Words of our Founding Fathers
By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ron Underwood, 45th SW Chapel
/ Published July 12, 2007
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Our national motto is "In God We Trust." This motto was adapted by our founding fathers and reflects the religious and spiritual ideals upon which they wished to establish our nation. Allow me to share some other historical facts that may shed further light on the intentions of our founding fathers.
The year was 1607. The place is Jamestown, Va. As they stepped on shore, the very first act of those early settlers was to erect a large wooden cross and have a prayer meeting. Thirteen years later, as the Pilgrims dropped anchor at Plymouth Rock, they penned the Mayflower Compact. The opening line reads, "In the name of God, amen."
Fast forward to 1776; the document is the Declaration of Independence. The opening paragraph reads, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal." Of course, this statement implies the belief in a Creator. The words "Creator, God, Supreme Judge and Divine Providence" are mentioned in other places within this document.
How about our Constitution? What were our founding fathers thinking when they wrote it? The story is told that they'd been meeting for three weeks, surveying all the governments of Europe to see which one was right for our new country. None of them sufficed.
Having made little progress, an elderly gentleman by the name of Benjamin Franklin stood up and spoke. "I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" Hence the thinking of one of the key writers of the Constitution. Did you know that the constitutions of all 50 states, without exception, make reference to God?
There is literally "monumental" evidence that God and faith was written on the hearts of our founding fathers. Go to the House of Representatives. Look above the chair where the vice president presides. Etched in the marble is, "In God We Trust." Enter the White House where the president lives and see the words placed over the fireplace, "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this White House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it." On the walls of Congress are inscribed biblical quotes. Traverse the stairwell of the Washington Monument. Scripture verses are written on the stairwell walls. At the very top, etched on the metal cap are the words, "Praise be to God."
One day you may want to go and hear the Supreme Court justices deliberate. Before they begin, the crier comes forth, as he has always done, and shouts these words, "Hear ye, hear ye, all persons having business before the honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the court is now sitting. God save the United States and the Supreme Court."
There are many, many more examples of the deep spirituality of many of our founding fathers. But I cannot say it any better than George Washington, who in his first inaugural address said, "It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to the Almighty Being who rules over the universe." Every president since, without exception, has made mention of God in his inaugural address after having taken the oath of office with his right hand on the Bible.
Many of our founding fathers were quite religious and sought to assure that faith and spirituality were woven into our national life. In a recent survey of the American public, some 93 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as monotheistic, believing in one God. It seems that our founding fathers were not alone in ascribing to our national motto. It worked then. It works today.
May our joint prayer be that this same God bless and lead us as a nation as He has done from the beginning.