The left has been at war with traditional American values for decades: the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, free enterprise, Christianity. All are objects of scorn and ridicule by those who hope to “remake America” – to use President Obama’s phrase – into some sort of leftist utopia on the model of those that have already failed all around the world.
The war on Christianity is a particularly disturbing fight. The battle has been lowlighted over the years by leftists who twist themselves into intellectual knots in an effort to remove Christ from Christmas – which is like trying to remove the wet from water.
But the fact that they’re trying to defy the laws of physics doesn’t stop leftists.
Their war on American culture took a new turn this week, when the city of Davenport, Iowa, at the urging of its civil rights commission, decided to rebrand Good Friday as the “spring holiday.” A certain Baptist minister from Montgomery, Alabama might be shocked to find that civil rights activists these days are devoted to striking Christ from the public lexicon.
The decision sparked a national firestorm – Good Friday, after all, is merely the day that Christians around the nation and the world mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The city finally had to reverse its decision.
But if leftists have proven anything, it’s that they’re committed to their zealotry. They’re committed to removing Christ from American history, much like they’re committed to removing Christ from his own birthday.
Personally, I don’t care who you worship, whether it’s Jesus, Mohammad, Moses, Buddha or a corn chip with the face of John Lennon baked into it. You’re free to do whatever you please. But you cross the line when you try to rewrite history.
So with Good Friday just hours away, and with Sunday marking both the resurrection of Christ and the anniversary of the assassination of that Baptist minister from Montgomery, it pays to remind folks that Christianity and liberty have marched arm and arm from the very beginning of the nation.
The Pilgrim landing
“Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic.” – The Mayflower Compact, Nov. 11, 1620
The Pilgrims sat aboard their leaky little vessel off the coast of Cape Cod when they issued this statement of purpose and the first political contract of the New World. It’s the pact which set in motion the concept of self governance by a people thousands of miles removed from the nearest seat of political power.
The words are enlightening: the Pilgrims, the way they saw it, didn’t just cross the sea to plant a new colony for king and country. They made this faith-filled Biblical sojourn, first and foremost, “For the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.”
The chimes of American freedom
“Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.” – Inscription on the Liberty Bell, from Leviticus 25:10
The Liberty Bell is one of the great symbols of human freedom. Commissioned in 1751 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s charter, it was adopted by American revolutionaries in the fight against King George and by abolitionists in the fight against slavery. Since suffering its famous crack, the bell has been tapped only on rare historic occasions: to mark the invasion of Europe on D-Day, for example, or to show solidarity in the 1960s with those enslaved by Communists behind the Berlin Wall.
The men who cast this bronze paean to freedom certainly would not have passed muster with the PC crowd today. After all, they inscribed upon this great symbol of America words of Biblical liberation that came straight from the Old Testament. Hell, in this day and age, the Liberty Bell would be a violation of somebody’s “civil rights.”
The defense of the nation
“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.'” – Fourth verse of the Star-Spangled Banner, 1814
The origin of our national anthem was once a basic piece of education that any child could recite: Francis Scott Key was aboard a British ship during the War of 1812, when he saw Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, and his nation itself, bombarded all night by the mighty British empire. After the onslaught, he was shocked to find that “our flag was still there” and was overcome by patriotic fervor. He captured his emotions in a poem that became the words of our national anthem.
Few people know Key’s story today. So they certainly can’t be expected to know the fourth verse – in which Key attributes the American victory against the world’s mightiest empire to Biblical deliverance. He suggests in our anthem that we should “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.”
The philosophy of the Founding Fathers
“We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus … There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.” – Thomas Jefferson, Oct. 13, 1813
Did you know that the author of the Declaration of Independence was drinking the Jesus Kool-Aid? Did you know that he wrote a tribute to Jesus known today as “The Jefferson Bible?”
Probably not. Because leftists, especially those in academia, have worked diligently to strip the Christian beliefs out of the history of the Founding Fathers, choosing instead to paint them as non-denominational Deists.
Jefferson’s own faith has been hotly debated. He was not a faithful church attendant. But he openly embraced Christian principals and, in his own words, considered Christ, not Locke or Voltaire, “the most sublime and benevolent” philosopher.
“The Jefferson Bible” was finally published after his death with the subtitle “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.”
The tribute to the Father of the Country
“Laus Deo” (“Praise be to God”) – words atop the Washington Monument, completed 1884
George Washington is the Abraham of the American pantheon, the man whose undying faith made him willing to sacrifice everything he held dear in devotion to the cause.
Abraham today is the father of the great monotheistic faiths. Washington is the father of his country and, in turn, the father of the great representative governments and the classical liberalism that came to dominate global political theory in the 20th century. He’s the father of the very same values that the leftists are fighting to undermine today.
The Washington Monument, meanwhile, is our nation’s tribute to its father. It remains the tallest granite structure in the world – 555 feet high – and, fittingly, the tallest structure in the city named in his honor.
The monument’s builders, curiously, put this Latin tribute to God at the very top of the obelisk. It’s in a place that no human can read it – only those who might be looking down from above.
The outsider’s perspective
“The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me on arrival in the United States.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835
When de Tocqueville wrote “Democracy in America,” his definitive study of the early United States, he used the word “democracy” as a synonym for the young nation. He also marveled at the vigorous and often chaotic social discourse in all aspects of American life – which stood in sharp contrast to the structured existences that defined the tired old monarchies of Europe.
We all know today that those crazy right-wing wacko Americans are more likely to attend church today than Europeans. But even in de Tocqueville’s day, “the religious atmosphere of the country” was enough to shock a visitor from the festering cesspool of war, disease and misery that was Europe.
The religious atmosphere of the country wasn’t just something he noted in the hundreds of pages that went on to form his landmark history. It was so prevalent that it was “the first thing that struck” him about the nation.
The fight to end slavery
“Another and better day is dawning; every influence of literature, of poetry and of art, in our times, is becoming more and more in unison with the great master chord of Christianity, ‘good-will to man.'” – Harriet Beecher Stowe, in the preface to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” 1852
Stowe’s masterpiece about the dehumanizing indignity of slavery is considered the book that launched the Civil War. Stowe, like many early abolitionists, considered the liberation of the slaves elemental to Christian faith.
No surprise here: the emancipation movement was led largely by Christian fundamentalists … you know, people who might be branded crazy right wingers today. Stowe, herself, was the daughter of a Calvinist minister, using her belief in the “great master chord of Christianity” to fight for justice in America. Not sure they tell you this in the textbooks.
The birth of a national holiday
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, 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.” – Abraham Lincoln, Oct. 3, 1863
Thanksgiving is the great American festival of bounty – a day when we pause as a nation, smack dab in the middle of the work week, to take stock of our lives and say thanks for our blessings. Sounds fairly Christian, doesn’t it? Well, it should.
A day of thanks was, of course, celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. But it became a national holiday upon the Great Emancipator’s urging in 1863, right at the very depths of the Civil War. Lincoln didn’t see Thanksgiving as a secular celebration. He saw it as a day to bow down at the feet of the nation’s Christian God, “the beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
The national battle cry
“In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea; With a wisdom in his bosom that transfigures you and me; As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” – Julia Ward Howe, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, 1861
Think of the Battle Hymn of the Republic as the national fight song – the message of Christian hope and salvation meant to inspire our battle weary in times of blood and strife.
It’s no less than a statement of national purpose, penned early in the Civil War, and the battle cry of freedom for the enslaved: Americans sacrificed their young men in battle for the same reasons that Christ was sacrificed on the cross – “to make men free.”
There is no more powerful statement of the liberating power of American Christianity.
The liberation of Europe in the nation’s finest hour
“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity … Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.” – President Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer, June 6, 1944
To me, no passage in history does a better job of exposing the radical agenda of modern leftists and their quest to expunge Christianity from the national record. After all, it was just 66 years ago that a devoutly Christian nation sent its sons to liberate an enslaved continent. Nervous Americans on D-Day coped the best way they could, by turning to their Christian faith. Churches across the nation were flooded with worshippers on D-Day, which was a Tuesday.
It was such a stressful time for Americans that the President – a leftist by the standards of his era – issued a call to prayer to console and steel the nation. In fact, these very words, this Democratic president’s Christian prayer, were published smack dab front and center on page one of the New York Times itself on June 7, 1944.
Imagine the leftist hysteria if President Bush had issued a national prayer of Christian faith. Imagine if the N.Y. Times actually published the words without judgment.
It wouldn’t happen today. But just two generations ago – in the finest hour in the history of Western democracy – faith and liberty marched arm and arm in the American consciousness and across the beaches of Normandy.
America’s conquest of the Heavens
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep; And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light; And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” – William Anders aboard Apollo 8, Christmas Eve, 1968
Anders was the captain of the Apollo 8 mission and he and his team of astronauts (Jim Lovell, Frank Borman) were the first Americans to circle the moon. At the time, no humans had ever broken so far from the bonds of Earth. It was the Apollo 8 mission that gave humanity its first look at itself, with the powerful image known as Earth Rise – the blue marble coming up out of the eternal black void of space and over the horizon of the moon. The photo was taken by Anders on Christmas Eve.
Anders, Lovell and Borman, in their effort to find the right words, turned to Genesis. They took turns reading the first words of the Bible, transmitting the message back to Earth in what was, at the time, the most watched television broadcast in history.
It was a moment that marked a turning point in human history. It also marked a turning point in the war on Christianity. An intolerant atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, decided to sue the government over the reading.
Her suit was tossed out by the Supreme Court. But the government was cowed into submission. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the man, gave himself Communion soon after he and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in July 1969. But his desire to read from the Book of John (“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit”) and broadcast it back to Earth was denied by mission control.
But the history should be known: the faith in the Christian God that inspired the Pilgrims to cross the seas also inspired Americans to become the first and only people to orbit and then land on the moon.
The martyrdom of a liberator
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!” – Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., April 3, 1968
Martin Luther King Jr. is a hero celebrated by Americans from all walks of life. His genius is that he used the very words of the Founding Fathers to point out the fact that the nation had failed to live up to the standards they had set in place 200 years earlier.
But just as Christ has been expunged from much of American history, Christ has also been expunged from the civil rights movement.
It’s actually taken a remarkable bit of intellectual dexterity for the leftists to pull off this stunt, considering that the spiritual leader of the civil rights movement was a Baptist minister. King also happened to lead the most well known and most powerful civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Forty-two years ago this Saturday, King made his last speech the night before he was assassinated. He used his Christian faith to rally the nation to his cause and to stand up bravely in the face of death: “I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!” he said with chilling conviction in his faith and his cause.
It’s only fitting, and certainly no coincidence, that the last 12 words that the Reverend spoke in public were the very first words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic – the American battle cry of emancipation in the name of Christ.
Leftists may not like the fact that liberty and Christianity have walked arm and arm across America for nearly 400 years. But their disdain for that history doesn’t give them the right to expunge that history from the record books.