Our Right to Require Belief

Graham says this sermon, preached 50 years ago, still has relevance

Excerpted from The Saturday Evening Post.

There is a movement gathering momentum in America to take the traditional concept of God out of our national life. If this movement succeeds, "In God We Trust" will be taken from our coins, the Bible will be removed from our courtrooms, future Presidents will be sworn into office with their hand on a copy of the Constitution instead of the Bible, and chaplains will be removed from the Armed Forces.

The issue of prayers in public schools is now before the Supreme Court and, if the Court decrees negatively, another victory will be gained by those forces which conspire to remove faith in God from the public conscience.

Those who are trying to remove God from our culture are rewriting history and distorting the truth. But those who advocate drastic change in our traditional faith are only a tiny minority. Most Americans not only believe in God themselves but want their leaders to have faith in God.

Guizot, the French historian, once asked James Russell Lowell, "How long do you think that the American republic will endure?" Lowell replied, "So long as the ideas of its founding fathers continue to be dominant."

It would be impossible to understand the system upon which this nation was founded without understanding the religious faith, fervor and zeal of those early Americans. It is no accident that the President of the United States takes his oath upon the Bible; it is no fluke of history that "In God We Trust" appears upon our coins and paper money. The motto was first used in 1864, at the order of Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, who asked that a phrase be found that would indicate the direction of God in the affairs of American life.

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It is true that our forefathers meant this nation to be free from religious domination. The men who built American were primarily victims of oppression. They felt that the terrors of the wilderness were as nothing to that of government oppression of religious faith.

But the founding fathers, in their determination to have freedom "of" religion, never meant to have freedom "from" religion. Separation of church and state in no way implies separation of religion and state affairs. They are spiritually inseparable.

These ideals were written into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and into the constitutions of the several states. The Preamble of our national Constitution speaks of "the blessings of liberty." The men at Philadelphia could never written that document if they had not had faith in God.

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