by Jerry Newcombe
What makes America so special? Why is it that would-be immigrants literally risk their lives to try and get here? Some will risk their lives to leave Cuba, going through shark-infested waters to get here. But don’t they know they have free health care there? But seriously, why do people vote with their feet to try to get to this country? What makes the US so special? The answer has to do with one simple fact: our rights come from God. Period. That’s what our national birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence, says. Even when America doesn’t live up to its creed that our Creator has endowed us with certain unalienable rights, it’s still a good creed. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his classic speech: “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.’”
Since our rights come from God, it’s not up to the state to determine if those rights are secure. What the state giveth, the state can taketh away. That is not true with God-given rights.
I believe that what is best about America gets back to our Judeo-Christian heritage. I don’t think there would be an America without the unique role the Bible played in the founding of our nation. Because America began as a Christian nation, people of all faiths or no faith are welcome here. Consider some of our founding fathers and their views on how God is the source of our liberty.
Here we are at a Tea Party meeting. The leader of the first tea party was Sam Adams—the lightning rod of the American Revolution. Without him, we might not have achieved independence, certainly not when we did. In a classic monograph, “The Rights of the Colonists,” Adams wrote this: “The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, the rights of the Colonists as Christians may best be understood by reading and carefully studying the institutions of The Great Law Giver and the Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”
Consider George Washington. In his farewell address, he noted: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness.” When the Founding Fathers spoke of “religion,” he is speaking of Christianity, in a nation which at the time was 99.8% Christian.
Think about John Adams our second president, who said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Even the religiously liberal Thomas Jefferson appealed to Jesus Christ (“the holy author of our religion”) and His example as to how it is we have freedom, religious or otherwise. In 1786, he wrote: “Almighty God hath created the mind free…all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments…are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being lord both of body and mind, yet choose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its influence on reason alone…” So, in other words, the state is not to interfere with the conscience. God leaves that up to the individual.
Even Ben Franklin, also non-orthodox in his views on Christianity, made a passionate plea during the Constitutional Convention for prayer. The whole convention almost shut down because of all their bickering, but then on June 28, 1787, Franklin, the eldest statesman present, called for prayer and a variation of his request was granted. He said in that speech, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel.”
When many of the founding fathers, especially ones from New England, like Paul Revere, John Hancock, learned their ABCs, they learned them from The New England Primer, which taught basic Biblical principles.
In Adam’s Fall,
We sinned all.
Thy life to mend,
The Bible tend.
For sinners died.
Why was Christ crucified? God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to conquer evil and to be the sacrifice needed to free us from the corrupting power of sin. Christ freed us and as liberated people, we become citizens of His kingdom and then live under His dominion for time and eternity. That was the view of the majority of the founders of this country, and it was a view that gave us liberty untold in the history of the world.
In closing, I want to remind us what Ronald Reagan once said, “America needs God more than God needs America. If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.” Thank you and may God bless America—with repentance and a Third Great Awakening.