Our American Heritage
by George L. Britt
A

T THIS SEASON of the year, Americans are reminded, by fireworks, speeches and parades, of the struggle and victory of our forefathers in giving us political and religious independence.

Recently, I was stirred by a rude letter, written by an American atheist to one of our leading newspapers, re­primanding the editor for referring to America as a Christian nation. Technically speaking, America in gen­eral has backslidden from our puritanical tradition and apostatized from the moral precepts and Christian ethics practiced by early Americans. This is not what the atheist had in mind: he contended that our founding fathers did not intend to found a Christian nation. To those who are acquainted with American history, nothing could be farther from the truth. Although in the good­ness of God and the wisdom He gave our forefathers, they specified in the Constitution separation of Church and State, they did not intend to exclude God from the American State or American school. They wanted only to make America free from the bigotry, cruelty and soul-stirring influence of a State Church.

Most of our early settlers were intensely religious per­sons, and the motive behind the long, dangerous voyages to America was to find places to worship according to the dictates of their consciences. In answer to this atheist, I should like to say that our coins are still inscribed with “In God we trust”. I do not think it presumptive to say that God, in His wisdom, preserved America and let it be discovered in His own appointed time that it might become a Christian Nation.

To the casual historian, how Alexander the Great conquered the world in so short a time is still a mystery that astounds. Military experts are still baffled by the stupendous military feats accomplished by Alexander and the seemingly impossible logistic problems solved by him. To the devout child of God who believes that, “Known unto God are all of his works from the beginning of the world,” it is a plain fact that God helped Alexander to establish the Greek language as a universal language to serve as a vehicle to carry the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. When this task was performed, Alexander died and his empire crumbled.

In Daniel’s visions, God gave a foreview of human history. Human history has been poured into this prophe­tic mold. Human history cannot be molded otherwise.

In like manner many devout minds who know that God directs human history believe that when the time was ripe and Europe was ripe with religious persecution, God unwrapped America as a refuge for His people in which to build a Christian nation. Some materialistic ­minded persons may scoff at the thought of America’s being preserved in the plan of God for a refuge for His people, yet it is a historical fact that early America was founded by intensely religious people. There is no greater material blessing God can give a newborn child than to let it be born in America and be surrounded by our freedom and Christian heritage.

The equity, human dignity, and rights of individual liberty embodied in the Constitution could only have been brought forth by men acquainted with the Bible and its just precepts. In our early American democracy , when the elected representatives really represented the people in the fear of God, men newly set free reveled in their freedom . The rigor of frontier life was not to be compared to the joy of this new freedom. America became a moral nation and produced many moral stal­warts, as Washington and Lincoln. With the atmosphere permeated with Christian liberty and morality, men’s souls soared to the most sublime heights of freedom and hu­man dignity known in history; with prayers on their lips and songs in their hearts, they went forth con­quering the wilderness. With the zephyrs of liberty fan­ning their souls, they renewed their belief in the divine rights of kings-but they were the kings. Their palaces were cabins of logs hewn with their own hands and placed in an acre or two of clearing in the wilderness, but they were kings of their small kingdoms and they made God the head of their homes and bowed their knees in humble adoration. The Word of God was read daily, and the family altar became an American insti­tution. In early America, men’s minds were focused upon the fact that God is the Father of us all, and all men should be free and equal. They did not regard man as a mere cog in an industrial economy or as a mute slave to a totalitarian state.

If Christian democracy could function as planned by our foreparents, it would be the next thing to theocracy. By far, the greatest factor in America’s greatness is her Christian heritage. Because of it she had been able to outstrip older nations which are bound in the strait jacket of a state religion with its attendant evils of ignorance, slavery and superstition.

If a teacher or minister has the moral courage to stand up for the moral principles of our foreparents, he is branded as an illiterate dupe. In many American schools, infidels’ children have been safeguarded from Christian teachings, but children have not been safe­guarded from atheism; the moral fibre of our youth is being broken down and our Christian heritage dese­crated. In isolated spots in America where old colonial­ Christian standards still prevail, as antique islands in a sea of immorality, the town is looked upon as a curio of a past age and slurred by an enlightened press. A few towns in America recently made the news in this manner. If a town council wishes to shield its youth from indecent literature or censor a lewd, lustful Holly­wood production, it is ridiculed by our modern press and radio.

THE EARLY AMERICAN precepts are counted taboo by modernists. If they are taboo today, they pro­duced such moral giants as Washington, Clay, and Lin­coln and a virtuous womanhood that made the early American home a little heaven instead of just a place to eat, sleep, and quarrel. Modernists seem to think that by some modern phenomenon Hollywood is able to make prostitution respectable. If our God-fearing fore­parents could make and enforce the laws today, they would take the indecent sex and crime magazines off newsstands and incarcerate the screen personalities and prohibit them from spreading their crime-producing vi­rus among our youth of today. Juvenile delinquency is a popular subject today, but not much is done about it. Many speeches are made at parent-teacher’s meetings, women’s clubs, etc., by lawmakers and others, but we have to take it all with a grain of salt. If we attack the cesspools that breed juvenile delinquency, it causes resentment from some of these same speechmakers.

Declaration of IndependenceNot so long ago, in one of our big cities, a man who believes in the Bible and old-time American Chris­tianity was having trouble with a daughter of about thirteen years of age. He thought he would take her to a juvenile judge and it would probably help scare her into doing better. When the father related the case to the judge and the judge found out he believed in strict Bible morality and belonged to a church not so popular with modernists, the judge demanded that the father allow the daughter to paint her face and attend a crime school at least twice a week. Of course, he labeled the crime school with the term “movie.” The poor father was dumbfounded. The young daughter knew too much about crime already.

Many speeches about juvenile delinquency are made because it makes a good topic, or, perhaps, they are made for political reasons. If a community has an epi­demic of typhoid from a polluted well, the way to stop the epidemic is to condemn the well-not to make flower speeches about the nature of the disease and the suf­ferings of its victims. Would these speechmakers be will­ing to ban indecent crime magazines from the news­stands, prohibit the sex-agitating dances in our schools, and close the dance halls and crime schools called “movies”? Our God-fearing foreparents would not have hesitated twenty-four hours to close these crime-breed­ing cesspools. Juvenile delinquency was no problem in colonial America. All who practice the modern dance, including the dancing parsons, know in their hearts it is nothing more than a sex agitator and was so recognized by early American standards. Gain the confidence of some sinner and let him or her speak from the heart to you, and he will verify this fact.

As I pen these words, I have before me a newspaper account of a nineteen-year-old youth in Detroit who strangled, clubbed and burned a six-year-old boy to death. The murderer’s parents said his only interests in life were movies and comic books, and that he spent the money they gave him three times a week for this pur­pose. After he murdered the little boy he went to two more movies. His parents said he liked the blood curdlers.

America today stands out as the industrial and finan­cial giant among nations. How wonderful it would be if we could stand out, also, as a moral giant. Most of the civilized world looks to America for help and guidance. We have the greatest opportunity in history to influence the thinking and moral standards of the world. Most of the little peoples of the world can never visit America. They will see America in their imports from America. What do they see in these imports – American cigarettes, American movies of Chicago gangland murders, illicit love affairs, nonsensical lust-producing dances or hear sexy radio programs stuffed full of evil suggestions. Many foreigners today, because of these imports, think of Amer­ica as a haven for gangsters and prostitutes.

If God preserved America to become the home of a Christian nation, which He undoubtedly did, America can fulfill that predestined role only when she returns to the old Christian landmarks of our forefathers. By throwing the influence of the Church and the moral standards of the New Testament around our young people and rediscovering the lost institution of the family altar in American homes, we can have the spiritual stamina to make our moral influence felt in the world. America is in the position, if her people will turn to God with all their hearts, to stop the world-wide epidemic of moral disintegration. If America can export some old­time, genuine Christianity, it will have more lasting effect than her industrial might or her atomic bomb.

This article originally appeared in the July 2, 1956 issue of Evangel.