Every week in “America Acknowledges God” the
Foundation for Moral Law highlights examples
throughout the nation's history in which government
and its officials acknowledge God to be the
cornerstone of our laws, liberty, and government.
Congress inserted Under God in the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 in order to combat the rise of atheistic communism and reaffirm that "America was 'founded on a belief in God.'"
In God We Trust was first inscribed on U.S. coins in 1864 under President Lincoln, and in 1956 Congress made it the national motto of the United States.
Since at least the 1820's, the U.S. Supreme Court has opened its court sessions with the prayer of "God save the United States and this Honorable Court."
Since George Washington first added "so help me God" to his inaugural oath, every president since has likewise asked for God's assistance at his inauguration.
Since the Supreme Court's building was constructed in the 1930's, a marble frieze on the south wall of the courtroom has featured Moses with the two tablets of the Decalogue.
Since its first meeting in 1774, Congress has opened its sessions with prayer, usually given by its official chaplains in both houses.
When our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001, the members of Congress spontaneously sang "God Bless America" on the steps of the Capitol building.
Since 1775, with the introduction of the chaplaincy into the Army and Navy, every branch of the U.S. armed forces has provided chaplains to facilitate the worship of God in our military.
On October 3, 1789, one week after Congress approved the Bill of Rights, Pres. George Washingtonrecognized “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,” and therefore declared a national "day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
On October 3, 1789, recognizing “the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God,” Pres. Washington declared a national day of thanksgiving and prayer thanking God for His "many signal favors," including the Constitution.
Our first federal judiciary was established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, which required federal judges to end their oath of office with “So help me God.”
From 1795 until the 1860's, Christian church services were held on Sundays in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., attended by such presidents as Jefferson, Madison, John Quincy Adams, and Lincoln, and many other government officials. (At left, the Capitol in 1800.)
A statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments is featured in the rotunda of the Library of Congress.
The Ten Commandments are symbolized in the floor of the National Archives Building in Washington , D.C.
In front of the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. is a sculpted figure leaning on the Ten Commandments. An inscription reads, “Our liberty of worship is not a concession nor a privilege but an inherent right.”
Based on the Thanksgiving tradition started by the Pilgrims and recognized by other Presidents like George Washington, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November, 1863, as "a day of thanksgiving and prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens." All Presidents since then have annually called on the nation to thank God in the Thanksgiving season.
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. quotes excerpts from our third President's bill titled the Virginia Statute Establishing Religious Freedom, which passed the Virginia Legislature on January 16, 1786: "Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens . . . are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion."
Dixie County, Florida, recently installed at its county courthouse a black granite Ten Commandments monument with the phrase "Love God and Keep His Commandments" etched in the base, but without other "secular" documents surrounding it.
Since 1923, the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C. has been lit at Christmas-time to celebrate the birth of Christ, a story that, as President Bush noted this year, "has carried the message that God is with us and He offers His love to every man, woman, and child."
On public grounds throughout the country, the Nativity Scene is a popular and traditional reminder that the baby in the manger is the true reason for the Christmas season. Merry Christmas!
With a longhand version of dating rarely used today, the Constitution was signed on "the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven."
The famous Liberty Bell of Philadelphia is inscribed with the message of freedom found in Leviticus 25:10, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
In his famous 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, "A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. . . . [And, to] put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."
The Declaration of Independence holds as "self-evident" that "all men are created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
The aluminum capstone that crowns the Washington Monument is inscribed on the east face with "LAUS DEO," Latin for "Praise be to God."
The Preamble to the Alabama Constitution of 1901 declares that the people of Alabama ordained and established their Constitution and form of government "invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God."
In the founding era, the word "religion" as used in the First Amendment was defined in the 1776 (and current) Virginia Constitution, by James Madison in his Memorial and Remon-strance, and in other sources as: "the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it."
In his first Inaugural Address on April 30, 1789, George Washington repeatedly talked about God's blessings upon America, saying, "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States."
The Judiciary Act of 1789 and current law require Supreme Court justices and lower court judges to swear or affirm to "faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties" of office, "according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the constitution, and laws of the United States. So help me God."
Alaska Constitution Preamble: "We the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land, in order to secure and transmit to succeeding generations our heritage of political, civil, and religious liberty within the Union of States, do ordain and establish this constitution for the State of Alaska."
In 1776, the signers of the Declaration of Independence boldly proclaimed the United States free of Great Britain, "appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions."
On January, 14, 1639, delegates from towns in the colony signed the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut —the first ever written constitution that created a government—which proclaimed that “the word of God requires that to mayntayne the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God . . . .”
Last year our President, like many presidents before him, recognized the Easter season as a time "to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the triumph of love over death. This is a season of renewal, a time for giving thanks and praise and for remembering that hope overcomes despair."
In the U.S. Senate Chamber, an inscription over the south entrance reads "In God we Trust," and an inscription over the east doorway reads "Annuit coeptis" ("God has favored our undertakings").
In the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress, a statue representing Religion features this inscription: WHAT DOTH THE LORD REQUIRE OF THEE, BUT TO DO JUSTLY, AND TO LOVE MERCY, AND TO WALK HUMBLY WITH THY GOD? Holy Bible, Micah 6:8. Another statue representing Science has this inscription: "THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD; AND THE FIRMAMENT SHEWETH HIS HANDIWORK. Holy Bible, Psalms 19:1."
The Articles of Confederation, which initially governed the United States until the Constitution replaced it, referred to "the Great Governor of the World" and was signed "in the year of our Lord" 1778.
This week marks the 400th anniversary of the historic landing of the English settlers at Cape Henry, Virginia, where they erected a wooden cross and held a prayer service. Their first charter granted by King James I to settle Jamestown stated their reliance upon "the Providence of Almighty God" and their work in "propagating" the "Christian Religion" to the native people.
The first representative government in America, the House of Burgesses at Jamestown, first assembled in the church on July 30, 1619, where, as the secretary's notes state, "forasmuche as men's affaires doe little prosper where God's service is neglected, all the Burgesses tooke their place in the Quire till a prayer was said by Mr. Bucke, the Minister, that it would please God to guide and sanctifie all our proceedings, to His owne glory and the good of this plantation."
The baptism of one of Jamestown's first Christian converts, the Powhatan princess Pocahontas, is memorialized in a painting that has been displayed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building since 1840.
In 1892 in the Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States case, after listing example after example of official acknowledgments of God and Christianity in America, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that "this is a Christian nation."
The Treaty of Paris, made with Great Britain to end the Revolutionary War and signed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay on September 3, 1783, begins, "In the Name of the most Holy and undivided Trinity."
Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto 'In God Is Our Trust'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
"We, the People of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government; for our civil and religious liberty; and desiring to perpetuate its blessings, and secure the same to our selves and posterity; do ordain and establish this Constitution."
"We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution."
"The Declaration of Independence ... was a proclamation to the world ... that the United Colonies ... had bound themselves, before God, to a primitive social compact of union, freedom and independence." So said one-time President of the United States John Quincy Adams in an oration on July 4, 1831, commemorating the 55th anniversary of America's independence.
A picture of Jesus Christ is displayed in the City Court building of Slidell, Louisiana, with the words "To Know Peace, Obey These Laws" underneath.
On March 3, 1863, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution asking President Abraham Lincoln to designate a day "for national prayer and humiliation," stating that the Senate was "devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, and sincerely believing that no people . . . can prosper without His favor," and encouraged by "His word to seek Him for succor according to His appointed way, through Jesus Christ."
In response to a U.S. Senate resolution, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation designating April 30, 1863, as a day of "national humiliation, fasting and prayer," stating that "it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."
In March 1854, the U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee issued a report explaining why the chaplains and prayers in Congress were perfectly constitutional and, indeed, necessary: "If there be a God who hears prayer -- as we believe there is -- we submit, that there never was a deliberative body that so eminently needed the fervent prayers of righteous men as the Congress of the United States."
Benjamin Franklin called for daily prayers at the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787, reminding the delegates that their daily prayers "for Divine protection" during the Revolutionary War were heard and answered. "And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that 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?"
During the War of 1812, as British ships advanced on Lake Champlain in New York, Commodore Thomas MacDonough of the U.S. Navy gathered his officers and uttered this prayer before successfully defending the lake: "Stir up thy strength, O Lord, and come and help us; for thou givest not always the battle to the strong, but canst save by many or by few."
At an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas, on August 23, 1984, President Ronald Reagan warned the country that "without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."
The Preamble of the Colorado Constitution of 1876 states: "We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, in order to form a more independent and perfect government; establish justice; insure tranquillity; provide for the common defense; promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the 'State of Colorado.'"
Immediately after George Washington was sworn in as our first president and gave his inaugural address in New York City, he, Vice President John Adams, and the entire Congress proceeded to St. Paul's Chapel to hear a divine service performed by the chaplain of Congress. That same little chapel, located one block from Ground Zero, survived 9-11 and served for months as relief headquarters for victims and workers in the aftermath.
On September 17, 220 years ago, the Constitution was signed. James Madison, considered the Architect of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist No. 37, "It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution."
The language of the First Amendment was approved by Congress on September 25, 1789, only 4 months after George Washington summed up his ideas of religious liberty in a letter to Virginia Baptists, stating: “[E]very man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.”
In an address before the Attorney General's Conference, President Harry S. Truman clearly described the foundation for America's laws: "The fundamental basis of this Nation's law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days."
Admiral Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, acknowledging it was "the Lord who put it in my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies." Believing that "the Gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time," Columbus sought new lands to "bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the heathens" and "the Word of God to unknown coastlands."
Alexander Hamilton knew exactly where the rights of all mankind came from, which he clearly described in a letter to "a Pennsylvania Farmer" (John Dickenson): "The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."
In 1943, Herbert Hoover issued a joint statement with the widows of several former presidents, saying: "We must seek revival of our strength in the spiritual foundations which are the bedrock of our republic. Democracy is the outgrowth of the religious conviction of the sacredness of every human life. On the religious side, its highest embodiment is the Bible; on the political side, the Constitution."
On November 1, 1800, John Adams became the first U.S. President to move into the White House. One day later, Adams composed a prayer that is now inscribed on the mantelpiece in the State Dining Room: "I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof."
Charles Carroll, signer of the Constitution from Maryland, wrote on November 4, 1800: "Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time. . . . They therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure and which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”
In 1620, Pilgrims who had sailed for Virginia on the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts instead. On November 11, they formed the first American written compact to govern themselves, which began: “In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, ... Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick...”
Recognizing that this country “was founded by men and women who realized their dependence on God and were humbled by His providence and grace,” President George W. Bush declared November 22, 2007, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. “Let us give thanks for all we have been given and ask God to continue to bless our families and our Nation.”
On November 26 in 1861, the State of West Virginia was created due to slavery disputes with the remainder of Virginia. The Constitutional Convention was started on this day, and the Preamble to the Constitution of West Virginia states, "Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God [...]"
On December 7, 1941, a "date which will live in infamy," Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. In his response before Congress the next day President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared, "There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God."
John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, cautioned Americans with the following words on 12 October 1816: "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
At the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on December 6, 2007, President George W. Bush said, “Christmas is a time of rejoicing and reflection. Each year at this time, we rejoice in the proclamation of good news, that in Bethlehem of Judea, a Savior was born. [...] We also reflect on the mystery of Christmas: the story of the Almighty, who entered history in the most vulnerable form possible—hidden in the weakness of a newborn child. And we reflect on the call of our Creator—who by taking this form, reminds us of our duty to protect and care for the weak and the vulnerable among us.”
On 1 January 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect after being issued by President Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln declared that "all persons held as slaves within any State [...] shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, [...] And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God."
On January 10, 1776, Thomas Paine published Common Sense, one of the most influential writings of the American Revolution, and asked therein, "But where says some is the king of America? I'll tell you Friend, he reigns above.... [L]et a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king."
Justice William O. Douglas, in the 1952 case of Zorach v. Clauson, wrote for the Supreme Court, "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being." Douglas concluded that the Court could not "read into the Bill of Rights  a philosophy of hostility to religion."
In A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774), Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his Statement on the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Printing of the English Bible, on Oct. 6, 1935, said, "We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic... Where we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity."
Escaped slave and fierce abolitionist Frederick Douglass said in his book My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), “The first work of slavery is to mar and deface those characteristics of its victims which distinguish men from things, and persons from property. Its first aim is to destroy all sense of high moral and religious responsibility. It reduces man to a mere machine. It cuts him off from his Maker, it hides him from the laws of God...”
In his Farewell Speech to the city of Springfield, Illinois, newly-elected President Abraham Lincoln said on February 11, 1861: "Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell."
On February 23, 1904, the U.S. bought the Panama Canal Zone, a decision President William H. Taft discussed in a congressional message eight years later: "[O]ur defense of the Panama Canal, together with our enormous world trade and our missionary outposts on the frontiers of civilization, require us to recognize our position as one of the foremost in the family of nations, and to clothe ourselves with sufficient naval power to give force to our reasonable demands, and to give weight to our influence in those directions of progress that a powerful Christian nation should advocate."
A U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, U.N. Ambassador, and namesake of Dulles Int'l Airport near Washington, D.C., John Foster Dulles once noted in a 1955 speech: "Our institutions reflect the belief of our founders that all men were endowed by their creator with unalienable rights and had duties prescribed by moral law. They believed that human institutions ought primarily to help men develop their God-given possibilities...."
After American Colonel Henry Knox stealthily moved 59 cannon from Ft. Ticonderoga, NY, to a strategic position overlooking, and forcing the retreat of, the British troops in Boston, General George Washington on March 6, 1776, ordered the next day to be "a day of fasting, prayer and humiliation, 'to implore the Lord and Giver of all victory to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness, and that it would please Him to bless the Continental army with His divine favor and protection,' all officers and soldiers are strictly enjoined to pay all due reverence on that day to the sacred duties of the Lord of hosts."
Truett Cathy, Founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A, was born of March 14, 1921. He believes that principles are to be placed above profit which is echoed in the Corporate Purpose of Chick-fil-A: "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."
On April 6, 2007, President George W. Bush issued his annual Easter message, beginning with “Rejoice!” from Matthew 28, and stating in part: “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event of the Christian faith. Easter morning holds wonder and promise, and it is a chance for people everywhere to gather with family and friends to celebrate the power of love conquering death. In this season of renewal, we can rejoice in Christ's rising, draw strength and inspiration from His example, and remember that in the end, even death itself will be defeated. . . . On this powerful day, let us join together and give thanks to the Almighty for the glory of His grace.”
John Quincy Adams, our 6th President and the brilliant son of our 2d, once wrote to his own son in Sept. of 1811 that he personally “read through the Bible once every year,” and that “so great is my veneration for the Bible, and so strong my belief, that when duly read and meditated on, it is of all books in the world, that which contributes most to make men good, wise, and happy, that the earlier my children begin to read it...the more lively and confident will be my hopes that they will prove useful citizens to their country, respectable members of society, and a real blessing to their parents.”
James Wilson—signer of the Declaration, leading drafter of the Constitution, and original Supreme Court Justice—stated in his Lectures on Law the belief of many of the founders that law and religion were not to be separated: "Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other. The divine law, as discovered by reason and the moral sense, forms an essential part of both."
During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson, citing “the reverent habit of the people of the United States to turn in humble appeal to Almighty God,” declared May 30, 1918, “a day of public humiliation, prayer and fasting,” exhorting “fellow-citizens ... to pray Almighty God that He may forgive our sins and shortcomings as a people and purify our hearts to see and love the truth, to accept and defend all things that are just and right ... beseeching Him that He will give victory to our armies as they fight for freedom...”
First published on April 14, 1828, Noah Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language standardized American English and spelling and included Biblical definitions and examples throughout. In the preface to this 26-year project, Webster wrote, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed ... No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
Born on April 27, 1822, President Ulysses S. Grant marked America's Centennial with a national day of public thanksgiving: "The founders of the Government, at its birth and in its feebleness, invoked the blessings and the protection of a Divine Providence . . . It seems fitting that on the occurrence of the hundredth anniversary of our existence as a nation, a grateful acknowledgment should be made to Almighty God for the protection and the bounties which He has vouchsafed to our beloved country."
Keeping with presidential tradition, President George W. Bush proclaimed May 1, 2008, a National Day of Prayer, and observed that Americans “recognize our dependence on the Almighty, we thank Him for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us, and we put our country's future in His hands.”
During the Revolutionary War, just before dawn on May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys seized Fort Ticonderoga, NY and demanded that the British immediately surrender. When asked by whose authority he demanded surrender, Allen proclaimed, "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress."
Before he was Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State and the man responsible for America's purchase of the Alaska territory, New York Governor William H. Seward stated in an 1839 address to the American Bible Society: "I know not how long a republican government can flourish among a great people who have not the Bible; the experiment has never been tried; but this I do know: that the existing government of this country never could have had existence but for the Bible."
On May 20, 1775, the first declaration of independence in America was adopted. The citizens of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, resolved that they were no longer under the allegiance of the British crown, but were instead "under the control of no power, other than that of our God and the General Government of the Congress."
In a 1923 Memorial Address, then-Vice-President Calvin Coolidge quoted John 15:13 to remind America of the price of freedom: "There can be no peace with the forces of evil. Peace comes only through the establishment of the supremacy of the forces of good. That way lies through sacrifice...'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'"
On June 6, 1944, the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy. In his address to the American people, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt joined with the people in prayer: "Almighty God, our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization... They will need Thy blessings... Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom... Help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith to Thee... Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen."
On Flag Day, June 14, 1954, Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a joint resolution adding the phrase “One Nation Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and stated, “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty... In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”
The father of the American space and rocket program, German-born scientist Wernher von Braunwrote in an 1963American Weekly article that religion and science were not enemies but “sisters.” He said it was “difficult for me to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe... [V]iewing the awesome reaches of space... should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator.”
French Christian Huguenots founded the first European settlement in North America, Fort Caroline, at the St. Johns River near what is now Jacksonville, Florida. On June 30, 1564, their leader René de Laudonnipre recorded a day of thanksgiving and prayer to God: "We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching Him that it would please Him to continue His accustomed goodness towards us."
The day after signing the Declaration of Independence, John Adams predicted in a letter to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776, that Independence Day would be “celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was announced to the world, prompting President John Quincy Adams to issue an executive order July 11, 1826, stating, “A coincidence of circumstances so wonderful gives confidence to the belief that the patriotic efforts of these illustrious men were Heaven directed, and furnishes a new seal to the hope that the prosperity of these States is under the special protection of a kind Providence.”
Twenty years before the Revolutionary War, a young colonel named George Washington miraculously survived the Battle of Monongahela during the French and Indian War. Washington wrote to his brother on July 18, 1755, "But by the All-Powerful Dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!"
In his classic book Democracy in America (1835), Alexis de Tocqueville of France observed: "There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America; and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth."
On August 1, 1776, after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Samuel Adams said in a speech at the State House in Philadelphia, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought, and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come.”
Only a few weeks before the Declaration of Independence was announced to the world, the town of Malden, Massachusetts issued an official “instruction” on May 27, 1776, calling for independence and stating in part: “[W]e are confirmed in the opinion, that the present age would be deficient in their duty to God, their posterity and themselves, if they do not establish an American republic. This is the only form of government which we wish to see established; for we can never be willingly subject to any other King than he who, being possessed of infinite wisdom, goodness and rectitude, is alone fit to possess unlimited power.”
Judge Learned Hand, a well-respected NY federal judge, said in a speech at an "I Am an American Day" ceremony in 1944 during WWII: "What, then, is the spirit of liberty? . . . . [T]he spirit of liberty is the spirit of him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten--that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest."
During the Revolutionary War, American troops under George Washington were nearly surrounded on Long Island by British troops on Aug. 28, 1776, but they escaped across the East river by cover of darkness and an unusually thick daytime fog. Col. Benjamin Tallmadge later wrote of this "providential occurrence" -- "In the history of warfare, I do not recollect a more fortunate retreat. After all, the providential appearance of the fog saved a part of our army from being captured."
In his historic Farewell Address printed on Sept. 19, 1796, Pres. George Washington stated, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness.... [R]eason & experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
John Marshall, born Sept. 24, 1755, was the 4th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court but its most influential member during his 34-year tenure. Marshall wrote to Jasper Adams on May 9, 1833: "The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity and did not often refer to it and exhibit relations with it."
U.S. Speaker of the House Robert C. Winthrop, in an address to the Massachusetts Bible Society on May 28, 1849, spoke of the necessity of self-government: “All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by the word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”
In the 1931 case of U.S. v. Macintosh, the U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion stated, "We are a Christian people . . . according to one another the equal right of religious freedom, and acknowledging with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God." The dissenting opinion also recognized God, noting, "One cannot speak of religious liberty . . . without assuming the existence of a belief in supreme allegiance to the will of God."
On Feb. 9, 1774, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, with John Hancock presiding, issued a resolution "To the Inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay," stating that, when faced with tyranny, "resistance is so far from being criminal, that it becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual...We trust you will still continue steadfast...but with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which Heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us."
Samuel Adams, the Father of the American Revolution, wrote in 1781: " Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual---or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country."
After World War I ended 90 years ago on November 11, 1918 (then Armistice Day, now Veteran's Day), President Woodrow Wilson--because of "our custom to turn in the autumn of the year in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His many blessings and mercies to us as a nation" and because "God has in His good pleasure given us peace"--declared "a day of thanksgiving and prayer . . . to render thanks to God, the ruler of nations."
On November 19, 1863, Pres. Abraham Lincoln concluded his famous Gettysburg Address by stating, "we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
In his final Thanksgiving proclamation, Pres. George W. Bush stated that at this time of year as "We recognize that all of [our] blessings, and life itself, come not from the hand of man but from Almighty God," we follow in the tradition of the Pilgrims who "gave thanks to the Author of Life," as did Washington and Lincoln. Bush concluded: "On this day, let us all give thanks to God who blessed our Nation's first days and who blesses us today. May He continue to guide and watch over our families and our country always."
In his misconstrued letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, Pres. Thomas Jefferson noted that the First Amendment built a "wall of separation between Church & State" because "religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, [and] that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship," but Jefferson also felt free to "reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man."
On December 8, 1863, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that provided an oath to be taken by any Confederates seeking a pardon and readmission to the Union. The oath read, “I, ___ ___, do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder. . . . So help me God.”
On December 19, 1777, the American army under General George Washington began its brutal winter of starvation, frostbite, and disease at Valley Forge, PA, a trying time during which Washington pleaded with both the Congress and, as several eyewitnesses reported, God above for assistance.
At this year's lighting of the National Christmas Tree on Dec. 4, 2008, outgoing President George W. Bush said, "The simple story we remember during the season speaks to every generation. It is the story of a humble birth in a quiet town, and the story of one life that changed millions more. For two millennia, the story of Christmas has brought joy to families, comfort to communities, and hope to hearts around the world. During Christmas we celebrate the blessings of the season, and the blessings that surround us every day. And the greatest of these blessings is freedom--the Almighty's gift to every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth."
Dr. Benjamin Rush, the Father of American Medicine and a signer of the Declaration, wrote in his Thoughts Upon the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic in 1786, "the only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid on the foundation of religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments...But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament...Its doctrines and precepts are calculated to promote the happiness of society and the safety and well-being of civil government."
According to the Preamble to the Constitution of Delaware of 1897, "Through Divine goodness, all men have by nature the rights of worshiping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences, of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring and protecting reputation and property, and in general of obtaining objects suitable to their condition, without injury by one to another...."
General Douglas MacArthur noted in his historic speech to the Cadets at West Point on May 12, 1962, "The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training -- sacrifice. In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him."
Ronald Reagan, in his first Inaugural Address, stated, "We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free.... The crisis we are facing today ... require[s] our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.
On March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address, and only weeks before his assassination, naturally spoke of the Civil War afflicting the United States: "Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes."
In his Inaugural Address on April 30, 1789, George Washington emphasized the connection between God's laws and America's prosperity: "[T]here is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness. . . . [W]e ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heavenitself has ordained."
In Patrick Henry's famous "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech delivered to the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, Henry sought to persuade those still clinging to hopes of peace with Britain that the war for American Independence was "actually begun!" He proclaimed: "An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us! . . . . Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
At a Christian prayer breakfast on February 9, 1961, President John F. Kennedyacknowledged that "every President of the United States has placed special reliance upon his faith in God." He concluded by saying, "The guiding principle and prayer of this Nation has been, is now, and shall ever be 'In God We Trust.'"
The Preamble to the Florida Constitution of 1968 reads, "We, the people of the State of Florida, being grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, in order to secure its benefits, perfect our government, insure domestic tranquility, maintain public order, and guarantee equal civil and political rights to all, do ordain and establish this constitution."
Following a historical tradition that recently withstood a legal challenge, Barack Obama invited clergy members to pray at his Inauguration on January 20, 2009. Rev. Rick Warren began his invocation, "Almighty God, Our Father, everything we see and everything we can't see exists because of You alone. It all comes from You, it all belongs to You, it all exists for Your glory." Before ending with the Lord's Prayer, Warren said, "I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life--Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [pronounced "Hay-soos"], Jesus--who taught us to pray."
Our 10th President, John Tyler, stated in an annual message to Congress on December 3, 1844, "The guaranty of religious freedom, of the freedom of the press, of the liberty of speech, of the trial by jury, of the habeas corpus...will be enjoyed by millions yet unborn. . . Our prayers should evermore be offered up to the Father of the Universe for His wisdom to direct us in the path of our duty so as to enable us to consummate these high purposes."
Samuel F.B. Morse invented the telegraph and the Code that bears his name. In 1844, in the first message he sent via the first telegraph line erected between Baltimore and the U.S. Supreme Court chamber in Washington, D.C., Morse tapped, "What hath God Wrought!"--taken from Numbers 23:23.
Booker T. Washington, teacher and founder of Tuskegee Institute (now University) in Alabama and the first black man to have his image on a U.S. coin and stamp, wrote in Up From Slavery (1901): "If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of the Christian life, the Christlike work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last 35 years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian."
The Constitution of the State of Georgia begins, "To perpetuate the principles of free government, insure justice to all, preserve peace, promote the interest and happiness of the citizen and of the family, and transmit to posterity the enjoyment of liberty, we the people of Georgia, relying upon the protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution."
In his First Annual Message to Congress, Dec. 12, 1817, America's 5th President, James Monroe, stated: "For advantages so numerous and highly important it is our duty to unite in grateful acknowledgments to that Omnipotent Being from whom they are derived, and in unceasing prayer that He will endow us with virtue and strength to maintain and hand them down in their utmost purity to our latest posterity."
Songwriter Irving Berlin was only a 4-year-old Jewish immigrant from Russia when he came to America in the late 19th Century. After serving as an infantry officer in WWI, Berlin went on to wriote some of the nation's most popular songs, including: "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "White Christmas" and, of course, "God Bless America":
"God Bless America, Land that I Love, Stand Beside Her, and Guide Her, Through the Night, with the Light From Above, From the Mountains, to the Prairies, To the Oceans White with Foam, God Bless America, My Home Sweet Home, God Bless America, My Home Sweet Home!"
Famous aviator Charles A. Lindbergh completed the first solo transatlantic flight in his plane called "The Spirit of St. Louis" on May 20, 1927. On February 1, 1954, he said in a speech to the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, "It was not the outer grandeur of the Roman but the inner simplicity of the Christian that lived through the ages."
Former U.S. Senate Chaplain Rev. Peter Marshall was born in Scotland on MAY 27, 1902, and became a U.S. citizen in 1938. Opening a session of the 80th Congress, July 3, 1947, Rev. Marshall prayed: "We know that we shall be true to the Pilgrim dream when we are true to the God they worshiped. To the extent that America honors Thee, wilt Thou bless America, and keep her true as Thou hast kept her free, and make her good as Thou hast made her rich. Amen."
Grover Cleveland, our 22nd and 24th President, said in his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1893: "Above all, I know there is a Supreme Being who rules the affairs of men and whose goodness and mercy have always followed the American people, and I know He will not turn from us now if we humbly and reverently seek His powerful aid."
Andrew Jackson, our 7th President, recognized the providence of God in his 2nd Inaugural address: “Finally, it is my most fervent prayer to that Almighty Being before whom I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the infancy of our Republic to the present day, that He will so overrule all my intentions and actions and inspire the hearts of my fellow-citizens that we may be preserved from dangers of all kinds and continue forever a united and happy people.”
When the War of 1812 broke out between Great Britain and the US, President James Madison issued a Proclamation of War on June 19, 1812, which stated in part: "I do moreover exhort all the good people of the United States ... as they feel the wrongs which have forced on them the last resort of injured nations ... and as they consult the best means, under the blessing of Divine Providence, of abridging its calamities," that they observe order, uphold the law, and strive for peace.
On July 22, 1898, the prosecuting attorney of Tyler County, West Virginia was found guilty of "gross immorality" and removed from office for having regularly visited a house of prostitution. On appeal to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals he argued that visiting a house of prostitution did not constitute "gross immorality" but rather was, at most, "foolish or imprudent." Noting that the Ten Commandments forbid adultery and are the basis of our moral law, the Court stated: "These commandments, which, like a collection of diamonds, bear testimony to their own intrinsic worth, in themselves appeal to us as coming from a superhuman or divine source, and no conscientious or reasonable man has yet been able to find a flaw in them. Absolutely flawless, negative in terms, but positive in meaning, they easily stand at the head of our whole moral system, and no nation or people can long continue a happy existence in open violation of them." Moore v. Strickling, 33 S.E. 274, 277 (W. Va. 1899).
In an address at an 1837 Independence Day celebration at Newburyport, Mass., 6th President John Quincy Adams, son of Pres. John Adams (who helped draft the Declaration), linked the birth of Jesus Christ to that of our country: "Why is it that, next to the birth day of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day?...Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity...?
James Knox Polk, our 11th President, stated in his Inaugural Address, March 4, 1845, "I fervently invoke the aid of that Almighty Ruler of the universe in whose hands are the destinies of nations and of men to guard this Heaven-favored land against the mischiefs which without His guidance might arise from an unwise public policy" and "[w]ith a firm reliance upon the wisdom of Omnipotence to sustain and direct me." He concluded by "again humbly supplicating that Divine Being who has watched over and protected our beloved country from its infancy to the present hour to continue His gracious benedictions upon us, that we may continue to be a prosperous and happy people."
On July 6, 1775, the Continental Congress issued a "Declaration of Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms" in which God's divine favor and support was repeatedly invoked: “We gratefully acknowledge, as signal instances of the Divine favour towards us, that his Providence would not permit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown up to our present strength….[W]e most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties....”
French statesman, historian, and philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville toured 19th-Century America and in 1831 wrote in his celebrated book Democracy in America: "In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions….” However, "[r]eligion in America...must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it...This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation."
Criminal laws in the early New England colonies were based on the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and cited to relevant scriptures references after each law. Many civil laws and procedures were modeled after the English common law, itself based largely on biblical principles. (Click image above for full picture.)
After the Revolutionary War, in June 1783, George Washington sent a circular letter to the state executives which concluded with a prayer: "I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, ..., and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation."
Two days after Japan's unconditional surrender in World War II, President Harry Trumandeclared a Day of Prayer for August 19, 1945, stating that Allied victory "has come with the help of God, Who was with us in the early days of adversity and disaster, and Who has now brought us to this glorious day of triumph. Let us give thanks to Him, and remember that we have now dedicated ourselves to follow in His ways to a lasting and just peace and to a better world."
Founding Father James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration, drafter of the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice, and law professor, spoke of the correlation betwen God and law in his Lectures on Law: "But it should always be remembered, that this law, natural or revealed, made for men or for nations, flows from the same divine source: it is the law of God....What we do, indeed, must be founded on what [the Author of nature] has done; and the deficiencies of our laws must be supplied by the perfections of his. Human law must rest its authority, ultimately, upon the authority of that law, which is divine."
Noah Webster (1758-1843), often called the “Schoolmaster to America,” is best known for his Webster's Dictionary, but his “The American Spelling Book” (or Blue-Backed Speller) was also an important tool for teaching children spelling as well as morality and Biblical truth. The Speller concluded with "A Moral Catechism":
"Q. WHAT is moral virtue?
A. It is an honest upright conduct in all our dealings with men.
Q. What rules have we to direct us in our moral conduct?
A. God's word, contained in the bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.
Q. In what part of the bible are these rules to be found?
A. In almost every part; but the most important duties between men are summed up in the beginning of Matthew, in CHRIST'S Sermon on the Mount.”
Noah Webster (1758-1843), looking back on the origin of American civil liberty, wrote in his History of the United States (1832): "the religion which 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."
George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights" (which were approved Sept. 25, 1789), argued against the slave trade in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Mason said slavery brings "the judgement of heaven upon a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities."
On October 19, 1781, British Gen. Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown, VA, effectively ending the War for Independence. The next day, Washington ordered a divine service of thanksgiving and recommended his troops "attend with that seriousness of deportment and gratitude of heart which the recognition of such reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demand of us." In Philadelphia, Congress went as a body to church to "return thanks to Almighty God" and then appointed a day of National Thanksgiving and prayer, noting that "it hath pleased Almighty God, the supreme Disposer of all Events, father of mercies, remarkably to assist and support the United States of America in their important struggle for liberty."
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the U.S., was dedicated October 28, 1886. Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi wrote of his work:"The statue was born for this place which inspired its conception. May God be pleased to bless my efforts and my work, and to crown it with success, the duration and the moral influence which it ought to have." Relighting the Statue of Liberty on July 3, 1986, Pres. Ronald Reagan said,"[L]ike all of God's precious gifts, liberty must never be taken for granted. Tonight we thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed on our land; we affirm our faithfulness to His rule and to our own ideals; and we pledge to keep alive the dream that brought our forefathers and mothers to this brave new land."
Abigail Adams, wife of 2nd President John Adams and mother of 6th President John Quincy Adams, wrote to Mercy Otis Warren on November 5, 1775: "A patriot without religion in my estimation is as great a paradox as an honest Man without the fear of God. Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will towards Men?" She concluded: "Scriptures tell us 'righteousness exalteth a Nation.'"
According to the U.S. Code, every person enlisting in the armed forces must take the following oath: “I, ________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” the oath for commissioned officers is similar; e.g., in the Army, officers "do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."
George Mason, the "Father of the Bill of Rights," argued at the Virginia Ratification Debates in 1788, "[D]ivine providence has given to every individual the means of self-defense." In 1775, even Revolutionary patriot and pamphleteerThomas Painewrote, "Could the peaceable principle of the Quakers be universally established, arms and the art of war would be wholly extirpated: But we live not in a world of angels.… I am thus far a Quaker, that I would gladly agree with all the world to lay aside the use of arms, and settle matters by negotiation: but unless the whole will, the matter ends, and I take up my musket and thank Heaven He has put it in my power."
William Bradford, Governor of the fledgling Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, declared November 29, 1623, a day of thanksgiving to God for his protection and providential hand on the Pilgrims. His order stated "that all Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at the meeting house . . . there to listen to the pastor and render thanksgiving to Almighty God for all His blessings.
At the request of President Thomas Jefferson, Congress ratified a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians on Dec. 3, 1803. The Treaty provided that the U.S. would give to the tribe $100 per year, for 7 years, "toward the support of a priest of [the Catholic] religion, who will engage to perform for said tribe the duties of his office, and also to instruct as many of their children as possible, in the rudiments of literature"; and would also give $300 "to assist the said tribe in the erection of a church."
On December 16, 1773, men known as "Sons of Liberty" dressed as "Indians" and threw chests of tea in the Boston Harbor to protest stringent British taxes. In the months building up to the Boston Tea Party, the men of Marlborough, Mass. issued a declaration stating, "Death is more eligible than slavery. A free-born people are not required by the religion of Jesus Christ to submit to tyranny, but may make use of such power as God has given them to recover and support their laws and liberties...[We] implore the Ruler above the skies that He would bare His arm in defense of His Church and people and let Israel go."
In his last Christmas Eve radio address as President (1988), Ronald Reagan said, "Tomorrow is a day for celebration: celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Joy envelops us, as it must have enveloped our ancestors 1,988 years ago when unto us a Child was born." This year, even Pres. Barack Obama wished a "Merry Christmas" to those at the "Christmas in Washington" concert: "This season, we celebrate that sacred moment -- the birth of a child and the message of love He would preach to the world...."
On January 8, 1815, General Andrew Jackson fended off a British assault in the victorious Battle of New Orleans, fought at the end of the War of 1812. Later that month "Old Hickory" wrote to Col. Robert Hays, "It appears that the unerring hand of Providence shielded my men from the shower of balls, bombs, and rockets, when every ball and bomb from our guns carried with them a mission of death." Jackson also wrote to Sec. of War James Monroe: "Heaven, to be sure, has interposed most wonderfully in our behalf, and I am filled with gratitude, when I look back to what we have escaped."
On January 25, 1984, President Ronald Reagan used part of his State of the Union Address to promote the freedom to acknowledge God in public schools: "Each day your members observe a 200-year-old tradition meant to signify America is one nation under God. I must ask: If you can begin your day with a member of the clergy standing right here leading you in prayer, then why can't freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every school room across this land?"
At the first meeting of the first Continental Congress (Sept. 1774), Rev. Jacob Duché read Psalm 35 and then gave an extemporaneous prayer that began, "O Lord, our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings and Lord of lords, Who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers of the earth, and reignest with power supreme and uncontrollable over the kingdoms, empires, and governments, look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection." He ended "in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Savior. Amen."
The Boy Scouts of America turns 100 years old on February 8, 2010. In his pamphlet "Scouting & Christianity," the founder of the Scouts' predecessor in England, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, wrote, "Scouting is nothing less than applied Christianity." To this day the Scout Oath states: "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." One of the Scout Laws requires a Scout to be "Reverent – A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others."
George Washington often publicly acknowledged America's dependence upon God and, at the same time, the individual freedom of religion. He wrote to the Society of Quakers in 1789, "The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states, of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights."
Rev. John Witherspoon (1723-1794) was the only ordained minister to be a signer of the Declaration; he was a Continental Congressman and as Pres. of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) was mentor to many other Founders. In a famous sermon preached on a Nat'l Day of Fasting and Prayer, May 17, 1776, Witherspoon said, "Whoever is an avowed enemy to God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country." He concluded,"God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable, and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both."
On April 4, 1841, Pres. William Henry Harrison delivered the longest Inaugural Address, in which he expressed "a profound reverence for the Christian religion and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness; and to that good Being who has blessed us by the gifts of civil and religious freedom, who watched over and prospered the labors of our fathers and has hitherto preserved to us institutions far exceeding in excellence those of any other people, let us unite in fervently commending every interest of our beloved country in all future time."
Thomas Jefferson, born April 13, 1743, wrote these words now paraphrased on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC: "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . . "
In his sermon delivered on a National Day of Prayer and Fasting, May 17, 1776, Rev. John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration and a Continental Congressman, said, "It would be a criminal inattention not to observe the singular interposition of Providence hitherto, in behalf of the American colonies." But he also warned, "While we give praise to God the supreme disposer of all events, for his interposition in our behalf, let us guard against the dangerous error of trusting in, or boasting of an arm of flesh."
During the Korean War, Gen. Douglas MacArthur said, in an address to the Salvation Army on December 12, 1951, "History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster."
During the War for Independence, on August 20, 1778, Gen. George Washington wrote a letter to Brigadier-General Thomas Nelson, remarking on the unfavorable position the British Army at New York now found itself: "The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations, but, it will be time enough for me to turn preacher, when my present appointment ceases; and therefore, I shall add no more on the Doctrine of Providence."
On August 30, 1780, American General Benedict Arnold attempted to betray West Point into British hands, but was thwarted only when British Major John Andre was stopped and searched, and the blue prints for West Point found in his boot. Arnold escaped. American Major-General Nathanael Greene (left) wrote in his orders of providential intervention: "Treason of the blackest dye was yesterday discovered! General Arnold who commanded at West Point, was about to deliver up that important post into the hands of the enemy [and] ... would have given the American cause a dangerous if not a fatal wound...The providential train of circumstances which led to [the discovery], affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine protection."
George Washington presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, but rarely spoke. On one occasion, however, as the delegates debated what form of new government to adopt and whether the people wanted only half-measures, Washington rose and declared, "It is too probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God."
The language of the First Amendment was approved by Congress on September 25, 1789. Justice Joseph Story, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1812-1845, explained in his Commentaries on the Constitution (1833) that the "real object of the amendment, was not to countenance, much less advance Mohomedanism, Judaism, or infidelity by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesastical establishment which should give to an heirarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government."
"Father of the American Revolution" Samuel Adams, born Sept. 27, 1722, served as Massachusetts Governor in 1797 when he proclaimed a day of prayer and fasting for "humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world that the rod of tyrants may be broken into pieces, and the oppressed made free; that wars may cease in all the earth, and that the confusions that are and have been among the nations may be overruled by the promoting and speedily bringing on that holy and happy period when the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and all the people willingly bow to the sceptre of Him who is the Prince of Peace."
Rev. Charles G. Finney, who left the practice of law to lead revivals of the 2d Great Awakening, preached in his Lectures on Revivals of Religion(1835): "God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation were becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, he does see it, and he will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they take."
At the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on Dec. 9, 2010, President Barack Obama recognized the reason for the season: "Each year we've come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia. It's a story that's dear to Michelle and me as Christians, but it's a message that's universal: A child was born far from home to spread a simple message of love and redemption to every human being around the world."
Benjamin Franklin, born January 17, 1706, declared an official Fast Day as Pennsylvania's colonial governor, proclaiming that "it is the duty of mankind on all suitable occasions to acknowledge their dependence on the Divine Being" and asking that "Almighty God would mercifully interpose and still the rage of war among the nations ... [and] take this province under His protection."
George Washingtonwrote to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, on June 29, 1788, that he could hardly believe America would ever turn from the path and blessings toward which God had initially pointed her: "No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass."
The Articles of Confederation, which were ratified March 1, 1781, and governed the United States until the Constitution replaced it, acknowledged that "it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said articles of confederation and perpetual union," and was signed "in the year of our Lord."
Omar Bradley, World War II General and first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned the nation on Armistice Day, November 11, 1948, of the danger of great power without sufficient morality: "We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount... The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants."