When New York churches no longer can meet in public school settings, a federal court orders a Rhode Island public school to remove a prayer banner that has been posted for more than five decades (and it complies), the federal government mandates that Catholic institutions cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization (at no cost to the patient), the U.S. Air Force removes “God” from the motto of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, atheists continue to contest “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance, town councils can’t pray to start their meetings, evangelical pillars like Franklin Graham are subdued by gotcha gangs in the mainstream media, and cultural icons like Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow can’t even bow in silent prayer without criticism, you can be assured that religious liberty is under assault by secular progressives across America. And leading the national charge is none other than our president, Barack Obama.
Though America’s Founding Fathers opposed the reign of kings or priests, they actually advocated the role of religion in society and civic service, including intermingling their own Christian faith in political convictions and choices. And I believe they would want us to vote in a president who is committed to the same.
As I wrote in my latest New York Times best-seller, “Black Belt Patriotism,” skeptics are quick to point to Thomas Jefferson, who generally is hailed as the chief of church-state separation. But proof that Jefferson was not trying to rid government of religious (specifically Christian) influence comes from the fact that he endorsed using government buildings for church meetings, signed a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that allotted federal money to support the building of a Catholic church and to pay the salaries of the church’s priests, and repeatedly renewed legislation that gave land to the United Brethren to help their missionary activities among the Indians.
Some might be completely surprised to discover that just two days after Jefferson wrote his famous letter citing the “wall of separation between church and state,” he attended church in the place where he always had as president: the U.S. Capitol. The very seat of our nation’s government was used for sacred purposes. The Library of Congress’ website notes, “It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church.”
For our founders, moral fortitude was dependent upon the liberties of religion, not the laws of men. John Adams, our second president, explained: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Benjamin Franklin put it this way: “That wise Men have in all Ages thought Government necessary for the Good of Mankind; and, that wise Governments have always thought Religion necessary for the well ordering and well-being of Society, and accordingly have been ever careful to encourage and protect the Ministers of it, paying them the highest publick Honours, that their Doctrines might thereby meet with the greater Respect among the common People.”
Because our founders firmly believed that religion prevents liberty from turning into licentiousness, President George Washington warned the nation in his Farewell Address to beware of leaders who dismantle the role of religion and Christianity: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”
No wonder John Jay — the first chief justice of the United States, appointed by George Washington himself — wrote to Jedidiah Morse on Feb. 28, 1797: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers. And it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Thank God for the present members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, a bipartisan group of 103 members of the House of Representatives dedicated to preserving religious freedom in America. But they also need a fearless leader in the Oval Office who will stand up with them against the attacks on our religious liberties, not one who initiates the assault. We need a president who defends our First Amendment’s freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
Last week, I mentioned that before ever considering running for the White House, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, fought for America’s Judeo-Christian heritage by writing two volumes and creating a DVD tour by the same name, “Rediscovering God in America.”
In 2010, also before his run for the presidency, Newt stated categorically on the tour for his insightful book “To Save America” that the Obama regime is “the most radical administration in American history. … (This is) a secular socialist machine … deeply opposed to God being in public life … deeply opposed to religious values defining how we think about things. … They clearly represent a value system that any reasonable person would call secular … on a scale that is the opposite of the Founding Fathers.”
Just this past Sunday morning, for roughly 30 minutes, Newt defended America’s Judeo-Christian heritage from the pulpit at First Redeemer Church in Cumming, Ga.
Newt’s passion to protect our religious liberties is one more reason in a long list that my wife, Gena, and I are encouraging all Americans to support and vote for Newt Gingrich in the Republican presidential primary. (I’ll address another huge reason, Newt’s new plan to bring gas back down to $2.50 per gallon, in my next column.)