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The Changing Language of America's Leaders

by Dave Meyer - posted February 15, 2010

Could They Say It Today?

Imagine for a moment that you're at home, sitting comfortably watching television. You pick up the remote and begin channel surfing. While flipping through the channels, you see the President of the United States giving a speech. Curious, you stop to listen. These are the words you hear:

[T]he teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally…impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teachings were removed America was born a Christian nation—America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture. American life is builded, and can alone survive upon…[the] fundamental philosophy announced by the Savior nineteen centuries ago. This is a Christian Nation. Let us remember that as a Christian nation…we have a charge and a destiny.1

What would your response be if you heard the President talking like this? Would you be shocked?

What is interesting about this imaginary scenario is that it's already been done—the speech itself is not fictional, but comprised of snippets of real speeches from not just one, but six American Presidents of the past: John Adams, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Richard Nixon.

Making Bold Statements

Through most of America's history, Presidents and other leaders of government and business would regularly make public statements that not only addressed their own personal faith in God, the Bible and Jesus Christ, but also stated without reservation that the United States was indeed a Christian nation.

Those six presidents mentioned earlier are not the only American leaders to profess Christianity as the driving force of American society.

Patrick Henry, who was a leader of the American revolution, had this to say: It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.2

Benjamin Franklin, who was one of the least religious of the Founding Fathers, and considered to be a Deist by some, once said this: Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.3

And George Washington, who is considered the "Father of Our Country," and was the first President of the United States, once said these words: Bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son, Jesus Christ.

Washington also said: It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.4

These are just a few of many examples.

Publicized Faith

If television had been around during the first 150 years of American history, these statements of faith from our leaders would have been coming across the airwaves regularly.

Rarely, if ever, will you hear an elected official make a statement about faith, and when they do, the words are typically chosen very carefully, so as not to offend.

And it's very rare for someone holding elected office to claim that America is a "Christian nation." In fact, there's a lack of knowledge around this notion of a "Christian nation," which is why so many people are afraid to publicly apply it to the United States.


This article was published in the Dec 09/Jan 10 issue of Enjoying Everyday Life® magazine.

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