Pastor Roger Anghis
May 24, 2010
The treaty between America and England, which took two years to finalize, acknowledged the strong Christian heritage of our Founding Fathers. It began “In the Name of the most holy and undivided Trinity. . .”
Today it seems that any proclamation by the government that references religion brings a ton of lawsuits claiming the separation of church and state clause that isn’t in our Constitution. When word reached America concerning the finalization of the treaty, there was a celebration planned. Congress assigned three people to prepare a proclamation for a day of prayer and thanksgiving. Congress approved the proclamation and distributed it among the states. This proclamation stated:
“Whereas is has pleased the Supreme Ruler of all human events to dispose the hearts of the belligerent powers to put a period to the infusion of human blood proclaiming a cessation of all hostilities by sea and land . . . And whereas in the progress of a contest on which the most essential rights of human nature depended, the interposition of Divine Providence in our favor has been most abundantly and most graciously manifested, and the citizens of these United States have every reason for praise and gratitude to the God of their salvation. Impressed, therefore, with an exalted sense in the blessings by which we are surrounded, and of our entire dependence on that Almighty Being from whose goodness and bounty they are derived, the United States in Congress assembled, do recommend to the several states. . . a day of public thanksgiving that all the people may then assemble to celebrate with grateful hearts and united voices the praises of their Supreme and all bountiful Benefactor for His numberless favors and mercies . . . and above all that He has been pleased to continue to us the light of the blessed Gospel and secure to us in the fullest extent the rights of conscience in faith and worship.”
Today’s Congress would not issue a statement of this nature for two reasons. First, they do not want the lawsuits that would flood the courts from the ACLU and its allies and second, there are not that many in Congress that would actually have the convictions to make a statement of that nature.
During the designing of the Constitution in Philadelphia, they spent long hours and many weeks preparing the correct wording of our Constitution. When, after many days of no progress, our non-religious forefathers, as today’s so-called historians like to call them, recorded a very stirring speech made by the 81 year old Benjamin Franklin where he called for the Convention to call upon Providence. “I have lived a long time, sir, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs 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? We have been assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain to build it.” Then he declared the need to call a minister in for counsel.
This speech is striking because it was made by one of the least religious of the Founding Fathers. This motion was tabled ONLY because the Convention did not have the funds to pay the minister, however several personal accounts of the remainder of the Convention did note that prayer was made before each session began.
It is obvious by these examples that our Founding Fathers neither precluded nor limited public expression or official religious acknowledgments.
We have seen through the writings of the Founding Fathers, the actions of the Founding Fathers and the beliefs of the Founding Fathers that their religion, Christianity, was the guiding force in their lives. They allowed the Word of God to be THE dominate guide of their affairs. Today we see organizations like the ACLU doing everything that they can to separate any form of religion from government AND public domain. Was this what our Founding Fathers wanted? Is this how they ran their affairs? I want to look at the first inauguration that occurred in 1789. The New York Daily Advertiser reported the event as follows: “On the morning of the day in which our illustrious President will be invested with his office, the bells will ring at 9 o’clock, when the people may go up to the house of God and in a solemn manner commit the new government, with its important train of consequences, to the holy protection and blessing of the Most High.
An early hour is prudently fixed for this peculiar act of devotion and is designed Wholly for prayer.” After the oath of office was given the Senate and the members of the House of Representatives, the President and vice-President all went to St. Paul’s Chapel to hear Divine Service. This was done by Resolution by the Senate. It was done by a unanimous vote. I would propose the question that if there was to be a total separation of church and state, then why would Congress resolve to have the entire United States government at the time, attend a church service?
Another interesting question concerning the separation of church and state is on the same day that Congress approved the 1st Amendment; they requested that President Washington designate a national day of thanksgiving. (1) This day was to be spent giving thanks to Almighty God, not mohammed or buddah, but THE God of the universe, the maker of heaven and earth. President Washington concurred and on October 3, 1789 he declared a day of thanksgiving.
After the Revolution and the forming of our government, it was a wonder to many foreigners the rapid rise as a successful nation that the United States enjoyed. They were still in amazement as to how a small nation of farmers and merchants was able to defeat what was arguably the world’s greatest military power. They were also amazed at how we could form a government so quickly that was envied across the globe.
To answer these questions, many writers came to America and traveled about studying our government and just how the American people lived their lives. They would then report what they had discovered to their countrymen. One such visitor was Edward Kendall. He traveled across America from 1807 to 1808 and then returned to England where in 1809 he published his notes on his travels entitled, Travels in America. Here is how he described election day in Connecticut in 1807: At about eleven o’clock, his excellency Governor Jonathan Trumball entered the statehouse and shortly after took his place at the head of a procession which was made to a meetinghouse or church at something less than a half a mile distance. The procession was made on foot and was composed of a person of the governor, together with the lieutenant-governor, assistants, high sheriffs, members of the lower house of assembly, and, unless with accidental exceptions, all the clergy of the state.
The pulpit or, as it is called here, the desk, was filled by three if not four clergymen; a number which, by its form and dimensions, it was able to accommodate. Of these, one opened the service with prayer; another delivered the sermon; a third made a concluding prayer; and a fourth pronounced a benediction. Several hymns were sung; and, among others, an occasional one [a special one for that occasion]. The total number of singers was between forty and fifty. The sermon, as will be supposed, touched upon matters of government. When all was finished, the procession returned to the statehouse.”
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The point in this dissertation I want you to see is the all of the state government attended the religious service. Yes, it was an election period, but the religious foundation they had was very prevalent in the ceremony that Kendall witnessed. It is what we need to see again.
© 2010 Roger Anghis - All Rights Reserved
Pastor Roger Anghis is the Founder of RestoreFreeSpeech.org, an organization designed to draw attention to the need of returning free speech rights to churches that was restricted in 1954.
President of The Damascus Project, TheDamascusProject.org, which has a stated purpose of teaching pastors and lay people the need of the churches involvement in the political arena and to teach the historical role of Christianity in the politics of the United States. Married-37 years, 3 children, three grandchildren.
Web site: RestoreFeeSpeech.org