America: A Great Godly Heritage
This 64th National Day of Prayer is a good time to reflect on our history as a Christian nation and whether we still deserve that name yet today. America: A Christian Nation?
Our earliest settlers in Jamestown planted a large cross at Cape Henry in 1607 and prayed that “ … from these very shores the Gospel shall go forth to not only this New World, but the entire world.” Yes, Christian!
Later arrivals like the Pilgrims and Puritans dreamed that this would become a “City on a Hill” like the one Jesus referred to in His Sermon on the Mount. Christian!
The Bible was their guide for developing laws and governments that reflected their church covenants and later served as models for federal and state constitutions. They also formed schools to teach the Bible to their children so they could avoid that “Great Deluder Satan”. Christian!
Their first textbook, The New England Primer, helped children learn their alphabet with Biblical couplets. For “A”, the rhyme was “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” For “B”, it was “Heaven to find, the Bible mind.” It also included prayers, the Apostles’ Creed, and a Catechism. Christian!
In addition, nearly all our first 123 colleges and universities began as Christian seminaries, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and William and Mary. In fact, Harvard’s mottos were “For the Glory of Christ” and “For Christ and the Church”. Christian!
Forty percent of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence had seminary degrees, and nearly all 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention were active church members. Christian!
As a result, it’s understandable that the Bible was the single most frequently quoted source in all the writings of the Founding Fathers – far more often than any other single source. Christian!
Therefore, after a thorough review of this history, it’s not surprising that the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in 1892 that “This is a Christian people … and this is a Christian nation.” Yes, Christian!
Betrayed: From God to Godless
Sadly, we have strayed far from those noble beginnings. From 1947 on, that same Court has issued rulings that are hostile to Christian expressions in our culture. Betrayed!
For example, under pressure from groups like the ACLU, the Court banned elective religious education classes in government schools (1948), voluntary prayer (1962), voluntary Bible reading (1963), and displays of the Ten Commandments (1980). Betrayed!
Those and other rulings have had serious consequences. For starters, 56 million unborn babies have been destroyed in the name of “choice” and only for our personal “convenience”. Betrayed!
Pornography has become “protected speech” and homosexuality is celebrated as a specially protected group while Christians are being bullied and even prosecuted for their beliefs. Betrayed!
None of this should surprise us.
As the father of a girl killed at the Columbine High School in Colorado 16 years ago told a Congressional committee, when we refuse to honor God, “we open the doors to hatred and violence.”
Pray and Grab a Hoe
Yes, we have betrayed the faith and the sacrifice of our forefathers. But is it too late for us to return to our Christian roots? Can God take care of this for us if we pray hard enough? Or might He be expecting something more?
As a nation, we have always called for divine guidance when faced with a crisis. In 1775, the first Continental Congress called for a National Day of Prayer to ask for wisdom in framing a nation.
In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln called for a national day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer.”
Finally, in 1952, facing a new Cold War, Congress established a National Day of Prayer as an annual event, and later designated the first Thursday in May for its permanent observance. We made “In God We Trust” our national motto, and added “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.
And again, in the many crises that we face today, we call on God to “Hear Our Cry” for America.
But could it be that, in response to our cry for help, we might hear the voice of God saying back to us: “I gave you a charge and I gave you instructions. I also gave you a head, hands, and feet. Use them.”
Might it be that our prayer should be, not for God to come down and fix everything for us, but rather more like the prayer of Nehemiah:
“Lord, prosper Thy servant in rebuilding the broken down walls of our Jerusalem. Amen.”
For God and Country,
Dean Welty serves on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Christian Alliance and is Director of the Valley Family Forum, a network of families in the Shenandoah Valley that helps build Faith, Family, and Freedom in the culture and in the public square. He also hosts a weekly television program entitled “Valley Faith in Action“.
Valley Faith in Action airs at 8:00 p.m. on Friday and at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on WAZT-TV, which is Comcast Cable Channel 13 in the Harrisonburg area. It will air again at Wednesday midnight. You can also access it and other recent programs by clicking HERE.