Christian Men's Breakfast

Presentation by Chuck Esposito

December 4, 2004

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"Christian Founding"

Thank you I.T., and good morning gentlemen.

I have two short items to read to you this morning. The first is an extract from a speech delivered in 1984 by a famous person – I’ll tell you later who that was. And the second is an extract from a letter I wrote to the NGN, just before Christmas, two years ago - a letter which they did not publish. But I’m persistent, so I have updated the letter and I’m resending it again this year.

Here is the first item – and I quote:

“When John Kennedy was running for President in 1960, he said that his church would not dictate his Presidency any more than he would speak for his church. Just so, and proper. But John Kennedy was speaking in an America in which the role of religion -- and by that I mean the role of all churches -- was secure. Abortion - was not a political issue. Prayer - was not a political issue. The right of church schools to operate - was not a political issue. And it was broadly acknowledged that religious leaders had a right and a duty to speak out on the issues of the day. They held a place of respect, and a politician who spoke to or of them with a lack of respect would not long survive in the political arena. It was acknowledged then that religion held a special place, occupied a special territory in the hearts of the citizenry. The climate has changed greatly since then. And since it has, it logically follows that religion needs defenders against those who care only for the interests of the state. ... The churches of America do not exist by the grace of the state; the churches of America are not mere citizens of the state. The churches of America exist apart; they have their own vantage point, their own authority. Religion is its own realm; it makes its own claims. - We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief, to apply moral teaching to public questions. I submit to you that the tolerant society is open to and encouraging of all religions. And this does not weaken us; it strengthens us. ... You know, if we look back through history to all those great civilizations, those great nations that rose up to - even world dominance, and then deteriorated, declined, and fell, - we find they all had one thing in common. One of the significant forerunners of their fall was their turning away from their God. ... Without God, there is no virtue, because there's 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. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."

That’s the end of the speech which was delivered in 1984 by our fortieth president, Ronald Reagan.

And next is the extract of the letter I have written to the NGN – it is titled

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

The continuing harangue on the “separation of church and state” usually picks up tempo this time of year as various groups and individuals try to take the “Christ” out of Christmas. They go about bashing Christians, they try to turn freedom “OF” religion into freedom “FROM” religion, and they deny the Christians roots of the American Founding. Even grade school principals are getting into the act, barring teachers from giving students historical American documents that contain references to God or Christianity. For example, Reuters reported last week that Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher in Cupertino, California, was suing for discrimination, claiming he had been singled out for censorship because he is a Christian. And there seems to be some validity to his claim. Williams has been required to submit all of his lesson plans and supplemental handouts to his principal for approval, and the principal will not permit him to use any materials that contain references to God or Christianity. Among the materials the principal has rejected are George Washington's journal, John Adams' diary, writings by Samuel Adams and William Penn, and the Declaration of Independence (which contains five references to God). How can anyone, especially a school principal, be so daffy as to embrace the idea that the founders intended that we ban the Declaration of Independence from our nation’s classrooms? For the record, there were a few notable patriots who rejected Christianity (Ethan Allen and Thomas Paine come to mind), but to keep that in perspective, we should remember that 52 of the 55 men who worked on the US Constitution were Christians. There is much evidence which confutes the notion that this Republic was not built on a Christian foundation. John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, said: “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.” Evidence existed at the State level as well as at the Federal level. At least seven of the State constitutions established some sort of religious test as a qualification for office. Maryland and Massachusetts required “belief in the Christian religion”; South Carolina and Georgia, in “the Protestant New Testament”; Pennsylvania acknowledged “the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration”; and Delaware required a profession of “faith in God the Father, Jesus Christ his only Son, and the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore.” Certainly , the place of Christianity in our State and Federal government has changed over the years, but let us not be deceived into thinking that a complete disassociation between Christianity and the government was the plan of the Founding Fathers. It was not. But, don’t take my word for it, take it from someone who was there at the time – Patrick Henry – who said, “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!”

Finally, begging the forbearance of those of you who are Democrats, Independents or Libertarians (and that includes me), I’d like to close with another quote from Ronald Reagan:

“To those who cite the First Amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions everyday; I say: The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny."

Amen, and God bless America.

Thank you for your attention.

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