Today, let us not forget to give thanks to the One who has given us liberty, freedom, and a great nation. While many individuals and political organizations are attempting to remove any reference to Almighty God from our public life, let us know our history and our rights as Christian citizens of this nation.
One cannot ignore (unless they do not have the knowledge) the Judeo-Christian foundation upon which our country was built. The historical documents and the writings, including those on our national monuments, present a clear picture of one great assumption: God belongs in the public arena of this country.
When the Pilgrims arrived in 1620 at Plymouth Rock, they planned to establish a government, as they put it, “based on the Bible.” The New England Charter, signed by King James, says that the purpose of the colony was “to advance the enlargement of the Christian religion, to the glory of God Almighty.” When they landed and stood on the shore, Governor Bradford, wrote of their first act: “being thus arrived in good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell on their knees and blessed the God of Heaven.” Down in Virginia, their charter provided for the settlement of Jamestown and was dated April 10, 1606: “We, commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desire for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness.” When they landed at Cape Henry in April 1607, they erected a large wooden cross and held a prayer meeting. The Charter of the Colony of Rhode Island states: “We submit our persons, lives, and estates unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and to all those perfect and most absolute Laws of His, given to us in His Holy Word.”.
Religion, specifically, Christianity, was woven into the very fabric of the cultural, legal, moral, and social structure of the New World. They would have considered efforts to have a society without God and His Law blasphemous and arrogant. They had moved from an understanding of the Divine Right of Kings to an understanding that all human beings (including the King) should be ruled by law – God’s law. No one was above the law. This was a dramatic shift in ideas about government, but they still viewed that the people of the government must be submissive to God’s laws.
When the American Revolution was declared with Declaration of Independence, they believed in a “Creator” who “endowed” them with certain “inalienable rights.” They held “these Truths” to be “self-evident” in that they were observable in nature and in the laws of the Bible. The 56 men, who bravely signed the Declaration on July 4, 1776, concluded their statement with these words: “With a firm reliance on Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
In the last half of the 20th Century and now in the 21st Century, there has been a concerted effort my many to remove God from the public arena in the name of tolerance, freedom, justice, and rights. We must not forget that, unlike the other religions of the world, it is from the Judeo-Christian view of Almighty God that we have learned these things that we hold so dear.Without Him and the body of Truth He reveals, they would forever disappear from our grasp.Dr. Foley Beach is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (Canada, US, and Mexico).