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Sun October 5, 2008
Judeo-Christian influence on America's founding
By Richard Nelson
Murray, KY – There are many things that parents do not want their children to say, but prayers are usually not one of them. Unless, they're militant secularists. The Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently wrapped up another school year of filing lawsuits to stop graduation prayers. Prayer, however, isn't the anti-religion lobby's only concern. Crosses on city seals and Ten Commandments displays in the public square are also in their crosshairs. So is reference to Jesus Christ in official public meetings. All are recent examples of a growing hostility to the public expression of Christian faith.
In an age that espouses diversity and tolerance, it is remarkable that targeting Christian speech and symbols is acceptable. But evangelists for secularism have done a good job at converting key constituencies-- most notably the media and judiciary--to believe that the First Amendment means something other than what it says. It states: "Congress, shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech....."
History tells us that the Founders Fathers feared England's national church, so they restricted Congress from establishing a national religion. The plain language of the First Amendment makes clear that Congress is restricted, not schools that allow a prayer, or local governments that post religious documents, or states, which by the way, supported religious denominations when the Bill of Rights was written.
If anything, the Founders encouraged Christianity in public life. Consider that throughout the Revolution, Congress passed 16 proclamations of prayer and fasting that specifically referred to God, Jesus Christ or quoted Scripture. In 1777, a shortage of Bibles caused by the war resulted in Congress' approving the importation of 20,000 Bibles from overseas. In 1782, the first Bible printed on American soil was by an act of Congress so they could get it into the schools across the country. And in 1787, Congress required territories to teach religion and morality as a prerequisite to statehood.
Congress still prays. In fact, they hire a chaplain. The Supreme Court opens in prayer, and with the words: "God save this honorable court." The president takes his oath of office with right hand on the Bible and with a pledge of "so help me God."
In order for secularists to completely sanitize the public square from Christian references it will take some doing. They'll have to start with the Mayflower Compact and Declaration of Independence. Remove the phrase "under God" from the pledge of allegiance. Change the national motto "In God we Trust". Alter the words of the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America. And remove reference to God in the preambles of all 50 state constitutions, including Kentucky's which says "grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy."
As more Kentuckians rediscover their history, it becomes increasingly clear that the Judeo-Christian tradition has had a tremendous influence on this nation. And it will become increasingly difficult to persuade them that the First Amendment protects pornography but not a Ten Commandments display at our state capitol.