Thanks to the hard work of a cousin on my mother’s side of the family who searched our Lee family genealogy, I discovered a couple of years ago that two members of our family tree signed the Declaration of Independence. They were Francis Lightfoot Lee and Richard Henry Lee.
When I learned this, I felt a little thrill of pride that these men were part of my family heritage. It made me appreciate even more those men of long ago who fought so hard to win our freedom and establish a brand new nation.
As we have just celebrated another Independence Day, I’m reflecting on how far we as a nation have distanced ourselves from the principles of the heroes who helped found and establish our nation and our freedom.
I wanted to know for myself what some of our Founding Fathers believed, so I searched for what some of them said and wrote.
Patrick Henry, the firebrand of the American Revolution, is still remembered for his words, “Give me liberty or give me death.” But modern day textbooks have deleted the rest of his words. Here is what he said: “An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle, sir, is not of the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.”
He also wrote: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”
It seems that the last acceptable bigotry in a society which is so focused on political correctness is outspoken bigotry against Christians and the principles of Christianity. Yet the father of our country, George Washington, said: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports….reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.”
Was George Washington a Christian? Consider these words from his personal prayer book: “Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb and purge my heart by the Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thy son, Jesus Christ.”
When I think of how far we have removed ourselves as a nation from the guiding principles of the founding fathers, I also tremble with Thomas Jefferson who said, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of the nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
When I read the quotes of our first heroes, I am filled with a sense of patriotism and gratefulness to God for the liberties with which we are blessed. I am ever more grateful for our modern day heroes, our brave men and women of the military and their families, who are still making such great sacrifices for our freedom.
Benjamin Franklin said, “The longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable than an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.'”
May we remember as Patrick Henry implored: “Were my soul trembling on the wing of eternity, were this hand freezing to death, were my voice choking with the last struggle, I would still, with the last gasp of that voice, implore you to remember the truth: God gave America to be free.”
I encourage us all to remember those Judeo-Christian principles upon which our country was founded. As President Ronald Reagan stated: “Without God there is no virtue, because there is no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. Without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we are a nation under God, then we are a nation gone under.”
God bless America!