Speak the Truth … For the Sake of America

As published in Front Line, Vol. XL, No. 1, April 2019

Speaking the truth about the progressives’ efforts to remake America into a totalitarian god-less state, where men decide what truth means and become the enforcers of it, is necessary in order to awaken America. Yet so far, Americans seem clueless as to how to do that.

Does it make a difference what underlies progressive thought? Christian and Jewish thought? Does it make a difference if public schools and libraries subject small children to drag queen-story hour, or if media and tech companies censor information on the Web? What does the progressive plan mean to YOUR future freedoms, your natural rights, and your ability to live your life your own way? What hopeful ideas MUST we start speaking out about? How will traditional America survive?

Flag, gavel, Const, iStock-579149532Secularization vs. Judaism/Christianity

Following is a summary of the findings that The Acton Institute discovered in a new book by Tim Carney “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse.”

“The ‘American Dream’ is fading away in much of the country, and the problem isn’t pure economics, nor is it a case of stubborn old white men falling behind because they refuse to embrace progress. Tim argues that the root cause of our problems – crumbling families, despair, and political dysfunction – is the erosion of community and local, civil institutions, most especially church. The result of a secularizing country is a plague of alienation for the working class, as people struggle to build families and improve their lives without the support structure they need.”1

Christian vs. Humanistic Worldview

Another author and past Educational Policy Conference speaker, Stephen McDowell2, asks this:

“Can anyone truly think that it is wrong to not murder or [not] steal or [not] bear false witness? Are there many who think families can be secure if they promote adultery as acceptable behavior? Does anyone want to be part of a family that does not believe in honoring the parents? Is it wrong to encourage the worship of God?

“Why then has such an assault developed in recent years against these principles? At the root of the conflict is a war of worldviews, between one that is Christian and one that is humanistic.

“To understand this war, we must first understand that every nation is built upon some set of presuppositions, some basic ideas of right and wrong, which is ultimately rooted in the religion of the people. The laws of a society will reflect these foundational principles.

“On one side of the war is a humanistic worldview. With this religion (and all worldviews are religious), there are no absolutes. Right and wrong are based upon what a majority says or what a minority in power says, hence, law is evolving. Law is whatever the people or courts or legislators say it is. This view began to be taught in various law schools and colleges around the turn of the 20th century, with the state secondary schools following in succeeding decades. Over time, this evolutionary view of law began to impact the courts’ actions. Judges began to see our law as evolving. In the words of Charles Evans Hughes, Supreme Court Chief Justice from 1930 to 1941: ‘We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is’.”3

Bible iStock-172780548Bible Forbidden in America

Demonstrating that the humanistic/progressive worldview is being put into law by the U.S. House of Representatives who are pushing something called the Equality Act, Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, warned that the Equality Act is not about equality:

“ ‘This bill eviscerate[s] religious freedom and targets churches with an LGBT wrecking ball,’ he said.

“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips when he refused to endorse same-sex marriage through his business. And religious rights specifically were protected in the Supreme Court ruling that created same-sex marriage.

“But the House bill, Liberty Counsel said, ‘specifically forbids raising religious free exercise as a claim or defense to the LGBT agenda’.

“This bill amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by striking the word ‘sex,’ and inserting ‘sex, sexual orientation, gender identity’ as protected classes throughout the federal code. This amendment applies to employment, housing, rental, public accommodation and more.

“Therefore, church leader-ship and nonprofit faith-based organizations and schools would be forced to hire gender-confused individuals and allow men access to female (or vice versa) restrooms, showers, locker rooms, dressing rooms, shelters, dormitories and sports. This legislation would also create many more victims – like women in shelters who have been sexually assaulted by a man posing as a ‘transgender’ to gain access to the facility,” the group warned.

“Churches that allow weddings would have to provide their facilities to homosexuals. It would impact churches’ tax exemption as well as college accreditation. Christian schools would be targets.”4

Stopping the Hemorrhaging of Freedom

How does America stop the destruction of all freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Bill of Rights? … WE SPEAK OUT!

Professor Rod Gragg laid out the truth of America’s foundations when he spoke at the Educational Policy Conference 30 in January 2019. This is what we must start telling others about how the Bible influenced America’s founding:

The Bedrock of American Culture, Law and Government

George Washington held up his right hand, and placed his left hand on an open Bible. Then he took the oath of office as the first president of the United States. It was Thursday, April 30, 1789, and Washington stood attired in a rust-colored suit, surrounded by a handful of dignitaries, on the second-floor balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, which was then the Capitol of the United States. He repeated the oath of office with characteristic Washington dignity, and when finished – in a precedent that would be followed by all presidents to come so far – he deliberately added the phrase, “So help me God.”

And what did he do next?

What was the first action of the first president of the United States of America? With his oath officially affirmed, President George Washington leaned forward and reverently kissed the open Bible. Such was the reverence and respect for the Bible as the Word of God in America’s Early National Period, and in the Colonial Era that preceded it. And for good reason. The English colonization of what would become the United States of America had begun in the wake of a great revival of Christianity called the English Reformation. The English people received the Bible in their own language for the first time, which infused the nation afresh with biblical truth. And in that narrow window of time, English colonists began spilling into America bringing their core values with them. And those core values were the values of the Judeo-Christian worldview. The biblical worldview.

The Chief Foundation Stone

Colonial Americans were diverse in their faith: Puritan Congregationalists in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut; Baptists in Rhode Island; Dutch Reformed in New York; Quakers in Pennsylvania; Presbyterians in New Jersey; Lutherans in Delaware; Catholics in Maryland; and Anglican in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia, with Huguenots sprinkled throughout, and Jewish communities located in New York, Philadelphia and Charleston. It was a diverse mix, but Colonial Americans were overwhelmingly people of the Book.

Postage Stamp iStock-140774851The Bible was the chief foundation stone – the bedrock – of American culture, law and government in the Colonial Era. The renowned 20th century historian Merle Curti so observed: “Whatever differences in ways of life and whatever conflicts of interest separated the country gentry and great merchants from the frontiersmen, poor farmers, artisans and small shopkeepers, all at least nominally subscribed Christian tenets, and at least in theory, accepted Christianity as their guide.” Acclaimed Colonial scholar Patricia Bonomi agrees: Throughout Colonial America, she writes in her epic work Under the Cope of Heaven, “the idiom of religion penetrated all discourse, underlay all thought, marked all observances, and gave meaning to every public and private event and issue.” From the beginning, America was forged in faith – and that faith was the Judeo-Christian world view.

Even in 1607, at rowdy hardscrabble Jamestown, where few colonists claimed to be devout, the Bible was the foundation. The colony’s charter declared Jamestown’s mission in part to be the “propogating of the Christian Religion.” The colonists there were accompanied by a chaplain, erected a cross at their landfall on Cape Henry, were called to pray twice daily, and were expected to attend two worship services a day and take regular communion. When they fumbled their way to starvation and near-destruction, they were saved by Captain John Smith’s application of the New Testament admonition: “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” And when they established America’s first legislative assembly in 1619, they did so inside a church and opened proceedings with prayer.

In 1620, Plymouth Colony was established on the coast of modern Massachusetts by the people who would become known as the Pilgrims. Even before going ashore, they drafted the Mayflower Compact, based on what would become Americans twin foundational pillars – freedom and faith. Ten years later in 1630, English Puritans began arriving at their newly established Massachusetts Bay Colony in such huge numbers that their exodus from England to America became known as the Great Migration.  Massachusetts Bay Colony was also founded and flourished on a bedrock of biblical values.

Biblical Values of the Colonists

The Puritans believed illiteracy was almost sinful, because it prevented one from reading Scripture. Almost as quickly as they built homes and churches, they built schools, and then colleges, beginning with Harvard University in 1636. Not surprisingly, the first book printed in British North America was the work of Puritans. It was the Bay Psalm Book, and it was published in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1640. Twenty-one years later in 1661, the same printing press was used to print the first copy of the New Testament published in North America, but it was not in English. Instead it was in a Native America dialect – the Wopanaak-Algonquin language. The translator and publisher was John Eliot, a Puritan teaching elder and linguist who had worked on the Bay Psalm Book. Eliot had a heart for the Native American people, and he laboriously translated the Scriptures into a phoneticized version of the Wopanaak-Algonquin language, assisted by his wife and a team of Native American interpreters and linguists.

Bible on Desk iStock-466364702Founding Documents of Colonies Bible-Based

American families in the Colonial Era generally viewed the family Bible as a cherished possession. Bibles were often passed from one generation to another by a last will and testament. Even if a family owned no other book, according to Colonial Era probate records, it often owned a Bible, which was generally considered to be essential in every home. That God-centered, Bible-based focus was officially evident in the founding documents of all thirteen original American colonies.

  • The Puritans established Massachusetts Bay Colony for the official purpose of spreading the “knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Savior of mankind, and the Christian faith.”
  • Connecticut’s Fundamental Orders officially called for “an orderly and decent Government established according to God” and which would “maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus …”
  • In New Hampshire, the Agreement of the Settlers at Exeter vowed to establish a government “in the name of Christ” that would be “agreeable to the Will of God.”
  • Rhode Island’s colonial charter invoked the “blessing of God” for “a sure foundation of happiness to all America.”
  • New York’s Duke of York’s Laws prohibited denial of “the true God and his Attributes.”
  • New Jersey’s founding charter vowed that “Forasmuch as it has pleased God, to bring us into this Province … we may be a people to the praise and honor of his name.”
  • Delaware’s original charter officially acknowledged, “One Almighty God, the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World.”
  • Pennsylvania’s charter officially cited a “Love of Civil Society and Christian Religion” as motivation for the colony’s founding.
  • Maryland’s charter declared an official goal of “extending the Christian Religion.”
  • Virginia’s first charter commissioned colonization as “so noble a work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the… propagating of Christian Religion.”
  • The charter for the Colony of Carolina proclaimed “a laudable and pious zeal for the propagation of the Christian faith.”
  • Georgia’s charter also officially cited a commitment to the “propagating of Christian religion.”

Revival in the Colonies

At times some Colonial Americans appeared to forget the persecution they or their ancestors had suffered in the Old World, and repeated the same sins in the New World. But the New was not the Old. Most Americans were determined to do it better than Europe, and eventually, Colonial America became a haven for freedom of faith and conscience because religious liberty was seen as an expression of the biblical principles on which American law and government were founded.

And, in the early 18th century, when Colonial America’s foundational faith appeared to be fading under the influence of self-indulgent prosperity, an epic-size revival of Christianity suddenly swept across the Thirteen Colonies and reinforced America’s founding faith and values. It would become known as the Great Awakening. Throughout the Thirteen Colonies, people packed America’s churches and swarmed into the cities for giant outdoor preaching crusades that attracted unprecedented crowds of thousands. “It is wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants,” reported Benjamin Franklin, who was not a believer. “From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion,” he concluded, “it seemed as if all the world were growing religious.”

In New England alone, the Great Awakening produced more than 150 new churches with over 50,000 new church members. It launched a new wave of missionary activities to the Native American peoples, spurred renewed outreach to the poor, and kindled an influential movement to end slavery. It gave birth to a parade of new colleges – Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Rutgers, Dartmouth – all officially dedicated to teaching biblical truth. The local church became not just the spiritual and social center of the community – but the political center as well. And the most influential leaders in America were its pastors – so much so that they became known as the “black [robed] regiment.”

On the eve of the American Revolution, the Great Awakening united the Colonial American people with a common and newly-strengthened biblical worldview, a respect for what was known as the “Higher Law,” and a common understanding of the biblical principle that every person is of great and equal value to God,  whether a prince or a pauper, and is meant by God to possess God-given or inalienable rights such as life, liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness. Eventually, the American people, prompted by their pastors, came to believe that King and Parliament were attempting to place man’s law above God’s law, to usurp the authority of Higher Law, and to suppress God-given or inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is “a religious war,” one British official wrote to superiors in London, describing American resistance to British misrule. “Your Lordship can scarcely conceive,” he reported, “what Fury the Discourses of some mad Preachers have created in this Country.”

A government’s first responsibility, Colonial Americans generally believed, was to govern righteously according to the Word of God, for it was from God, not man that genuine liberty originated. “They looked up to Heaven as the source of their rights,” recalled David Ramsey, president pro tempore of the Continental Congress, “and claimed [those rights] not from the promises of kings, but from the parent of the Universe.” That’s why on the second day of the First Continental Congress, the delegates voted to open future sessions of Congress with prayer, and appointed a Congressional chaplain who, on his first day, September 7, 1774, opened the Continental Congress with prayer and a reading from Psalm 35: “Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me. … Let them be confounded and put to shame …” Massachusetts delegate John Adams said of the prayer and scripture-reading: “It has had an excellent Effect upon every Body here.”

Declaration of IndependenceWashington iStock-482328744

That biblical worldview, overwhelmingly held by common Americans and their leaders, is clearly reflected in our national mission statement: the Declaration of Independence. It is laced with the language of faith, from its preamble statement that “all men are created equal” to the closing vow by its signers: “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour.” And, according to the Declaration of Independence, the motivation for American independence was the British government’s violation of Americans’ God-given “unalienable rights” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” From the vantage point of old age, John Adams summarized the world view that motivated the signers of the Declaration of Independence: “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence,” he declared, “were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young gentlemen could unite: the general principles of Christianity.” The American people understood the intent of the Declaration of Independence, and countless Americans were willing to live and die for it. That’s why they marched off to war under flags bearing the battle cry: “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”

Throughout the American War for Independence, the Continental Congress consistently acted in accord with that biblical worldview. Repeatedly, year after year, the Congress proclaimed national days of “fasting, humiliation and prayer” and days of prayer and thanksgiving. The Articles of Confederation, the nation’s first constitution, which was crafted by the Continental Congress, acknowledged the supreme authority of “the Great Governor of the world,” and in 1778, the Congress further proclaimed that “true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness.”

Regularly, the entire Congress assembled in Philadelphia’s churches for official worship services – once attending three worship services in a single day – and adopted a final design for a national seal that featured the all-seeing eye of God atop a triangle accompanied by the Latin phrase “He [God] has approved our beginnings.” In 1782, the Congress officially endorsed the first English-language Bible published in the United States – the Robert Aitken Bible – which commonly became known as “the Congressional Bible.” And, at war’s end, the Congress officially urged Americans everywhere “to offer up our most fervent supplications to the God of all grace, that it may please Him to pardon our offences, and incline our hearts for the future to keep all his laws …”

That Higher Law to which Congress referred at war’s end was thus the bedrock foundation our nation’s founding documents: the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The Declaration of Independence was the mission statement – the source for the underlying world view for American rule of law – and on that faith-based mission statement is constructed the nation’s rule book: the U.S. Constitution. Twentieth-Century Jewish scholar Abraham Katsh summarized it well in his work, The Biblical Heritage of Democracy. Referring to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, he wrote: “There runs through these two prime instruments of American government the deeper meaning and higher purpose of a constant regard for principles and religious ideas based on a profound sympathy with the Scriptures …” And so, the historical evidence is extensive and conclusive: American culture, law and government were founded on the Judeo-Christian world view – the biblical world view.

Historian Rod Gragg is the author of Forged in Faith: How Faith Shaped the Birth of the Nation and By the Hand of Providence: How Faith Shaped the American Revolution and more. https://www.coastal.edu/militaryveterancenter/contact/ or

https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Rod-Gragg/48072644

(Endnotes)

1 Carney, Tim, “How secularization is killing middle America,” Acton Institute’s Acton Line, March 27, 2019, https://acton.org/audio/how-secularization-killing-middle-america?utm_campaign=Acton. (Accessed April 10, 2019.)

2 McDowell, Stephen, “America’s War of World Views,” Intercessors for America, March 31, 2019, https://www.ifapray.org/. (Accessed April 10, 2109.)

3 Charles Evans Hughes, speech at Elmira on May 3, 1907, The Autobiographical Notes of Charles Evans Hughes, David J. Danelski and Joseph S. Tulchin, editors, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973, p. 144.

4 Unruh, Bob, “James Dobson: Christians targeted by dark new bill,” WND, March 27, 2019, https://www.wnd.com. (Accessed April 10, 2019.)