WHAT MADE AMERICA GREAT
(House of Representatives - October 17, 2001)
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. SIMMONS). Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. BARTLETT) is recognized for 60 minutes.
Mr. BARTLETT of Maryland. Mr. Speaker, today America is the undisputed superpower of the world. How did we do that? We do not have the most oil or the most gold or silver or diamonds. We do not have the best agricultural land. But yet we are the envy of every Nation in the world. How did we get here?
What I want to spend the next few minutes doing is looking at what made America great, and to do that I am going to plagiarize a sermon given by Dr. Richard Fredericks of the Damascus Road Community Church.
In the quotes that I will give, there will be lots of mention of Christianity. I would like to note that in the time in which these quotes were made, Christianity and religion were essentially equivalent terms; so when you hear Christianity, please think God-fearing person, rather than a specific religion or specific sect.
After the terrorist attacks, it is important that we celebrate our Nation's independence and freedom; that we pause to reflect on our national heritage as a defender of freedom and justice, to remember that our Founding Fathers and hundreds of thousands since bought our freedom at a price. Freedom is never free.
Our national freedom was very costly. Five of the 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence were captured and executed by the British, nine of them died on the battlefields of the Revolutionary War, and another dozen lost their homes, possessions and fortunes to British occupation. Our birth as a Nation was not cheap for these men.
What beliefs and convictions motivated them to do what they did? Increasingly, Mr. Speaker, in the United States today we are told that our Founding Fathers intended there to be this solid, necessary and protective wall erected between Church and State, to separate them, to keep each exclusively in its respective sphere of influence.
The key phrase we now use, which first appeared in the judicial vocabulary in the United States in 1947, is the separation of church and state. By and large, Americans have accepted or acquiesced to this new phrase, though it nowhere appears in the United States Constitution or in the first amendment, where the three words ``separation, church and state'' are not even found at all.
Actually, those three words first appeared together in another constitution. It is the constitution of the United Soviet Socialist Republic. Let me read from article 124.
In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the USSR is separated from the state and the schools from the church.
The logic behind this phrase is that religion is a private matter that should neither guide nor even be allowed to possibly influence public education, the formation of minds, government [Page: H7121] legislation, the formation of laws, and judicial rulings on what is legal and just, the maintenance of justice. These are seen as distinctly secular arenas. Religion as a living force must be kept out of any public process that is in any way supported by any level of local, State or federal funds, and this is especially true of Christianity, or it could threaten the rights and liberty or coerce the minds of nonbelievers.
A few historic and generic references to God are still allowed. Our coins still say "in God we trust," a statement put there by the United States Congress to remind Americans of the true source of their security.
Our Supreme Court and the Houses of Congress still invoke the name of God. Presidents are still inaugurated with their hand on the Bible when taking the oath of office.
But each of these traditions is already under attack, and in America today to teach that the great laws and principles of the Judeo-Christian heritage and the morality of the Bible were the unique bases of our national government and offer the guiding norm for our Nation is now an illegal act. Violators of this no-faith-in-the-public-arena dictum are attacked by the American Civil Liberties Union and other watchdog organizations of our now secularized government, legal and public educational systems. Every year teachers are fired for the single offense of answering questions on the meaning of life with a reference to their faith in God, while teachers advocating homosexuality or adultery are protected due to personal rights and freedom of speech.
In the grand American experiment, freedom or liberty has always been the key word and the founding principle. Our Liberty Bell quotes from Leviticus 25:10, "proclaim liberty throughout all the land." The Pilgrims came to America not primarily in search of riches. In fact, many of them left riches to come here, but to obtain freedom to worship, as did most who followed them for the next two centuries.
The American Revolution from Britain was about the establishment of a just and free citizenry. Even our bloodiest war, the one that claimed more American lives than all other U.S. wars combined, the American Civil War, was at its heart a battle over two definitions of freedom.
In our day, this American concept of freedom is now defined as the freedom to say anything, show anything, believe or promote anything, and act in any way, with no submission to regard or even respect toward any concept of a guiding prescriptive truth or morality.
There is only one kind of freedom of speech the first amendment no longer protects in this new era; that is prayer. Academic freedom has become the freedom of student or teacher to hold or express views against any national organization or patriotic, moral or religious principle without fear of arbitrary interference, except if the student is deemed bigoted, homophobic, chauvinistic, anti-feministic, imperialistic, police-raid patriotic, religious, politically conservative or otherwise politically incorrect. Then he must be shamed.
The only sacred virtue that is still taught in our secular universities, one that must be protected, is absolute tolerance towards all views and lifestyles as equally valid, valuable and honorable, except any faith-based moral view that challenges that assumption. Then absolute intolerance toward that person is a virtue.
Officially, this all began only about 50 years ago when the Supreme Court made a sharp 180-degree turn. With no historical precedent, they began to uphold the idea that untold damage could be done to American liberty unless the States and courts rejected all recourse or reference to the law of God, the principles of the Bible, and especially the morality and worldview that flows from the Christian faith.
To allow the Christian faith to shape the public arena is now condemned as unconstitutional, a reference to its United States Constitution and its subsequent amendments. Since then, our children are taught from grade school through college a view of United States history that claims America never really was a Christian nation. The textbooks are bled dry of all Christian references. They are taught that the Founding Fathers were primarily atheists or deists.
Deism is a belief that God created the world and then left it alone. He removed himself from its affairs so that there is no divine intervention or interaction. God does not answer prayers or get involved in any way. Students are taught that primarily the atheistic, humanistic philosophers of the enlightenment shaped the thinking and writings of America's earliest leaders. Little or no mention is allowed in the classroom concerning the central role the Bible played in shaping the principles of government which guide our Nation.
Increasingly, Christians that seek to express their faith as the guiding factor in their decisions and actions in the workplace, the arena of politics, or in tax-funded education of their children are punished or censored legally and ridiculed personally as dangerous right wing religionists.
My goal is twofold: first, I want to set the record straight by exposing the lie that the last 40 years of revisionist history and arbitrary judicial legislation concerning American history, the faith of the Founding Fathers and the intent of the United States Constitution, especially the first amendment, which protects religious freedom; and, second, I hope to instill in our hearts a renewed boldness for believing that only a true Biblical Judeo-Christian world view could and did produce a Nation like ours, and only a distinctive Judeo-Christian world view can sustain it.
Now, let me take you back on a journey. Were the Founding Fathers deists or atheists? Actually, 52 of the 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence were orthodox, deeply-committed Christians. The other three all believed in the Bible as divine truth, the God of scripture, and his personal intervention. This deep personal faith was also true of all of our Presidents until recently.
This explains why when you go to Washington, D.C., everywhere you turn there are scriptures written on every monument and building. This explains why the same Congress that signed the Declaration of Independence also formed the American Bible Society, which the second and sixth U.S. Presidents served as chairman of. This explains why after creating the Declaration of Independence, immediately the Continental Congress voted to purchase and import 20,000 copies of scripture for the people of this new Nation.
They were not deists or atheists, but believed that the foundation of this new Nation must rest on the revealed truth of scripture and morality and the constant sovereignty of God revealed in scripture.
Let us let them speak directly. Patrick Henry is called the firebrand of the American Revolution. His words spoken in St. John's Church Richmond on March 23, 1775, "Give me liberty, or give me death," are still memorized by students. But in current textbooks the contents of these words is deleted. Here is what he said.
"An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death."
These sentences have been erased from our textbooks. Was Patrick Henry a Christian? The following year, 1776, he wrote this: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religious, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."
Now to the man that historical revisionists most often claim was a deist, thus who believe God was not concerned in the affairs of men, Benjamin Franklin. Was Benjamin Franklin a deist? Let us allow him to speak for himself.
The time was June 28, 1787. Benjamin Franklin was 81 years old, Governor of Pennsylvania and the most honored member of the Constitutional Convention. The convention was deadlocked over several key issues of State and Federal rights when Franklin rose and reminded them of the Continental Congress in 1776 that shaped the Declaration of Independence.
This is what he said: "In the days of our contest with Great Britain when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity to establish our Nation. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, it is probable that a new Nation cannot rise without his aid. We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it. I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to any business."
The following year, in a letter to the French Minister of State, Franklin, speaking of our Nation, said, "Whoever shall introduce into public office the principles of Christianity will change the face of the world."
The other deist, it is claimed, probably with most evidence, was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was a great student of scripture who honored Christ as his greatest teacher and mentor but doubted his divinity. But was Jefferson a deist? On the front of his well worn Bible Jefferson wrote, "I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our creator and, I hope, to the pure doctrine of Jesus also."
On slavery, Jefferson wrote, "Almighty God has created men's mind free. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."
For the revisionist, these two men are their best and only shot at deist; and they clearly were not. Yet from them they generalize to all. So let us turn to our other early leaders. George Washington is called the Father of our Nation. Listen to his heart on the Christian faith. In his farewell speech on September 19, 1796, he said, "It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition," that is, the idea "that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
What did Washington mean by religion? Was he a true Christian? Let me excerpt several lines from his personal prayer book: "Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the emaculate blood of the lamb and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thee and thy son, Jesus Christ."
At Mount Vernon, Washington, you can still see the benediction he selected. It is John 11:25: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall live even if he dies."
John Adams, our second President, also served as chairman of the American Bible Society. In an address to military leaders he said, "We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
John Jay, our first Supreme Court Justice, stated that when we select our national leaders, if we are to preserve our Nation, we must select Christians. "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."
In fact, 11 of the 13 new State constitutions were also ratified in 1776. All required leaders to take an oath similar to this oath of Delaware: "Everyone appointed to public office must say, ‘I do profess faith in God the father and in the Lord Jesus Christ, his only son, and in the holy ghost; and in God who is blessed forevermore I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, which are given by divine inspiration.’"
At the time of our Nation's bicentennial 1976, political science professors at the University of Houston began to ask some key questions: Why is it that the American Constitution has been able to stand the test of time? Why has it not gone through massive revisions? Why is it looked on as a model by dozens of nations? What wisdom possessed these men to produce such an incredible document? Who did they turn to for inspiration?
They spent 10 years cataloging 15,000 documents of the Founding Fathers. They found that the Founding Fathers most often quoted these three men. The most quoted was Baron Charles Montesquieu, who wrote in his Spirit of the Laws, 1748: "The Christian religion, which orders men to love one another, no doubt creates the best political laws and the best civil laws for each people. The morality of the gospel is the noblest gift ever bestowed by God on man. We shall see that we owe to Christianity benefits which human nature alone can never sufficiently acknowledge. The principles of Christianity, deeply engraved on the heart, would be infinitely more powerful than the false monarchies, the humane virtue of republics, or the servile fear of despotic states."
The second most quoted was Sir William Blackstone, a devout British law professor who believed all laws must be proved from Scripture, and the third was John Locke, whose treatise on civil government quoted the Bible 102 times. Yet, most importantly, they found that the Bible itself was directly quoted four times more than Montesquieu, six times more than Blackstone, and 12 times more than John Locke. In fact, 34 percent of all of the quotes and the writings of the Founding Fathers were direct word-for-word quotes from the Bible. Further, another 60 percent of their quotes were quoting men who were quoting the Bible, so that an incredible 94 percent of all of the quotes in these 15,000 documents were direct quotes from or references to the Bible.
So how did they produce a document that has withstood the test of an evolving government and growing Nation for 225 years? The answer: these men were steeped in the word of God. They understood their need of its constant direction, and they established a Nation based on its undying principles.
Let me illustrate this fact more. When the Founding Fathers were trying to figure out the most effective form of government, they came up with the idea of three distinct branches of the Federal and State government. Do we know how they decided that? They looked to Isaiah 33:22: "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our law-giver, the Lord is our king. He will save us."
Further, they decided there must be a clear separation of powers in these three branches of government to protect from the rise of despotism. They based that conviction on a true understanding of the human heart they found in Jeremiah 17:9: "For the heart is more deceitful than all else and desperately wicked. Who can know it?"
When they sought to develop strong churches throughout the land, and they were encouraged, but not supported, by government funds, they set aside government lands to give to churches, and determined all churches were tax-exempt. We still honor that early conviction. That law was based on Ezra 7:24: "You are also to know that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute, or duty on any of the priests, Levites, singers, temple servants, or other workers in the House of the Lord."
These leaders knew their Bible, and they absolutely trusted its wisdom. So the first great lie in America today is that our Founding Fathers were not Christians seeking to establish a Christian Nation. They most decidedly were.
The second lie emerges from the first. It is that the Founding Fathers [Page: H7123]
established a wall of separation between religion, especially Christianity and government, to ensure that these two would not mix. Do you know that 67 percent of Americans today believe that the phrase "separation of church and state" is part of the Constitution? Remember, the words ``separation, church and state'' do not ever appear in the first amendment and appear nowhere together anywhere in the Constitution. Here is the truth: our Founding Fathers had every intention of establishing a distinctly Christian Nation. They had every intent of also giving freedom to Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or Hinduism. Their intent was to establish a distinctly Christian Nation, but one where no one Christian denomination ruled over the other denominations, as had been the case in so much of Europe. They wanted to honor the fact that under God, all men are created equal in value and rights.
John Quincy Adams was the son of John Adams. He was a U.S. Congressman, the U.S. Minister to Russia, France and Great Britain; Secretary of State under James Monroe; and the sixth U.S. President. He was also the chairman of the American Bible Society, which he considered his highest honor and most important role. Celebrating the 4th of July 1821, President Adams said, "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."
Mr. Speaker, 104 years later, the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, reaffirmed this truth on March 4, 1925:
"America seeks no empires built on blood and forces. She cherishes no purpose save to merit the favor of Almighty God." He late wrote: "The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country."
Not only our Presidents, but also the Supreme Court, for 160 years consistently and categorically ruled in favor of church and state united hand in hand. The first ruling came in 1796, Runkle v. Winemiller. The Supreme Court ruled: "By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion of all sects." They did not consider religions as equal, but only the different variations or denominations of the Christian faith.
The Supreme Court consistently ruled for Christian principle as the foundation of our American laws. In 1811, the Peoples v. Ruggles show this clearly. Mr. Ruggles' crime was that he publicly slandered the Bible. What would happen today? In 1811, Ruggles was arrested and his case went all the way from New York District Court to the Supreme Court. This was their verdict: "You have attacked the Bible. In attacking the Bible, you have attacked Jesus Christ. And in attacking Jesus Christ, you have attacked the roots of our Nation. Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity manifests itself in the dissolving of our civil government."
The Justices sentenced him to 3 months in prison and a $500 fine, one year's wage. This is a more severe punishment than convicted rapists who end up serving on average 85 days in jail.
In 1844, Vida v. Gerrard, a public school teacher, decided she would teach morality without use of the Bible. The Supreme Court ruled "why not use the Bible, especially the New Testament? It should be read and taught as the divine revelation in the schools. Where can the purist principles of morality be learned so clearly and so perfectly as from the New Testament?"
In a landmark decision rendered February 29, 1892, against the claim of the cult called the Church of the Holy Spirit that Christianity was not the faith of the people, the Supreme Court did two powerful things in its ruling. First, Justice Josiah Brewer stated, "Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that they should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent, our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian. No purpose of action against our religion can be imputed to any legislation, State or national, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to this present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation."
But then the Justices went on, citing 87 different legal precedents to affirm that America was formed as a Christian nation by believing Christians. They even spent for the first 100 years tax dollars for Christian missionaries to do the work of evangelism on the frontiers and granted public lands for churches and church-based schools.
Friends, regardless of how we feel about it today, the historical fact is that there was no separation of church and state, other than a lack of government funding of one denomination for 160 years of American history. They were one and the same. The first amendment did not separate religion from government; it simply ensured that no one denomination was favored over all others, as in England.
Let us move across the street from the Supreme Court to Congress.
One example will suffice. As humanism and Darwinism began to rise in the nineteenth century, some made challenges to the idea that America was a Christian Nation. Both Houses of Congress spent 1 year, from 1853 to 1854, studying the connection of America and the Christian faith.
In March 27, 1854, Senate Committee on the Judiciary chair, Senator Badger, issued its final report. Let me quote from this resolution:
"The first amendment religion clause speaks against an establishment of religion. What is meant by that expression? The Founding Fathers intended by this amendment to prohibit an establishment of religion, such as the Church of England presented, or anything like it. But they had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people. They did not intend to spread all over the public authorities and the whole public action of the Nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistic apathy."
What would they say about us today?
I continue to quote:
"In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity. By its general principles, the Christian faith is the great conserving element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of our free institutions. That was the religion of the Founding Fathers of the Republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendents."
Based on this report, in May of 1854, in joint session of Congress, this resolution was passed. This is a resolution passed by the Congress, and I quote:
"The great vital and conserving element in our system of government is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
That was this Congress in May of 1854.
Let us move from Congress to our public schools. For over 140 years, after the first amendment was passed, we spent tax dollars to educate students in public schools that were distinctly Christian.
In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution, in 1782 our Congress voted this resolution: "The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in our schools."
In grammar schools from 1690 until after World War II, two books were the dominant teaching schools. The first and oldest was the New England Primer, used for 200 years from 1690 to almost 1900. The basics of alphabet were taught on Biblical verses.
One lesson went this way:
"A. A wise son makes a glad father but a foolish son is heaviness to his mother.
B. Better is little with the fear of the Lord than abundance apart from him;
C. Come unto Christ, all you who are weary and heavily laden;
D. Do not do the abominable thing, which I hate, sayeth the Lord;
E. Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.''
The second great teaching tool for 100 years was the McGuffey Reader, which went through three editions and sold over 125 million copies until printing was stopped in 1963.
William Holmes McGuffey was the Professor of Moral Philosophy at Jefferson's University of Virginia, and the first President of Ohio University.
President Lincoln called him the "Schoolmaster of the Nation."
In his introduction to teachers at the beginning of his textbook, McGuffey laid out his rationale. Let me quote just two brief paragraphs:
"The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our notions on the character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.
"From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. For all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology."
He went on to say his only apology is for not using the Scriptures more.
Mr. Speaker, why was America great? Because every student coming through our school system was memorizing scripture and learning the Biblical basis of right and wrong, good and evil, sin and salvation. That was the express purpose of our Nation and our Founding Fathers. They were neither deists nor atheists, nor were they trying to exclude religion from a guiding role in the Federal Government and all of its institutions.
Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Christian, including the first, Harvard University, chartered in 1636 and named after beloved New England Pastor John Harvard.
In the original Harvard Student Handbook, rule number 1, now this is in Harvard, think about it today, rule number 1 was that students seeking entrance must know Latin and Greek so that they could study the Scriptures:
"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 Jesus Christ as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."
For over 100 years, more than 50 percent of all of Harvard's graduates were pastors.
America's law schools for 160 years used Blackstone's Commentaries to train attorneys. Every time that a model case or law was mentioned in Blackstone's Commentaries, next to the law in the margin he would print all of the texts in the Bible that supported and illuminated that law to prove that it was just. Those commentaries trained our lawyers for 160 years, and led to the conversion of many law students.
Perhaps the most famous example was Charles Finney, great American evangelist. Finney studied law, became a believer through reading Blackstone, and was used by God to convert 500,000 people in the great revivals of the 1830s and 1840s.
Mr. Speaker, this is why America was great. David Moore interviewed Bob Vernon, Assistant Chief of Police in the LAPD, in 1991. Chief Vernon had hosted a visiting delegation of leading police officers from the Soviet Union in 1989 who came to Los Angeles to see the model police force. They talked through interpreters.
After several days together, the chief Russian officer stood indignant, pointed his finger, and began to speak vehemently, with passion and conviction.
Vernon asked, "What did I say? How did I offend him? What did I do wrong?" The interpreter said, "You did not say anything wrong. He is simply frustrated and asking you: ‘Why is it that America is going the way of the Soviet Union? Why are you moving in that direction? Can you not see that where we have been, it does not work? Why do you push God aside and seek to build only on yourselves?’"
That is the question, why? How do we get from where we were for two centuries to where we are in 2001? Let me tell the Members quickly.
First, the great lie. In 1947, the Supreme Court in Everson vs. Board of Education deviated from every precedent for the first time and in a limited way affirmed a wall of separation between church and State in the public classroom.
This was a totally new approach, a radical change in direction for the Supreme Court. It required ignoring every precedent of Supreme Court rulings for the past 160 years.
Then in 1962, less than 40 years ago, in Engle vs. Vitale, the Supreme Court removed prayer from public schools. Since the founding of the Nation, public school classrooms had begun their day with prayer. Now that was declared unconstitutional and an arbitrary use of the word.
The prayer that was banished stated this:
"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee. We beg Thy blessings upon us and our parents and our teachers and our country. Amen."
But the Supreme Court, without any legal precedent, now declared such prayer to be unconstitutional. Really? The Declaration of Independence mentions God four times, twice in sentences that are clearly intended as written prayers. Is our Declaration of Independence unconstitutional?
Then things happened fast. On June 17, 1963, the Supreme Court ruled in Abington vs. Schemp that Bible reading was outlawed as unconstitutional in the public school system. The Court offered this justification: "If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could and have been psychologically harmful to children." Again, no legal or historical precedent was cited to back up this ruling, Bible reading was now unconstitutional, though the Bible was quoted 94 percent of the time by those who wrote our Constitution and shaped our Nation and its system of education and justice and government.
In 1965, the Courts denied as unconstitutional the right of a student in the public school cafeteria to bow his head and pray audibly for his food. That is against the law in America. In 1980, Stone vs. Graham outlined the Ten Commandments in our public school system. The Supreme Court said this:
"If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments were to have any effect at all, it would be to induce schoolchildren to read them. And if they read them, meditated upon them, and perhaps venerated and obeyed them, this is not a permissible objective."
Incredible. It is not a permissible objective to allow our children to follow the moral principles of the Ten Commandments? James Madison, who was the primary author of the Constitution of the United States, said this about the Ten Commandments: "We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments."
But the Supreme Court, bound to uphold the Constitution of the United States, ignored Madison's interpretation of his own work. How odd, when above the seat of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to this very day the Ten Commandments are listed with the American eagle standing symbolically protecting them. Yet those justices said, "Not for our children."
At the close of every Court session since its inception, the Supreme Court crier said, "God save the United States and the Honorable Court." But we cannot say that in our schools.
What has happened in America in these past 40 years? When we were true to our roots, we were the greatest nation in the world, the dream destination of millions in every country. But starting in 1963, the Bible was banned as psychologically harmful to children. That year, 1963, was the first year an entry about the separation of church and State ever appeared in the World Book Encyclopedia under the United States.
What have we reaped? America 100 years ago had the highest literacy rate of any Nation on Earth. Today we spend more on education than any other Nation in the world, and yet, since 1987, we have graduated more than 1 million high school students who cannot even read their diploma.
We spend more money than any other Nation in the industrialized world to educate our children, and yet, SAT scores fell for 24 straight years before finally leveling off at the bottom in the 1990s.
Has this new protection from religion produced better students? Morally have they changed? Are things better in this new climate of protection from the dangers of religion?
In a 1960 survey, 53 percent of America's teenagers had never kissed, and 57 percent said they had never necked, and that is ``made out'' in our current lingo, and 92 percent of teenagers in [Page: H7125] America said they were virgins in 1960. By 1990, just 30 years later, 75 percent of American high school students are sexually active by 18.
In the next 5 years, we spent $4 billion to educate them on how to be immoral through trumpeting the solution of safe sex, and it worked. One in five teenagers in America today lose their virginity before their 13th birthday, and 19 percent of America's teenagers say they have had more than four sexual partners before graduation.
The result? Every day, 2,700 students get pregnant, 1,100 get abortions, and 1,200 give birth. Every day, another 900 contract a sexually transmitted disease, many incurable. AIDS infection among high school students climbed 700 percent between 1990 and 1995. We have 3.3 million problem drinkers on our high school campuses, over half a million alcoholics, and every given weekend in America, 30 percent of the student population spends some time drunk.
Three thousand children today will watch their parents get divorced, and over 60 percent of the children born this day will spend part or all of their childhood in a single-parent family. There are a quarter of a million reported cases of child abuse every single year, and one in three girls being sexually abused before they are 18, and one in 5 boys. That is America today.
Last year, a young woman in a high school in Oklahoma wrote this poem as a new school prayer. Let me read it for you:
"Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule!
For this great nation under God--
Finds mention of Him very odd.
If scripture now the class recites
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And any time my head I bow--
Becomes a Federal matter now.
Our hair can be purple, orange, or green.
That's no offense, it's a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise!
Only prayer spoken out loud are a serious vice.
For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God's name is prohibited by the State.
We are allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.
They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.
We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
and the 'unwed daddy' our Senior King.
It's inappropriate to teach right from wrong,
We're taught that such "judgments" do not belong.
We can get our condoms and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires, and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed--
No word of God must reach this crowd.
It is scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school’s a mess.
So Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot--my soul please take!"
Our Nation, which used to lead the world in every arena, now leads the world in these areas. We are number one in violent crime, we are number one in divorce, we are number one in teenage pregnancies, we are number one in volunteer abortions, we are number one in illegal drug abuse, we are number one in the industrialized world for illiteracy. What happened?
First of all, Christianity went to sleep. Forty years ago the church gave up the public arena to an increasingly secular government and said we would focus on the souls of men. Actually, the first leader to call for that division was not one of our founding fathers. His name was Adolph Hitler, who told the preachers of Germany, "You take care of their souls and I will take care of the rest of their lives." The Bible teaches that peace within a Nation comes as God's people stay active and pray for their leaders.
Scripture challenges us in 1 Timothy 2:1-2: "I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayer, intercession requests for everyone, for kings and all in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all goodliness and holiness."
Here is the million-dollar question: Are we better off today? Since we banished God from all our public life and systems and allowed a vocal group of humanist activists to tell us our faith is dangerous to the liberties of this Nation, are we better off? Are we satisfied with what is happening in America?
Alexis de Tocqueville was a famous French statesman and scholar. Beginning in 1831 he toured America for years to find the secret of her genius and strength which was marveled at throughout the world. He published a two-part work titled, ``Democracy in America,'' which is still hailed as the most penetrating analysis of the relationship of character to democracy ever written.
Here is how de Tocqueville summed up his experience:
"In the United States the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but shapes the intelligence of the people. Christianity therefore reigns without obstacle, by universal consequence. The consequence is, as I have before observed, that every principle in a moral world is fixed and in force.
"I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her great harbors; her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her universal public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.
"But not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good; and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!"
That is why America was great. That is why America is now a mess.
Let me close by suggesting the answer offered us by President Abraham Lincoln in the address he gave calling for April 30, 1860, seeking a national day of humiliation, fasting and prayer, and I read from Abraham Lincoln:
"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and powers as no other Nation has ever grown.
"But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
"Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving Grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."
This was Abraham Lincoln.
Now we have an entire population that has no clue of its true American heritage. They have not forgotten; they have never known or heard the truth of our founding as a Christian Nation.
O Lord, forgive us, heal us and lead us to stand for what our fathers fought to give us, to promote the power of the gospel in shaping this Nation and to have the courage of our convictions as Judeo-Christians. May we not shrink back. Abraham Lincoln said this to our Nation. We need to hear it again.
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom."
I thank Dr. Fredericks for permitting me to plagiarize his address.