As we approach July 4th, the birthday of our country, it is edifying to look back upon the original heritage of this great nation and ask what has made America so great, the most blessed nation of the past 25 centuries. An honest look at our history leads us to realize the United States was originally called to be a Christian nation and the blessings of God have made us great. The proof of the calling lies in the pillars of our nation’s heritage.
First is the pillar of the heritage of Christian settlers. During the early to mid-17th century, pilgrims poured into this country looking for a place to freely practice their Christian beliefs without the king’s oversight of the activities of the church. The first group came on the Mayflower in 1620 and began the settlement of Plymouth Rock. Over the next 40 years, 65,000 made the journey across the Atlantic for religious freedom.
Second is the pillar of the heritage of Christian documents which served as the foundation for our new nation. It began with the Mayflower Compact, which was drafted and signed by the pilgrims on the Mayflower before they disembarked. It was a covenant with God to found colonies for Him. Next came the Declaration of Independence, which separated us from the country of England. It was drafted and signed in 1776 and became known as the birth certificate of America. The Declaration refers directly to God three times when it calls Him “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” and “Supreme Judge of the World.” It mentions Him a fourth time indirectly when it refers to a reliance on the protection of “Divine Providence.” The charters and constitutions of the original 13 colonies all contained statements of reliance on God. They required elected officials to believe in God. Massachusetts required immigrants to be Christian. Today, the constitutions of all 50 states acknowledge God, and most of them acknowledge Him as the Creator. The U.S. Constitution was also based on Christian principles. Fifty-three of the 56 Founding Fathers were evangelical Christians. Ninety-five percent of the quotations used to inspire portions of the Constitution were from the Bible. The separation of powers was inspired by Jeremiah 17:9. The three branches of government were inspired by Isaiah 33:22. Tax exemption for churches was inspired by Ezra 7:24.
The third pillar is the heritage of Christian court decisions. For about a century and a half, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Christian beliefs in its rulings. In 1799, the court ruled that legislators could not legislate against Christianity. In 1811, the court ruled that an attack on Jesus was an attack on Christian principles and therefore was an attack on America. In 1844, the court rejected the notion of separating morality and Christianity. There are nearly 160 years worth of such examples in the Christian heritage of Supreme Court decisions.
The fourth pillar is the heritage of political support for Christianity. Presidents from George Washington to Dwight Eisenhower have quoted the importance of godliness in governing our nation. In the 19th century, both the House of Representatives and the Senate published reports declaring America a Christian nation.
As we approach the Fourth of July and see fireworks lighting up the sky around us, we should also remember we are here because God brought us here to establish a Christian nation for Him. I encourage each one of you to pray daily for our nation. Let us praise the Lord for His many blessings, and may our prayers for America ring louder than the festive fireworks.
May God bless America.
Ed Manners is a retired pastor who preached in Colorado, Virginia and Tennessee. He now lives in Rockingham.