America's Christian Heritage
Written By: Robert McCurry | Posted: Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
"Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD; renew our days as of old." - Lamentations 5:21
Renew v. 1: to make or become new, fresh, or strong again 2: to restore to existence: recreate, revive 3: to make or do again 4: repeat, to begin again; resume.
The words of the Lord Jesus to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4, 5, are as applicable today as when they were first spoken: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick [God's presence] out of his place, except thou repent." These solemn words can also be relevant to individuals, Christian marriages, and a nation.
From day one the true sovereign God of the Bible was acknowledged, confessed, and included in the formation and founding of America; November 11, 1620, the Pilgrims sign the Mayflower Compact aboard the Mayflower in Plymouth harbor.
"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten . . . Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith. . . . do by these presents solemnly & mutually in ye presence of God and one of another, covenant & combine our selves together into a civil body politick."
Eleven of the first 13 States required faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible as qualification for holding public office. For example:
Constitution of Vermont July 8, 1777, (claimed by New Hampshire and New York at the time of the Revolution): Section 9...And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz. "I ____ do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the Rewarder of the good and Punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration, and own and profess the Protestant religion."
Constitution of Pennsylvania, September 28, 1776 (Signed by Ben Franklin): Plan or Frame of Government, Section 10. And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the Rewarder of the good and the Punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.
Constitution of Delaware, 1776 (written by George Read and Thomas McKean, both signers of the Declaration of Independence): Article 22. Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall...make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: "I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."
Constitution of North Carolina, 1776:
Article 32. That no person, who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.
The Constitution of each of the 50 States acknowledges and calls upon the Providence of God for the blessings of freedom.
James McHenry, who died May 3, 1816, was a physician in the Revolutionary War, a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Constitution. He was Secretary of War under Washington and Adams, helping to plan the Military Academy at West Point.
As president of the first Bible Society in Baltimore, James McHenry stated in 1813:
"Neither let it be overlooked, that public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures.
The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness.
In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience...It is a Book...fitted to every situation."
In 1777, the First Continental Congress, facing a national shortage of '"Bibles for our schools, and families, and for the public worship of God in our churches, " announced that they "desired to have a Bible printed under their care and by their encouragement" appropriated funds to import 20, 000 copies of the Bible.
In 1782, Congress pursued a plan to print a Bible that would be "a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools' and therefore approved the production of the first English language Bible printed in America that contained the congressional endorsement that 'the United States in Congress assembled