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From the President's Desk

As We Celebrate Christ's Birth, We Must Never Forget that America Is a Christian Nation

Table of Contents 

The Meaning of Separation Of Church And State 
A Nation Of Laws Rooted In Christian Faith

Legal Records Confirm America Is A Christian Nation
Education And Religion
 
America — An Enigma
If America Is To Survive As A Great Nation It Must Preserve Its Christian Heritage
 
Works Cited

Annually, my wife and I try to make a visit to the Grand Illumination at Colonial Williamsburg as part of our celebration of remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The Grand Illumination is an adaptation of a common practice during the eighteenth century.  By firing guns and lighting fireworks, ordinary citizens celebrated extraordinary events such as the birthday of the monarch, the arrival of a new colonial governor, or major military victories.  The use of candles in the cupolas of public buildings and the windows of gentlemen’s house were included in accounts written chronicling illuminations prior to the American Revolution. 

The modern tradition started in 1935 in Colonial Williamsburg to signal the start of the holiday season that includes eighteenth century fireworks displays and a variety of traditional holiday entertainment.   For example, singers and musicians performed popular music of the eighteenth century, and the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums provided music appropriate to the season.  Also, entertainment found in Williamsburg two hundred yeas ago was provided by costumed performers.  And Christmas carols were sung by church choirs. 

As my wife and I walked the streets of the colonial village, we were joined by more than 35,000 people on that cold evening moving about by the light of lit torches lining the streets.   Each torch was shaped in the form of a wire basket attached to a metal pole.  The baskets contained wood that emitted at times tiny red hot ashes and smoke.  The crisp air smelled with the scent of burning wood and hot cider as the sounds of choirs, fifes, and drums echoed throughout the village.   Four outdoor stages were located at various locations throughout the streets.  One of the stages that we stopped at was located near the Governor’s Palace.  Performers sang songs that praised the Lord and included lyrics such as Jesus Christ our Savior, the birth of the King of Kings,  Christ the Savior who saved us from Satan’s powers, Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day and the Son of God .  Also, fifes and drums performed such songs as “Silent Night,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem.”  As we enjoyed the entertainment, I commented to my wife how openly religious the early colonists were in their expressions of Christian faith.    

As I savored this thought, I said to myself, “What has happened to America, that more than two centuries later those who wish to express and celebrate their Christian faith are now punished and censored?”  In an effort by schools officials to accommodate different cultures and not offend non-Christians an increasing number of public schools nationwide are becoming no-Christmas zones this year.  For example, a school in Sacramento County, California banned teachers from using the word Christmas.  Also, a Queens family had to sue the City of New York for discriminating against Christians with its public school holiday display policy that allows other religions’ symbols but bans Nativity scenes.  Many schools throughout the nation will promote Halloween, a paganistic and Satanic tradition, but will no longer allow students to talk about the birth of Jesus or read Christmas stories.  Once again the many Christians in a Christian nation must be discriminated against because in the eye of these individuals it is all right to offend Christians with Halloween, but you dare not offend a non-Christian with remembering the birth of Jesus Christ. Students are allowed to wear Satanic symbols, but Bibles are banned. 

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The Meaning of Separation Of Church And State 

One of the unique freedoms that has always separated America from other countries around the world is the freedom of religion.  Total separation of church and state is not the meaning of the First Amendment.  If one reads the Constitution, the terms “separation,” “church,” and “state” will not be found.  Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase “wall of separation,” but it is not found in the First Amendment although it is often used by the court when hearing and deliberating cases involving such matters.  Jefferson’s “wall of separation” statement was used thirteen years after the passage of the First Amendment and eleven years after its ratification in an address to the Danbury Baptists in 1802. 

In fact the very day after Congress passed the First Amendment, Congress called upon the President to declare a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, thus neutralizing proponents of the total separation of religion from government myth. 

The meaning of the words of the First Amendment was asked of James Madison as he offered it to Congress in original form in 1789. His reply was that he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience.   

It is quite clear that the Founding Fathers had no intention of separating religion from government although they wanted to protect individual freedom of conscience.  This fact is easily deduced from the frequent references to God and Christianity in the Continental Congress as well as the quote previously mentioned by James Madison.  Furthermore, the authors of the First Amendment had no intention of separating religion or religious thinking from public life or public thought. 

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A Nation Of Laws Rooted In Christian Faith 

In its simplest form, law is a dictation of what is right and wrong.  Hence, it must be predicated upon a source of true law.  That source was unmistakably and indisputably the God of the Holy Scriptures in America’s first century as a nation. 

The validity of the legal system itself depends on the validity of religious faith, and more particularly of the Protestant Christian faith that predominated the new American Republic.  This was the belief of the authors of the Constitution, even among those who were very skeptical of the truth of traditional theistic religion.  The French historian Alexis de Tocoqueville validated this truth in his famous work Democracy in America that detailed through observation what made America so distinctive and great among the nations of the world.  In 1835 de Tocqueville wrote, “There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains greater influence over the goals of men than in America.” 

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Legal Records Confirm America Is A Christian Nation 

Many legal records also confirm that America is a Christian nation.  One such example is the Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, in 1892, in which the Court stated: 

            This is a religious people.  This is historically true.  From the discover of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation…these are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people…these and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.  

It was the “organic utterance” described by the court that proved this was a Christian nation.  In a legal sense, “belonging to the fundament or Constitutional law,” is the meaning of the word.  And both historical information and previous legal rulings based on such historical information can make up what is organic.  Therefore, the base on which laws are built and are part of the law is organic utterances.  Judges term them the “common law.”  The “mass of organic utterances” provided “a volume of unofficial declarations,” noted the court.  As a result, “this is a Christian nation” was their official conclusion. 

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Education And Religion 

The Founding Fathers of this nation believed that education and religion were synonymous.  That is why they wrote in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787: “Religion, morality and knowledge-being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education-shall forever be encouraged.”  

And, although no act of Congress has ever repealed this 1787 “forever” law, some individuals in twenty-first century America have reinterpreted the meaning of religion’s placement in society.  This battle against God and the Bible in public schools and other public places has resulted in two detrimental casualties in America-righteous government and freedom of religion in education. 

The opening sentence of the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  In recent years, this guarantee has been widely, almost willfully, misunderstood.  It has been from the Constitution that the federal government is forbidden to control or subsidize even indirectly the practice of religion.  The Founding Fathers would have been astonished and angered by their actions.  The First Amendment guarantees that Congress may not set up a state religion like that of the Church of England.  It also guarantees that Congress may not interfere with the practice of any religion.  Thus, recent interpretations of the First Amendment run directly contrary to the plain and obvious meaning of this guarantee.  And, it is a flagrant breach of the Constitution for a court to forbid individuals to hold prayers in government buildings and public schools. 

The Founding Fathers were not afraid of religion.  They welcomed it into their private and public lives.  On September 24, 1789, the House of Representatives passed the First Amendment which guaranteed, among other freedoms, the freedom of religion.  And, by a two-to-one majority, a resolution calling for a day of national prayers and thanksgiving was passed the next day by Congress. 

Religion’s role in the establishment of this nation can also be seen in many state constitutions.  “Provided he do not disturb the public peace of others in their religious worship…” all states guaranteed freedom of religion to everyone.  In the North Carolina Constitution, their understanding of “establishment of religion” is most clearly stated: 

            “That there shall be no establishment of any one religious church or denomination in this state, in preference to any other.” 

In addition, state governments were highly in favor of moral and righteous leaders.  A religious test for holding office in state government was found in most of the state constitutions.  A belief in a “Supreme Being” was required in Rhode Island and acknowledgment of “Almighty God” was required in Pennsylvania.  In addition, all but atheists were allowed to hold public office in these two states.  Required adherence to the Christian religion was also required in other states that had religious tests.  Only Protestant Christians were allowed to hold public office in New Hampshire, New Jersey and North Carolina. 

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America — An Enigma 

America’s success was certainly an enigma to other countries lacking the freedoms enjoyed by early settlers.  The French government commissioned Alexis de Tocqueville to journey through America to discover what it was about the American experiment that made it such a conspicuous success almost 40 years after the French Revolution when France was still troubled by the Reign of Terror.  Both America and France had gone through bloody revolutions.  However, Americans, unlike the French, had come out basically loyal, law-abiding citizens, remarkably tranquil, charitable and respectful.  De Tocqueville told his countrymen in his book, Democracy in America, that it was faith in God that made the American experiment a success. 

The Founding Fathers understood the value of the Christian principles which helped to establish America.  They also realized  that these principles must be taught to younger generations in order to maintain the stability of the early American government.  So that the people would be well-informed and morally upright, it was established that children should be educated in the Christian religion, morality, and common knowledge.  Then, as people were subservient to God, they would create a government subservient to the people-a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. 

An example of this type of education can be found in the action of the state of Nebraska when they were admitted into the union in 1875.  Within their state constitution, they included Article III of the Northwest Ordinance. 

            Religion, morality and knowledge, however being essential to good government, shall be the duty of the legislature to pass suitable laws…to encourage schools and the means of instruction. 

In America, leading up to and into the twentieth century, it was common understanding that: 

  • Essential to good government were morality and knowledge;
  • Linked to religion were both morality and knowledge;
  • And the responsibility of the school system were religion, morality, and knowledge.

In America’s public schools or any other public place as late as the 1940’s, there were no federal government restraints on prayer, God, and the Bible.  Unfortunately, in recent decades, America’s traditional support of religion, morality and knowledge has been questioned and discouraged by new ideas of humanism and the existence of God.  

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If America Is To Survive As A Great Nation It Must Preserve Its Christian Heritage 

Our Founding Fathers wisely realized that maintaining a free society requires politically educated people to understand the workings of free government that are based upon a foundation of Christian morality.  Many Americans were astute in all areas of knowledge, especially political theory, at the time America became an independent nation.  Furthermore, according to Harvard Professor Harold Berman, American law was rooted in Christian principles.  If you asked Americans whether the United States (U.S) was a Christian nation more than fifty years ago, yes would have been the answer of the overwhelming majority. If one would take this question just a step further at the same time, the overwhelming majority would have said that the Ten Commandments, the Bible, or maybe the Church was where our system of law came from and upon what it was ultimately based.  Yet for more than 50 years, the Christian morality and ideals that have made this nation great have been under assault and are daily being eliminated from our society.  Oblivious to the wishes of the American people is the agenda of the media, educators, university and law school professors and big government.  In our society these people are convinced that their major purpose in life is to discredit the past and to redesign the future according to their own idealistic beliefs as America tradition and standards in their minds no longer apply.  From their viewpoint, those who believe and treasure “traditional values” must be silenced and that the real problem in American society today is Christians and conservatives. 

As Christian values are increasingly eliminated from the public arena, we have observed a degradation of  America’s young and a general loss of respect for America’s traditions.  The “enlightened thinkers” of our time argue that fundamental change of our society is required.  But the change that they have promoted over time has caused our art, music, theater and television to become increasingly vulgar.  They promote the concept that we as a society must listen to the young and must give them a voice in society because they are the future.  Unfortunately, many young people under this philosophy have grown up to be uneducated, undisciplined and lacking a respect for life because they have lacked traditional moral guidelines.  Tragically, they have grown into adults that are doing everything they can to destroy America’s heritage and have a hatred for what has made America the great nation it is.  As they continue to erode America’s Christian heritage and introduce their system of false beliefs into our society, America as a whole continues to be weakened.   

If one compares America prior to this assault on our Christian heritage to now, one sees a nation that is quite different.  The music of our young has become brutal, wild, coarse and vulgar.  Similarly, popular entertainment has become increasingly vulgar, sexually explicit, and violent.  If one just compares the entertainment on TV Land that has programming predominantly from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s with modern programming found on stations such as Cinemax and HBO, one can see how entertainment has progressively declined over the decades.  Programs such as “Leave It to Beaver,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Father Knows Best,” and “The Brady Bunch” that are featured on TV Land promoted family values and morality.  Critics laughed at the Brady Bunch when it premiered and said it did not represent a typical American family of the day.  Yet children across America flocked to watch the weekly series.  In the 80’s, Dr. William Crosby Jr., presented quality family entertainment with his weekly television show “The Cosby Show.”  Many children eagerly watched this program because they pretended and wished that their parents could be like the parents in the television program — happily married, successful loving parents that cared for their children and loved them unconditionally.   Today, critics rave about the HBO series “The Soprano’s” which promotes violence, vulgarity, death and amoral behavior. Also, E! Entertainment Television broadcasts the vulgar, dysfunctional and amoral “Anna Nicole Show” which is a highly rated program on cable television.  And another popular cable television program on MTV is “The Osbournes” which spotlights the dysfunctional daily family life of Ozzy Osbourne.  (Surprisingly, former Vice President Dan Quayle had positive comments about the program.)   Tragically, as Christian values and principles have been eliminated from television programming and traditional, idealistic behavior has been replaced with the enlightenists’ new idealistic behavior, our society as a whole has been degraded and conditioned to accept vulgarity, violence, perversion, amorality, and dysfunctional families as normal.      

Many lives today are dominated by drug use, promiscuity, drunkenness, homosexuality, drunkenness, and other types of self–indulgences.  Riotous excesses and decadence continue to spring up across America as it loses its moral and social restraint.  An example of this was just observed across America a few weeks ago when college football teams won important games, and students started riots in celebration of the victories.  Common in our society today is the desertion of both children and spouses, violence against husbands, wives, and children, abortion and the promotion of euthanasia. 

America is currently on the road to imminent collapse as it faces challenges like it has never faced before in history.   External terrorists and internal activists and reformers are trying to dismantle America’s Christian heritage.  It is time for Christians across America to pray, look to God for guidance and take a stand to change this trend that has caused our nation to decline.  Christians must continue to remind America that this nation was founded and rooted in Christian principles.  For too long these enlighten thinkers have been redirecting the course of our society, and now it is time for it to stop.  The time has come for Christians to become even more active than they were in the political and legal processes to stop the assault to remove our Christian heritage from society.  It is because of these principles that Americans possess the freedoms they do. The strength of America is represented in these beliefs and religious convictions. In his History of the United States, first published in 1832, the great American educator Noah Webster said, “Almost all civil liberty now enjoyed in the world owes its origin to the principles of the Christian religion.”  Webster explained that the political freedom that religion brings is not the result of any denominational establishment, not ecclesiastical dogma, and not a formal exercise.  He states: 

            No; the religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and his apostles which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights.  This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government….It is the real source of all genuine republican principle. 

Nations that have tried to establish popular systems of government have failed throughout history.  The reason for this is that the people did not embrace a Biblical moral code.  A classic example of this is France at the end of the eighteenth century, the era of the French Revolution.   The French democracy turned into mob rule because the nation suppressed Biblical Christianity.  And too many men exercised their own rights at the expense of others as may Frenchmen were concerned about the “rights of man.”     Furthermore, according to a new report by the human rights group Freedom House, more than 50 percent of the nations governed by authoritarian rulers have Muslim majorities.  The liberty that Americans enjoy today will continue to turn into license as America’s spiritual condition declines.  By preserving the moral values upon which this republic was founded is the only way to keep it.  This is best expressed by America’s famed orator Daniel Webster: 

            If we abide by the Bible our country will go on prospering and to prosper, but if we or our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury our glory in profound obscurity! 

It is because of our Founding Fathers’ belief in Biblical Christianity that religions of all beliefs can co-exist together and practice their faith peacefully in the U.S. However, the same cannot be said for other nations of the world.  For example, to name just a few, Christians have been persecuted or murdered in Sudan, China, Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia.   

This nation became the leader of the free world because of its Christian faith.  And if it is to once again hold morality and righteousness above all, it must once again embolden its Christian faith.  According to a poll of forty-four nations released on December 19, 2002, the U.S. is the most religious of the world’s wealthy nations.  The survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project said, “Wealthier nations tend to place less importance on religion with the U.S. as the exception.”  The U.S. public is about twice as religious as Canadians and far more inclined to faith than people in Western Europe or Japan as six in ten Americans say religion plays a “very important” role in their lives.  If religion is so important to so many Americans, it is time to stand up and stop the assault on our Christian heritage.  When parents become aware of a school discriminating against their child’s constitutional guaranteed right to profess their Christian faith, they should call the school and complain.  If the discrimination does not stop, it might be necessary to bring a lawsuit against the individuals that are denying this right.  Furthermore, make others aware of this discrimination by complaining to the school board and writing editorial letters to the local newspaper.  Also, try calling your local talk radio shows and start a dialogue on how Christians are being discriminated in public forums.  Christians display respect for people of other faiths, yet it is not reciprocated to them in public forums.  If we do not stand united as Christians and stop this assault on America’s Christian heritage, these principles that we live by will soon be eliminated from our society totally.   

So often many nonchalantly say, “God Bless America.”  But how can God bless America when it continues to turn its back on Him.  The Founding Fathers made a convent with God when they developed a governmental system that has as its foundation Christian principles.  As a result, God blessed America.  To once again regain God’s blessing upon this nation, we must turn away from our immorality and unrighteousness and embrace the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  As we spend this holiday season remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with our family and friends, we should take some time to reflect on the past and ask ourselves, “Was America a better nation when it openly promoted Christian principles throughout its society?”  With history as our guide, the answer is simply yes.

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Works Cited:          

Barton, David.  The Myth of Separation.  Wallbuilder Press, 1992. 

Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S.; 143 U.S. 457, 465, 470-471 (1892) 

Eidsmore, John.  God and Caesar – Christian Faith and Political Action.  Crossway Books, a Division of Good News Publishers, 1994. 

Henderson, Kristina. “Family Sues Schools over Nativity Ban,” The Washington Times, December 12, 2002. 

Hicks, Laurel, Thompson, George T., Lowman, Michael R., Cochran, George C.  American Government and Economics in Christian Perspective.  Pensacola, FL:  A Beka Book Publications, 1984. 

Kovacs, Joe. “School Bans Saying ‘Christmas.’ Veteran Teacher Dumbfounded by Order Precluding Mention of Holiday.”  WorldNetDaily.com, December 13, 2002. 

Lowman, Michael R., Hicks, Laurel, Thompson, George T.  United States History in Christian Perspectives:  Heritages of  Freedom.  Pensacola, FL:, A Beka Book  Publications, 1983. 

Malbin, Michael J., “Religion and Politics: The Intention of the Authors of the First Amendment” Washington, D.C.:  American Enterprise Institute, 1978, p.8. 

Sorokin, Ellen and Honowar, Vaishali. “Christmas Fails PC Test in More Public Schools,” The Washington Times, December 20, 2002. 

The Liberaters with Al McCann, We Hold These Truths, Liberty Books, 1998. 

Titus, Herbert W.  God, Man, and Law:  The Biblical Principles.  Institute in Basic Life Principles, 1994. 

Witham, Larry.  “U.S. Religiousness Tops among World’s Industrial Nations,” The Washington Times, December 20, 2002.

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