The Founding Fathers firmly believed that our liberties come from the Lord. This conviction, in turn, informed the constitutional protection of our faith.
Inspired by Newt and Callista Gingrich's Rediscovering God in America, I took my own tour through some selected places and documents in Washington, D.C., to place us "under God.",
Held in the National Archives, the Declaration of Independence contains four references to the Deity: as Lawmaker, Creator, Protector and Supreme Judge. The document affirms that all people "are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Thus, power devolved directly from God to the people.
Stored in the same place, the Constitution of the United States begins with: "We the people." Thus, the Founding Fathers designated human beings as sovereign agents of freedom and liberty whose ultimate source is the Lord.
Tellingly, the First Amendment to the Constitution, which protects freedom of religion, states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Our first president George Washington was a profoundly religious man. He added the famously unscripted "So help me God" during his oath of office in 1789 and he also kissed the Bible placed before him.
In 1795, he offered a proclamation of prayer and thanksgiving to the nation. Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised by many references to Our Creator — "In God we Trust," "Holiness to the Lord" and others — inside the Washington Monument.
Despite his deism, Thomas Jefferson left us with "a deep conviction that American liberties are a gift from God." Inside the Jefferson Memorial you can also find the following phrase: "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the minds of man." There are four panels inside the dome and three of them contain reference to the Lord.
Abraham Lincoln read the Bible assiduously. Religious reflections abound in his memorial. Lincoln's view of America's relationship to the Lord resounds best in the following: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom."
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial commemorates the icon of modern liberalism. However, FDR was a man of deep religious convictions in his own way. Who remembers his prayer? "O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen."
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" said Martin Luther King Jr. He was a Christian. According to Newt and Callista Gingrich, "for a memorial that honors someone as proudly religious as Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. — A man whose speeches (many of them sermons) were packed with references to 'the Almighty' and ‘God' and ‘Jesus' — it is striking that the MLK Memorial does not have a single overt mention of God."
And then there is the Hill. The Capitol in many ways demonstrates the reliance of this country on God and faith, for example: the House and Senate open their sessions with the Pledge of Allegiance; in the House chamber is the inscription "In God We Trust"; You can also find historical paintings with religious accents and statutes of religious leaders.
The same applies to the White House with its Christian symbols, including Christmas trees; Easter egg hunting on the lawn; the State Dining Room displaying a prayer by President Adams, and so on.
The Supreme Court brims with religious content. All sessions begin with the Court's Marshall statement: "God save the United States and this honorable Court." You can also find Moses with the Ten Commandments there, peering at us.
Next stop is the Library of Congress. In addition to two Bibles, the Giant Bible of Mainz and the Gutenberg Bible, the Great Hall displays other religious motifs on its ceiling and walls. There are also bronze statues of Moses and Saint Paul the Apostle set upon the balustrade in the Main Reading Room.
And last but not least on my discovery list is the Ronald Reagan building. Reagan's speeches were permeated with God and faith. They inspired him in his fight with evil to defeat anti-Christian Communism; his proclamation of the Year of Bible in America; his establishing of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See in 1984, and more.
Beyond any doubt, America is a Lord's country. As President Reagan himself put it, "If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under."
Therefore, let us pray that the Lord will always preserve peace, love, human dignity, freedom of conscience and religion, in the United States.
Monika Jablonska is an author of "Wind from Heaven: John Paul II, The Poet Who Became Pope." Her next book on Saint John Paul II is forthcoming in 2021. She is a lawyer and a literary scholar living in Washington D.C. Read Monika's Reports — More Here.
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