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.

CONGRESSIONAL PROCLAMATION CALLS ON GOD FOR HELP

May 10th, 2010

Contrary to the belief that we are a secular nation and that we were not founded as a Christian nation, we continue to historically see our nation acknowledging our dependence on God. One Congressional proclamation, among many, very clearly calls on God, acknowledging our sins, recognizing Divine Providence in guiding our nation and outright calls on Him for help. One author states; “Congress itself was equally convinced that God was fighting its battles.” [1] Here is one of those powerful Proclamations:

Tuesday, March 19, 1782

Proclamation
The goodness of the Supreme Being to all his rational creatures demands their acknowledgments of gratitude and love; his absolute government of this world dictates that it is the interest of every nation and people ardently to supplicate his favor and implore his protection.

When the lust of dominion or lawless ambition excites arbitrary power to invade rights or endeavor to wrest from a people their sacred and inalienable privileges, and compels them, in defense of the same, to encounter all the horrors and calamities of a bloody and vindictive war, then is that people loudly called upon to fly unto that God for protection who hears the cries of the distressed and will not turn a deaf ear to the supplications of the oppressed.

Great Britain, hitherto left to infatuated councils and to pursue measures repugnant to her own interest and distressing to this country, still persists in the design of subjugating these United States; which will compel us into another active and perhaps bloody campaign.

The United States in Congress assembled, therefore, taking into consideration our present situation, our multiplied transgressions of the holy laws of our God, and his past acts of kindness and goodness towards us, which we ought to record with the liveliest gratitude, think it their indispensable duty to call upon the several States to set apart the last Thursday in April next as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, that our joint supplications may then ascend to the throne of the Ruler of the universe, beseeching him to diffuse a spirit of universal reformation among all ranks and degrees of our citizens, and make us a holy, that we may be a happy, people; that it would please him to impart wisdom, integrity, and unanimity to our counselors; to bless and prosper the reign of our illustrious ally, and give success to his arms employed in the defense of the rights of human nature; that he would smile upon our military arrangements by land and sea, administer comfort and consolation to our prisoners in a cruel captivity, protect the health and life of our commander-in-chief, grant us victory over our enemies, establish peace in all our borders, and give happiness to all our inhabitants; that he would prosper the labor of the husbandman, making the earth yield its increase in abundance, and give a proper season for the ingathering of the fruits thereof; that he would grant success to all engaged in lawful trade and commerce, and take under his guardianship all schools and seminaries of learning, and make them nurseries of virtue and piety; that he would incline the hearts of all men to peace, and fill them with universal charity and benevolence, and that the religion of our Devine Redeemer, with all its benign influences, may cover the earth as the waters cover the seas. [2]

Done by the United States in Congress assembled, &c. &c.

George Washington’s Reply to Congress

General Washington, in reply to a letter from the President of Congress, enclosing this proclamation, thus wrote from Mount Vernon November 15, 1781—

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 31st ult., covering the resolutions of Congress of the 26th, and a Proclamation for a day of public prayer and thanksgiving, and have to thank you, sir, for the very polite and affectionate manner in which these enclosures have been conveyed. The success of the combined arms against our enemies at York and Gloucester, as it affects the welfare and independence of the United States, I viewed as a most fortunate event.

In performing my part towards its accomplishment, I consider myself to have done only my duty, and the execution of that I ever feel myself happy; and at the same time, as it augurs well to our cause, I take a particular pleasure in acknowledging that the interposing hand of Heaven in the various instances of our extensive preparations for this operation has been most conspicuous and remarkable. [3]

[1] Derek H. Davis, Religion and the Continental Congress, 1774-1789; Oxford Press 2000; Page 88
[2] Journals of the American Congress, 1782 From 1774 to 1778, Volume Four, From August 1, 1778 to March 30, 1782, inclusive; Page, 736
[3] Benjamin F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character of The Civil Institutions of the United States, American Vision, Inc., Powder Springs, GA; Page 671

CHURCH SERVICE HELD IN STATUARY HALL

May 7th, 2010

Members of Congress at Sunday Service at the Capitol

On Sunday, March 21, history was made in the U.S. Capitol. But the history I am talking about is not related to healthcare, legislation, or one political party or the other. At 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, as Members of Congress were in session to vote on healthcare legislation, I was privileged to organize a church service in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Over 250 people, including Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, their spouses and their staffs, took part in the service. No healthcare legislation was discussed. No political agenda was present. The only matter at hand was acknowledgement of faith and recognition of our national’s spiritual heritage.

Many do not know that church services were once held in the old House chamber, which is now Statuary Hall, from 1800-1857. On December 4, 1800, Congress approved the use of the Capitol building as a church. Approval was given by both the House and the Senate, with House approval being given by Frederick Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House, and Senate approval being given by Thomas Jefferson, then President of the Senate.

In fact, while serving as Vice-President, Jefferson regularly attended church at the Capitol. Additionally, the first church service that he attended in the Capitol as President was on January 3, 1802, just two days after authoring the letter in which he used the now famous “wall of separation between church and state” phrase.

Together, Republicans and Democrats brought that historical service back to the halls of Congress and reestablished a precedent to be used for years to come. I was honored to be a part of the Sunday Service at the Capitol that was once regularly attended by presidents from Jefferson to Lincoln.

Source: Congress J. Randy Forbes, e-mail newsletter April 27, 2010

JAMES MADISON ON GOVERNMENT DEBT

April 2nd, 2010

“There is not a more important and fundamental principle in legislation, than that the ways and means ought always to face the public engagements; that our appropriations should ever go hand in hand with our promises. To say that the United States should be answerable for twenty-five millions of dollars without knowing whether the ways and means can be provided, and without knowing whether those who are to succeed us will think with us on the subject, would be rash and unjustifiable. Sir, in my opinion, it would be hazarding the public faith in a manner contrary to every idea of prudence.”

Source: James Madison, Speech in Congress, April 22, 1790

OUR JUDEO-CHRISTIAN NATION

March 9th, 2010

Congressman Randy Forbes, R-VA

A few days ago an important speech and declaration was made before Congress concerning the Christian roots of the United States of America. We have reprinted it below and a video link  of the speech. It is good for us to know that there are people working today to acknowledge and bring our Christian roots to the forefront of our nation.

The speech and declaration was made by Congressman Randy Forbes, Republican, representing the Fourth District of Virginia. Placed prominently on the wall of Congressman Randy Forbes’ Washington office is a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence surrounded by portraits of the fifty-six founding fathers who signed the document asserting our nation’s freedom. He is working to protect our Christian heritage.  Congressman Randy Forbes founded and chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus and has led this group of bipartisan Members in national efforts to protect prayer and our nation’s spiritual history.

Congressman Randy Forbes attends Great Bridge Baptist Church, where he has taught adult Sunday school for over 20 years. He was born and raised in Chesapeake, Virginia where he still resides with his wife Shirley. He and Shirley have been married since 1978 and have four children: Neil, Jamie, Jordan, and Justin.

Forbes (R-VA)
May 6, 2009, 4:20 PM – 4:24 PM U.S. House of Representatives

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, on April 6th of this year, the President of the United States traveled halfway around the globe, and in the nation of Turkey, essentially proclaimed that the United States was not a Judeo- Christian nation.

I don’t challenge his right to do that or dispute the fact that it is what he believes, but I wish he had asked and answered two questions when he did that. The first question was whether or not we ever considered ourselves a Judeo-Christian nation, and the second one was, if we did, what was the moment in time where we ceased to be so? If asked the first question, Mr. Speaker, you would find that the very first act of the first congress in the United States was to bring in a minister and have congress led in prayer, and afterwards read four chapters out of the bible. A few years later, when we unanimously declared our independence, we made certain that the rights in there were given to us by our creator. When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, it ended the revolutionary war and birthed this nation. The signers of that document made clear that it began with this phrase, “in the name of the most holy and undivided trinity.”

When our constitution was signed, the signers made sure that they punctuated the end of it by saying, “in the year of our lord, 1787”, and 100 years later in the supreme court case of Holy Trinity Church vs. United States, the Supreme Court indicated, after recounting the long history of faith in this country, that we were a Christian nation. President George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, all disagreed with the President’s comments, and indicated how the bible and Judeo-Christian principles were so important to this nation. Franklin Roosevelt even led this nation in a six-minute prayer before the invasion of perhaps the greatest battle in history, in the Invasion of Normandy, and asked for God’s protection. After that war, congress came together and said, “Where are we going to put our trust?” It wasn’t in our weapons systems, or our economy, or our great decisions here. It was in God we trust, which is emboldened directly behind you. So, if in fact we were a nation that was birthed on those Judeo-Christian principles, what was that moment in time when we ceased to so be?

It wasn’t when a small group of people succeeded in taking prayer out of our schools, or when they tried to cover up the word referencing God on the Washington Monument. Or, when they tried to stop our veterans from having flag-folding ceremonies at their funerals on a voluntary basis because they mentioned God, or even when they tried in the new visitor’s center to change the national motto, and to refuse to put “in God we trust” in there. No, Mr. Speaker, it wasn’t any of those times because they can rip that word off of all of our buildings and still those Judeo-Christian principles are so interwoven in a tapestry of freedom and liberty, that to begin to unravel one is to unravel the other.

That’s why we have filed the Spiritual Heritage Resolution, to help reaffirm that great history of faith that we have in this nation and to say to those individual’s who have yielded to the temptation of concluding that we are no longer a Judeo-Christian nation, to come back. To come back and look at those great principles that birthed this nation, and sustain us today. We believe if they do, they will conclude as President Eisenhower did and later Gerald Ford repeated, that “without God, there could be no American form of government. Nor, an American way of life.” Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic expression of Americanism. Thus the founding fathers of America sought and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back.

To watch Congressman Forbes deliver this speech, go here:  http://goo.gl/Zboh

Visit his web site at: http://forbes.house.gov/

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

March 4th, 2010

Today in history, March 4th, 1789, the United States Constitution went into effect as the United States Congress met for the first time, in New York City.

The basic and supreme law of the land is the Constitution of the United States of America. It consists of 7 articles, which were drafted by the Constitutional

Federal Hall, Site of first two sessions of Congress in 1789-1790

Convention of 55 delegates who met in Philadelphia in 1787, ostensibly to amend the Articles of Confederation. In addition to the seven articles 27 amendments were part of the Constitution. More than 200 years old, this document is the oldest written constitution of a national state in use anywhere in the world today. (The oldest written constitution of any sort in use today is the Massachusetts state constitution of 1780.) Most of the national constitutions around the world have existed only since about 1970.

The Constitution is the Fundamental law of the U.S. federal system of government and a landmark document of the Western world. The Constitution was ratified in June 1788, but because ratification in many states was contingent on the promised addition of a Bill of Rights, Congress proposed 12 amendments in September 1789; 10 were ratified by the states, and their adoption was certified on Dec. 15, 1791. The framers were especially concerned with limiting the power of the government and securing the liberty of citizens.

Under the Constitution, ratified in 1788, Congress was divided into two houses and power was distributed among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government and the states.

The two compromises critical to the success of the Constitutional Convention both involved Congress. In the Great Compromise, the states were assured equal representation in the Senate and proportional representation (representation in proportion to their population) in the House of Representatives. The Three-fifths Compromise, which allowed a slave to be counted as three-fifths of a person, satisfied the Southern states because it meant their slaves (called “other persons”) would be counted for purposes of taxation and representation in Congress.

Article 1, the longest part of the Constitution, deals exclusively with Congress. It grants the House and Senate together the power to collect taxes, borrow and coin money, raise and support an army and navy, declare war, set up a federal court system, establish rules for the naturalization of foreigners seeking citizenship, fix standard weights and measurements, establish post offices and post roads, make copyright and patent laws to protect authors and inventors, and pass legislation to govern the District of Columbia. The Constitution also authorizes Congress “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.” Because this provision is so broad and sweeping, it is known as the “elastic clause.”

The Constitution placed some restrictions on congressional power. Congress could not stop the slave trade until 1808 nor could it restrict habeas corpus (the right of a person accused of a crime to know the charges against him), pass ex post facto laws (make something a crime after the fact), give preference to any port of commerce, or grant or allow any federal officeholder to accept a title of nobility. Nor could members of Congress serve simultaneously in any other civil office.

Like other national constitutions, the U.S. Constitution establishes a general framework for organizing and operating a government. It is not a detailed blueprint for governing on a day-to-day basis. The Constitution consists of only about 7,500 words. It does not attempt to consider the details of how to run the national government. Officials who run the government supply the details that fit the general framework.

As the government’s framework, the Constitution must be interpreted as specific problems arise. For example, the 4th Amendment to the Constitution protects people against “unreasonable searches and seizures” by police or other government officials. But what does “unreasonable searches and seizures” mean? The automobile did not exist in 1787, when the Constitution was written. Does the 4th Amendment allow the police to stop and search a car? In the case of United States v. Ross (1982), the Supreme Court decided that they could.

The Supreme Court is often called upon to answer such questions. Its decisions help to update the Constitution to reflect changing times and circumstances. Decisions by judges who interpret and apply the Constitution to specific cases help to add substance to the general framework of government established by the Constitution. These judicial decisions formulate constitutional law.

In addition to the sections pertaining to Congress, several other parts of the Constitution assign duties and powers to the President and judiciary. For example, the President can dispatch military forces to put down civil disorder or rebellion or to enforce federal laws if necessary. The Constitution also places limits on the powers of officials such as the President, Supreme Court justices, and members of Congress.

Such limitations on the expressed powers granted to the government protect the liberties of the people. For example, although the U.S. Treasury Department collects taxes, an act of Congress must authorize any expenditure of that tax money. More generally, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, protect the liberties of the people.

All government officials must follow the Constitution when carrying out their duties. For example, the Constitution (Article 6) says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust in the United States.” Thus the President may not require any employees of the executive branch of government to attend church services in order to keep their jobs.

The Constitution grants powers in the name of the people, and the government draws its power from the consent of the governed. The document assumes that government officials will use their powers in the interests of the people. The preamble to the Constitution says, “We the People of the United States … do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Representatives of the people wrote and approved the Constitution of the United States. Granting certain powers to government in the name of the people gives legitimacy to the government because most of the people, viewing it as legal and proper, are likely to find it acceptable.

Sources;

  • George Anastaplo, The Constitution of 1787: A Commentary (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).
  • Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention, May to September 1787 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1966).
  • David P. Currie, The Constitution of the United States: A Primer for the People (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988).
  • Donald A. Ritchie, The U.S. Constitution (New York: Chelsea House, 1989)
  • Photograph: Federal Hall; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_United_States_Congress
  • For further study, go to:
  • http://www.answers.com/topic/united-states-constitution

FIRST CONTINENTAL CONGRESS OPENING PRAYER

March 2nd, 2010

The Reverend Jacob Duché opened the September 7th, 1774 first Continental Congress in Philadelphia with prayer. Here is the story about a prayer that stirred the Founding Fathers.

The first American Congress (Continental Congress) was a convention of delegates from twelve of the thirteen North American colonies that met on September 5, 1774, at Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. Called in response to the passage of the Coercive Acts (also known as Intolerable Acts by the Colonial Americans) by the British Parliament, the Congress was attended by 56 members appointed by the legislatures of twelve of the Thirteen Colonies, the exception being the Province of Georgia, which did not send delegates. At the time, Georgia was the newest and smallest province and declined to send a delegation because it was seeking help from London in pacifying its smoldering Indian frontier. [1]

Delegates met in secret. Benjamin Franklin had proposed such a meeting a year earlier, but after the Port of Boston was closed the momentum for such a meeting grew rapidly. The goal of the Congress was to resolve the differences between England and the colonies.

The Congress opened in prayer led by the Reverend Jacob Duché, a local minister from nearby Christ Church. Many of the Founding Fathers worshipped there and seven signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in Christ’s Church cemetery. Reverend Jacob Duché (1737-98) was born in Pennsylvania, a descendant of Huguenots who immigrated to America with William Penn.

"The First Prayer in Congress" by T.H. Matteson 1848

Reverend Duché opened the second session on September 7th, 1774 with prayer. It was not a perfunctory prayer, but one that was a time of profound prayer. Opening the session he read the 35th Psalm, and then broke into extemporaneous prayer.

First Prayer of the Continental Congress, 1774

O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!

Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.

Amen.

Reverend Jacob Duché
Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m. [2]

The prayer had a profound effect on the delegates, as recounted by John Adams to his wife. Dr. Duché followed the psalm with ten minutes of spontaneous prayer asking God to support the American cause. Adams stated, “[Rev] Duche, unexpectedly to everybody, struck out into extemporaneous prayer filled which filled     the bosom of every man present. I must confess I never heard a better prayer. . . .with such fervor, such ardor, earnestness and pathos, and in a language so elegant and sublime for America [and] for the Congress. . . .It has had an excellent effect upon everybody here.” He went on to say, “I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on the morning. . . .I must beg you to read that Psalm. . . [Read] the 35th Psalm to [your friends]. Read it to your father.” One other delegate said he was “worth riding 100 miles to hear.”

On July 4, 1776, Jacob Duché met with his Vestry to make a momentous decision. Just two days after the Continental Congress voted to “dissolve the connection” with Great Britain in what became known as the Declaration of Independence, the decision at hand was whether or not to pray for the royal family in the upcoming Sunday service. In the politically charged world of Philadelphia, the act of excluding prayers for King George was fraught with partisan labeling: are you a loyalist Tory or a rebel? The vestry decided “for the peace and well-being of the churches, to omit the said petitions.” To this day, you can visit Christ Church and see the 1776 Prayer Book where the prayer has an ink line literally crossing out those prayers for the King. [4]

[1] Ferling, John. (2003). A Leap in the Dark. Oxford University Press. p. 112

[2] http://chaplain.house.gov/archive/continental.html

[3] John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife, letter of September 16, 1774; Charles Francis Adams, Editor, Charles C. Little & James Brown 1841

[4] Why Remembering Matters sermon, The Rev. Walter Smedley, IV, The Church of the Holy Cross, Dunn Loring, Virginia, Sunday, July 2, 2006

End Note: The painting is “The First Prayer in Congress” by T.H. Matteson and was completed 74 years after the Congress was held, in the year 1848. It does not picture all of the 56 delegates (36 are in the painting) and the backdrop of the room was as it was in Carpenter Hall (next to Independence Hall) in the year 1848, not in 1774.

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:

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.

Pledge of Allegiance Recognized by Congress

December 28th, 2009

Did you know there have been five official versions of the United States Pledge Allegiance since its inception in 1892? Each progressive version had changes made in the language. The original 1892 version read as follows; “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” The first immediate change was adding the word ‘to’ “the republic…” followed in 1923 by adding ‘the’ to the word flag followed by ‘of the United States’. One year later ‘of America’ was added and in 1954 ‘under God’ was added.

The current Pledge of Allegiance now reads; “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The story of how “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance supports the recognition that United States is a Christian nation. Legal battles to remove these words have failed.

“Under God” was officially incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance June 14, 1954 by a Joint Resolution of Congress amending § 7 of the Flag Code enacted in 1942. The man to first initiate the addition of “under God” to the Pledge was Louis A. Bowman (1872-1959). The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution gave him an Award of Merit as the originator of this idea. He spent his adult life in the Chicago area and was Chaplain of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. At a meeting on February 12, 1948, Lincoln’s Birthday, he led the Society in swearing the Pledge with two words added, “under God.” He stated that the words came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. From that point there were other efforts made by groups and individuals to have the words “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

It was a Presbyterian minister who made the difference in 1954 by preaching a sermon about Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The minister was George MacPherson Docherty, a native of Scotland who was called to succeed Peter Marshall as pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church near the White House. As Lincoln Sunday (February 7, 1954) approached, Rev. Docherty knew not only that President Dwight Eisenhower was to be in attendance, but that it was more than just an annual ritual for him. Eisenhower had been baptized a Presbyterian just a year earlier. Docherty’s sermon focused on the Gettysburg Address, drawing its title from the address, “A New Birth of Freedom.”

According to Docherty, what has made the United States both unique and strong was her sense of being the nation that Lincoln described: a nation “under God.” Docherty took the opportunity to tell a story of a conversation with his children about the Pledge of Allegiance. Docherty was troubled by the fact that it did not include any reference to God. Without such reference, Docherty insisted that the Pledge could apply to just about any nation. He felt that the pledge should reflect the American spirit and way of life as defined by Lincoln.

After the service concluded, Docherty had opportunity to converse with Eisenhower about the substance of the sermon. The President expressed his enthusiastic concurrence with Docherty’s view, and the very next day, Eisenhower had the wheels turning in Congress to incorporate Docherty’s suggestion into law. Senator Homer Ferguson, in his report to the Congress on March 10, 1954, said, “The introduction of this joint resolution was suggested to me by a sermon given recently by the Rev. George M. Docherty, of Washington, D.C., who is pastor of the church at which Lincoln worshipped.” This time Congress concurred with the Oakman-Ferguson resolution, and Eisenhower opted to sign the bill into law on Flag Day (June 14, 1954).

Sources: Today in History at Answers.com, Pledge of Allegiance December 28, 2009; United States Encyclopedia; Wikipedia