Religion Is in Our Heritage

Many people have asked for copies of a one hour Special Order Speech I gave on January 31, 2007.

This is about the fourth time I've given a one-hour special order on the topic, "What Made America Great?" Below are summary excerpts. The full text will be posted on my website.

We are a great superpower, the undisputed economic and military superpower of this world. Have you ever asked yourself why? What is so special about us that we have this privileged position in the world?

I have asked myself that question a lot of times, and I think there are two reasons.

One of those is the enormous respect that this country, that this government, has for our civil liberties. There is no other Constitution, there is no other government, that has this great respect for civil liberties.

A second reason, I believe, is that our Founding Fathers understood that God sat with them at the table when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Essential to our understanding of our origins is an understanding of what our government really is. Too few understand this.

When Benjamin Franklin came out of the Constitutional Convention in 1797, as the story goes, he was asked by a woman who was sitting there, "Mr. Franklin, what have you given us?" This quote is in the front of many copies of the Constitution. His answer was, "a republic, madam, if you can keep it."

What is the difference between a republic and a democracy?

An example of a democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what they are going to have for dinner. Another example, and this is a very sad example, is a lynch mob. The fundamental difference between a democracy and a republic is a rule of law. In a democracy, what the majority wants prevails. In a republic, it is a rule of law that prevails. Now, we can change that law. We have changed the Constitution 27 times. But it takes a very deliberative process.

To really understand who we are, we need to go back to our origins and how our Founding Fathers came here. Most of them in our early days came from the British Isles and the European continent, and they came here to escape two tyrannies. One was the tyranny of the crown, and the other was the tyranny of the church.

Our Founding Fathers wrote the establishment clause of the first amendment, and it is very clear. I have no idea why people have trouble understanding it. It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Don't make any law establishing a state religion. Then they went on to say, and let everybody worship as they please, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That is a really misunderstood establishment clause.

Our history books will present a very different picture of our origins than that which really existed. If you go back to a history book of 50 years ago, it will be unrecognizable as compared to the history book of today. The history books of today have been bled dry of any reference to our Christian heritage.

We are having trouble understanding that what our Founding Fathers meant in this great establishment clause in the first amendment was to ensure that there would be freedom of religion. We are ever more interpreting this as requiring freedom from religion. Our Founding Fathers would be astounded if they could be resurrected and see how we have interpreted their Constitution.

Our founding fathers have all spoken. Clearly we were founded by religious people intending to be a religious Nation.

We have forgotten from whence we came. Actually this generation has not forgotten, it never knew. I think that this great free country, the undisputed economic and military super power of the world is at risk if we have forgotten from whence we came.

Abraham Lincoln said this to our Nation and I will close with this. We need to hear it again. "For all those who have died in all of our wars, it is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great tasks remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause to which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vein, that this Nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom.''

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