The United States of America has a Christian heritage. The wisdom and guidance of God has been integral in the lives of our founders and leaders. The liberty that has made America great is based on the principles of Christianity.
America's Christian heritage is seen in the vision and purpose of our settlers, founding fathers, and founding documents. It is confirmed through the years by actions of our Presidents, Congress and the Supreme Court. It is also evident on the walls of our national monuments/buildings and in our national anthem, seal, pledge, motto, and hymns.
SETTLERS– America ’s First Settlements Were Christian Based
In 1492, Columbus said, “It was the Lord who put into my mind…..” From the opening line of his log, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ….”, he recorded his desire to “bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the heathens…. and bring the Word of God to unknown coastlands.”
On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed with a band of settlers to found St. Augustine, Florida, America's first settlement. The Spanish pioneers named this landing site Nombre de Dios, which means "Name of God". Here, the cross of Christianity was first planted in America.
Jamestown was settled in 1607 under the First Charter of Virginia which declared, " . . . by the Province of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating the Christian Religion . . . ". The first act performed by the settlers after they landed at Cape Henry was to erect a large wooden cross and hold a prayer meeting on publicly chartered land.
As shown on the attached copy of the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims in 1620 expressed the purpose of their difficult journey to America, "In the name of God, Amen. Having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith . . .."
FOUNDING FATHERS– America ’s Founders and Early Leaders Were Christians
Authors of the Constitution
Fifty, and perhaps 52, of the 55 men who framed the Constitution were professing Christians (RE: A Worthy Company, M.E. Bradford, Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1982).
George Washington – 1st President
Washington was a devout Christian as evidenced by his prayers, one of which ends with the words, "Almighty God, and most merciful Father ...bless my family, kindred, friends and country; be our God and Guide this day and forever, for His sake who lay down in the grave and rose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen". Some of Washington's prayers are attached.
President Washington ended his Inaugural Prayer with, " ...grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen".
The guiding hand of God is clearly seen as one reads Washington's words: "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency."
"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that his great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here."
John Adams – 2nd President
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were... the general principles of Christianity.”
Thomas Jefferson – 3rd President, wrote in 1805
A national prayer by Jefferson, "Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage: we humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."
James Madison – 4th President, wrote in 1787
"We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future ... upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves, according to the Ten Commandments of God."
Benjamin Franklin – said in 1787
“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...”
John Quincy Adams – 6th President, wrote on July 4, 1821
"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. From the day of the Declaration ... they (the American people) were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of The Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledged as the rules of their conduct."
John Jay – First US Supreme Court Chief Justice
“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Noah Webster – Authored the first dictionary, and wrote in 1833
“The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His Apostles... this is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government...the moral principles and precepts contained in the Scripture ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.”
The overwhelming majority of America ’s leaders did not own slaves. Read the whole story in Stephen McDowell’s article, The Bible, Slavery, and America’s Founders.
FOUNDING DOCUMENTS– Refer to Our Dependence on God
Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life (Genesis 2:7), Liberty (II Corinthians 3:17), and the Pursuit of Happiness (Ecclesiastes 3:3)". Notice that it says that men are created , not that they evolved. Unalienable or inalienable rights are God given rights. The Declaration of Independence concludes, " . . . with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, . . . ".
The Constitution is fundamentally a Christian document as evidenced by its support of Biblical doctrine on the Creator God, rights, law, civil government, liberty, and the nature of man. Fifty, and perhaps 52, of the 55 men who framed it were professing Christians. (A Worthy Company, M E Bradford, Plymouth Rock Foundation). The Constitution framed our Republic where the basic laws are very difficult to change.
The Continental Congress
Officially in 1775 called all citizens to fast and pray and confess their sin that God might bless them.
Charters and Constitutions
There are dozens of Christian related quotes found in the early colony and state charters such as the First Charter of Virginia (1606) which states,”to the glory of His divine Majesty, in propagating of the Christian religion…..” The New England Charter (1620) says,….”to advance the enlargement of the Christian religion, to the glory of God Almighty.” The Carolina's Charter (1622) acknowledged that the settlement was constituted for “the propagation of the Christian faith.” The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1638) says, “….confederation together to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess.” The Constitution of the New England Confederation (1643) contains the words, “Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the Liberties of the gospel in purity with peace.” The New Haven Colony charter (1644) officially ordered that the “judicial laws of God, as they were delivered by Moses be a rule to all the courts in this jurisdiction ….” More Charters and Constitutions.
Written in 1787 contains the words, “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government……shall forever be encouraged.”
All 50 state constitutions, without exception, contain a statement of faith recognizing dependence on Almighty God, and "...call upon the Providence of God for the blessings of freedom.” View here the 50 state constitution’s State Preambles, all showing the acknowledgement of our Creator’s blessings of civil, political and religious liberties.
PRESIDENTS– Words from Several Past Presidents
Every US President has included in his inaugural address reference to his and the nation’s dependence upon God. The Presidents were not referring to a Buddhist God, nor a Hindu God, nor a Muslem God, but rather to the one and only God Almighty who sent His son Jesus Christ to die for our sins so that we might have His free gift of eternal life, and further that we may know that we have eternal life (I John 5:10-13).
Andrew Jackson – 7th President
President Andrew Jackson in 1845 said, "The Bible is the rock on which our Republic rests.”
Abraham Lincoln – 16th President
Lincoln's mother taught him scripture and instructed him to "Love your Heavenly Father, and keep His Commandments". Lincoln said "All that I am I owe to my angel Mother". Lincoln heard the gospel of Christ from a nurse when Lincoln ’s son died, but Lincoln did not respond until later when he was quoted as saying "I consecrated my heart to Christ at Gettysberg". In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln said, “...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom...”
In 1863 Lincoln signed A Proclamation for a Day of National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, which begins, “Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and Just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations,...”
Theodore Roosevelt – 26th President
"After a week on perplexing problems ... it does so rest my soul to come into the house of The Lord and to sing and mean it, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty' ... (my) great joy and glory that, in occupying an exalted position in the nation, I am enabled, to preach the practical moralities of The Bible to my fellow-countrymen and to hold up Christ as the hope and Savior of the world."
Woodrow Wilson – 28th President
"America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements or righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scriptures."
Harry Truman – 33rd President
“... asking divine guidance that in all we do may we follow the will of God. May we Americans all live up to our glorious heritage.”
Gerald Ford - 38th President
On 9-8-74, Ford told the nation he was pardoning Nixon, and said, "The Constitution is the supreme law of our land, and it governs our actions as citizens. Only the laws of God, who governs our consciences, are superior to it... I do believe, with all my heart and mind and spirit, that I, not as president but as a humble servant of God, will receive justice without mercy if I fail to show mercy."
Ronald Reagan – 40th President
"That together with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us, and after all, why shouldn’t we believe that... we are Americans!"
CONGRESS– Declares the Bible as the Word of God
The complete Joint Resolution of the Congress, enclosed, is Public law 97-280 dated October 4, 1982, which authorized the President to proclaim 1983 as the "Year of the Bible …. In recognition of both the formative influence the Bible has been for our nation, and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”
In 1983 Chief Justice Warren Burger said, when the Supreme Court upheld having chaplains open State legislative sessions with prayer, “… the men who wrote the First Amendment religion clause did not view paid legislative chaplains and opening prayers as a violation of that amendment …. the practice …. has continued without interruption ever since that early session of Congress.”
The Library of Congress - Displayed on the walls are quotations from the Bible books of Psalms, Proverbs and Micah.
SUPREME COURT– Declared that the USA is a Christian Nation
In 1799, the Court published, “ By our form of government ,the Christian religion is the established religion.”
In a Supreme Court decision of March 1952, Justice Douglas said: “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”
LIBERTY BELL– Photos of this Symbol of Religious Freedom
The Liberty Bell was re-cast in America to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Pennsylvania under the Charter of Privileges which insured religious freedom for the citizens. The Bell is inscribed around its crown with the Bible verse from Leviticus 25:10, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof". The Liberty Bell story is attached.
The Charter itself reads, " . . . and Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine knowledge, Faith and Worship, . . .. ". It concludes, " . . . . And that all persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, shall be capable to serve this Government in any capacity, both legislatively and executively . . .”
You can learn about the history of our flag at usflag.org.
MONUMENTS / BUILDINGS– Walls Have Many Christian Quotes and Scripture Verses
Inscribed on the walls is Jefferson ’s warning: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
Inscribed on wall of the north chamber is scripture from Matthew 18:7.
There are eight selections of scripture inscribed in the stone blocks. To learn what is inscribed at the very top of the Monument, click here.
An official commitment of this Nation to a belief in the Word of God is born out through the Scripture and references to God that are inscribed throughout the House and Senate.
Library of Congress
Displayed on the walls are verses from Psalms, Proverbs and Micah.
President Franklin Roosevelt had this prayer of President John Adams engraved on the fireplace mantel in the State Dining Room. “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this House and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it….”
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
In the National Cemetery at Arlington, VA, the inscription on the tomb reads: “Here lies in honored glory, an American soldier, known but to God.”
Supreme Court Building
Words of the Ten Commandments are chiseled into the marble slabs which hang directly over the seat of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
State Capitol Buildings
Many of our state capitol buildings across America have scripture engraved in stone.
Adopted by Congress in 1931, the Star Spangled Banner, attached, closes: “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto – ‘In God is our Trust’. “ You may view a photo of Francis Scott Key's original penned words.
The American Seal was approved by Congress on June 20, 1782. On every dollar bill the seal is pictured with the “Eye of God” directly above the pyramid. The words “Annuit Coeptis” signify that “God has favored our undertaking.”
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The words, “under God” were adopted by Congress on June 14, 1954.
Found on our coins since 1863 is, “In God We Trust”. A joint resolution of Congress was adopted on July 20, 1956 establishing this motto as the national motto of the United States.
We have many national hymns that glorify the Lord, including God Bless America and Battle Hymn of the Republic – “I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; they have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps; I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps; His day is marching on. Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!” Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)
Our first President, George Washington in 1789, gave our Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, when he stated, "Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection, aid and favors."
President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863
...to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. ....the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy ...to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens ...fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
After signing the Declaration of Independence, General George Washington issued an order placing a chaplain in each regimen.
Armed Forces Training
At least in the past, men and women in the various branches of the service were given special courses on morals. Titles of the Army and Air Force courses: “Our Dependence on God”, “The Ten Commandments”, “The Necessity of Divine Worship”, and “God as the Sourc e of Authority”.
At the main entrance a sign reads: “Worship daily according to your faith.” On a stairway wall is a large mural scene of a family praying together in church.
Tomb of The Unknown Soldier
In our National Cemetery in Arlington VA, the inscription on the tomb of the unknown soldier reads: “Here lies in honored glory, an American soldier, known but to God.”
The first 106 of 108 colleges in America, including Yale and Princeton, were Christian, founded for the purpose given in Harvard’s official motto, “For Christ and the Church”.
GOVERNMENT– and Christianity Must Not Be Separated
The far left liberals have for years attacked evangelical Christians for political and public policy involvement. These liberals claim that the Bible shouldn't be used as a handbook for living or establishing belief patterns. They're saying it's not right to make public policies or political decisions based on biblical interpretation, nor should a candidate emphasize his own religious convictions.
God's word, however, directs the Christian believer to represent Him in every area of life including all levels of government.
When Christians fail to influence society with their Judeo-Christian values, others fill the vacuum with their humanistic, anti-God values. Insufficient Christian involvement in the political process during the past 50 years has left most of our government offices and institutions in the hands of amoral or immoral leaders. We must no longer tolerate the movement to reduce America to a secular, humanistic state.
Concerning the role of Christians in government, the Bible instructs us to:
Pray that moral men and women of integrity be elected and selected for local, state, and national offices. Then intercede for these leaders that God would grant them His wisdom, discernment and safety. (I Timothy 2:1-2)
Participate (Matthew 5:13-16)
Select leaders (Exodus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 1:13)
Obey authority (Romans 13:1-6)
Be separate (II Corinthians 6:14-18)
Defend Christian rights through the legal system (Acts 22:25, 25:10-11)
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says nothing about the separation of church and state. It simply states that the government shall not force any religion upon the people, and that the people have the right to exercise the religion of their choice. This portion of the Bill of Rights states that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or forbidding the free exercise thereof".
Nothing in our history indicates that the government should be independent of moral values or that religious people shouldn't take an active role in our government. The first official act of the U.S. Congress formed under our Constitution was to select a chaplain. The second act was to authorize the purchase of 20,000 Bibles to give to the Indians.
CONCLUSION– America Has a Christian Heritage
America has a Christian heritage, and is indeed a Christian nation, as evidenced by the convictions of those who settled this land, our founding fathers' faith, our founding documents, our past leaders, our monuments, our anthem, motto, pledge, seal, and the very high percentage (over 85%) of our population who claim they are Christians.
This has been an overview. There is much more information available in the form of books, pamphlets, and videos found on the web sites of the Christian heritage organizations listed under the ORGANIZATIONS tab above.
Psalm 33:12 says that "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance.” We have been blessed by the Lord both materially and with freedom to teach our children about Christ. America has sent out more missionaries of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world than any other country in the history of the world.
Will we continue to be blessed? The key is in Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." We have a Christian heritage, and a responsibility to maintain it. Patrick Henry said, “Whether this [new government] will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us.” And Thomas Jefferson said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
May God bless you as you consider this.
Listed here are a few suggested reference sources.
The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America, Volumes 1 & 2, by Verna Hall, 1960, Foundation for American Christian Education.
The Christian History of the American Revolution, Verna Hall, 1976, Foundation for American Christian Education.
Fundamentals for American Christians, Russ Walton, 1978, Plymouth Rock Foundation, Plymouth MA.
One Nation Under God, Russ Walton, 1976, Third Century Publishers, Washington DC.
A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution, M E Bradford, 1982, Plymouth Rock Foundation.
This Independent Republic, 1964, R J Rushdoony, Thoburn Press, Tyler TX.
The New England Clergy and The American Revolution, 1928, Alice M Baldwin, Frederick Ungar, New York.
The Separation Illusion, 1977, John W Whitehead, Mott Media, Milford TX.
The Second American Revolution, 1960, David C Cook, Elgin IL.
American Historical Documents, 1960, Harold C Syrett, Editor, Barnes & Noble, New York NY.
America’s Providential History, Mark A Beliles & Stephen K McDowell, Providence Foundation, P O Box 6759, Charlottesville, VA 22906.