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"Renew Commitment to God's Providence"
Ventura Star, November 27, 2003

By Terry Paulson, PhD

At this time of Thanksgiving may we remember that America was built on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Instead of wiping God from public discourse and taking down all public reminders of God's role in our lives and our history, it is time we remember the words of bygone American leaders and take a stand to renew our unique commitment to God's providence in guiding our country.

Of the 55 Founding Fathers who worked on the Constitution, 52 were active members of an orthodox Christian faith. Benjamin Franklin in a stirring speech at our Constitutional Convention called all to return to prayer: "In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers were heard, and they were graciously answered…. And have we now forgotten this powerful friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? I have lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth that-God governs in the affairs of men…. I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."

President George Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned future generations: "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…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Echoing that concern, President John Adams wrote: "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

On this Thanksgiving, let us remember Lincoln's words in reestablishing our national day of thanks: "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and powers no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserves us in peace and multiplied and enabled and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should solemnly, reverently and gratefully be acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens."

In an age where a military leader who bore witness to his faith and God's providence in battle is disciplined and investigated by the Justice Department, where some public students are not allowed to even repeat the Pledge of Allegiance or share in a moment of silence or prayer, where you have more of a right to take God's name in vain than to speak it out at a public assembly, where God's clear moral compass is traded for moral relativism, hateful music and violent movies, where more people take advantage of special Christmas sales than gather for services in our houses of worship, we wonder whether in 100 years God will have disappeared from our history books and our freedoms and greatness will have disappeared along with Him.

Many publicly and privately prayed to God on September 11, but we might be wise to heed the warning of President Ronald Reagan at a 1982 Presidential Prayer Breakfast: "We expect Him to protect us in a crisis, but turn away from Him too often in our day-to-day living. I wonder if He isn't waiting for us to wake up."

This Thanksgiving, may we wake up, get down on our knees, give thanks, say a prayer to our God, instruct our children in our faith, protect the faiths of others and remember-we have never been alone! How blessed we are still!

Terry Paulson, Ph.D., of Agoura Hills, CA is a professional speaker on making change work and author of They Shoot Managers Don't They?

—Terry Paulson, PhD

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