This is a speech I gave to the Exchange Club of Jacksonville. They asked me to speak on the subject of why I believe America is to be one nation under God.
It is an honor to be here with you today. I truly appreciate the work you do in our community as the Exchange Club. I also want to thank you for this gracious invitation to speak. Dave Ledbetter asked me to join you today, so if this goes south, you will know who to blame. I also want to thank my dear friend and former church member, Jonny Moore for bringing me here.
Now, I do not know most of you, but you must be people of faith. I do not know your individual religious background and beliefs, and I do not know if you attend worship services regularly. However, I surmise that you are all people of faith because you invited a Southern Baptist preacher to speak to you, believing he will end on time. Now that is what I call faith!
I will not keep you long today because I know you have other appointments. I also know you may get sleepy after this wonderful lunch. My wife defines preaching as talking in someone else’s sleep, so I’ll not preach to you today.
I simply want to share with you why I believe we truly are, “one nation under God.” I believe there is ample evidence to support the premise that this nation was founded by men who believed that we derive our rights from, and are accountable to, Almighty God.
Our founding fathers believed this, but our current President does not seem so sure. President Barak Obama recently said in Turkey, “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values." When the President says that we are not a Christian nation what does he mean? If he means that we do not have a state Church, or that we do not give Christians preferential treatment, or that we do not force our beliefs upon people like most of the Muslim countries, then I can agree with him. However, it seems to me that the President neglected a great opportunity to tell the world, especially the Muslim world, that America owes its very existence to God, that our values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come from God, and that we believe these basic human rights are given to all men by their creator. Perhaps President Obama did not hear from his pastor of twenty years, Jeremiah Wright, what I will share with you today.
The date was July 2, 1776. Twenty-four lawyers, eleven business men, and nine farmers were among the fifty-six men in the Continental Congress who gathered to declare this fledgling nation’s independence from Britain. Thomas Jefferson had been assigned the task of drafting the document that we know of as the Declaration of Independence. Two days later on July 4, 1776, the delegates gathered again to hear and approve the reading of this historic document. The declaration began by acknowledging the laws of nature and Nature’s God. It then boldly stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness …” The Declaration of Independence concludes with these words, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Of the 56 men who signed the declaration, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, and in each case subjected to torture. Several lost wives, children, or entire families. One lost his thirteen children. Two wives were brutalized by the British. All were at one time or another victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned.
These men skillfully, bravely, and sacrificially declared more than our nation’s independence from Britain. They declared our nation’s dependence upon God. Each of these men knew that he was putting his life on the line by signing this document. He knew that he could be arrested, tried, and hung for treason. Yet, they knew that God was with them and that if they would cast themselves on Him, God would bless this nation. John Adams declared his intentions to the delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that day with these words:
Before God, I believe the hour has come. My judgement approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it. And I leave off as I began, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment. Independence now, and Independence for ever!
In the Summer of 1787, representatives met in Philadelphia to write the Constitution of the United States of America. As they struggled for weeks to agree on the wording, the 81 year old Benjamin Franklin stood and reminded them of the monumental days of the Revolutionary War. He said,
In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection.—Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending Providence in our favor.
…And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?
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.”
Franklin went on to say:
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, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.
Friends, I am afraid that our nation is quickly forgetting that “powerful friend,” as Franklin called God. The liberals, in the spirit of political correctness, have sought to shut God out of the national discourse.
- We will give our school children condoms but the Gideon’s cannot give them Bibles.
- We can stock our school libraries with books like “Heather Has Two Mommies,” but we cannot allow school children to see the Ten Commandments on the wall.
- We can teach them that they are the products of the blind evolutionary forces of natural selection, mutation, and time, but we cannot remind them in school that our founders believed that they were created by God.
We are in danger of forgetting from whom all blessings flow. We are in danger of forgetting God.
I believe there are two main reasons many of the atheists and liberals don’t want us to remember that we are one nation under God.
First, they do not want to be accountable to a holy God for their sinful ways. It is easier to kill unborn babies and to redefine marriage and to impose godless socialism upon the American people if you can get the notion of God out of our public discourse.
Second, it is easier to take away the rights of a people if you can convince them that their rights came from the State in the first place. There are some in America today who do not want our children to know that we were created by God and given certain, “inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness …” The word, “inalienable,” means these rights have been granted to us by God and cannot be taken from us. Some people in power today seem intent on taking innocent human life, limiting liberty, and standing in the way of the individual’s pursuit of happiness.
Politicians know they are in big trouble if the American people realize that the government has no authority to take these God-given rights away. So they seek to disabuse us of the notion that God has any place in national affairs. They want us to be “ONE NATION UNDER GOVERNMENT," not GOD! They want to change our national motto from, “In God We Trust,” to “In Government We Trust.”
When we forget God we will give our rights away by electing people to office who want to play God in our lives. General Omar Bradley was correct, however, when he warned, “America is running on the momentum of a Godly ancestry, and when that momentum runs down, God help America.”
It was for this reason, the danger of national forgetfulness, that the phrase, “one nation under God,” was added to our Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge was adopted by the 79th Congress on December 28, 1945. The words “under God,” taken from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, were added to the Pledge of Allegiance on June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the pledge into law and stated:
In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.
Each time we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America we are also declaring our allegiance to and dependence upon our God.
- Let us resolve to participate in our government by voting our values and by getting involved in the political process. God has called us to be salt and light. We must penetrate the decay and darkness of society by being godly people.
- Let us resolve to preach to our government, refusing to be silent on these monumental issues. We must let our voices be heard and hold our leaders accountable.
- And let us today resolve to pray for our national leaders, asking that they would return to God.
Allow me to close today by reminding you of the words of President Ronald Reagan. On March 19, 1981, in a Proclamation of a National Day of Prayer, President Reagan stated:
Our Nation’s motto—“In God We Trust”—was not chosen lightly. It reflects a basic recognition that there is a divine authority in the universe to which this nation owes homage.
Throughout our history, Americans have put their faith in God, and no one can doubt that we have been blessed for it. The earliest settlers of this land came in search of religious freedom. Landing on a desolate shoreline, they established a spiritual foundation that has served us ever since.
It was the hard work of our people, the freedom they enjoyed and their faith in God that built this country and made it the envy of the world. In all of our great cities and towns evidence of the faith of our people is found: Houses of worship of every denomination are among the oldest structures.
While never willing to bow to a tyrant, our forefathers were always willing to get to their knees before God. When catastrophe threatened, they turned to God for deliverance. When the harvest was bountiful, the first thought was thanksgiving to God.
Prayer is today as powerful a force in our nation as it has ever been. We as a nation should never forget this source of strength. And while recognizing that the freedom to choose a Godly path is the essence of liberty, as a nation we cannot but hope that more of our citizens would, through prayer, come into a closer relationship with their Maker.
Let us as a nation join together before God, fully aware of the trials that lie ahead and the need, yes, the necessity, for divine guidance. With unshakable faith in God and the liberty which is heritage, we as a free nation will surely survive and prosper.
I leave you with this truth from God's holy Word. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen for His own inheritance." (Psalm 33:12)
God bless you and may God bless America.