Christian Men's Breakfast

Presentation by Chuck Esposito

October 1, 2005

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"Christian Founding, continued"

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

The first time I stood before this group was in April of 2003, shortly after the beginning of the war in Iraq. At that time the number of Americans killed there was just under 100; today, the number is 1909*. I hope and pray, if I stand before you again, that the number will not be much larger.

Those of you who have heard me speak here before may recall that a recurring theme of mine has been the Christian roots of the founding of our nation, and this morning I’m going to return to that theme. Our history is rich with examples, but I would like to start with just a few, and then move on to some quotations from the Founding Fathers themselves.

But first, a bit of humor for you:

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten

Commandments with her five and six year olds.

After explaining the commandment to "honor" thy

Father and thy Mother, she asked,

"Is there a commandment that teaches us how to

treat our brothers and sisters?"

Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of

a family) answered, "Thou shall not kill..."

To begin at the beginning, we can start with the Italian mariner named Christophoro Colombo, known to us today as Christopher Columbus. He is important enough in US history, that, except for Jesus, he is the only non-American to enjoy an official US national holiday – which, we will be observing in just 9 days. So, I think it is timely for me to start with him. It was his 15th century explorations that led directly to the opening of the western hemisphere to European adventurers - to Roanoke Island in the 16th century, Jamestown in the 17th century, and the birth of this nation in the 18th century. Columbus professed Christ as his Savior, and his name, Christophoro, means, “Christ Bearer.” He named his first landfall San Salvador, which translates to “Holy Savior.” In 1504 he wrote, “I prayed to the most merciful Lord about my heart’s great desire … It was the Lord who put into my mind … the fact that it would possible to sail from here to the Indies. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit…” And I will add, there is no question that Columbus was a Christian.

And as a reminder, the Columbus Day we celebrate is not his birthday, it is the anniversary of the day he discovered America.

We all probably remember two things about Roanoke Island that we learned in history class in school: One is that Governor White’s daughter had the first English Child born in the Americas: Virginia Dare. The second is that the entire colony, more than a hundred men, women, and children, disappeared without a trace. One thing most people do not know, is that about 50 years after the colony disappeared, English explorers in the area come across a tribe of indigenous people called Lumbee, who were practicing Christianity, and having many of the last names of the Roanoke settlers. Sir Walter Raleigh had brought not only colonists to these shores, he had brought Christianity.

Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in America, and one of the first acts of Captain John Smith, after he landed in 1607, was to erect a wooden cross. It was at the foot of this cross, that Reverend Robert Hunt, led the 149 settlers in public prayer, thanking God for their safe journey. Four years later, Reverend Alexander Whitaker arrived in Jamestown to found the first Presbyterian Church in Virginia. Among those he took under his tutelage was a young Indian girl who converted to Christianity and took the name of Rebecca. We all know her better by her Indian name, Pocahontas. John Rolfe, who later married Pocahontas, believed there was a Christian purpose for Jamestown and he sought to “advance the Honor of God and to propagate his Gospel.”

So this was the background: In the 15th century, a Christian Italian pathfinder, sailing under the flag of a Christian Spanish Queen, paved the way; in the 16th century, adventurers landing at Roanoke Island converted natives to Christianity; in the 17th century, Jamestown was established by Christians. No wonder then, that Christianity was a guiding light for the birth of this nation in the 18th century. Fortunately, we have writings by the Founding Fathers, and others during our early history, to substantiate this, and I would like to share some of those words with you this morning:

Up front, let me admit that not all the Founders were Christians, but the overwhelming majority were, and they had Christianity taught to their children in their schools. 187 of the first 200 colleges in America were Christian, Bible teaching institutions. Entrance to Harvard required knowledge of the Bible. The money was printed, "One Nation Under God." And you could hardly find a school in America that wasn't Christian based with the Bible as its main text book.

In 1776, during the revolutionary War, the Continental Congress appointed an official national day of fasting and prayer for the colonies, and published a prayer which ended, “through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ.” The following year, Congress ordered the importation of 20,000 bibles for the American troops, because, in their words, “the use of the Bible is so universal and its importance so great.” In those days, the Congress began each session with a prayer, a custom which continues, even to this day, in both houses of Congress.

From Charles Pickney, statesman, solider, brigadier general and signer of the Constitution (and BTW, 52/55 men who worked on the Constitution were Christians) Pickney said: :

“Christianity is part of the laws of the land.”

From John Jay, First Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court (and one the three men most responsible for the writing of the Constitution):

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty – as well as privilege and interest – of our Christian Nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

From the US Supreme Court in 1892:

“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian… This is a Christian Nation.”

John Adams, and his son, John Quincy Adams, our 2nd and 6th Presidents, and their cousin, Samuel Adams, known as the “Father of the American Revolution,” as well as a signer of the DOI, and the instigator of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, were all Christians, and I could have selected a quote from any one of them. I chose a line Samuel Adams wrote in his will: “Principally, and first of all, I resign my soul to the Almighty Being who gave it, and my body I commit to the dust, relying on the merits of Jesus Christ for the pardon of my sins.”

And finally, my favorite, from Patrick Henry:

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly that this great nation was formed not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

- - - - - - - - - -

Every time I have been before you I have concluded with a prayer for our military, and I would like to do the same today. Please bow your heads and join me:

Dear Lord,

Today there are 501752 American men and women in uniform, stationed in 135 countries around the world.

We pray You keep them safe,
we pray You keep them strong,
we pray You send them safely home ...

Bless those who await their safe return.

And Bless the friends and relatives who mourn the casualties in Iraq: The MIAs, the more than 14000* wounded, and the more than 1900* Killed In Action.

In Jesus name we ask ... Amen.

* as of 9/22/2005

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