The Anti-Defamation League is at it again, rewriting history in an attempt to secularize America. The latest fight is over using “Jesus Christ” during a prayer at government meetings in Wellington, Florida. The ADL claims that such prayers are “unconstitutional.” I’m going to assume that “unconstitutional” means contrary to the United States Constitution.
The Constitution of the United States declares, in words just above George Washington’s signature, that the proceedings were “DONE . . . in the Year of our Lord,” an obvious reference to Jesus Christ. What do we make of the 1774 congressional prayer offered by Jacob Duché which begins with “Lord our Heavenly Father, High and Mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords” and ends with “all this we ask In the Name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior”? On March 16, 1776, Congress called for a “day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer . . . to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him.” And for the people “to bewail their manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies.”
On November 1, 1777, the Continental Congress proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving for the recent victory at Saratoga. Congress set December 18, 1777 as a day of thanksgiving on which the American people “may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor” and on which they might “join the penitent confession of their manifold sins . . . that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance.” Congress also recommended that Americans petition God “to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Would these examples have passed the ADL and ACLU litmus test? Our founders did not believe that quoting the Bible, acknowledging God’s Providence, and appealing to Jesus Christ were demeaning or governmentally inappropriate.
At his 1825 inauguration address, John Quincy Adams closed with the following words from the Bible (Psalm 127:1): “Knowing that ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain,’ with fervent supplications for His favor, to His overruling providence I commit, with humble, but fearless confidence, my own fate, and the future destinies of my country.” If the ADL gets its way, there will no longer be an acknowledgment by government officials that ultimately God is their true Watchman and Restrainer. When that happens, Lord help us all! Oh, but we can’t say that!