Mar 30

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The search we have before us is to find the way our “founding fathers” viewed the Bible and their thoughts as to where the Bible should be in our nation. We can learn what the “founding fathers” thought about our nation and the Bible can be seen in their own words as recorded in history!
As we think about our ‘founding fathers,” we start with George Washington, as there is no one who is more a “founder” than he is! Their action and words serve as the foundation upon which this nation was built. First, most of these “founding fathers” were religious, and the Bible played a great part in how they cultivated the laws by which this great nation was built up. In order to build a nation that would be secular but built upon the Bible’s “precepts” was natural to them. The only way this could be done, was to make laws that were in harmony with the Bible and this they did!
A few words about George Washington; 1) he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, 2) He presided over the convention that drafted the current United States Constitution, 3) He was the father of the U.S. military and 4) he was the first President of the United States (1789–97). These are some of the reasons he was known during his own lifetime as “the father of this country.” However, these points do not reveal his thinking about the Bible and our nation. Here are a few things about Washington you may not know. Throughout his life, Washington suffered from a laundry list of ailments: diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, quinsy (tonsillitis), carbuncle, pneumonia, and epiglottitis—to name a few. But we are still searching for what he thought about the Bible and its place in the laws of our nation. How did this man, “the founder” and “father of this nation.” see God and his word?
The following will help us understand Washington and God in the forming of this great nation. He wrote in June, 1783, to the Governors of the several States: “I now make my earnest prayer that God would have you and the States over which you preside in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate the spirit of subordination and obedience to government …; and, finally, that he would be most graciously pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. (Morris, p360, Federer, p646, and Barton, pp 108f).” In the eyes of Washington, the “precepts” of the Bible were utmost in his mind as he looked upon the nation. On October 3, 1789, Washington issued the following National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation: “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 and favor; … Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we then may all unite unto him our sincere and humble thanks for his kind care and protection of the people of this country … And, also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions; …to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue…. (Morris, pp 329,330, Federer, p654, and Barton, pp 115f; cf. Wikipedia article on “George Washington and Religion”)”
The “founder” of our nation, George Washington looked to God, and it was our duty: “to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.” Our nation today is moving away from the thoughts of Washington and his views of God and the Bible and we are the worse for it!

Frank R. Williams

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