Friday, July 1, 2022

Why Celebrate America in Church this Sunday?

 This article was first published in 2021.

Oh, wonderful July! Fireworks, barbecues, and community parties welcome this hot summer month. My heart beats with pride as I listen to patriotic music. I recently added two new CD’s to my patriotic collection: American Jubilee by the Cincinnati Pops and For God and Country by Dolly Parton. How wonderful to be an American and live in the land of the free.

My wife and I try to instill in our children a taste of the incredible heritage we have as citizens of the United States of America. That heritage is one to be embraced and valued. A careful look at our Founding Fathers and their documents reveal an overwhelming bias toward biblical Christianity.

Fifty-five delegates attended the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which produced the Constitution of the United States. The religious sympathies of this core group of men shaped the foundations of our republic: 28 Episcopalians, eight Presbyterians, seven Congregationalists, two Lutherans, two Dutch Reformed, two Methodists, two Roman Catholics, one unknown, and only three deists. So, 93 percent of the attendees were self-proclaimed Christians.

The American Patriot’s Bible shares, “While much has been written in recent years to try to dismiss the fact that America was founded upon the biblical principles of Judeo-Christianity, all the revisionism in the world cannot change the facts. Anyone who examines the original writings, personal correspondence, biographies, and public statements of the individuals who were instrumental in the founding of America will find an abundance of quotations showing the profound extent to which their thinking and lives were influenced by a Christian worldview.”

High View of God

America’s Founders shared a high view of the Lord.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, “With us, Christianity and religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people our institutions did not presuppose Christianity and did not often refer to it and exhibit relations with it.” 

And U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story wrote, “One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations.”

Strong Belief in the Bible

The New England Primer, America’s first textbook, taught the ABCs to children by memorizing basic biblical truths and lessons about life: "A. In Adam’s fall, we sinned all. B. Heaven to find, the Bible mind. C. Christ crucified for sinners died. The Founding Fathers stressed the relationship between a sound education based upon biblical absolutes and the future of the nation." 

Noah Webster wrote, “The moral principles and precepts found in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.” 

In 1791, Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration and Constitution, Surgeon General of the Continental Army, and leading educator, argued why the Bible should never be removed from public education: “In contemplating 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.” 

In his Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical, he wrote, “The Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life… [T]he Bible… should be read in our schools in preference to all other books because it contains the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public happiness.”

George Washington, addressing the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1789 shared that national morality could not prevail without religious principle.  To try and remove the religious influence is to “shake the foundation of the fabric” of our country.

Chief Justice John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Vice-President of the American Bible Society, understood this reality.  He wrote, 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. 

Many years later, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, shares in his book A Nation Like No Other, “The Founders’ distinctively Christian faith is well documented, as is their conviction that government must be infused with Christian principles.”

Judeo-Christian Ethic

The Founding Fathers’ documents shaped the genesis of this nation, springing from a common understanding, or what we today call “worldview,” of how the Creator designed life to work. This approach to life is known  as the Seven Principles of the Judeo- Christian Ethic, rooted in values from the Old and New Testaments.

1. The dignity of human life. God made every person in His image, and thus every human has certain “unalienable rights.”

2. The traditional monogamous marriage. The biblical family unit is the basic building block of our society.

3. A national work ethic. Working hard represents dignity, and our free enterprise system encourages it.

4. The right to a God-centered education. Our forefathers intended an education system that taught the Bible, Creationism, and moral obligation.

5. The Abrahamic Covenant. Covenantal theology understands that obedience to God yields blessing for a nation or individual.

6. Common decency. America is great when her people follow the Golden Rule, treating others as they want to be treated.

7. Divinely ordained establishments. God established the home, civil government, and the church.

The founders of America understood the constitutions, laws, and agreements of federal and state governments depended on the acceptance of these basic ethics.


Remember Correctly

It grieves me the more I hear pastors who do not want to include patriotism in their churches. 

I believe the church is the best place to celebrate and remember our national heritage. To let our great American special days pass by hardly recognized by the local church is an opportunity lost.

In years past, Baptist congregations celebrated our nation’s birthday with gusto. Churches like First Baptist Jacksonville, Florida, Belleview Baptist Church in Memphis, First Baptist Columbia, SC, First Baptist Atlanta, First Baptist Dallas, TX, and Thomas Road Baptist Church enjoyed extravagant God and Country services, recognizing our Armed Forces, saluting the flag, and singing good old American songs.

You can watch the "Look Up, America" celebration from First Jacksonville in July, 1986, here.

Today, some Christians call such celebrations bordering on idolatry, and a growing number of pastors shy away from including God and Country in our worship gatherings.

The Old Testament Law and Prophets repeatedly warned of the tendency to forget – or to not remember correctly. In different eras, generations arose that forgot their heritage and did not remember what God had said or done.

Today in America, we face a growing tendency to forget our godly, Chrisitan heritage – and to not remember our history correctly. The Left consistently libels America as fundamentally flawed, racist, and in need of massive change. They perpetuate the lie that to remember our Founding Fathers is "structural racism" - another attempt from the Left to reshape our thinking. And I believe the Left is not only influencing the world wrongly – but parts of the church.

July 4th, among other American holidays like Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day, are opportunities ripe for teaching and remembering correctly. It is a time to remind ourselves and our congregations of the Christian foundation upon which we stand. Take the time to remind people that Christianity is one of the main reasons America became great.

And, it's a time to call God's people to return to God on behalf of the nation in repentance and faith.

David Lane recently wrote, “Secularism was inaugurated as America’s official religion by eight U.S. Supreme Court Justices in the mid-20th century. And with that they tore down the American Founders’ Christian bulwark of liberty and autonomy that had been responsible for 350 remarkable years of American history.”

If the church refuses to celebrate our covenantal national heritage and leaves it to the secular world, we abdicate our responsibility and privilege to remember and pass on those foundational concepts to others. And the country will continue remembering incorrectly.

As Christian parents, pastors, and Americans, may we instill in our children a love and respect for our nation. And may we proudly proclaim together, “In God we trust!

The Family Research Council and their Watchmen on the Wall ministry offer excellent resources for pastors to do what I suggest in this article - lead your people to remember our godly heritage. See Stand Courageous here and  Call 2 Fall here.

Here is a resource specifically about the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

See related resources:

Three Cs That Made America Great: Christianity, Capitalism and the Constitution  Mike Huckabee

America's Godly Heritage

The American Heritage Series

Building on the American Heritage Series

The American Patriot's Bible from Thomas Nelson

A Nation Like No Other by Newt Gingrich

Christians: Engage Politics and the Public Square

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.

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