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'In God We Trust'

By Jim Killebrew

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[February 08, 2014]  "In God We Trust" is printed on all United States currency and struck on each of the U.S. coins. For the most part, generations before the current 21st-century generation thought that anchoring oneself in the faith of the God of the universe was not only the right thing to do, but was necessary in keeping with the purpose of the actions of our forefathers and their principles. From the late 1900s until the present day, a trusting, Christian living principle for the average American has been eroded. This is due in part to government-sponsored public education that has essentially stripped Christian morality from the curriculum being taught in most modern public schools.

The philosophical postulate for that erosion was expounded by Georg Hegel in the early part of the 19th century. The belief of an absolute Being that was responsible for the creation of the universe gave sway to the belief that thoughts and situations were relative as related to other, confounding information. The thought (thesis) was challenged by the confounding information (antithesis) and formed a new, but different, thought (synthesis). This philosophy was strengthened by the Darwinist presentation of evolutionary theory that postulated only the strongest survive (or is synthesized). This philosophical and "scientific" persuasion initiated a shift in the educational curriculum for the succeeding generations.

Prior to that time there is enough evidence that the Founding Fathers of the United States founded the republic on Christian living principles that based the educational system squarely on the belief in the Almighty and that the rights they wrote into the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were granted by the powerful God of the universe and not granted by the government. These Founding Fathers knew they did not grant "inalienable" rights through the formation of a government, but only acknowledged those rights were from God.

Thomas Jefferson shared his thoughts regarding who gave life and liberty while the colonies lived under British rule:

"The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them." — Thomas Jefferson: Rights of British America, 1774. ME 1:211, Papers 1:135

Two years later Thomas Jefferson's thoughts were penned when he wrote these familiar words in the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."1 — Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:315

During the time of the Founding Fathers, three major universities were established where some of them attended: Harvard University, Yale University and Princeton University.

Harvard University had published requirements that stated:

"Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus which is eternal life, John 17:3, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."2

To help each student accomplish that, Harvard established guidelines to follow:

"Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein."3

Some of the founding fathers who chose to attend Harvard University were John Adams, John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Whether these men practiced Christian living or not might be open for debate, but they did attend a university that encouraged them to do so.

Yale University had similar requirements for those attending:

"Seeing God is the giver of all wisdom, every scholar, besides private or secret prayer…shall be present morning and evening at public prayer."4

Those Founding Fathers who chose to attend Yale University included William Samuel Johnson and William Livingstone, and both men signed the Constitution. Another notable who attended was Noah Webster.

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Princeton University published in its founding statement:

"Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ."5

Almost one-third of the more than 200 Founding Fathers attended Princeton. Among the most notable were James Madison, who of course became president of the United States, and Benjamin Rush and John Witherspoon, both of whom signed the Declaration of Independence.

In his farewell address, George Washington, the first president of the United States, told the people:

"Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions (sic) with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."6

What a statement from George Washington. He placed great importance on "Religion and Morality" and warned that no matter what education a person receives, it should not be expected "that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Over the years and to the current day, those "religious principles" that George Washington spoke of have been excluded and national morality has slipped significantly. Regardless, however, of what the current interpretation of the Constitution regarding morality issues may be, it is clear that the Founding Fathers firmly established the Constitution on the belief that God is absolute and His laws form the foundation upon which this government's laws should rest.

It is difficult to believe that upon reading some of the thoughts of men like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington regarding their beliefs in God and morality that they would advocate the elimination of Christian moral living being taught. This is especially true when one reads some of the founding statements of the universities like Harvard, Yale and Princeton attended by some of these Founding Fathers.

Today's modern education structure and curriculum reflect much more of Hegelian and Darwinian philosophical values than they do the philosophical values of men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.



1 Declaration of Independence

2 David Barton, "The Myth of Separation" (Aledo, Texas: Wall Builder Press, 1988), p. 91, Quoting Peter G. Mode, "Sourcebook and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History" (Menasha, Wis.: George Banta Publishing Co., 1912), pp. 74-75.

3 Id.

4 Steve McDowell and Mark Beliles, "America's Providential History" (Charlottesville, Va.: Providence Press, 1989), p. 111.

5 Ibid. p. 93.

6 Click here for content.

Note: For a greater detail of early education in America, see David Barton, "Education and the Founding Fathers" (Aledo, Texas: Wall Builder Press, 1993).


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