On Feb 8 1954, President Eisenhower attended services at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, the same church Abraham Lincoln attended while he was President. It was a service to commemorate the 145th birthday of the sixteenth President. The Reverend Dr. George Docherty delivered a sermon posing the same question that Lincoln had posed in his Gettysburg Address; whether or not our nation, or any nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, could long endure?
The world had changed a great deal from Lincoln’s time. It was the height of the Cold War. The United States and Soviet Union had emerged from the Second World War as global super-powers with conflicting ideologies that threatened to consume the planet in a nuclear Armageddon. However, despite that ever-present threat, and the fear and paranoia that gripped the nation, the Reverend concluded that we could, and would endure, because we were one nation under God, that had always been able to emerge from the ashes of war and conflict, rededicated to the ideals and values of our founding. The sermon inspired Eisenhower, and on June 14, 1954, the phrase “One Nation Under God” was officially incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance.
Over the years there have been numerous legal challenges to the phrase “Under God,” brought by the ACLU and other secularists, claiming that it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. These suits have been heard at all levels of the judicial system, including the US Supreme Court, with very little success. For now, the consensus remains that the phrase “Under God,” does not constitute the establishment of an official state religion, and elementary school children are still free to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Despite these court rulings, secularists will continue to challenge the phrase “Under God,” because they simply do not understand the ideological foundations of this Nation. Their revisionist history even claims that our Founding Fathers intended to establish a purely secular state in order to purposely exclude God from the public sector. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Founding Fathers were men of great faith, who intentionally established a nation based upon the Natural Law of the Creator.
The Natural Law recognizes that there is a Creator, who set in motion the evolution of the universe, and put in place both the physical and moral laws that govern it. The physical laws are the laws that govern the formation of the cosmos, and orbits of the planets. They are discovered by man with his intellect and reason, and comprise the foundations of science. The moral law has been revealed to man by God. They are Moses’s Ten Commandments, Buddha’s Eight Fold Path to Enlightenment, Confucius’s Gentlemanly Principals, and the commandment of Jesus of Nazareth to love God with all your heart and all your soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. They form the culture of ideals and values known as the Judeo-Christian ethic.
The evidence that our Founding Fathers intended to create a nation built upon the Natural Law is found in the very document that established the United States. The preamble of the Declaration of Independence states quite clearly, that our new nation, and our liberties and freedoms are based upon the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” The United States is the first and perhaps only nation in modern history founded upon God’s truths, and God’s Natural Law. It is the reason for our success and the source of our greatness.
The delusion of modern secular liberalism is that you can build a nation and establish a government based on human ideas alone, and need not acknowledge, or accept the natural law of the Creator. History has shown time and time again that a society or nation that attempts this, does so at its own peril. It is after all, the story of the Old Testament and the history of the Jewish people.
When the Israelites obeyed God’s commandments, recognized and acknowledged his authority, they flourished and prospered. Whenever they abandoned God, violated his law and ignored his authority, they found themselves in exile or slavery.
God’s law is right reason, and when applied by government in regulating human relations, it is justice. Abandoning God and God’s law is irrational and dangerous. It creates a society in which the powerful, unrestrained by the higher moral authority, are free to impose their will upon the masses. Nations that embrace God’s law thrive, while nations that reject God’s law perish. The twentieth century’s victims of secularism included Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union. Will the United States be its first victim of the twenty-first century?
As the United States continues its slide towards secularism, we do so at our own peril. If the Reverend Docherty or President Eisenhower were alive today, how would they answer that question posed by Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address?
Alexis De Tocqueville was a French political philosopher and historian. In 1831, he came to the United States to try to understand why the American Revolution had succeeded, while the French Revolution had failed, deteriorating into the Rein of Terror and eventual dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. He toured America for almost two years, taking notes, studying her institutions and people, looking for the source of her success, and he found it in the pews and stalls of her churches, synagogues and temples.
De Tocqueville was astonished by the devotion and faith of the American people. Unlike the nations of Europe, America didn’t have an official religion, here people where free to worship according to their own convictions. This created a landscape dotted with the spires and steeples of multiple faiths and denominations, but no matter what place of worship he entered, De Tocqueville was struck by the sincere and honest desire of the American people to listen to God’s words, follow his laws, and do the right thing. He concluded; “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”