Our Right to Require Belief
Graham says this sermon, preached 50 years ago, still has relevance
"I have lived a long time", Franklin told the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, "and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth that God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that except the Lord build it. I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed no better in this political building than the builders of Babel."
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.