Our Right to Require Belief

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

BY: Billy Graham


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Early American history was hallowed with a purpose greater than democracy. It was forged in the fire of a burning faith in God. Many early settlers came to America with one goal in mind--namely, to advance the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The tremendous prosperity, power and blessing which America has enjoyed through the years came because we as a nation have honored God. It is, I believe, a direct fulfillment of the promise, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

Abraham Lincoln said during the Civil War, "I have so many evidences of God's direction that I cannot doubt His power comes from above." This was the faith of our fathers. The Great Seal of the United States is our complete acknowledgment that we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Our national emblems, testify to the fact that we are a people "under God." A Bible-reading shepherd in the desert of Mesopotamia who had never heard of the United States would say on seeing our national emblems, "Surely these are God's people."

American democracy rests on the belief in the reality of God and His respect for the individual. Ours is a freedom under law, but it is also a freedom that will evaporate if the religious foundations upon which it has been built are taken away. I'm not sure that atheists and agnostics would be quite so zealous to preserve the Bill of Rights or the writ of habeas corpus or the two- party system or the right to trial by jury or the legal innocence of a man before he is proved guilty.

A dictator convinced that destiny lies in his own hands is bound to be proud, ruthless and ultimately destructive. If a political leader fears God and believes that God is in control of the universe, that certain moral laws are operating, then his faith will be reflected in this conduct. Our beliefs make us what we are. This faith in God is the source of our liberty.

The kind of moral conduct American life has historically demanded has grown on a religious soil which recognizes the moral laws of God. The morality of justice, the claims of honesty, the regard for and respect of the rights of others have grown on Judeo-Christian soil.

For a generation we have been emphasizing material things. We have been "living it up," reaching for that extra status symbol, milking an affluent society for all we can get. Now we are discovering what Haggai, the prophet, wrote: "Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes,...Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it."

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