have a Bible printed under their care & by their encouragement’ and therefore ordered 20,000 copies of the Bible to be imported `into the different ports of the States of the Union’;

Whereas in 1782, Congress pursued a plan to print a Bible that would be `a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools’ and therefore approved the production of the first English language Bible printed in America that contained the congressional endorsement that `the United States in Congress assembled . . . recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States’;

Whereas in 1782, Congress adopted (and has reaffirmed on numerous subsequent occasions) the National Seal with its Latin motto `Annuit Coeptis,’ meaning `God has favored our undertakings,’ along with the eye of Providence in a triangle over a pyramid, the eye and the motto `allude to the many signal interpositions of Providence in favor of the American cause’;

Whereas the 1783 Treaty of Paris that officially endied the Revolution and established America as an independent begins with the appellation `In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity’;

Whereas in 1787, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin declared, `God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? . . . Without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel’;

Whereas the delegates to the Constitutional Convention concluded their work by in effect placing a religious punctuation mark at the end of the Constitution in the Attestation Clause, noting not only that they had completed the work with `the unanimous consent of the States present’ but they had done so `in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven’;

Whereas James Madison declared that he saw the finished Constitution as a product of `the finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution,’ and George Washington viewed it as `little short of a miracle,’ and Benjamin Franklin believed that its writing had been `influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler, in Whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being’;

Whereas, from 1787 to 1788, State conventions to ratify the United States Constitution not only began with prayer but even met in church buildings;

Whereas in 1795, during construction of the Capitol, a practice was instituted whereby `public worship is now regularly administered at the Capitol, every Sunday morning, at 11 o’clock’;

Whereas in 1789, the first Federal Congress, the Congress that framed the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, appropriated Federal funds to pay chaplains to pray at the opening of all sessions, a practice that has continued to this day, with Congress not only funding its congressional chaplains but also the salaries and operations of more than 4,500 military chaplains;

Whereas in 1789, Congress, in the midst of framing the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment, passed the first Federal law touching education, declaring that `Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged’;

Whereas in 1789, on the same day that Congress finished drafting the First Amendment, it requested President Washington to declare a National day of prayer and thanksgiving, resulting in the first Federal official Thanksgiving proclamation that declared `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’;

Whereas in 1800, Congress enacted naval regulations requiring that Divine service be performed twice every day aboard `all ships and vessels in the navy,’ with a sermon preached each Sunday;

Read the entire bill here:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.RES.397:

Read the facts and cosponsers of the bill here:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:h.res.00397: