One Nation Under God
The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage of this army" (Federer 639). Those were the prophetic words of General George Washington, as he addressed his troops on July 20, 1776-—less than three weeks after the Declaration of Independence was signed. The General could not have known he was using a phrase that would, 226 years later, be declared un-American (i.e. unconstitutional) by a few highly placed but arrogant ingrates with an abysmal understanding and dearth of appreciation for the foundation on which the Republic rests.
On June 26, 2002, in a ruling beyond the pale, the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional for declaring America to be one nation under God. The lawsuit was filed by atheist Michael Newdow, who claimed his daughter was being emotionally harmed when she had to listen to her teacher and classmates recite that we are one nation under God as part of the pledge (Newdow vs. U.S. Congress 9111). So ensued a furor, all because a fool who said in his heart, "there is no God" (Psalm 14:1) decided that none of the rest of us should be able to say "there is a God,"—at least not in a public schoolroom. (One wonders if Newdow or his daughter are emotionally hurt when they earn or spend U.S. currency, since it all professes In God We Trust. Or perhaps our money will be the next thing declared unconstitutional.) The Ninth Circuit Court notwithstanding, we are indeed a nation under God—in several ways, not all of them good.
First, America is a nation under God because she is responsible to God's law. Jesus claimed authority over all the world—including North America (Matthew 28:18). Every American (Michael Newdow included) has the obligation to seek God (Acts 17:27). God commands every American to repent (Acts 17:30) and obey the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8). The Lord says, "For the world is Mine, and all its fullness" (Psalm 50:12). God owns the bounty of every state in the Union, and He retains the right to demand of their citizens total obedience to His New Testament. John Quincy Adams declared on July 4, 1821, "From the day of the Declaration...they (the American people) were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of The Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledge as the rules of their conduct" (qtd. in Federer 18).
Second, America is a nation under God because the foundational documents and institutions of this country grew out of the convictions of men who unashamedly affirmed belief in their Creator and the need for His divine blessings. Never forget God "rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses" (Daniel 4:25). The only reason America exists is because God permitted and blessed it. In a letter to the French ministry in March 1778, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world" (qtd in Federer 246). Franklin also stated, "A Bible and a newspaper in every house, a good school in every district—all studied and appreciated as they merit—are the principal support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty" (246). Or, as John Quincy Adams put it, "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” (qtd. in Federer 18). What we are witnessing is the dissolution of the bonds connecting civil government and Christianity. This is what the atheist wants. If he succeeds and destroys America in the process, will he be happy then?
Third, America is a nation under God because we have fallen so far "under" Heaven's expectation of us. Could there be a more tragic irony than for God to raise America up from nothingness to preeminence, only to have her forget her history and forget her Maker, and then, with unmitigated gall, decide that it is illegal to affirm we are one nation under God. Of Israel in Isaiah's day, the Lord said, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8, 9). God urged the people to make His ways their ways, and His thoughts their thoughts because they had fallen so far beneath Him. So has the United States and, in that unenviable sense also, we are a nation under God. Things as they are cannot continue forever. Will Satan be able to steamroll godliness in our land, or will enough rise up for decency and truth to reclaim control before it all falls to pieces? Where will the breaking point be? If Washington and his troops could somehow look on America today, would they ask themselves, "Is that what we're fighting and dying for?" We close with the sobering observation of Thomas Jefferson in 1781 in his Notes on the State of Virginia:
God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever? (qtd. in Federar 323)
Federer, William J. America's God and Country: Encyclopedia Of Quotations. Coppell: Fame, 1994.
Newdow v. U.S. Congress.No. 00-16423 D.C. No. CV-OO-00495-MLS/PAN Opinion, p.9111.
Weylan Deaver is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University and holds a Masters in Biblical Studies.