Show declares God's role in government
The program focuses on the religious practices of the Founding Fathers.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- One month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Ten Commandments displays in Kentucky are impermissible and given the current high court vacancy, Dr. D. James Kennedy brings viewers nationwide a fresh look at the historic link between God and government in America.
"No matter what some modern judges may declare, historically, America was and always will be, one nation under God," said Kennedy, a Christian broadcaster who hosts the new Coral Ridge Ministries television special, "One Nation Under God." The one-hour program airs July 30 and 31 on the nationally syndicated Coral Ridge Hour and Aug. 4 on i (formerly PAX TV), at 8 p.m. (see www.coralridge.org for local listings).
"On this program, we will take a look back at the people -- from the pilgrims through the Founding Fathers -- who gave birth to this nation," said Kennedy, author of more than 60 books, including "What If America Were a Christian Nation, Again?" He called the program a "journey of discovery" to find out what the Founders "believed and what guided their philosophy of governments as they built 'one nation, under God.'"
Kennedy, senior minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and president of Coral Ridge Ministries, traveled to historic Williamsburg and Yorktown to record the program, which features experts from Mount Vernon, the Library of Congress, American University, University of Houston and elsewhere. Together these experts offer evidence for an intimate connection between God and government that let to America's birth.
The new special looks into these controversial questions:
UDid America begin as a secular or Christian nation?
UWere George Washington and the Founders deists?
UIs the U.S. Constitution a "godless document" or the product of a long Christian legal tradition?
UHave Christians placed a halo on American history, or do secular historians filter out God?
To find answers, "One Nation Under God" talks with Dr. James Hutson, Library of Congress manuscript division chief and author of "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic;" Mount Vernon research specialist Mary Thompson; University of Houston professor Dr. Donald S. Lutz, co-author of a groundbreaking study on the Bible's pivotal role in America's founding; American University professor Dr. Daniel Dreisbach, author of "Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church & amp; State;" Dr. Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Seminary and the Providence Forum; Dr. Peter Marshall, co-author of three volumes that trace the Christian influence in America's past; David Barton, president of WallBuilders; Dr. Marshall Foster, president of the Mayflower Institute; Gary DeMar, president of American Vision; Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of Toward Tradition; and others.
"The one point upon which virtually all the Founders were agreed was that religion played a vital role in promoting social order, civic virtue and political prosperity," Dreisbach said. Author and historian Barton, one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals," agrees. "Of the 250 folks that we would call Founding Fathers, there maybe a dozen, which is maybe 5 percent, that weren't religious," he said. "We're talking maybe a dozen out of 250."
Thompson looked into Washington's supposed deism. "What I found very early on," she states on the program, "was that this was a man who believed that God took an active part in the founding of the United States, a man who believed that God took an active interest in people's lives. And that's not the belief of a deist."
While the authors of "The Godless Constitution" claim the U.S. Constitution was placed on an "intentionally secular base," Lutz suggests otherwise. The author of "Colonial Origins of the American constitution: A Documentary History," believes the Constitution is the product of a long American legal tradition that finds its origin in the Bible.
"They came over with the Bible," Lutz said. "They didn't come over with John Locke in hand. They came over with the Bible in hand." It was the biblical idea of covenant making, brought by the Pilgrims and Puritans, which provided the intellectual foundation for the American constitution-making tradition that climaxed in the federal Constitution.
"The whole idea of a written constitution is an American invention," Lutz said. "The U.S. Constitution is the undeniable consequence of those biblical ideas."
Standing in Yorktown at the gravesite of Declaration of Independence signer Thomas Nelson Jr., a man bankrupted in the service of American liberty, Kennedy said the Founders would be "amazed ... to see our nation -- which was founded in large part for the purpose of religious freedom -- becoming a nation where Christianity is being systematically forced out of the public square."