On the 4th of July, 1776, 56 delegates to the Continental Congress voted to approve the final wording of the Declaration of Independence, our national birth certificate.
The Declaration declared independence from Great Britain, while at the same declaring dependence upon Almighty God. Four times, the document mentions God.
Fast forward to today. Why do people from many other countries try to come to America – even in some cases, risking their lives to do so? What is the source of this nation’s greatness?
I think the single biggest thing that makes this country so great gets back to the Declaration of Independence (upon which the Constitution is predicated) because it says that our rights come from God. What God has given us, no man can take away.
John F. Kennedy said as such in his Inaugural Address: “And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe – the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
And long before 1776, if you look at the original charters and founding documents of America, we see over and over the mention of God and the Christian faith.
So much so that when the Supreme Court quoted many of those documents in the Trinity decision in 1892, they concluded with the words, “…this is a Christian nation.”
For example, in the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims explained why they came here. They wrote: “In the name of God. Amen. We whose names are underwritten… having undertaken a voyage for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith…”
Since the Pilgrims cast a long and positive shadow over so much of the future founding of the nation (even Thanksgiving is derived from them), you could say America began “in the name of God. Amen.” The Biblical concept of covenant gave rise to our two key founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
When our founding fathers first met in the First Continental Congress in 1774, they decided to open up in prayer. And the Congress has been praying ever since. In fact, the founders created chaplains for our national and state legislatures and also for the military.
If they thought that such religious activities violated their key principle that there would be no national denomination in America, they would not have created the chaplaincy system. Of course, all the original chaplains, decade upon decade, were Christian ministers.
Freedom of religion
Because of the Christian roots of America, people of all faiths or no faith are welcome here.
The founders wanted religion to be voluntary, not forced, but they wanted it to flourish. Freedom of religion gives freedom to all – including nonbelievers. Freedom from religion leads to state-sanctioned atheism and leads to non-freedom. Even the atheists fared badly in the failed Soviet Union, if they happened to disagree with the atheists in charge. Trotsky is an example.
Celebrating July 4th
President Eisenhower said in 1955, “Without God, there could be no American form of Government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first – the most basic – expression of Americanism.”
Indeed, there is a lot to celebrate this and every 4th of July.
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is the executive director of Providence Forum, a division of D. James Kennedy Ministries, where Jerry also serves as senior producer and an on-air contributor. He has written/co-written 33 books, including (with D. James Kennedy), What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? and (with Dr. Peter Lillback), George Washington’s Sacred Fire.
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