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America Relies on God: Public Days of Fasting and Thanksgiving During the American Revolution

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on November 24, 2016

god_bless_americaAs America has humbled herself before God and been obedient to His commandments, He has poured out His blessings upon this nation in innumerable ways. It was by God’s hand and for His purposes that America came into being as the world’s first Christian republic, but it was through the people who covenanted themselves with God that He was able to do His work. Almost all the people who colonized America, though they were from different denominations and Christian persuasions, embraced the Puritan doctrine of Divine Providence, seeing God in history as “directly supervising the affairs of men, sending evil upon the city . . . for their sins, . . . or blessing his people when they turn from their evil ways.”1 Looking to the Scriptures for the source of their law, both personal and civil, they firmly believed God’s blessings would come upon those who obey His commands and curses would come upon the disobedient (see Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26). This is why during times of calamity or crisis both church and civil authorities would proclaim days of fasting and prayer; and when God responded with deliverance and blessing, they would proclaim days of thanksgiving and prayer. From 1620 until the American Revolution at least 1000 such days were proclaimed by governments at all levels, and many more by various churches.2 This continued during our struggle for independence, through our first century as a nation, and, in some measure, even up until today.

The First Great Awakening Beginning in the late 1730s and continuing for about two decades, a great awakening occurred in America. This revival of Christianity set on fire the hearts of the people all over the colonies, which in turn produced a greater morality and godliness than before existed in this nation. This was quite phenomenal for virtue had always permeated America.

One example of this is attested to by historian James Truslow Adams, who said, “I have found only one case of a colonial traveler being robbed in the whole century preceding the Revolution.”3 The Great Awakening had such an impact upon the colonies that in some towns almost the entire populace was converted to Christ. Benjamin Franklin wrote of this time period that “it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”4 This revival of Christianity in the hearts of the people had “expression not merely in church attendance, but in all the activities of life.”5

Universities such as Princeton, Rutgers, Dartmouth and Brown were founded in order to supply all the colonies with learned and influential clergy. These universities produced not only Godly clergy but Godly leaders in civil government, business, and every other aspect of life. Providentially, this awakening occurred while our future Founding Fathers were young men. The men who won the Revolutionary War, formed our Constitutional Republic, and set our nation properly on course were thus equipped with the virtue, morality, self-government, and Biblical worldview necessary for their future stations.

Even the non-Christians, as Franklin and Jefferson, were affected in this way. Franklin said he “never doubted . . . the existence of the Deity; that He made the world, and governed it by His Providence;. . . that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.”6 The ideas upon which our nation was birthed — the right of man to life, liberty, and property— had their origin in God. As they originated in God, they were also secured due to His blessings upon this nation. He blessed not only individuals, but the entire nation. As America humbled herself before God by obedience to His Word and acknowledgment of her dependence upon Him for success in the Revolutionary War and the formation of the new nation, God not only provided wise and virtuous leaders, but also supernaturally intervened on behalf of the American army on many occasions. From the initial conflict with Britain, the American Colonies relied upon God.

George Washington’s words to his wife upon departure to take command of the Continental army, reflected the heart of the American people: “I shall rely . . . confidently on that Providence, which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me.”7

To punish Massachusetts for its action at the Boston Tea Party, England closed the Boston port on June 1, 1774. The response of the colonies revealed in Whom they looked for help. The Virginia House of Burgesses, in resolves penned by Jefferson, “set apart the first day of June as a day of fasting and prayer, to invoke the divine interposition to give to the American people one heart and one mind to oppose by all just means every injury to American rights.”8 On that day large congregations filled the churches. This occurred not only in Virginia but throughout the colonies. Action followed this prayer as the colonists began to voluntarily provide aid and encouragement to Boston as that city’s commerce was cut off by the British blockade. This voluntary and universal action revealed that “beneath the diversity that characterized the colonies, there was American unity.”9 The American people recognized this unity came from a common Christian bond among the people of all the colonies.

In response to the charity that flowed into the city, the Boston Gazette of July 11, 1774, responded by writing, “my persecuted brethren of this metropolis, you may rest assured that the guardian God of New England, who holds the hearts of his people in his hands, has influenced your distant brethren to this benevolence.”10 A few months later, in September of 1774, the first Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia. The first act of the first session of the Congress was to pass a resolution calling for the opening of Congress the next day with prayer by Rev. Duché. The next morning Rev. Duché did pray and read from the thirty-fifth Psalm, as Washington, Henry, Lee, Jay and others knelt and joined with him in prayer. John Adams wrote about this scene in a letter to his wife: “I never saw a greater Effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that Morning. . . . It has had an excellent Effect upon every Body here.”11

God’s involvement in the founding of America is again seen on April 19, 1775. This day marked the battle of Lexington, of which Rev. Jonas Clark proclaimed: “From this day will be dated the liberty of the world.”12 It was his parishioners who shed the first blood of the Revolution, and it was on his church lawn that it occurred. God made certain that on this day His people had proper support, for on April 19, the entire colony of Connecticut was fasting and praying. On March 22, when the Governor of Connecticut, Jonathan Trumbull, proclaimed April 19 as a “Day of publick Fasting and Prayer,” he probably did not realize the significance of that date; but the One who rules heaven and earth and directs the course of history undoubtably knew and was able to direct the humble hearts of the colonists to pray. In part, Trumbull’s proclamation asked, “that God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us, to bring us to a thorough Repentance and effectual Reformation, that our Iniquities may not be our Ruin; that He would restore, preserve and secure the Liberties of this, and all the other British American Colonies, and make this Land a mountain of Holiness and habitation of Righteousness forever.”13

Connecticut was not the only colony to lay the foundations of the War for Independence in prayer, for on April 15, 1775, Massachusetts officially proclaimed May 11 to be set apart as a “Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” — a day where all their confidence was to be “reposed only on that God who rules in the Armies of Heaven, and without whose Blessing the best human Counsels are but foolishness — and all created Power Vanity.”14 America continued to humble herself before God and show her reliance upon Him throughout the war. Frequent days of prayer and fasting were observed, not only by individuals and local churches, but also by the Continental Army, and all the newly united States of America.

Immediately after the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, they appointed chaplains to Congress as well as ordering chaplains to be provided for the army. These chaplains were paid with public funds. As God’s people and the nation humbled themselves and prayed, He moved mightily on their behalf. He gave wisdom to America to know when and how to respond to the injustices of Britain. He worked Christian character into the American people, her leaders, and her army so they could endure many hardships and not give up their fight for liberty, even in seemingly hopeless situations. He also controlled the weather and arranged events to assure eventual victory for the new nation.

One such miraculous event occurred during the summer of 1776. During the Battle of Long Island, Washington and his troops had been pushed back to the East River and surrounded by the much larger British army. Washington decided to retreat across the wide East River, even though it appeared doomed to fail. If it did fail, this probably would have marked the end of the war. Yet the God in Whom Washington and the nation trusted came to their aid. He caused a storm to arise which protected the American army from the enemy, then stopped it so as to allow the Americans to escape. He also miraculously brought in a fog to cover the retreat. In addition, He directed a servant, sent to warn the British, to those soldiers who would not understand him— German-speaking mercenaries. Thanks to God, 9000 men with all their supplies had miraculously retreated to New York. Here we see, as American General Greene said, “the best effected retreat I ever read or heard of.” This event was so astonishing that many (including General Washington) attributed the safe retreat of the American army to the hand of God.15

On October 17, 1777, British General Burgoyne was defeated by Colonial forces at Saratoga. Earlier, General Howe was supposed to have marched north to join Burgoyne’s 11,000 men at Saratoga. However, in his haste to leave London for a holiday, Lord North forgot to sign the dispatch to General Howe. The dispatch was pigeon-holed and not found until years later in the archives of the British army. This inadvertence, plus the fact that contrary winds kept British reinforcements delayed at sea for three months, totally altered the outcome at Saratoga in favor of America.16 In response to the victory, the Continental Congress proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and praise to God. In part, they stated, “Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God, . . . and it having pleased Him in His abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of His common providence, but also to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war for the defence and establishment of our inalienable rights and liberties, particularly in that He hath been pleased . . . to crown our arms with most signal success: it is therefore recommended . . . to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December, for solemn thanksgiving and praise.” They recommended for everyone to confess their sins and humbly ask God, “through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance” and thus He then would be able to pour out His blessings upon every aspect of the nation.17

This is the official resolution of our Congress during the Revolutionary War! No wonder the blessings of God flowed upon this nation. Similar resolutions were also issued by the Commander of the American army, George Washington. When Benedict Arnold’s treason was providentially discovered in September of 1780, both Congress and Washington acknowledged it was by the Hand of God.

Congress declared December 7, 1780, a day of Thanksgiving in which the nation could give thanks to God for His “watchful providence” over them. In a letter to John Laurens, Washington wrote, “In no instance since the commencement of the War has the interposition of Providence appeared more conspicuous than in the rescue of the Post and Garrison of West Point from Arnold’s villainous perfidy.”18 In Washington’s official address to the Army announcing Arnold’s treason, he stated, “The providential train of circumstances which led to it [his discovery of Arnold’s treason] affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine protection.”19

This Divine protection of the liberties of America was seen over and over again during the Revolution — at Trenton and the crossing of the Delaware; during the winter at Valley Forge; in France becoming America’s ally; during the miraculous retreat of the Americans from Cowpens; and at the Battle of Yorktown.20 Throughout all these events America consistently gave thanks to Almighty God, humbled herself before Him, and sought to obey Him in all spheres of life. This released the blessings and grace of God upon this nation which enabled America to be victorious in her struggle for freedom.

Some years later, God’s grace provided wisdom to establish the United States Constitution, and in so doing provide a Christian form of government through which the Christian spirit of this nation would effectively flow. For America to continue to be a citadel of liberty and prosperity, we must continually humble ourselves before Him who gave birth to this nation and acknowledge with George Washington in his first inaugural speech of April 30, 1789, that “no people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished, by some token of providential agency.”21

In 1787, a committee of all the states of the United States of America, gratefully looking back over all the preceding years, set apart October 19, 1787, “as a day of public prayer and thanksgiving” to their “all-bountiful Creator” who had conducted them “through the perils and dangers of the war” and established them as a free nation, and gave “them a name and a place among the princes and nations of the earth.” In that official proclamation they wrote that the “benign interposition of Divine Providence hath, on many occasions been most miraculously and abundantly manifested; and the citizens of the United States have the greatest reason to return their most hearty and sincere praises and thanksgiving to the God of their deliverance, whose name be praised.”22 God is the One who laid the foundation for America and the One Who assured her birth and growth as a nation. Apart from His continued influence, we cannot expect our nation to be maintained.

Stephen McDowell

End Notes 1. W. DeLoss Love, Jr., The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1895), 41.

2. See Love, pp. 464–514 for a list.

3. James Truslow Adams, A History of American Life, Vol. III, Provincial Society, 1690-1763 (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1927), 161.

4. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: Walter J. Black, Inc., 1932), 217.

5. Adams, p. 284.

6. The Autobiography of Franklin, p. 182.

7. William J. Johnson, George Washington the Christian (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1976, reprint), 69.

8. The Christian History of the Constitution, Verna M. Hall, compiler (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1980), 336.

9. Ibid., pp. 338-339.

10. Ibid.

11. The Book of Abigail and John, Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975), 76.

12. They Preached Liberty, Franklin P. Cole, editor (Indianapolis: Liberty Press), 39.

13. Copy of proclamation in The Christian History of the American Revolution, Consider and Ponder, Verna M. Hall, compiler (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1976), 495.

14. The Christian History of the Constitution, p. Id.

15. See Mark A. Beliles and Stephen K. McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville: Providence Foundation, 1991), 158-161.

16. America, Great Crises in Our History Told by Its Makers, A Library of Original Sources, Vol. III, Issued by Americanization Department, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Chicago, 1925, p. 211.

17. B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), 531.

18. Beliles and McDowell, 163-164.

19. America, p. 285.

20. See Beliles and McDowell, America’s Providential History, Chapter 11.

21. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson (Washington: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), vol. 1.

22. B.F. Morris, 542-543.

 

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Evil at the Gate

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on May 3, 2016

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“Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. …They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other” (Daniel 5:1–6).

While Belshazzar the king stood there in fear, Daniel gave him the word of the Lord: “O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor…But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this” (Daniel 5:18–22).

We see here that this was not the first time God had dealt with pride in this nation. Before Belshazzar, a king named Nebuchadnezzar ruled in Babylon, and this was the word that was given to him: “This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men. They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules” (Daniel 4:17, 25–26). In other words,“Nebuchadnezzar, you have exalted yourself above the knowledge of God, engaging in practices that God has clearly forbidden. Because of the pride of your heart, your kingdom is going to be cut down. However, there will be a stump left, and it will grow again after you are humbled.”

And now Daniel was standing before the one whom he called Nebuchadnezzar’s son, saying, “Belshazzar, you are well aware of how God deals with pride! You know that you cannot deal treacherously with God and escape the consequences. Yet even knowing this, you have not humbled yourself.”

■ AMERICA’S OFTEN-FORGOTTEN HISTORY

In the formative years of the United States of America, we, too, set our hand to shameful practices which ultimately brought about the judgment of God, just as in Belshazzar’s day.

In the years when slavery became an acceptable practice, 12.5 million Africans were stolen from their homeland—mostly the young and the strong. Approximately 10.5 million survived while 2 million died en route to their various destinations due to the cruelty imposed on them. According to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 6 percent of those who survived were delivered to North America, making the numbers somewhere in the vicinity of 630,000 slaves that we attained. Most people today have no idea that even Wall Street in Manhattan was once a slave-trading post.

Tragically, thousands of slaves died because of the conditions they were forced to live in, even after arriving on the shores of America. Amputations were a common punishment for slaves trying to gain their freedom, which was actually the irony of ironies—a nation that was priding itself on freedom from tyranny became in itself tyrannical to a whole race of people that were brought to its shores. Many of the African slaves were buried without any record of who they were.

Although there were other circumstances, in great measure, slavery was the predominant issue that led to the onset of the Civil War in this country. In the war, 625,000 young people in America died—not only men but women. That was 2 percent of the American population!

In President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which took place when both slavery and the Civil War were nearing an end, he suggested that the death and destruction brought on by the war was divine retribution to America for possessing slaves. He even believed that it might be the will of God for the war to continue “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.”

As the Bible says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, whatever a man sows that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). I do not believe it is a coincidence that 630,000 slaves were dropped off in America, and later 625,000 American sons and daughters died in the Civil War. Just as thousands of the slaves died because of their cruel living conditions, 56,000 people died from starvation and disease in prison camps during the war. Many slaves were buried without dignity or any record of who they were. In the war, 40 percent of the dead were never identified; they had been left to rot in piles on the battlefield.

■ CONTINUING IN PRIDE

And so we must ask ourselves: What are we doing with the history that we know? There is no excuse for the ignorance of what we once did and how God responded in this nation. As we saw in our opening text, Belshazzar, too, was without excuse. “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this” (Daniel 5:22). Belshazzar continued in his pride and rebellion, even though he should have known that God will not be mocked.

The indictment continued: “And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold (the gods of prosperity), bronze and iron (the gods of human strength and ingenuity), wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified” (Daniel 5:23). Similarly, in America, we have praised the gods of silver and of gold. We allowed preachers to be raised up, unchallenged. Absolute charlatans came in and taught the people that somehow godliness is a means to financial gain.

“Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.” (Daniel 5:24–30).

The writing was on the wall, yet what did Belshazzar do? He got up from the table and proclaimed Daniel to be the third ruler in his kingdom! He should have turned to prayer. He should have fallen on his knees and cried out for mercy. He should have barricaded the gates. Instead, he simply decorated Daniel!

Historians tell us that the Medes and Persians were already at the gate, and they ended up entering the city without any resistance from the people within. That very night, Belshazzar was slain.

In the same way, in this hour, evil is at the gate in America! Can’t you see that the handwriting is already on the wall? We are on the verge of being given over to the godless. In fact, the godless with their value system have already largely infiltrated our society. However, we are on the verge of something much deeper and darker than anything we could have imagined.

■  IT’S TIME TO PRAY

This leaves us with one question: What will we do as the Church of Jesus Christ? We are the only ones left with the power to push back the darkness. We do not have to open the gate and allow this nation to be flooded with evil. That is, unless we become like Belshazzar and his entourage, who agreed with the word of God yet could do nothing about it. All they could do was decorate the prophet, saying, “Yes, this is a man of God. Yes, this is a word from God!” Similarly, you can read this newsletter and call me an anointed man of God; you can agree that this message is from the Lord, yet still do nothing.

However, I remind you that God said to His own people, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). We must admit that our ways have not been God’s ways—that we have pursued pleasure more than God. We must acknowledge that we have failed to be a light to this generation and turn from our wicked ways!

According to His Word, we must also humble ourselves and pray. Oh, if ever there was a time to pray, it is now! If your church does not have a prayer meeting, start one in your home! If we do not pray, what kind of country are we going to be leaving for our children and grandchildren? What kind of evil is going to invade the classroom? What kinds of laws are going to be passed obligating the Church of Jesus Christ to become partakers of this nation’s sin?

I would like you to seriously consider these things, for we are living in a moment when evil is at the gate of our nation. However, the good news is that it can still be averted in measure, for God is good and His mercy endures forever. I believe God can still touch our children; He can still touch our churches and our neighborhoods. I believe that America can still experience a third great awakening before that final day of judgment comes upon this whole world.

But I also know that there has never been a great awakening anywhere at any time in history without somebody, somewhere, praying and laying hold of God. It all begins with prayer. In the book of Ezekiel, the Lord said, “I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30). I can picture the Spirit of God going through the streets of a nation that was known for its religion. There was a deep pleading in the heart of God, for He did not want to have to judge that nation. Yet the people were probably busy, just as we are today. “I have children to tend to. I have groceries to buy. I work long hours on my job.” Everyone had an excuse, and so they remained unaware of the critical moment in history they were living in.

■ ANSWERING THE CALL

However, as the writer of Hebrews said, “I have a vision of better things in your case” (see Hebrews 6:9). I believe with all my heart that some of you reading this newsletter will take this call seriously and will not simply put away this plea from the Holy Spirit. You understand that we are living in a crisis moment, and are willing to get up and say, “I will go to the gate. I will intercede, and I will trust God for the strength to push back the plans of darkness to destroy our society!”

It is encouraging to remember that even though the Medes and Persians did take over Babylon, Daniel, because he was a righteous man, was technically transported into the next society and given much favor. He became one of the vessels God used to influence the king to sign a decree allowing God’s people to return to the Promised Land to rebuild the testimony of the Lord.

And so I challenge you now to pray as you have never prayed before. You and I have no excuse for remaining in spiritual poverty. After all, everything was accomplished for us on the cross, and the Lord has left us here on this earth as His co-laborers to win a harvest of souls. He has given us the assurance that whatever we ask, believing, we shall receive. That means we are not powerless; we do not have to merely sit as spectators, watching this godless parade flood our nation. No! We have power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (see Luke 10:19). We have the power to stand at the gates and resist evil. We have the power to believe God for a spiritual awakening. We have the power to call down heaven in order that His Name might be exalted in this generation—and by God’s grace, that is what we will do!

Carter Conlon
©2016 Times Square Church

Courtesy of:

https://www.tscnyc.org/sermon_newsletter/2016/May/2016-05_Carter_Conlon_Evil_is_at_the_Gate.html

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Thomas More Law Center Continues Fight Against Common Core; Files Brief to Uphold Missouri Ruling That Testing is Illegal

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 27, 2015

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Continuing its national battle against the federal government’s attempted takeover of public education, the Thomas More Law Center, last week, filed a friend of the court brief in the Missouri Court of Appeals supporting a lower court decision that held the State’s participation and membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (“SBAC”) is illegal and SBAC itself is an “unlawful interstate compact … whose existence and operation violate[s] the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

The lower court ruling which stopped Missouri from paying over $4 million in membership fees to SBAC, is being appealed by Missouri state officials, including Governor Jay Nixon.

The original lawsuit was filed by D. John Sauer of the St. Louis, Missouri, firm Clark & Sauer, LLC in September 2014 on behalf of concerned Missouri residents and taxpayers.

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, joined with Mr. Sauer in filing a similar lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SBAC in North Dakota. A North Dakota District Judge will hear arguments next week on whether he should stop North Dakota from participating in SBAC.

The TMLC first became involved in the fight to stop Common Core in response to concerns of parents and teachers over the federal government’s control of curriculum nationwide and the standards themselves. As a result, the TMLC previously developed a Test Refusal and Student Privacy Protection Form and aCommon Core Resource Page as a general reference and guide for concerned parents and individuals.

Both SBAC and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”) were created in response to a federal Department of Education grant program designed to create academic assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments leave local schools little choice but to align their curriculum to the standards and assessment, allowing the federal Department of Education to effectively control public education.

SBAC’s state membership agreements, executed by officials in Missouri, North Dakota, and several other states, have raised concerns that state officials are handing over local educational decisions to SBAC, and by extension the federal government which violates federal statutes prohibiting the federal government—and, in particular, the federal Department of Education—from controlling educational policy, including curriculum decisions and educational-assessment programs in elementary and secondary education.

The new wave of testing ushered in by SBAC and PARCC sparked a national opt-out movement as students, teachers and administrators grapple with the heavy burden created by these assessments. The looming threat from the Department of Education of the loss of federal funding helped drive the controversy between parents and school administrators over parental opt-outs and test refusal. As a result of these parental opt outs, students across the country were  formally disciplines and subjected to “sit-and-stare” policies; refused admittance to the classroom; lost honors, class trips, and athletic participation; and were even suspended.

 Click here to read the Law Center’s friend of the Court Brief

Courtesy of https://www.thomasmore.org/

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Westminster Theological Seminary President: Christians Need to Stand Up in Public Square, Politics to ‘Reclaim Judeo-Christian Heritage’

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 1, 2015

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Speaking at Westminster Theological Seminary’s second-ever “Real State of the Union” conference last Saturday, three Christian scholars stressed to attendees that it is time for Christians to faithfully stand up in the public square and reclaim America’s Judeo-Christian heritage from what has become a prominently secular society.

“I am calling on all believers to have a recommitment to the truth of Christ to speak the truth and love, to be who we are and to engage in justice by being committed to justice and seeing to it by speaking in the public square,” Westminster Theological Seminary President Peter Lillback said. “We are not forcing ourselves into a place that we don’t belong. This public square was created by this Judeo-Christian heritage that we are speaking about.”

Lillback set the tone for the day-long conference, which was held at First Presbyterian Church in Bonita Springs, Florida, with an event-opening speech providing a rundown of how America has transformed from a country that was discovered and founded on Christian values to a society that now largely mocks and ridicules Christians who act in accordance to their religious beliefs.

“We are now in a day that was much like what first century Christians faced in a pluralistic world that was antagonistic to their Christian values,” Lillback told The Christian Post. “We aren’t even beginning to pay the price that our forefathers did for their faith.”

“Yes, we will be persecuted. Yes, we will be criticized. Yes, we will be assaulted. But Jesus said, ‘Be glad and rejoice for that is what they did to the prophets before you,'” Lillback continued.

Providing an example of how the government is now treats Christians and their faith, Lillback highlighted the military chaplain who was “condemned” in December for talking about his faith during a suicide prevention class.

Lillback explained that although many secularists today claim that religion has no role in government or the public sector, America’s Founding Fathers actually intended for the country to be one where politicians and public officials are free to make decisions based on their faith.

Lillback points out that the Founding Fathers specifically included four references to God in the Declaration of Independence and opines that they are indications that more trust needs to be put into God when it comes to leading and governing a nation that is supposed to be free of tyranny.

“So its been observed that the four references to God actually reflect the very form of government that the Constitution will eventually create,” Lillback said. “There are lawgivers. God is a giver of law. There are judges. God is the supreme judge. There are executives. God is the executor of his will through providence.”

Lillback added that God is also present in the Constitution, although others might disagree. Things such as the president having the option to take Sundays for sabbath and the president having to swear on the Bible when he takes his oath of office are clear reminders of how the Founding Fathers intended for the light of God to help drive the success of the nation, and protect it from human imperfection.

“Some people have said that the Constitution is a godless constitution, but it’s actually remarkably Christian in many ways,” Lillback asserted. “The most Christian element of all the Constitution is the lack of trust in human nature. All the ways in which there are checks and balances and there are different branches of government and the severance of power. Those are a recognition that man has basically corrupted and he will be even more corrupted when he has power.”

Lillback further explained that Christianity was a crucial part of public education and helped fuel the country’s Judeo-Christian morals up until the 1890s, as half of the boards of public universities were comprised of clergymen.

“When you get to the 1890s with the Holy Trinity case, you get to the highwater mark for Judeo-Christian value structure. But at this point, this is where we begin to see the movement from the very highest levels beginning to de-christianize the Universities,” Lillback said. “They began to push theological and seminary studies out of the universities and replaced it with the study of religions. Over time, it becomes more and more committed, not to deism but ultimately a form of practical atheism to where atheism became the prevailing view of our universities. That begins to take hold in the progressive era in the early 1900s.”

Harry Reeder, senior pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, followed Lillback’s historical rundown with his speech on the “downward spiral of the culture.”

Secular viewpoints became dominant in America in the later half of the 20th century and now 21st century pluralistic and post-modern culture has created hostility towards the same morals and values that America was founded on.

Following Reeder’s lecture, Bruce Waltke, a reformed evangelical professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, told the audience that Christians and the church need to be far more active in politics than they currently are.

“[Waltke’s] Impact has been enormous. In studying the Proverbs, he has come to the conclusion that the church ought to be far more involved in the public square and the political activity if we take the teaching of the Proverbs seriously,” Lillback explained. “I think it is quite a statement for a Biblical theologian, because he is moving out of his normal sphere to say, ‘These principles really do matter for what we are doing as a country.'”

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/news/westminster-theological-seminary-president-christians-need-to-stand-up-in-public-square-politics-to-reclaim-judeo-christian-heritage-134789/

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, National Heritage, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Greater Need for Spiritual Liberty: Freedom From Every Form of Captivity

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 4, 2014

By Tim Rowe

Our country is in desperate need for the spiritual sons and daughters of liberty to once again rise up in the spirit of sacrifice and bravery that this country was founded upon and move forward for God with a relentless passion to bring spiritual liberty to our land. We are called of God to go forth to a dying world and open their eyes, turning them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God and offer them a place of honor among the sanctified.

The clarion call that heralded forth the ministry of Jesus Christ should ring loudly in our soul.

Luke 4:18 (Message Bible)

God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

The times are desperate. The times are urgent. The times are perilous. The sons and daughter of liberty must act now and go forth led by their glorious Lord into the valley of human need and set the captive soul free and bring His salvation, power and glory into every town, city and state. We must crush the idols of the heart and shine as lights in the darkness of this world as we hold forth the Word of Life. We all have a sphere of influence that we live in and thus we should begin our work as ambassadors for Christ in our homes, our families, our neighborhood, our jobs, and our communities and then branch out from there.

In the 1760’s, during the years right before the Revolutionary War, a group of brave men formed the Sons of Liberty to resist the unjust actions of the British Empire and move toward independence. They were bold in the face of impossible odds and spoke out of a heart that had a deep passion for liberty as a God given right. They were often just ordinary men, but the energy of their conviction gave them a great position of importance in the founding of this country.

Ray Steadman-Spiritual Warfare

God has issued to each of us a bugle call to intelligent combat. It is a call to us to be men and women of God, to fight the good fight, to stand fast in the faith, to be strong in the Lord in the midst of the battle, in the midst of this dark and evil world.Those who ignore this call and the battle that rages around them are doomed to be casualties. We cannot remain neutral. We must choose sides. We must align ourselves with the forces of God, the forces of good. We must answer the bugle call, we must put on our armor and stand our ground or the battle will roll over us and in our defenseless, bewildered state, the forces of evil will trample us into the dust of the battlefield.

It comes as a shock to the new believer that the Christian life is a battleground and not a playground. We are at war.

The truth is that very few Christians grasp the value and necessity of spiritual combat.

“The Lord is a warrior” (Exodus 15:3):

The Lord will go forth like a warrior,

He will arouse His zeal like a man of war.

He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry.

He will prevail against His enemies. (Isaiah 42:13)

Warrior, hear the Lord’s marching orders for your life: “Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am a mighty man’ “(Joel 3:9-10).

We must approach our service as sons and daughters of spiritual liberty and our position on the front lines of battle with great zeal, passion, fervor and excitement. How exciting to be called into the service of our God!

Romans 12:11 (NIV): Never be lacking in zeal. Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Amplified: Never lag in zeal and earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.

When 56 brave men stood forth with great passion and committed an act of high treason by signing the Declaration of Independence, they were signing their own death warrant.

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of the Revolutionary War.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis, had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire, which was done. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home after the war to find his wife dead, his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. There were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

What has the gospel cost you? Has our level of sacrifice for the gospel even come close to the sacrifice of these 56 signers who we celebrate today for without their incredible act of courage, there would be no United States of America.

52 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were devout, committed Christians and the other four believed the Bible to be divine truth and believed in the God of Scripture. Immediately after the Declaration was signed, Continental Congress ordered 20,000 Bible for the people of this nation.

As the 56 signers of Declaration were critical to the founding of the United States of America, we are critical to the healing of our land which is full of idols and whose heart has turned away from God on so many levels.

II Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We must first call upon God, humble ourselves, turn from all wicked ways or sins in our heart, pray and seek God’s face, then He can move in the great task of healing our land.

I Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV): I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

A spiritual warrior must first establish his heart toward God. Beloved, hear the heart of our Lord beckoning you to union with Him in every corner of your soul This is a commitment that must charge out of our hearts and mouth at the dawn of every new day. Joshua, at the end of his long life of faithful service to God, still renewed this commitment, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). In Nehemiah 12, we read of the walls of Jerusalem being dedicated with gladness and hymns of thanksgiving. The warrior must joyfully dedicate all that he is to all that God is. Before we count ourselves as warriors, let us check our foundation for the marks of true dedication. These marks are gladness, thanksgiving and zeal to follow the Lord of Hosts wherever He may lead.

“WHEN YOU GO OUT TO BATTLE”

DEUTERONOMY 20:1

The Deuteronomy passage is clear. Before we can be warriors for God, we must be established as lovers of God. “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:11). Purpose in your soul right now to draw your heart to God before you draw your sword for Him.

We can sleep when we get to heaven. We should move, push and go forward with great devotion like an athlete to point of agony. That is the commitment required to live as a Christian. When are you going to pull out all the stops and burn for God and the Lord Jesus Christ? When is God going to be your love, your passion, when is he going to be the excitement of your being. When is He going to be your living experience?

Don’t just play it safe your whole life. Look at Matthew 25 and the parable of the talents. Do you think Jesus was trying to tell us something?

Bolt out of every oppressive circumstance and draw strength from your God by desperate prayer and fierce devotion. Don’t be weighed down by yesterday’s failures or tomorrow’s burdens.

So often our heart cries out: I AM NOT THE ONE, THIS IS NOT THE PLACE, NOW IS NOT THE TIME. Yet this is not true, as you are the one, this is the place, now is the time. God needs you desperately on the battlefield. We should take to the heart the words of God uttered by the King David:

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. . . .

For by Thee I can run upon a troop;

And by my God I can leap over a wall…. He trains my hands for battle,

So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze…. I pursued my enemies and overtook them,

And I did not turn back until they were consumed.

I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise; They fell under my feet.

For thou hast girded me with strength for battle;

Thou hast subdued under me those who rose up against me.

(Psalm 18:2, 29, 34, 37-39)

This July Fourth let’s take more to heart then simply fireworks, food, and time off of work. Our heart and soul should take strong note of the words of a son of liberty and patriot at one of the most trying times at the dawning of America. Imagine these words bursting forth from the pulpit at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775.

They tell us, sir, that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable — and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? 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!

Patrick Henry – March 23, 1775

Posted in National Heritage, Tim's Blog | 1 Comment »

ADF: Atheists’ lawsuit against national motto should be thrown out

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 28, 2014

In God we trustNEW YORK — Alliance Defending Freedom filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit Thursday in support of the use of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on U.S. coins and currency. Last February, a group of atheists filed a lawsuit against the federal government that claims the use of the national motto on money is unconstitutional even though it is a practice that has deep roots in American history and federal courts have repeatedly upheld it as constitutional.

The Alliance Defending Freedom brief explains that merely being offended is not a sufficient legal cause (known as “standing”) on which to file a lawsuit attacking the national motto.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s political agenda,” said Litigation Counsel Rory Gray. “Courts have repeatedly ruled that the national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ is constitutional and can be used on U.S. currency, and that is the correct conclusion. In addition to the fact that numerous courts have already rejected the lawsuit’s claims, those bringing this suit can’t do so simply because they are offended by a historical phrase.”

As the Alliance Defending Freedom brief filed in Newdow v. United States of America explains, the government’s expenditure of tax dollars to create coins and currency is “a secular government function” that does not further any religious ends. The brief also notes that “ideological frustration” or “subjective feelings of offense and alienation” are not legitimate reasons to file a lawsuit. “Federal courts are not forums for the ventilation of public grievances,” the brief says.

“The emotional response of offended atheists does not amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “This lawsuit is based on a deep misunderstanding of the First Amendment. It should be dismissed.”
Joseph Ruta, one of nearly 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom, is local counsel for ADF.

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Hot Legal News, National Heritage, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Missouri Mayor to Install National Motto ‘In God We Trust’ Inside City Buildings

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 26, 2013

st-peters-moCity buildings in St. Peters, Mo., will begin displaying the national motto “In God We Trust” in April – a decision alarming to atheists who believe the motto is unconstitutional.

Inspired by similar efforts throughout the nation, St. Peters, Mo., Mayor Len Pagano and members of the Board of Aldermen had voted (five voting yes and three absent) on Jan. 10 to approve the display.

“When I heard this idea at the National League of Cities conference, I thought what a great way of showing patriotism,” Pagano said. “I have found that it’s something the community at large thinks is the right thing to do, and we are leading the way by being the first city in St. Charles County to display ‘In God We Trust’ in city buildings.”

On March 12, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent a letter to Pagano and the Board of Aldermen asking them to honor the “constitutional principle of separation between church and state,” and to reconsider their decision to display In God We Trust in five city buildings, including St. Peters City Hall, the aldermanic chambers in the city’s justice center and the municipal courtroom.

Dan Barker, co-president of the Wisconsin-based FFRF, a nonprofit organization that represents atheists and agnostics, told The Christian Post that his organization sent out 2,500 letters last year challenging the display of religious messages on city property.

“What is their intent,” asked Barker, who believes St. Peters’ mayor must have a religious agenda behind his actions. “Because of all the things that the city has to do, why would they do that?”

In Barker’s opinion, the city can recognize that religion is part of people’s lives in the community, but he also believes it has no place in city business.

Barker said that lawsuits challenging the use of the motto In God We Trust on city properties have increased in number in recent years. Although his group cannot litigate every case, Barker said they could file a complaint against the city of St. Peters, but instead they’re waiting to receive a response from Pagano’s office.

On Feb. 1, FFRF filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York claiming the motto In God We Trust violates the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

In the letter to Pagano from Annie Gaylor, co-president of FFRF, she claims: “Statements about a god have no place in government buildings. Elected officials should not use their government position and government buildings as a place for promoting their religious views.”

She continues, “More than 638,000 Missouri adults identify as non-religious (American Religious Identification Survey 2008). Aldermen are elected to represent all residents of St. Peters, including those that do not believe in a monotheistic god or any gods.”

“Additionally, it does not inspire confidence that city officials apparently feel ‘In God We Trust’ must be displayed at the municipal courthouse and in the Board of Aldermen meeting room in order for you to make the right civic decisions.”

“The history of the motto, ‘In God We Trust’ evidences no secular purpose; on the contrary, the motto was first adopted during the Cold War as a reaction to the purported ‘godlessness’ of Communism. America’s original motto was purely secular, i.e., ‘E Pluribus Unum’ (‘out of many, one’), which was selected by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.”

According to In God We Trust – America, the national motto is displayed in over 300 cities. The national movement, founded by Bakersfield City Councilmember Jacquie Sullivan, aims to get the motto in as many cities throughout America as possible.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/missouri-mayor-to-install-national-motto-in-god-we-trust-inside-city-buildings-92451/#UtUa0RZTb5TiySbJ.99

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Our Religious Heritage

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 25, 2013

in god we trust By Jay Sekulow

As one of America’s most radical atheists sues to remove the National Motto — “In God We Trust” – from our currency, I thought I’d bring back two of my favorite blog posts from the Washington Post. I wrote these when American Atheists sued to remove the Ground Zero Cross from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and the posts help illustrate the extent of our nation’s religious heritage – and the radicalism of those who seek to erase that heritage. Please enjoy:

It is with the utmost urgency that I write this blog.

A group of atheists have filed a lawsuit to prevent the inclusion of the historic Ground Zero Cross at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. We have learned from their lawsuit that they, “have suffered, are suffering, and will continue to suffer damages, both physical and emotional, from the existence of the challenged cross.” Atheists have reportedly endured cross-induced, “dyspepsia [upset stomach], symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish.”

In order to ensure that atheists in America never again experience any of the aforementioned ailments, I need your assistance in writing “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Protecting American Atheists.”

To help you get started, I’ve identified things that must be removed or altered immediately to rectify the government’s continued disregard for the hurt feelings of godless Americans.

-The new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial includes much of “Dr. King’s Spiritual Presence” by permanently inscribing portions of his sermons on the memorial inscription wall.

-The Ground Zero Cross at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

-The National Motto: “In God We Trust

-“Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance

The National Day of Prayer

-“Seven in Heaven Way” street sign honoring seven firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11

-Original copies of the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives, which reference “our Creator” and “Nature’s God”

-The Chaplains Corps of each branch of the U.S. Military

-All “Religious” Artwork in the National Gallery of Art

-The Latin phrase “Laus Deo [Praise be to God]” on the cap of the Washington Monument

-Surviving copies of The National Anthem, which includes the phrase “In God is our trust”

-On the Lincoln Memorial are etched the word of the Gettysburg Address (“this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom”) and his Second Inaugural Address (“with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right,”) which are replete with references to God

-The Jefferson Memorial’s dome includes this inscription about God, “I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” There are other references to God in the memorial

-On the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery is inscribed, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God”

-The federal courthouse containing the Court of Appeals and the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia contains a sculpture, which includes a cross and the Ten Commandments

-The south frieze of the U.S. Supreme Court Courtroom depicts Moses holding the Ten Commandments

-The metal gates on the north and south sides of the U.S. Supreme Court Courtroom contain the Ten Commandments, as well as the doors leading to the courtroom

-The east facade of the outside of the Supreme Court shows Moses holding the Ten Commandments

-The Library of Congress Jefferson Building contains a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments and the Apostle Paul over looking the rotunda

Inscribed on the wall of the Cox Corridors of the U.S. Capitol is the phrase “America! God shed his grace on Thee”

-The chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives features Moses.

-The Prayer Room of the U.S. Capitol contains the phrase “Annuit coeptis” (translated “God has favored our undertakings”) and the words of Psalm 16:1

-The House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol contains the National Motto “In God we trust

-Inscribed in the Senate Chamber of the U.S. Capitol are the phrase “Annuit coeptis” (translated “God has favored our undertakings”) and the National Motto “In God we trust”

-The Emancipation Proclamation featured in the National Archives invoking “gracious favor of Almighty God”

-The United States Department of Veterans Affairs chaplains program

-“Christmas” and “Thanksgiving” are official federal government holidays

-The U.S. Constitution itself references “Year of our Lord

-Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892), where the Supreme Court declared that “this is a Christian nation”

Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952), where the Supreme Court declared, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being”

-The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial with thousands of white crosses over each of the graves represented at that cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is replete with religious symbolism complete with a list of authorized religious emblems

Please leave your additions to “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Protecting American Atheists” in the comments section below.

In response to my request for comments, new suggestions poured in:

Less than two weeks ago, I asked you to assist me in finalizing “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Protecting American Atheists.” As you know,American Atheists continue to suffer from Ground Zero cross-induced, “dyspepsia [upset stomach], symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish.”

You immediately grasped the urgency of my request and submitted your well thought out additions to the Guide in a most timely manner. Below, you will find “The Updated Complete Idiot’s Guide to Protecting American Atheists 2.0,” updated with suggestions from commenters.

We no doubt have failed to identify every possible thing that must be removed or altered to correct the government’s malicious disregard for the hurt feelings of godless Americans. But, if we successfully remedy all the government-sponsored wrongs listed in this updated guide, we will be well on our way to protecting atheists from references to America’s religious history and Judeo-Christian heritage.

In fact, American Atheists have acknowledged the accuracy of the guide. One commenter on the American Atheists’ blog writes, “I have to agree with almost every item in the list in the article.”

For your ease of use, everything in the updated Guide is categorized and acknowledges the hardworking patriots who contributed. Everything that appeared in Guide 1.0 is italicized:

Historical Documents, Songs, and Speeches:

Songs with religious references such as The Star-Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, God Bless America and official songs for each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces (r8arnhart, HUACNOW)

Public references to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have Dream” speech that include the quote, “Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” (sofsu)

Copies of the Mayflower Compact, which mentions God numerous times, are found in public museums and libraries across America (ag1986)

Any official documents containing “A.D.” dates, which refer to the Latin term “Anno Domini” (In the year of our Lord) (nesquire)

President John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”

Jefferson’s Bible displayed at the Smithsonian

National Motto – “In God We Trust”

Pledge of Allegiance – “under God”

Declaration of Independence – “our Creator” and “Nature’s God”

Emancipation Proclamation – “gracious favor of Almighty God”

National Anthem – “In God is our trust” (HUACNOW)

Public Buildings, Displays, and Money:

All coins and currency containing the phrase “In God We Trust.” (goldblattp, WKJR, darthofer, ag1986, grep_boy, chance175)

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial – sermons and religious references

Nativity scenes that appear on public property across America every Christmas season. (Sherry Forrester Leslie)

The Library of Congress Bible Collection with “1,500 editions of the Bible in more than 150 languages”

The National Cathedral – Chartered by Congress in 1893 and home to many significant presidential affairs of state from Thanksgiving services to funerals

The National Park Service has designated St. John’s Church, where Patrick Henry delivered his “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death” speech, as a National Historic Landmark.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial – thousands of white crosses

Tomb of the Unknowns – “American soldier known but to God”

Prayer room of the U.S. Capitol

Evergreen Chapel at Camp David – President Obama’s church

Ground Zero Cross at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

Lincoln Memorial – Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address are replete with references to God

The floor of the National Archives contains a medallion with the Ten Commandments

Doors leading to U.S. Supreme Court Courtroom – Ten Commandments

Zion National Park

A steel covered World War II Bible displayed at the National Museum of American History which was originally advertised to “protect from bullets” when carried in one’s pocket on the battle field.

Arlington National Cemetery is replete with religious symbolism (michsmith7)

Religious artwork in the National Gallery of Art

Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia – cross and Ten Commandments

Cox Corridors of the U.S. Capitol – “America! God shed his grace on Thee”

East facade of the outside of the Supreme Court – Moses holding Ten Commandments

House of Representatives chamber – Moses

Jefferson Memorial’s dome – “sworn upon the altar of God”

Cap of the Washington Monument – “Laus Deo [Praise be to God]”

Library of Congress Jefferson Building – Statute of Apostle Paul and Moses holding Ten Commandments

Senate Chamber – “In God we trust”

Seven in Heaven Way” street sign

South frieze of the U.S. Supreme Court Courtroom – Moses holding Ten Commandments (johnstern100)

Constitutions, Laws, and Cases:

Many state constitutions that reference God, such as the Massachusetts Constitution that declares that, “the encouragement of arts and sciences, and all good literature, tends to the honor of God, the advantage of the Christian religion, and the great benefit of this and the other United States of America.” (jinxmchue, HUACNOW)

Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 (2005) – permitting Ten Commandments on government property

Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. ___ (2009) – permitting government to display Ten Commandments and reject other monuments

U.S. Constitution references “Year of our Lord

Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892) – “this is a Christian nation”

Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952) – “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being”

Cities and Geographical Names:

City names honoring Christian individuals, such as San Antonio, TX, San Diego, CA, San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, Santa Monica, CA, St. Augustine, FL, St. Louis, MO, St. Paul, MN, and St. Petersburg, FL. (Chris Prevas, Denise Brown)

City names with Biblical or Christian significance, such as Bethlehem, PA (birthplace of Christ), Corpus Christi, TX (Latin for “the body of Christ”), Los Angeles, CA (meaning “the angels”), Philadelphia, PA (mentioned in Revelations as a city with a godly church), Providence, RI (providence assumes a God that cares about mankind), Sacramento, CA (meaning “the holy sacrament”), Salem, OR (from the Hebrew term for “peace with God”), Santa Fe, NM (meaning “holy faith”), and Bethesda, MD (named after the Presbyterian church in the area). (peterschamberlain, Chris Prevas)

Public Oaths and Ceremonies:

The use of the Bible for the presidential inauguration and prayers offered during the inauguration. (renia216)

Supreme Court opens with “God save the United States and this Honorable Court

Judicial oaths sworn by court witnesses often invoke God or the Bible. For example, witnesses in Pennsylvania courts are required to place their hand on a “Holy Bible” and swear “by Almighty God, the searcher of all hearts, that I will, and that as I shall answer to God at the last great day.” (renia216)

Washington’s Inaugural Prayer, which references God as the “Divine Author of our faith.” (Way4JC)

Holidays:

Christmas and Thanksgiving are official federal government holidays (don61)

White House Easter Egg Roll (Forgod2)

Public Programs and Observances:

National Day of Prayer (Forgod2)

The Chaplains Corps of each branch of the U.S. Military

House and Senate Chaplains who open each day in prayer

There you have it. This (incomplete) list from almost 18 months ago helps demonstrate the breadth of our religious heritage. America was founded by – and is still inhabited by – a deeply religious people with a distinct Judeo-Christian heritage. That’s simply a fact, and one does not “establish” a religion by acknowledging our actual history and culture.

Courtesy of http://aclj.org/in-god-we-trust/complete-idiots-guide-religious-heritage

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, National Heritage, Religious Freedom | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Did George Washington Actually Say “So Help Me God” During His Inauguration?

Posted by faithandthelaw on December 19, 2011

By David Barton 1

In December 2008 following the election of Barack Obama as president, noted atheist Michael Newdow filed suit to prohibit religious acknowledgments or activities from being part of the inaugural ceremonies, specifically seeking to halt the inclusion of “So help me God” as part of the presidential oath as well as halt inaugural prayers by clergy. 2

Newdow has an established record of bringing suits to eradicate long-standing public religious practices, including to:

  • remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance 3
  • eliminate “In God We Trust” (the National Motto) from coins and currency 4
  • prohibit California textbooks from mentioning Biblical events found in Genesis 1-3 5
  • exclude clergy prayers from presidential inaugurations 6
  • reverse the time-honored tax exemptions for housing provided by churches to clergy 7
  • abolish chaplains hired by Congress 8

Newdow insists that his quest for a completely secular public square is based on constitutional mandates, Founding Fathers’ intent, and American history. Regarding the latter, in his 2008 lawsuit, Newdow claimed that the use of the phrase “So help me God” in presidential oaths was of relatively recent origin – that George Washington had not used the phrase and that it did not become part of legal oaths, especially for presidents, until the inauguration of President Chester A. Arthur in 1881. 9 Although courts and scholars have routinely rejected Newdow’s preposterous historical assertions, this specific one, for some inexplicable reason, gained traction among some media and academics, pitting them against many distinguished historical authorities.

The Chief Historian of the United States Capitol Historical Society, the Library of Congress, the U. S. Supreme Court (and numbers of its Justices), the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the Architect of the Capitol, and other notables have affirmed that “so help me God” is a traditional practice dating back to George Washington. Significantly, for almost two centuries, it was universally accepted that “So help me God” had actually been said as part of the official oathtaking process, but Newdow and his fellow travelers insist that everyone except themselves has been wrong for the past two centuries. 10

One of those who agrees with Newdow is Matthew Goldstein, a regular writer for atheist and secularist sites. To help prove his case, he cites with approval an article by USA Today claiming that there is “no eyewitness documentation he [Washington] ever added ‘so help me God’.” 11 (So USA Today is now an authoritative historical source? Really?) Other secularist voices have joined the chorus, including attorney/writer Jim Bendat, who claims that George Washington’s use of “So help me God” is a “legend”; 12 Professor Peter Henriques of George Mason University calls it a “myth,” adding that any such claim to the contrary “is almost certainly false”; 13 and Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center says that not only is it a “popular myth” but also that it’s time to completely get rid of “So help me God” as part of the oath. 14

What is the historical basis for claiming that George Washington did not say “So help me God” as part of the presidential oath? According to Newdow and other critics, no records of the day specifically show Washington reciting the phrase, therefore he did not say it.

Numerous historical documents and practices disproving Newdow’s claim will be shown below, but first consider the historical unreasonableness of claiming that someone did not do something unless it is specifically written that he did so. Even Wikipedia characterizes this type of logic as an “appeal to ignorance” – an approach asserting that something is false only because it has not been proven true – that the lack of evidence for one view is substitutionary proof that another view is true. 15

Consider all the inaugural absurdities that can be “proven” under the approach taken by Newdow. For example, since there is no detailed record that President James Monroe did not launch into a string of profanities at his inauguration, then he certainly must have done so; and since no one wrote on Inauguration Day 1825 that the sun rose in the east and set in the west, then it must have been otherwise. These scenarios are ridiculous, but they illustrate the inherent fallacies in the methodology used by Newdow.

Three specific strands of historical evidence will be presented below that demonstrate the absurdity of the modern claims. First, at least seven different religious activities were part of the first inauguration, thus the proceedings were indisputably heavily religiously-permeated. Second, the entirety of American legal practice at that time, including the specific stipulations of statutory law, required the phrase “So help me God” be part of any oath administered by or to government officials. Third, Washington himself, and numerous other Founding Fathers, repeatedly affirmed that an oath of office was a religious act; they explicitly rejected any notion that an oath was secular.

1. RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES AT GEORGE WASHINGTON’S INAUGURATION

Constitutional experts abounded in 1789 at America’s first presidential inauguration. Not only was the inauguree a signer of the Constitution but one fourth of the members of the Congress that organized and directed his inauguration had been delegates with him to the Constitutional Convention that produced the Constitution. 16 Furthermore, this very same Congress also penned the First Amendment and its religious clauses. Because Congress, perhaps more than any other, certainly knew what was constitutional, the religious activities that were part of the first inauguration may well be said to have had the approval and imprimatur of the greatest congressional collection of constitutional experts America has ever known.

That inauguration occurred in New York City, which served as the nation’s capital during the first year of the new federal government. The preparations had been extensive; everything had been well planned.

The papers reported on the first inaugural activity:

[O]n the morning of the day on which our illustrious President will be invested with his office, the bells will ring at nine o’clock, when the people may go up to the house of God and in a solemn manner commit the new government, with its important train of consequences, to the holy protection and blessing of the Most High. An early hour is prudently fixed for this peculiar act of devotion and . . . is designed wholly for prayer. 17

As subsequent activities progressed, things seemed to be proceeding smoothly, but as the parade carrying Washington by horse-drawn carriage to the swearing-in was nearing Federal Hall, it was realized that no Bible had been obtained for administering the oath, and the law required that a Bible be part of the ceremony. Parade Marshal Jacob Morton therefore hurried off and soon returned with a large 1767 King James Bible.

The ceremony was conducted on the balcony at Federal Hall; and with a huge crowd gathered below watching the proceedings, the Bible was laid upon a crimson velvet cushion held by Samuel Otis, Secretary of the Senate. New York Chancellor Robert Livingston then administered the oath of office. (He was one of the five Founders who drafted the Declaration of Independence, but had been called back to New York to help guide his state through the Revolution before he could affix his signature to the document he had helped write. Because Livingston was the highest ranking judicial official in New York, he was chosen to administer the oath of office to President Washington.)

Standing beside Livingston and Washington were many distinguished officials, including Vice President John Adams, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, Generals Henry Knox and Philip Schuyler, and several others. The Bible was opened (at random) to Genesis 49; 18 Washington placed his left hand upon the open Bible, raised his right, took the oath of office, then bent over and reverently kissed the Bible. Chancellor Livingston proclaimed, “It is done!” Turning to the crowd assembled below, he shouted, “Long live George Washington – the first President of the United States!” That shout was echoed and re-echoed by the crowd. Washington and the other officials then departed the balcony and went inside Federal Hall to the Senate Chamber where Washington delivered his Inaugural Address.

In that first-ever presidential address, Washington opened with a heartfelt prayer, explaining that . . .

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being Who rules over the universe, Who presides in the councils of nations, and Whose providential aids can supply every human defect – that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes. 19

Washington’s inaugural address was strongly religious, and he called his listeners to remember and acknowledge God:

In tendering this homage [act of worship] to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of Providential Agency. . . . [and] we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious [favorable] smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained. 20

Having finished his address, Washington offered its closing prayer:

Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave – but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication [prayer] that . . . His Divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this government must depend. 21

The next inaugural activities then began – activities arranged by Congress itself when the Senate directed:

That after the oath shall have been administered to the President, he – attended by the Vice-President and members of the Senate and House of Representatives – proceed to St. Paul’s Chapel to hear Divine service. 22

The House had approved the same resolution, 23 so the president and Congress thus went en masse to church as an official body. As affirmed by congressional records:

The President, the Vice-President, the Senate, and House of Representatives, &c., then proceeded to St. Paul’s Chapel, where Divine Service was performed by the chaplain of Congress. 24

The service at St. Paul’s was conducted by The Right Reverend Samuel Provoost – the Episcopal Bishop of New York, who had been chosen chaplain of the Senate the week preceding the inauguration. 25 He performed the service according to The Book of Common Prayer, including prayers taken from Psalms 144-150 and Scripture readings and Bible lessons from the book of Acts, I Kings, and the Third Epistle of John. 26

(Significantly, in his lawsuit Newdow claimed not only that “So help me God” was of recent derivation but also that the “practice of including clergy to pray at presidential inaugurations began in 1937.” 27 That claim, like so many of his others, is obviously wrong: the Rev. Provoost had offered clergy-led prayers during Washington’s inaugural activities a century-and-a-half before Newdow claimed they began.)

Significantly, seven distinctly religious activities were included in this first presidential inauguration that have been repeated in whole or part in every subsequent inauguration: (1) the use of the Bible to administer the oath; (2) solemnifying the oath with multiple religious expressions (placing a hand on the Bible, saying “So help me God,” and then kissing the Bible); (3) prayers offered by the president himself; (4) religious content in the inaugural address; (5) the president calling on the people to pray or acknowledge God; (6) church inaugural worship services; and (7) clergy-led prayers.

2. THE LEGAL STATUS OF OATHS AT THE TIME OF WASHINGTON’S INAUGURATION

Significantly, long before and long after the adoption of the Constitution, the legal requirements for oathtaking specifically stipulated that “So help me God!” be part of the official oath of all legal process, whether the oaths were taken by elected officials, appointed judges, jurors, or witnesses in a court of law.

This fact is readily demonstrated by a survey of existing laws at the time – such as those of CONNECTICUT (which will be seen were reflective of what was typical in the other states). Connecticut’s original 1639 legal code governing its very first election required that elected officials were to “swear by the great and dreadful name of the everliving God . . . so help me God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 28 When new oath laws were subsequently passed in 1718, 1726, 1731, 1742, etc., all retained the same general form, including the mandatory use of “So help me God.” Those same provisions were retained long after the federal Constitution was adopted. 29

GEORGIA required that elected officials, judges, jurors, and witnesses take their oath “in the presence of Almighty God . . . so help me God,” and not only that they take their oath on the Bible but specifically “on the holy evangelists of Almighty God.” 30 (Like the other states, this provision was the same long before and after the adoption of the federal Constitution.)

NORTH CAROLINA required “the party to be sworn to lay his hand upon the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God . . . and after repeating the words, ‘So help me God,’ shall kiss the Holy Gospels.” 31 In SOUTH CAROLINA, officials were also required to take their “oath on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God.” 32

Other states had similar requirements, but consider those in place in NEW YORK when President Washington was sworn in by the state’s top judicial official. At that time, New York law required that “the usual mode of administering oaths” be followed (i.e., “So help me God”) and that the person taking the oath place his hand upon the Gospels and then kiss the Gospels at the conclusion of the oath. 33 (Like the other states, these provisions remained the legal standard long after the inauguration. 34 )

Standard oath forms, both state and federal, still in use even decades after Washington’s inauguration, retained those phrases. See some examples below – and notice that each is from a period decades prior to the time that Newdow claims the practice began:


(These are just a few of the many original oath-related documents personally owned by the author; countless others are found in the records of the Library of Congress)

Clearly, using the phrase “So help me God” (as well as placing one’s hand on and then kissing the Bible) was established legal practice throughout the Founding Era.

No one disputes that Washington placed his hand on the Bible or that he kissed it, so why is it now claimed that he did not say “So help me God”? Are critics saying that Washington would not have done the easiest of the three legally required parts of oathtaking? Or would they prefer that officials stop saying “So help me God” but kiss the Bible instead? Their argument is ludicrous. Furthermore, the omission of “So help me God” from the oathtaking ceremony in the Founding Era would have been a clear and obvious aberration from established legal practice of the day, therefore it is the omission of that phrase rather than its inclusion that would have been particularly noticed and commented upon by observers; but such an omission was never mentioned by any witness.

3. THE FOUNDING FATHERS’ VIEWS: WERE OATHS INHERENTLY RELIGIOUS OR INHERENTLY SECULAR?

Five locations in the U. S. Constitution address oaths to be taken by federal officials. As has already been shown, oath clauses were not a unique or original innovation of the federal Constitution but were already in use in each of the states and the national Congress long before the Constitution was written and remained in force long thereafter.

Significantly, every existing law or legal commentary from before, during, and after the writing of the Constitution unanimously affirmed that the taking of any oath by any public official was always an inherently religious activity; and numerous Framers and early legal scholars agreed (emphasis added in each quote):

[An] oath – the strongest of religious ties. 35 JAMES MADISON, SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION

[In o]ur laws . . . by the oath which they prescribe, we appeal to the Supreme Being so to deal with us hereafter as we observe the obligation of our oaths. The Pagan world were and are without the mighty influence of this principle which is proclaimed in the Christian system. 36 RUFUS KING, SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION, FRAMER OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS

Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. 37 JOHN ADAMS, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION, FRAMER OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS

An oath is an appeal to God, the Searcher of Hearts, for the truth of what we say and always expresses or supposes an imprecation [calling down] of His judgment upon us if we prevaricate [lie]. An oath, therefore, implies a belief in God and His Providence and indeed is an act of worship. . . . In vows, there is no party but God and the person himself who makes the vow. 38 JOHN WITHERSPOON, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION

The Constitution enjoins an oath upon all the officers of the United States. This is a direct appeal to that God Who is the avenger of perjury. Such an appeal to Him is a full acknowledgment of His being and providence. 39 OLIVER WOLCOTT, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION, GOVERNOR

According to the modern definition [1788] of an oath, it is considered a “solemn appeal to the Supreme Being for the truth of what is said by a person who believes in the existence of a Supreme Being and in a future state of rewards and punishments . . .” 40 JAMES IREDELL, RATIFIER OF THE CONSTITUTION, U. S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE APPOINTED BY GEORGE WASHINGTON

The Constitution had provided that all the public functionaries of the Union not only of the general [federal] but of all the state governments should be under oath or affirmation for its support. The homage of religious faith was thus superadded to all the obligations of temporal law to give it strength. 41 JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, PRESIDENT

“What is an oath?” . . . [I]t is founded on a degree of consciousness that there is a Power above us that will reward our virtues or punish our vices. . . . [O]ur system of oaths in all our courts, by which we hold liberty and property and all our rights, are founded on or rest on Christianity and a religious belief. 42 DANIEL WEBSTER, “DEFENDER OF THE CONSTITUTION”

There are many other similar declarations. 43 And America’s leading legal authorities and reference sources likewise affirmed that taking an oath was a religious activity. For example, in 1793, Zephaniah Swift, author of America’s first law book, declared:

An oath is a solemn appeal to the Supreme Being that he who takes it will speak the truth, and an imprecation of His vengeance if he swears false. 44

In 1816, Chancellor James Kent, considered to be one of the two “Fathers of American Jurisprudence,” noted that an oath of office was a “religious solemnity” and that to administer an oath was “to call in the aid of religion.” 45

In 1828, Founding Father Noah Webster, an attorney and a judge, defined an “oath” as:

A solemn affirmation or declaration made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed. The appeal to God in an oath implies that the person imprecates [calls down] His vengeance and renounces His favor if the declaration is false, or (if the declaration is a promise) the person invokes the vengeance of God if he should fail to fulfill it. 46

In 1834, a popular judicial handbook declared:

Judges, justices of the peace, and all other persons who are or shall be empowered to administer oaths shall . . . require the party to be sworn to lay his hand upon the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God in token of his engagement to speak the truth as he hopes to be saved in the way and method of salvation pointed out in that blessed volume; and in further token that if he should swerve from the truth, he may be justly deprived of all the blessings of the Gospels and be made liable to that vengeance which he has imprecated on his own head; and after repeating the words, “So help me God,” shall kiss the holy Gospels as a scale of confirmation to said engagement. 47

In 1839, Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, considered one of America’s most popular law dictionaries (and still widely used by courts even today), stated that an oath was:

[A] religious act by which the party invokes God not only to witness the truth and sincerity of his promise but also to avenge his imposture or violated faith. . . . . Oaths are taken in various forms; the most usual is upon the Gospel by taking the book [the Bible] in the hand; the words commonly used are, “You do swear that,” &c., “so help you God,” and then kissing the book. . . . Another form is by the witness or party promising, holding up his right hand while the officer repeats to him, “You do swear by Almighty God, the searcher of hearts, that,” &c., “And this as you shall answer to God at the great day.” 48

In 1854, the House Judiciary Committee affirmed:

Laws will not have permanence or power without the sanction of religious sentiment – without a firm belief that there is a Power above us that will reward our virtues and punish our vices. 49

Early legal historian James Tyler penned an extensive work on the historical and legal nature and form of oaths and concluded:

The object of the form of adjuration [oath] should be to point out this: to show that we are not calling the attention of God to man, but the attention of man to God. . . . [T]he mode now universally adopted among us is imprecatory – the invoking of God’s vengeance in case we do not fulfill our engagement to speak the truth, or perform the specific duty, “So help me God.” 50

Significantly, courts had agreed with the conclusions of the Founding Fathers and early legal authorities, issuing numerous declarations making the same affirmations. 51 Even school textbooks in that day taught students that in the American constitutional process, an oath was always a religious act. 52

Additional sources could be cited, but the evidence is unequivocal that the taking of an oath was universally considered to be a religious activity. For this reason a secular oath was not admissible before a court of law, 53 and well into the latter half of the twentieth century, even the U. S. Supreme Court continued to reaffirm the religious nature of oaths. 54 After all, as one early court noted, to remove the religious meaning of oaths and to exclude the Bible on which they were sworn would make “an oath . . . a most idle ceremony.” 55

Returning to Washington’s inauguration, he took the presidential oath of office as prescribed in Article II of the Constitution – an oath he had helped write:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Why was the phrase “So help me God” not specifically included in the Constitution as part of the prescribed wording? Because to have added it would have been redundant: that phrase, as well as placing one’s hand on and then kissing the Bible, was already standard legal practice; there was no reason to duplicate in the Constitution what was already universally required both by law and tradition.

Significantly, Washington was so concerned that the oathtaking process remain inherently religious that in his famous Farewell Address at the end of his presidency, he pointedly warned Americans to never let it become secular:

[W]here is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths . . . ? 56

— — — ◊ ◊ ◊ — — —The evidence is clear that the legal requirements for the performance of oaths long before and after the adoption of the Constitution stipulated that “So help me God!” be part of the legal process. In the critics’ attempts to weaken the religious nature of the oath by suggesting the absence of “So help me God” from Washington’s inauguration, they have actually strengthened the case that the phrase was indeed used by providing the opportunity to unequivocally demonstrate that (1) the laws and legal practices at that time required that religious acknowledgment and phraseology be part of the oathtaking process, and (2) George Washington and the other Founders saw an oath as inherently religious and would have reprobated any attempt to make it secular.


Endnotes

1. David Barton is the President of WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that presents America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious and constitutional heritage. Barton is the author of numerous best-selling books, with the subjects being drawn largely from his massive library of tens of thousands of original writings from the Founding Era. His exhaustive research has rendered him an expert in historical and constitutional issues. He serves as a consultant to state and federal legislators, has participated in several cases at the Supreme Court, was involved in the development of History/Social Studies standards for public schools in numerous states, and has helped produce history textbooks now used in schools across the nation. David has received numerous national and international awards, including multiple Who’s Who in Education, DAR’s Medal of Honor, and the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. (Return)

2. Newdow v. Roberts, 603 F.3d 1002, Ct. of Appeals, Dist. of Columbia (2010) (online at: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13559298291193146253). (Return)

3. Elk Gove Unified School District v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1 (2004) (online at: http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2003/2003_02_1624(Return)

4. Newdow v. Lefevre, 598 F.3d 638, Ct. of Appeals, 9th Cir. (2010) (online at: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=753698042392989497&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr). (Return)

5. “Michael Newdow Joins CAPEEM’s Legal Team,” Capeem.org, December 17, 2007 (at: http://www.capeem.org/pressroom.php?item2=1). (Return)

6. Newdow v. Roberts, 603 F.3d 1002, Ct. of Appeals, Dist. of Columbia (2010) (online at: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13559298291193146253). (Return)

7. “FFRF v. Geithner Parsonage Exemption,” Freedom from Religion Foundation (at: http://ffrf.org/legal/challenges/ffrf-v-geithner-parsonage-exemption/) (accessed on November 23, 2011). (Return)

8. Newdow v. Eagen, 309 F. Supp. 2d 29, Dist. Court of Columbia (2004) (online at: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13174569001560146686&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholar). (Return)

9. See, for example, Newdow v. Roberts, Complaint 1:08-cv-02248-RBW (2008). See also Cathy Lynn Grossman, “No proof Washington said ‘so help me God’ – will Obama,” USA Today, January 9, 2009 (at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-01-07-washington-oath_N.htm). (Return)

10. “So Help Me God in Presidential Oaths,” nonbeliever.org (at: http://www.nonbeliever.org/commentary/inaugural_shmG.html) (accessed on November 23, 2011). (Return)

11. Cathy Lynn Grossman, “No proof Washington said ‘so help me God’ — will Obama?” USA Today, January 9, 2009 (at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-01-07-washington-oath_N.htm). (Return)

12. Jim Bendat, Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of our President 1789-2009 (New York: iUniverse Star, 2008), p. 21. (Return)

13. Peter R. Henriques, “ ‘So Help Me God’: A George Washington Myth that Should Be Discarded,” History News Network, January 12, 2009 (at: http://hnn.us/articles/59548.html). (Return)

14. Charles C. Haynes, “Inside the First Amendment: Are ‘so help me God,’ inaugural prayer still appropriate?” First Amendment Center, January 18, 2009 (at: http://archive.firstamendmentcenter.org/commentary.aspx?id=21121). (Return)

15. “Argument from Ignorance,” Wikipedia (at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance) (accessed on November 23, 2011).(Return)

16. Significantly, many of the U. S. Senators at the first Inauguration had been delegates to the Constitutional Convention that framed the Constitution including William Samuel Johnson, Oliver Ellsworth, George Read, Richard Bassett, William Few, Caleb Strong, John Langdon, William Paterson, Robert Morris, and Pierce Butler; and many members of the House had been delegates to the Constitutional Convention, including Roger Sherman, Abraham Baldwin, Daniel Carroll, Elbridge Gerry, Nicholas Gilman, Hugh Williamson, George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimmons, and James Madison. (Return)

17. The Daily Advertiser, New York, Thursday, April 23, 1789, p. 2. (Return)

18. Clarence W. Bowen, The History of the Centennial Celebration of the Inauguration of George Washington (New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1892), p. 52, Illustration; Library of Congress, “Bibles and Scripture Passages Used by Presidents in Taking the Oath of Office” (at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pibible.html). (Return)

19. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, p. 27. See also George Washington, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson, editor (Washington, D.C.: 1899), Vol. 1, pp. 44-45, April 30, 1789. (Return)

20. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, pp. 27-29, April 30, 1789. (Return)

21. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, pp. 27-29, April 30, 1789. (Return)

22. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, p. 25, April 27, 1789. (Return)

23. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, p. 241, April 29, 1789. (Return)

24. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, p. 29, April 30, 1789. (Return)

25. Clarence W. Bowen, The History of the Centennial Celebration of the Inauguration of George Washington (New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1892), p. 54; “Chaplain’s Office,” United States Senate (at: http://www.senate.gov/reference/office/chaplain.htm) (accessed on November 29, 2011). (Return)

26. Book of Common Prayer (Oxford: W. Jackson & A. Hamilton, 1784), s.v., April 30th. (Return)

27. Newdow v. Roberts, Complaint 1:08-cv-02248-RBW (2008). (Return)

28. R.R. Hinman, A.M., Letters From the English Kings and Queens, Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &C., To the Governors of the Colony of Connecticut, Together With the Answers Thereto, From 1635 to 1749; And Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled From Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: John B. Eldredge, Printer, 1836), pp. 26-28. (Return)

29. See The Public Statute Laws of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1808), pp. 535, Title CXXII: Oaths, Ch. 1, Sec. 6, law passed in May, 1742; 540, Title CXXII: Oaths, Ch. 1, Sec. 25, law passed in May, 1726; 541, Title CXXII: Oaths, Ch. 1, Sec. 30 & 32, law passed in May, 1718. (Return)

30. Oliver H. Prince, A Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia (Milledgeville: Grantland & Orme, 1822), p. 3, “An Act for the case of Dissenting Protestants, within this province, who may be scrupulous of taking an oath, in respect to the manner and form of administering the same,” passed December 13, 1756. (Return)

31. John Haywood, A Manual of the Laws of North Carolina (Raleigh: J. Gales, 1814), p. 34, “Oaths and Affirmations. 1777.” (Return)

32. Joseph Brevard, An Alphabetical Digest of the Public Statue Law of South Carolina (Charleston: John Hoff, 1814), Vol. II, p. 86, “Oaths-Affirmations.” (Return)

33. Laws of the State of New- York (New York: Thomas Greenleaf, 1798), p. 21, “Chap. XXV: An Act to dispense with the usual mode of administering oaths, in favor of persons having conscientious scruples respecting the same, Passed 1st of April, 1778”; James Parker, Conductor Generalis: Or the Office, Duty and Authority of the Justices of the Peace (New York: John Patterson, 1788), pp. 302-304, “Of oaths in general.” (Return)

34. George C. Edward, A Treatise on the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace and Town Officers, in the State of New York (Ithaca: Mack, Andrus & Woodruff, 1836), p. 91, “Of the proceedings on the trial.” (Return)

35. James Madison, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1901), Vol. 2, p. 367, observations by Madison on the vices of the political system of the United States, April 23, 1787. (Return)

36. Reports of the Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of 1821, Assembled for the Purpose of Amending The Constitution of the State of New York (Albany: E. and E. Hosford, 1821), p. 575, Rufus King, October 30, 1821. (Return)

37. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and company, 1854), Vol. IX, p. 229, in an letter “To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts,” on October 11, 1798. (Return)

38. John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815), Vol. VII, pp. 139, 142, from his “Lectures on Moral Philosophy,” Lecture 16 on Oaths and Vows. (Return)

39. Jonathan Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Washington: Printed for the Editor, 1836), Vol. II, p. 202, Oliver Wolcott on January 9, 1788. (Return)

40. Jonathan Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Washington: Printed for the Editor, 1836), Vol. IV, p. 196, James Iredell on July 30, 1788. (Return)

41. John Quincy Adams, The Jubilee of the Constitution (New York: Samuel Colman, 1839), p. 62. (Return)

42. Daniel Webster, Mr. Webster’s Speech in Defense of the Christian Ministry and in Favor of the Religious Instruction of the Young, Delivered in the Supreme Court of the United States, February 10, 1844, in the Case of Stephen Girard’s Will (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1844), pp. 43, 51. (Return)

43. See, for example, Zephaniah Swift, A System of Laws of the State of Connecticut (Windham: John Byrne, 1796), Vol. II, p. 238; Jacob Rush, Charges and Extracts of Charges on Moral and Religious Subjects (Philadelphia Geo Forman, 1804), pp. 34-35, 37, 40; Daniel Webster, Mr. Webster’s Speech in Defence of the Christian Ministry and in Favor of the Religious Instruction of the Young, Delivered in the Supreme Court of the United States, February 10, 1844, in the Case of Stephen Girard’s Will (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1844), pp. 43, 5; From an original document in our possession, executed by John Hart on March 24, 1757; Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11 S. & R. 394 (Sup. Ct. Pa. 1824); City Council of Charleston v. S.A. Benjamin, 2 Strob. 508, 522-524 (Sup. Ct. S.C. 1846). (Return)

44. Zephaniah Swift, A System of Laws of the State of Connecticut (Windham: John Byrne, 1796), Vol. II, p. 238. (Return)

45. James Kent, Memoirs and Letters of James Kent, William Kent, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1898), p. 164. (Return)

46. Noah Webster, A Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. “oath.” (Return)

47. James Coffield Mitchell, The Tennessee Justice’s Manual and Civil Officer’s Guide (Nashville: Mitchell and C. C. Norvell, 1834), pp. 457-458. (Return)

48. John Bouvier, A Law Dictionary Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America, and of the Several States of the American Union (Philadelphia: T. & J. W. Johnson, 1839), s.v. “oath” (online at: http://www.constitution.org/bouv/bouvier.htm). (Return)

49. Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1854), p. 8, “Rep. No. 124. Chaplains in Congress and in the Army and Navy,” March 27, 1854. (Return)

50. James Endell Tyler, B.D., Oaths; Their Origin, Nature, and History (London: John W. Parker, 1834), pp. 14, 57. (Return)

51. See, for example, People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns 545, 546 (1811); Commonwealth v. Wolf, 3 Serg. & R. 48, 50 (1817); City Council of Charleston v. S.A. Benjamin, 2 Strob. 508, 522-524 (Sup. Ct. S.C. 1846); and many others. (Return)

52. William Sullivan, The Political Class Book (Boston: Richardson, Lord, and Holbrook, 1831), p. 139, §392. (Return)

53. Alexis de Tocqueville, The Republic of the United States of American and Its Political Institutions, Reviewed and Examined, Henry Reeves, trans. (Garden City, NY: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1851), Vol. I, p. 334, 344n. See also Daniel Webster, Mr. Webster’s Speech in Defence of the Christian Ministry and in Favor of the Religious Instruction of the Young, Delivered in the Supreme Court of the United States, February 10, 1844, in the Case of Stephen Girard’s Will (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1844), pp. 43; Joseph Story, Life and Letters of Joseph Story, William W. Story, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. II, pp. 8-9; Zephaniah Swift, System of Laws (Windham: John Byrne, 1796), Vol. II, pp. 238. (Return)

54. Abington v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963). (Return)

55. Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11 S. & R. 394 (Sup. Ct. Pa. 1824). (Return)

56. George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States . . . Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore: George and Henry S. Keatinge, 1796), p. 23. (Return)

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The American Flag Is ‘Offensive’ in Schools Now

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 20, 2011

By Selwyn Duke

Increasingly, it seems that the American flag is joining toy guns and dodgeball on the banned-from-school list.  And the latest story on this front involves The Butterfield Elementary in Orange, Massachusetts, where a teacher told an eleven-year-old boy that he may not hang his depiction of Old Glory because it might “offend” another student.

The boy, Frankie Girard, had drawn the picture in art class but then found that his teacher didn’t share his patriotism.  Says his father, John, “He was denied hanging the flag up.  And he asked if he could just even hang it on his desk, and he was told no.  He could take the picture that he drew and take it home and be proud of it there.”

I guess patriotism has joined piety as a “private matter.”  (Leftists tend to confuse closets with shelves.  Everything that should be in the former, they display; everything that should be on the latter, they hide.)

There is a bit of a back story here, too.  It is claimed that this incident followed an altercation in which the offended one struck Frankie after Frankie asked him why he didn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

As for the accusation leveled against the teacher, it’s denied by the school superintendent, Dr. Paul Burnim.  He refused to go on camera, but, reports WWLP.com’s Matt  Caron, he “told 22News over the phone that nobody ever told Franklin the drawing was offensive, and said the only reason it wasn’t hung was because Franklin was supposed to be doing other work; [sic] not drawing a picture.”

Nose growing much, doctor?

The reason why I don’t believe this man for a second is this: What eleven-year-old is going to concoct a story that his teacher said his flag drawing was “offensive”?  Oh, I understand that kids can lie almost as well as educators, but such a fabrication would require a level of cultural knowledge and sophistication beyond the grammar-school set.  No, what we have here is a guilty teacher and a superintendent doing damage control and hiding under his desk.

As to this, Frankie’s father, John — who has contacted the ACLU (which makes me wonder about his cultural knowledge) and gotten a lot of press — said that Dr. Burnim asked him if this would “go away” if his son were allowed to hang the flag now.  Obviously, this educator is worried about being hanged himself.  Doctor, the time for that is past.

And you are a coward. 

If you were any kind of man, you would have been offended that a teacher would look askance upon the flag.  If you were any kind of a man, you would have leapt into action without hesitation.  If you were any kind of man, you would have defended our culture.  But you’re something other than a man.

It’s called a leftist.

And this is typical of leftists.  They persecute traditionalist students in thousands of schools and universities nationwide (see Campus-Watch.org), and, when they are occasionally caught with their hands in the commie jar, they don’t even have the guts to come on camera and defend their “beliefs.” 

This is because they operate based on popularity, not principle.  They are pack animals, fawners over the fashionable.  In 1936 Germany, they would have been doing the goosestep, and in 1917 Russia, they would have sported the hammer and sickle.  This malleability isn’t surprising, either.  “Left,” like “right,” is a relative term.  Left of what?  In the case of these folks, the only constant is that they’re left of sanity.

Now, in the comments section under Caron’s article, someone in the community accused Frankie of being a bully.  But this is irrelevant.  It would be a mistake to conflate a defense of the flag with a defense of a flag-waver.  If the boy misbehaved, punish him, but you don’t prohibit the flag’s display because it’s “offensive.”  You hang the flag — and then “hang” the child if necessary.

Speaking of which, was the little offended offender punished for striking Frankie?  Or is that allowed now when someone has the temerity to express patriotic sentiments?  

And who is offended by the flag, anyway?  Is this classmate a budding al-Qaeda member?  A La Raza Reconquista type?  Is his last name Chavez?  (Actually, Frankie’s sister claims he’s a Jehovah’s Witness.)  Whatever the case, if the American flag offends him, I suggest that he’s in the wrong country.

The thing I find most irritating about this story is the ridiculous idea that “offensiveness” should be a guide for anything.  And it not only shouldn’t be…

…but it cannot be.

This is because offensiveness is completely relative and subjective: most everything offends someone and most everyone is offended by something.  Yet we won’t prohibit everything.  Would we kowtow to a child who was offended by sitting next to a black classmate?  In short, we have to discriminate among people’s feelings.  And what will be the yardstick that we use to judge?  Unless it is the “feelings” of the given authority figure — in which case the judgments are completely arbitrary — the standard of right and wrong must be applied.

Once you recognize this, the offensiveness argument goes out the window.  It passes muster only in a relativistic universe in which, without a conception of Truth as a yardstick for making decisions, people use the only thing they have left: emotion.  Yet this reduces society to the law of the jungle: we fight, using fists, votes, or words (maybe lies), and those who prevail see their will done.  And that higher one, and civilization, are casualties.

The truth is that when people take offense, it’s usually just a ploy.  They’re not really offended.  

They just don’t happen to like what you’re saying.

But if they were honest and said just that, they’d seem intolerant.  So they try to seize the moral high ground by putting the onus on you and claiming you’re “offensive.”  Yet they usually have neither the high ground nor anything moral.  If they had the latter, they’d likely be able to mount an argument as to why you’re wrong in a real, absolute sense.  Instead, all they’re saying, properly translated, is that they don’t like how you taste.  If they looked to Truth, however, they might find that the problem actually lies with their palate.

Something else that can exist only in a relativistic universe is the spiritual disease that today wears the label “liberalism.”  Get people to believe in Truth, and this disease will die as surely as will a fungus exposed to the light.

Courtesy of http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/05/the_american_flag_is_offensive.html


 

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