Always Faithful

Tony Perkins

7/26/2008 12:01:00 AM - Tony Perkins

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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.

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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.

First, faith elevates the value of individual human life. Faith teaches that a loving Creator has fashioned each of us and consequently we have irreducible value because He made us in His image. Faith teaches that we have a purpose greater than pleasing ourselves, greater than maintaining our personal safety or acquiring wealth. Because people of faith value human life, we give generously to those in need. According to the just-released “2008 Index of Global Philanthropy,” published by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity, religious Americans are giving record amounts of aid to poor countries.

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This article is from the July issue of Townhall Magazine.  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.

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People of faith personally gave $8.8 billion in 2006, compared to official U.S. government aid of $23.5 billion that year. Professor Arthur C. Brooks writes in “Who Really Cares,” his trenchant analysis of the sociology of charity, “Religious people are far more charitable than secularists, no matter what their politics.” Religious Americans are the most generous people on the planet, because, thanks to faith, we understand the value of individuals.

Because people of faith value human life, we serve others, asking nothing in return but the joy of helping. Who can forget the incredible response of the faith community after Hurricane Katrina? Church buildings were converted into houses of refuge, safety and provision. Supplies were amassed and distributed around the clock, while incompetence and confusion paralyzed government. What motivated this spontaneous and enormous outpouring of compassionate service? People of faith know something of a “greater love,” a love that cannot be replicated by any other ideology or dictum. Faith elevates the value of individual human life and prompts generosity and service to others. These qualities, among many others, make America great.

Second, faith creates responsible citizens. The Founders understood that, without religion, our form of government could not long survive. James Madison, the “father of the Constitution,” displayed a Christian understanding of the nature of man when he wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” And his advocacy of a system of “checks and balances” indicates his awareness of man’s selfish nature and hunger for power. He, therefore, fought fiercely for religious freedom, which would produce social virtue. For Madison, like Washington, faith was an indispensable support for political prosperity.

Faith helps produce citizens who are responsible and ethical, who respect law and authority. We work to uphold values that strengthen society such as marriage, family, productivity, creativity, patriotism and respect for civil rights. We must remember that Martin Luther King Jr. was a reverend who headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Few would dispute that America is a better country and the world a better place because of the contributions of this man of faith and the many others like him.

Faith also reminds Americans of our dependence upon Almighty God. In that knowledge, we have become a nation of prayer. In recognition of the National Day of Prayer, the president and all 50 governors signed proclamations this year acknowledging this special day of worship. We are a greater nation for it. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” the Psalmist wrote (Ps. 33:12).

Ultimately, our faith as a nation is strong and real because we have always known that God is the author of our liberties. Our coins and currency, our monuments and our momentous public occasions all include this acknowledgment. Whereas some ideologies are willing to deploy women and children as human bombs to take the lives of the innocent, our nation instructs its soldiers not to leave any fallen comrade on the battlefield, but to risk their own safety, and even the mission, to bring the wounded back. It is no wonder that the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps is “Semper Fidelis—Always Faithful.”

That is a motto fit for our nation as well.

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This article is from the July issue of Townhall Magazine.  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.

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