Remember our Christian roots

History is the lens through which we view the future and morally evaluate decisions of the past.

William Bradford, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony, described the Pilgrims’ departure to the West with these words, “Ö their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.”

The Mayflower Compact reads, “We whose names are under-written having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colonie in the Northern parts of Virginia do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid.”

The Pilgrims were indisputably Christian. They were Puritans to be precise, steadfastly committed to biblical truth and the manifestation of biblical principles in family, church and government. Separatists from the Church of England, they fled religious persecution, taking refuge in Holland and then the English colonies.

Yet, today, the Christian character of these intrepid men and women is lost. Conveniently, the above portion of the Mayflower Compact is omitted from many school history books and much historical writing. In the interest of being politically correct, the Pilgrims’ general tolerance and friendly relations with the American Indians receive the brunt of historical emphasis.

The trend is typical of the way our nation’s history is taught and thought of today. It is part of a greater liberal campaign to use revisionist history to eradicate or, at the very least, de-emphasize the United States’ rich Christian heritage. The anti-Christian bias operates primarily through exclusion, revision and under- or overemphasis. Just one common claim is that the United State’s Founding Fathers were all deists, viewing God as an impersonal clockmaker devoid of interaction with his people. While primary documentation certainly muddies the waters for a handful of the most prominent Founding Fathers, namely George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, the claim that the founding generation was fundamentally un-Christian cannot be taken seriously.

To begin, the writings and recorded statements of even the most lukewarm Founding Father casts doubt onto the popularly accepted proposition that that they were deists. As just one example, Franklin, often cited as one of the most irreligious Founding Fathers, gave this stirring invocation June 28, 1787, as state delegates threatened to dissolve the Constitutional Convention: “Ö The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men Ö without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel Ö I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business.” Franklin’s words here, like many of Washington, Madison and Jefferson’s, at the very least cast doubt on the common assumption that they were deists.

With the majority of the nation’s founders, the picture is clearer. Alexander Hamilton not only explicitly expressed his faith in Jesus Christ on his deathbed, but he also initiated the Christian Constitutional Society, whose first objective was the support of the Christian religion. Charles Pinckney, John Langdon, James McHenry and Rufus King were all signers of the Constitution and also founders of state or national Bible societies. Abraham Baldwin was a signer, theologian and a chaplain in the Revolutionary War.

John Jay, the country’s first chief justice, was president of the American Bible Society and in his last will and testament wrote, “Unto Him who is the author and giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks Ö especially for our redemption and salvation by his beloved Son.” Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the United States’ first abolition society, wrote in his autobiography, “I am at last reconciled to my God and have assurance of His pardon through faith in Christ.” Many of these men were schooled at Harvard, Yale or Princeton universities, modern-day theological seminaries that existed primarily for the training of Christian ministers. The public and private statements, personal memoirs and leadership roles of the Founding Fathers convincingly establish that the majority of them were, for better or worse, Christians.

History is a powerful tool. It is the lens through which we view the future and morally evaluate the personal and national decisions of the past. It is also an important political tool to legitimize or castigate public opinion. In the interest of intellectual honesty, it is time that the anti-Christian left come to grips with the fact that the fundamental union between Christianity and the United States began at the settling and founding of this country. The evidence speaks for itself.

Bryan Freeman welcomes comments at [email protected].