Tags: pope | francis | ellis the elephant

Pope: Faithful Made This Country Great

By    |   Thursday, 15 October 2015 05:18 PM

When Pope Francis visited the United States last month, enormous crowds greeted him in Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, all of them eager to hear what the pontiff would say on his first visit to America.

In fact he had a great deal to say on a wide range of topics, from the family to the environment. But the Pope also offered a subtle message to Americans about our particular form of government, an implicit reminder of something we no longer teach and often forget: the central role that faith has played — and continues to play — in making our union a more perfect one.

The Pope reminded us that Abraham Lincoln, among our greatest presidents, labored that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom.”

He reminded us that Martin Luther King Jr., among our greatest religious leaders, helped build on this dream in the next century, drawing on strength and conviction that only faith could provide.

And finally, Pope Francis called our attention to millions of ordinary Americans who through faithful service to others have made our country better.

The Pope’s reminder was an important one not just for Catholics but for all Americans, because it’s impossible to understand our country’s history without understanding the guiding role religion has played from the very beginning.

It was out of religious conviction, after all, that settlers first came here. And faith became an essential part of our founding creed: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

It's a measure of our challenge that so many Americans have forgotten that much of what is great about America has been built on this foundation of faith.

At one time, this was one of the first things children understood about America. Young Americans routinely learned about the Pilgrims, about the Declaration, and about George Washington’s faith in Providence.

Today, however, just one in three fourth-graders can identify the purpose of the Declaration of Independence. Fewer than half understand why George Washington was an important leader in American history. And most fourth-graders don’t know why the Pilgrims left England.

We’ve been doing a very poor job of passing on the American story to the next generation. A recent Department of Education National Assessment of Educational Progress survey suggests how great a challenge we face in correcting this problem.

Just 20 percent of fourth-graders, 17 percent of eighth-graders and 12 percent of 12th-graders are at grade-level proficiency in American history.

Instead of teaching young people the essentials of American history, too often our children have been taught revisionist or politically correct history that encourages them to doubt the very things that make us American. As a result of this failure to teach the truth about our past, we are beginning to see our nation’s memory slip away.

Those of us who care about preserving America's freedom and prosperity have an obligation to make sure that the young people in our lives learn what has made the United States such an exceptional nation. This includes promoting an awareness of the role faith has played in keeping us free.

In this spirit I began writing a series of best-selling children’s books to help young people learn American history with Ellis the Elephant.

In my latest book, "Christmas in America," Ellis discovers the joy of Christmas and how this special holiday has been celebrated throughout our nation’s history because you can’t understand America without understanding the role faith has played.

Editor's Note: Get Callista Gingrich's new book — Go Here Now.

In earlier books, Ellis explores pivotal moments in our nation’s history, including colonial America, the American Revolution, the expedition of Lewis and Clark, and more.

Visits to historic sites like George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon or Independence Hall in Philadelphia are also wonderful ways to inspire children with a love for American history.

And of course, interactive online courses, television programs like Liberty’s Kids, and educational games like Oregon Trail can teach critical history lessons, too.

As the Pope reminded us last month, our nation’s history holds many important lessons and offers many good role models. It’s the least we can do to pass them on to the next generation of Americans.

Editor's Note: Get Callista Gingrich's new book — Go Here Now.

Callista Gingrich is president of Gingrich Productions, a multimedia production company based in Washington, D.C. She is the wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

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Those of us who care about preserving America's freedom and prosperity have an obligation to make sure that the young people in our lives learn what has made the United States such an exceptional nation.
pope, francis, ellis the elephant
Thursday, 15 October 2015 05:18 PM
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