Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Affirming America's Spiritual Heritage - II



“These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.” — G. K. Chesterton [1]

This quotation is exemplified by Barack Obama (assuming he is a Christian), who said the U.S. no longer considers itself a Christian nation.

Since its founding, the United States has always had people of various or no religious affiliation, but the nation as a whole has considered itself Christian. This does not mean that people aren’t free to practice whatever beliefs they wish or that they are forced to observe Christian teachings. On the other hand, our laws and founding documents have been written with Biblical principles in mind.

When Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) introduced his spiritual heritage resolution, he drew criticism, as evidenced by comments in a Virginia newspaper web site suggesting that he is trying to force his religion on everyone and is a dangerous man who ought to keep silent, or at least be attacked. Any mention of God or Christ or Christian faith in the halls of government is an act of courage these days, it seems.

An article by David Barton at WallBuilders.com shows that Presidents Adams, Wilson, Hoover, Truman, Nixon and others referred to America as a Christian nation. Thomas Jefferson helped establish and attended weekly Sunday worship services in the U.S. Capitol. Chief Justice Earl Warren, hardly a right-wing conservative, said (as Attorney General of California), “I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.”[2]

The organized and busy effort to drive religion out of the public square has sprung up in America mainly in the last half century. Some of its attention-getting efforts have focused on nativity displays, school prayer cases, and displays of the Ten Commandments. All these items have come under fire, yet they represent no threat to anyone’s freedom and have traditionally been around with little or no complaint. David Barton, quoted by Gary DeMar, wrote, “In fact, the Ten Commandments are more easily found in America’s government buildings than in her religious buildings, thus demonstrating the understanding by generations of Americans from coast to coast that the Ten Commandments formed the basis of America’s civil laws.”[3]

Space does not permit the listing of many other examples showing that Christianity is a vital part of the fabric of our nation. Christian and Biblical references abound in our official documents. Historical revisionists try to show that religion played no more than a minor role in our nation’s founding, and that the founders were not as Christian as we might think. The facts do not support this. True, not all were orthodox Christians. They represented various denominations. But almost all recognized the value of faith and Biblical morality. And they recognized the value of religious liberty.

In his introduction to his film The Ten Commandments (1956), seen on video and DVD editions, Cecil B. DeMille stated, “The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God’s laws or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the State or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today.”[4]

Notes:
[1] The Illustrated London News 08/11/1928, quoted at http://chesterton.org/acs/quotes.htm
[2] David Barton, “Is President Obama Correct: Is America No Longer a Christian Nation?,” April 2009, at http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=23909.
[3]Gary DeMar, America's Christian Heritage, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003, page 74.
[4]Ibid., page 69.

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