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The following article is from the July issue of Townhall Magazine and is co-authored by Rev. Dale Lee. To subscribe to twelve issues of Townhall Magazine and receive a free copy of Raymond Learsy's Over a Barrel: Breaking Oil's Grip on Our Future, click here.* * *
Religious faith has long been valued as an essential contributor to our national greatness. Thomas Jefferson, in his second inaugural address, declared: “I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life, who has covered our infancy with His Providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power.”
Jefferson believed that God had led “our fathers” and blessed the nation’s birth and growth.
President George Washington, in his farewell address, emphasized his conviction about the necessity of religion to our national welfare. “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity,” he declared, “religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
One cannot read Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which refers to God in various ways 14 times, without sensing his intense struggle to help a religious nation understand in transcendent language the tragedy of the Civil-War then plaguing the country. For Lincoln and the divided nation he led, faith was the only comfort at such a time of national sorrow.
Washington made a point of kissing the Bible as he took the oath for the first time. He added four words to the constitutionally prescribed oath of office. Every President since has followed his example. In his book “Who Are We?,” Harvard professor Samuel Huntington, quoting English historian Paul Johnson, writes, “America’s religious commitment ‘is a primary source—the primary source, I think—of American exceptionalism.’” That America is exceptional is beyond dispute. That real faith in the true God has helped make us so is also undeniable. Consider just two ways that faith makes America great.