America’s Christian Heritage – Part Two of Three

  • The first act of Congress was to have 20,000 Bibles printed to send for the evangelization of the Indians.
  • Pres. John Adams (2nd Pres., 1797-1801) said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people…it is wholly inadequate apart from morality and religion.”
  • Pres. James Madison (4th Pres., 1809-1817) said, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it.  We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
  • Pres. Martin Van Buren (8th Pres., 1837-1841), said, “I only look to the gracious protection of the Divine Being whose strengthening support I humbly solicit, and whom I fervently pray to look down upon us all. May it be among the dispensations of His providence to bless our beloved country with honors and with length of days. May her ways be ways of pleasantness and all her paths be peace!”
  • When the Capitol Building was built, its designers were well aware of the dependence of the members of Congress upon God and prayer.  The 83rd Congress designated a small room in the Capitol, near the rotunda, that is always open for the private prayer and meditation of members of Congress.  This room is open whenever Congress is in session, and stands as a witness to the need for prayer by our nation’s leaders.  The focal point of the room is an intricate stained glass window that depicts George Washington kneeling in prayer.  Surrounding him are words from Psalm 16:  “Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust.”
  • The Liberty Bell: Consider the witness of the Liberty Bell. In 1751, the Pennsylvania State Assembly called for the forging of a bell to commemorate William Penn’s original charter of the state. They included instructions requiring that a scripture verse be included on the bell. The verse is Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Our founding fathers considered it important for all generations to know that God is the source of true freedom. The Liberty Bell is yet another example of our nation’s godly heritage.
  • When the cornerstone was laid for the Washington Monument on July 4, 1848, many citizens and dignitaries were present for the ceremony. Rev. J. McJilton prayed a stirring and eloquent prayer: “And now, O Lord of all power and majesty, we humbly beseech Thee to let the wing of Thy protection be ever outspread over the land of Washington! May his people be Thy people! May his God be their God! Never from beneath the strong arm of Thy providence may they be removed; but, like their honored chief, may they acknowledge Thee in peace and in war, and ever serve Thee with a willing, faithful acceptable service! Hear our prayer, we beseech Thee, that the glory of this nation may never be obscured in the gloom of guilt; that its beauty may never be so marred by the foul impress of sin that the light of its religious character shall be dimmed. Open the eyes of the people, and let them see that it is their true interest to study Thy laws, to seek Thy favor, and to worship Thee with a faithful worship..All these mercies and blessings we ask in the name and mediation of Jesus Christ, our most blessed Lord and Savior. Amen.”
  • The Supreme Court Building: Our Founding Fathers knew that our country would endure if it was based on God’s eternal truth. Nowhere is that fact more in evidence than in the United States Supreme Court Building. Many of the symbols that adorn the Court point to the importance of the Scriptures and our country’s reliance on God. The Chief Justice sits in the very middle of the bench, and directly above his head is a sculpture depicting the Ten Commandments. They are held by Moses, the great lawgiver. The east wall frieze also portrays Moses with God’s eternal Law. The outer edifices hold relief sculptures of Moses and other biblical figures like King Solomon. Each session of the Supreme Court begins as the Court Marshal announces the arrival of the Chief Justice and the other eight judges. He calls the court to order with a plea for God’s help: “The Honorable, the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! (Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye!) All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this honorable court!”
  • Our Money: Our Founding Fathers insisted that meaningful symbolism be incorporated into the design of the Great Seal of the United States that appears on the back of the one dollar bill. It features a great pyramid that symbolizes our republic and its qualities of strength and democracy.  Across the top are the Latin words Annuit Coeptis expressing our confidence in God and in His gracious leading in the founding of our nation.  Translated they mean: Providence [God] has favored our undertaking.  The pyramid is unfinished to remind each of us that our country is a work in progress, and the contribution made by each of us is significant.  Over all, is the prevailing eye of God Himself, watching over the development of our nation, from its earliest moments to now.  While some have misinterpreted the symbolism of this seal, the reality is that it was designed to honor God and show our nation’s trust in Him.
  • The Star Spangled Banner: On March 3, 1931, The Star Spangled Banner was adopted by Congress as our National Anthem. Francis Scott Key wrote it more than one hundred years earlier, after watching the fierce Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Many know and appreciate the stirring words to the first verse of the Anthem, but few are familiar with its inspirational second verse:

O! thus be it ever when free men shall stand / Between their loved home and the war’s desolation;

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land / Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved 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!

  • Harvard’s Biblical Beginning: On September 26, 1642 the guidelines that would govern Harvard University, our nation’s first college, were established. They read, in part, “Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3), and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him (Proverbs 2:3).” The motto of Harvard was Christi Gloriam (Christ be glorified) and the college was later dedicated Christo et Ecclesiae (for Christ and for the Church). The founders of Harvard believed that “All knowledge without Christ is vain.”
  • On June 8, 1845, President Andrew Jackson (7th Pres., 1829-1837) said that “the Bible is the rock on which our Republic rests.”

General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, said: “Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and supreme call for Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray…Let there be prayer at sun-up, at noon day, at sundown, at midnight, all through the day. Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word, ‘concern’ for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.”

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