Recently CNN reported that in a Gallop Poll that an astonishing 77% of Americans believe that religion in the country is losing influence. But yet at the same time 75% say that the country would be better if we were more religious. Confused? Reviewing the 2012 Presidential election results though the Southern Baptist are the second largest religious denomination in America bolstering over 16 million members, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, it’s political influences were inefficacious at best with an estimated more than 3 million Republican voters staying home. In a Pew Research article on religion and public life reported that amongst Christian evangelicals, “82% say evangelicals are losing influence in the United States today”. Interestingly though 71% of evangelicals in South America believe things are to be stronger there in 5 years.
There is something not quite right in America when so many recognize that we are lacking moral guidance, desire more moral guidance, our nation was founded on Christian moral principles, we have prospered immensely due to adherence to those principles for over 200 years, but yet by many of our actions and nearly 100% of Christian evangelicals believe that those very principles are no longer desired and are on their death beds in this nation, yet are flourishing in nations just to the south of us.
The issue goes far beyond political affiliation, but to the very foundation of our nation’s view of morality and our attachment to our founding religious principles and identity that has served and guided us to be the most free, prosperous, and influential nation for over 200 years. And questions whether we can seriously remain so for another 200 years. In a December 2012 New York Times report, The Decline of Evangelical America, as in all of the reports and articles that I have read on the subject, it all goes back to the societal conversion away from our nation’s traditional moral values and principles. And it all starts with the influence of the youngest amongst us. And who or what most influences them, whether it is the church, their parents, or the government..
Our nation’s moral decadence is startlingly visible in many ways, such as the explosion in unwed child births, the fact that we have more citizens incarcerated then Communist China, the fractionalization and marginalization of the traditional American family, the repeated election of so many severely morally and ethically challenged politicians, the increasing social vulgarity and incivility, and the blazing denigration of the value of self-subsistence and self-responsibility as more Americans are existing off of the federal government and the unprecedented growth in the entitlement mentality culture or me-ism. With so many societal transformations occurring in the nation such as, the redefining of marriage by the government to include those of the same sex, the redefining of what religion actually is, redefining of the U.S government and the American citizen relationship, and the literal banishment of the Bible and Christendom from government schools and significant public interface, to even include today the military, traditional religious values seem to be on the expedient decline. And so too the decline of America as a whole. But, these tragic consequences can come as a surprise to only those who are absent the knowledge of our Founder’s prophetic warnings and the history of the fight to keep the nation’s Christian heritage and principles as the pillars of our society as they were intended.
Lets review what the nation’s first President, George Washington, warned if we strayed from our moral principles, “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 – these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
As for the ridiculous notion that we are not a Christian nation, as Mr. Obama so vociferously alluded to while he stood in Turkey after he first got anointed,the 1892 supreme court settled that question in the case of the Holy Trinity Church vs the United States stated, “these and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a christian nation.”Not to mention the shear girth of other historical supportive evidence such as, 56 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had degrees from Bible schools, wrote religious books, and some went on to open Bible organizations. Ben Franklin once said, “that he believe in ‘one God, Creator of the Universe,.’ God governed this universe by his Providence. As such he ought to be worshiped and the worship most acceptable to Him was in doing good to others.”
Regarding the relevance of Christianity to our nation, in the New York State Supreme Court case of 1811, People vs. Ruggles, stated, “That whatever strikes at the root of Christianity, tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government.”Founder John Adams said, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
The Founders clearly viewed the connection between the survival of the republic and Biblical principles as indispensable. They believed that though the federal government should not be a theocracy, or as the First Amendment clearly forbids in stating that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”, they clearly believed that for this nation to be great and to remain great the principles of the Bible had to be the nation’s foundation. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story believed the Bible’s moral principles should be the foundation of education in the nation, “Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a Divine Revelation in the [school] – its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?” In fact, the nation’s first and most successful text book of the 18thcentury The New England Primer was the first reading primer designed for the American Colonies. It became the most successful educational textbook published in the 18th century and was used up until the 1930’s. It had in it the alphabet, vowels, consonants, alphabetical assistants, acronyms, catechisms, and 90 pages of Christian religious maxims and moral lessons that included the Lord’s Prayer.
Despite today’s popular notion that the Founders believed in a separation of church, particularly Christian, and the government, such advancement is simply without evidence and groundless-until recently generations at least. In fact as early as 1853 a petition was sent to Congress demanding separation of Christian principles and the government. After a year of investigation by the Congress it said, “Had the people (Founding Fathers) during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempts to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the Amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, but not any one (denomination)…In this age, there is no substitute for Christianity…That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.”
Here are a couple of notes that may have you go huummmm: the two most social transforming Supreme Court decisions regarding religion, 1947 ENGEL v VITALE and marriage, 2013 HOLLINGSWORTH v PERRY, neither used precedence for the decisions to completely redefine the long-standing meanings of words in the public. But instead chose to set precedence out of thin air; and in the 1980 Supreme Court case STONE v. GRAHAM, the court’s decision to outlaw the posting of the Ten Commandments in government schools stated, “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments.”
The Founders clearly knew the dangers to the republic’s posterity if we failed to apply a high Christian and moral test to the young and maybe even more importantly to our chosen leaders for the nation’s continued prosperity. Founder Benjamin Rush said. “Contemplating merely the political institutions of the United States, I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this divine book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and all those sober and frugal virtues which constitute the soul of republicanism.”;Founder John Jay, author of the Federalist Papers and first Justice of the Supreme Court, stated that, “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.”;and again George Washington warned in his famous 1789 Inaugural address, “The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregard the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
There are 3 pillars of influences that were to make up our prosperous and free society – the family, the church, and the government. As we may bicker over the order of the first two, the role of government was meant to be the very least of them. We can attempt consciously to dismiss the prophetic words of the Founders as just ramblings of old gray-haired White guys of years far gone by. But history has taught us lessons of the consequences of a grossly politically inattentive and ignorant populous, a morally vacant societal culture, and an ever imposing government. As too it has shown evidence of how prosperous a nation can be over 200 years when guided by Divine Providence. But at last, it is up for us to choose which future it is that we wish to have.