Black History Issue 1998

Black History Month:

Honoring Godly Heroes

America’s Godly heritage has been under assault in recent years. Secularist spokesmen claim that America was created as a secular nation by secular individuals who intended that it always remain secular. These individuals understand that by destroying the knowledge of America’s religious heritage, it is easier to persuade subsequent generations to embrace secularism. Interestingly, this religious cleansing has no racial boundaries. An examination of the individuals often honored during February’s “Black History Month” (celebrated nationally since 1976) shows that the secularization of America’s history

Is directed against all Godly heroes, no matter their skin color. Therefore, to introduce Americans to little-known heroes, this WallBuilder Report will honor three famous Godly Black Americans all but ignored by today’s secularists: Benjamin Banneker, Phillis Wheatley, and Richard Allen.

Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker was born a free Black on a tobacco plantation near Baltimore in 1731. Although he received little formal education (his grandmother taught him to read), this was no handicap to a man with his work ethic and his intense desire to learn. In fact, his life was characterized by his passion for knowledge.

For example, in his early twenties, after studying the workings of a pocket watch, Banneker built a perfectly operating wooden clock that even struck on the hour! Although he loved to read, he was in his thirties before he was able to purchase his first book – a Bible (Banneker frequented the meetings of the Quakers throughout his life). By the time he was in his fifties, he had so completely mastered the science of astronomy through self-study that he was even able to point out errors in several noted scientific works of the day. And when he was in his sixties, because of his fame and reputation, he was picked as one of seven surveyors to lay out the District of Columbia – the new capitol city.

In the early 1790s, Banneker began to publish an almanac for Maryland and neighboring states. His work was in high demand because of his accurate predictions for sunsets, sunrises, eclipses, weather conditions, and even for his calculation of the recurrence of locust plagues in seventeen year cycles. At his death in 1806, he had actually lived eight years longer than he had calculated, and this is often referred to as the only time he made a mistake in his calculations! The knowledge he acquired by his study of the heavens earned him the title of “Star Gazer.”

Of all of Banneker’s writings, one of his most notable was a 1791 letter to Secretary-of-State Thomas Jefferson:

Sir, I am fully sensible of the greatness of the freedom I take with you on the present occasion; a liberty which seemed scarcely allowable when I reflect on that distinguished and dignifed station in which you stand, and the almost general prejudice which is so prevalent in the world against those of my complexion. . . .

I hope I may safely admit, in consequence of the report which has reached me, that you are a man far less inflexible in sentiments of this nature than many others; that you are measurably friendly and well-disposed towards us; and that you are willing to lend your aid and assistance for our relief. . . .

[Y]our sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are that one universal Father hath given being to us all; that He hath . . . made us all of one flesh . . . and that however variable we may be in society or religion, however diversified in situation or in color, we are all of the same family and stand in the same relation to Him. . . .

[I]t is the indispensable duty of those who . . . profess the obligations of Christianity, to extend their powers and influence to the relief of every part of the human race from whatever burden or oppression they may unjustly labor under. . . .

I freely and cheerfully acknowledge that I am of the African race, and in that color which is natural to them, of the deepest dye. . . .

[There] was a time when you clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery, and. . . . your abhorrence thereof was so excited that you publicly held forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” . . .

I . . . recommend to you and all others to wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed with respect to [my brethren], and as Job proposed to his friends, “put your soul in their soul’s stead” [Job 16:4]; thus shall your hearts be enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards them. . . .

Your most obedient humble servant, Benjamin Banneker

Jefferson responded to Banneker, telling him that “Nobody wishes more than I do to seek such proofs as you exhibit – that nature has given to our Black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men.”

This wish by Jefferson became reality, for Benjamin Banneker – both during his life and after his death – was held forth as a shining example of the intellectual capacity and the moral uprightness of Blacks, something which was long denied by the pro-slavery advocates of that day.

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley was born in Senegal, Africa, in 1753. She was kidnapped at the age of eight and sent on a slave ship to Boston. Purchased by a prosperous Boston tailor, John Wheatley, she was trained as a personal servant for John’s wife, Susannah.

Phillis was quick and perceptive, and Susannah and her daughter Mary were drawn in a special manner to Phillis. Susannah considered Phillis a daughter, and Mary treated her like a sister. Both tutored her in the
Scriptures and in morals, and within sixteen months Phillis had so mastered English that she was able to read the most difficult parts of the Bible with ease. Mary then taught Phillis astronomy, geography, ancient history, the Latin classics, and the English poets, all of which Phillis conquered with equal ease. Because of her aptitude for difficult knowledge and her ability as a brilliant conversationalist, Phillis was considered by the Bostonian intellectuals to be a child prodigy.

When she was only thirteen years old, Phillis wrote her first poetic verses; and then three years later, being an admirer of the celebrated Rev. George Whitefield, she authored a special poem about his life. This early interest in poetry continued for the rest of her life, and today Phillis is known as America’s first Black female poet.

In 1771, Phillis became a member of the famous Old South Church. It was later said that “her membership in Old South was an exception to the rule that slaves were not baptized into the church.”

In 1773, her health began to fail. A sea-voyage was recommended, and Mrs. Wheatley promptly saw to it that Phillis was manumitted (freed). Phillis traveled to England, where she was received by British royalty. While abroad, she published her first collection of poems, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

In 1775, while still abroad, and while the siege of Boston was underway in America, Phillis wrote a letter to the new Commander-in-Chief, General Washington, containing a special poem she had written for him:

His Excellency George Washington . . . Thee, first in place and honors, – we demand
The grace and glory of thy martial band Fam’d for thy valor, for thy virtues more, Here every tongue thy guardian aid implore! . . . Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side, Thy every action let the goddess guide. A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine, With gold unfading, Washington, be thine. . . .

Washington was touched by the poem; and when Phillis returned to America, Washington invited her to his military camp at Cambridge to honor her before his staff.

Phillis had returned to America when she had learned of the declining health of Mrs. Wheatley, who died shortly after her return. Phillis remained close to the family. She continued her writings and purposed to bring out a second volume of poems to be dedicated to Benjamin Franklin. Misfortune, however, intervened.

In 1778, Phillis married John Peters, a free Black. Although he appeared promising (he was a writer and had studied for the law), his character was deeply flawed: he was slothful, did not provide for his new wife, and failed to give her the care that her delicate health required. He also demanded that she isolate herself from her former friends and even required that she cut off all contact with the Wheatleys. Peters finally deserted Phillis.

Under these circumstances, and only five years after her marriage, Phillis died in obscurity at the age of 30, alone and in poverty, buried in an unmarked grave. Of her three children, two died in infancy, and the third was buried alongside her.

Despite the hardships in her life, Phillis never complained. In fact, she found a silver lining – or rather a Divine one – even in her tragic life of slavery. In her poem, “On Being Brought from Africa to America,” she wrote:

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Savior too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. Some view our fable race with scornful eye, “Their color is a diabolic dye.” Remember, Christians, Negroes black as Cain, May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.

Phillis’ poetry was popular for generations after her death, and she was considered a heroine by those who fought to end slavery. She remains a shining example of a devout Christian, an accomplished poet, and a gracious and kind woman.

Richard Allen

Richard Allen was born as a slave to Benjamin Chew​ in Philadelphia in 1760. While still a youngster, he was sold to a farmer in Delaware. Allen was converted to Christianity by the preaching of the Methodists. His owner (known in Allen’s autobiography as “Stokeley”) was so impressed with Richard’s Godly lifestyle that he permitted the young Allen to conduct services in his home. In fact, Stokeley himself was converted during one of these services, after which he made it possible for Allen to purchase his freedom.

Allen traveled throughout eastern Pennsylvania and neighboring states, using every opportunity to preach the Gospel to both Whites and Blacks. At the meeting of the first general conference of the Methodist Church in Baltimore in 1784, Allen was accepted as a minister.

Allen began to preach regularly at the St. George Methodist Church in Philadelphia. He suggested that Blacks should have a separate place of worship apart from Whites; and although his suggestion was at first resisted, his forceful preaching attracted such a vast number of Blacks to the church that when objections were raised, Allen’s idea of a separate congregation was finally accepted.

In 1787, Allen led in the establishment of an organization known as the “Free African Society,” composed of both Black Methodists and Black Episcopalians. Black churches in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland began to separate from traditional denominations to join this loose-knit society. In 1816, these independent churches merged to become the “Africa Methodist Episcopal Church” (the A. M. E. Church); Allen was chosen as its First bishop.

Allen ministered not only to the spiritual needs of his fellow man, but to his temporal needs as well. For example, when the yellow-fever epidemic ravaged Philadelphia in 1793 (killing over four thousand of the forty-thousand inhabitants), nearly all medical doctors fled the city to save their own lives. One of the few who remained was Dr. Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration). Richard Allen worked shoulder to shoulder as a medic with Dr. Rush throughout the danger to aid countless victims in whatever way he could.

In 1794, the year following the epidemic, Allen wrote a compelling work documenting his service during that tragedy: A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia. Allen’s humanitarian service ranks with the most heroic deeds of America’s history.

Allen urged others to humanitarian service whenever possible and in whatever cause. On one occasion, he charged his audience:

Consider, my brethren, that all we have and are is entrusted to us by Almighty God. . . . and to Him we must give an account at the great day of reckoning. . . . Our blessed Lord has not committed His goods to us as a dead stock, to be hoarded up, or to lie unprofitably in our own hands. He expects that we shall put them out to proper and beneficial uses, and raise them to an advanced value by doing good with them as often as we have opportunity.

Allen’s faith shone through in all of his accomplishments, and he openly proclaimed his gratefulness to God:

I believe it is my greatest honor and happiness to be Thy disciple; how miserable and blind are those that live without God in the world, who despise the light of Thy holy faith. Make me to part with all the enjoyments of life; nay, even life itself, rather than forfeit this jewel of great price.

When Allen died in 1831, it was said that the crowd which gathered to honor him “exceeded anything of the kind ever before witnessed in the country.” Richard Allen was described as “a man of deep piety, the strictest integrity, and indomitable perseverance; and his moral influence was unbounded.”

Summary

America’s Godly heritage encompasses heroes from many races – a fact both we and our children, regardless of our ethnic roots, must understand. The book of Revelation affirms this fact when it declares:

There was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne. . . . They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God!” Revelation 7:9, 10

The universal truth of Psalm 144:15 has been proven by every historical age and should be remembered at all times – including Black History Month – that “Happy is that people whose God is the Lord!”

 


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Fall 1998

Thanksgiving in America

This month, America will continue a tradition begun centuries ago: the celebration of a Day of Thanksgiving. The origin of this tradition is commonly attributed to the Pilgrims in 1621, even though some Thanksgiving services did occur elsewhere in America as early as 1607. While Thanksgiving celebrations became common in New England, they did not begin to spread southward until the American Revolution, when Congress issued eight separate national Thanksgiving Proclamations.

Then in 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new Constitution. That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.” Yet, despite these early national proclamations, official Thanksgiving observances usually occurred only at the State level.

Much of the credit for the adoption of an annual national Thanksgiving Day may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. For thirty years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. Over the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then, in 1941, Congress permanently established the
fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.

Lincoln’s original 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation came–spiritually speaking–at a pivotal point in his life. During the first week of July of that year, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. Four months later in November, Lincoln delivered his famous “Gettysburg Address.” It was while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he committed his life to Christ. As he explained to a friend:

When I left Springfield [to assume the Presidency] I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.

Following is the 1863 Lincoln Thanksgiving Proclamation–celebrated shortly after Lincoln committed his life to Christ and celebrated while America was still in the midst of its Civil War. It was this proclamation which eventually led to the establishment of our national Thanksgiving holiday.

Proclamation of Thanksgiving by the President of the United States of America

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of almighty God

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore.

Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully 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 next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

 

Abraham Lincoln

 

A Biblical and Historical Perspective on the Clinton Scandal

The President, by his own admission, has violated several of the most basic laws undergirding both society and religion: the Ten Commandments. Specifically, the President willfully broke the 7th command (to maintain the sanctity of sex within marriage), the 10th command (forbidding coveting another person), and the 9th command (prohibiting perjury).

Such blatant violations of the Ten Commandments are no small matter. To reject the Ten Commandments is to disdain those laws which were described by John Quincy Adams as the “laws essential to the existence of men in society,” by John Adams as the “inviolable precepts in every society” that make it “civilized and free,” and by John Witherspoon as “the sum of the moral law.”

There can be nothing said in defense of the President. What he has done is wrong. Nevertheless, in an attempt to evade the consequences, the strategy pursued by the supporters and counselors of the President has been twofold: (1) to ask forgiveness and show public contrition, and (2) to degrade the culture by claiming that others also do what the President did–that it’s only sex–a private matter.

While seeking forgiveness is commendable, particularly if it is sincere, it never has, and never should, excuse someone from the consequences of his behavior. In fact, 1 Samuel 15:9-31 presents a striking parallel to the current situation. In that account, Saul, the national leader, committed a transgression. When Samuel uncovered and exposed the unrighteous act, Saul offered an apology, declaring, “I have sinned. . . . Now, I beg you, please forgive my sin.” Nevertheless, God had Samuel inform Saul that because of his behavior, “The Lord has rejected you as leader.” (See the account of a similar but separate incident in 1 Samuel 13:8-14.) Similar lessons may be learned through the stories of Esau, David, Hezekiah, Uzziah, Gehazi, and others. While each committed a wrong and later regretted his behavior, each still had to face the consequences of his own wrong behavior. In short, “I’m sorry” is insufficient to prevent the consequences of a leader’s willful, serious, and immoral misbehavior.

And the “everybody else is doing it” defense is wrong for at least two reasons. First, the Bible forcefully declares, on numerous occasions, that each person must face the consequences of and be responsible for his own actions—regardless of what “everybody” else does. (See, for example, Jeremiah 31:27-30). Second, to claim that such behavior is widespread and common undermines the mores of our society. In fact, the proper response should be to condemn the act rather than attempt excuse or justify the act. As explained by John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence:

[H]e is the best friend to American liberty who . . . sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind.

Under this standard, if the President’s supporters truly cared about America, rather than excusing immoral behavior, even if done “privately,” they would be condemning it. Unfortunately, the President’s defenders have done just the opposite, conveying to the public a perception that those who practice marital fidelity are the minority. That Americans actually perceive this to be the moral condition of America is illustrated by a poll earlier released by Family Circle magazine. The results of that survey, questioning respondents on the Ten Commandments, confirmed an interesting image of misperceptions.

For example, while only fourteen percent of the respondents had actually engaged in extramarital relations, amazingly, forty-five percent reported their belief that extramarital relations were common. Why would respondents believe that extramarital relations among that group occurred at a rate nearly three times higher than it actually did? Because they have been consistently pummeled–as a defense by those who engage in extramarital affairs–with the charge that such affairs are commonplace.

Not only do the efforts of the President’s supporters weaken the moral standards, they actually perpetuate historical revisionism. That is, in an attempt to excuse the President’s immoral behavior, his defenders are asserting that President George Washington also engaged in immoral and illicit sexual relations–a charge that is historically false. (To see a full rebuttal of the accusation, refer to chapter 16 in my book, Original Intent.)

A further point of defense raised by the President’s supporters is that this was a private matter and would an average citizen want an investigator looking into his life as the President’s has been? The fact of the matter is that the President is not an average citizen, and both the Bible and American history set a more rigorous standard for a leader. For example, James 3:1 warns:

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Similarly high standards for leaders are set forth in passages like Titus 1:6-9, 1 Timothy 3:1-12, Exodus 18:21-22, etc. Those standards specifically address moral and private conduct and also direct that a leader’s life should be held forth as a positive example for others to follow (see, for example, 1 Cor. 11:1). It is understandable that a leader is held to a higher standard than others because he possesses more power and has more opportunity to influence–for good or for bad–many more millions of lives than does the average citizen.

Our Founding Fathers understood this need for a higher moral standard in our leaders, and they specifically advocated investigating the private moral life of a leader. The Biblical reason underlying their logic is found in Luke 6:43-44 and Matthew 7:16-20, in which Jesus reminds us:

Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. . . . Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Very simply, if a tree has bad roots, it will produce bad fruits. Consequently, the “roots” of a public officer are important, for one who produces bad fruit in private life cannot keep from eventually producing it in public life.

Understanding this, Founding Father Elias Boudinot, a President of the Continental Congress, reminded us to “be religiously careful in our choice of all public officers . . . and judge of the tree by its fruits.” Other American statesmen made equally succinct declarations. For example:

He who is void of attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard of his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections. . . . [P]rivate and public vices are in reality . . . connected. . . . Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men. Samuel Adams

 

Righteousness alone can exalt [America] as a nation. . . . [R]emember this! And in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others. . . . [T]he great pillars of all government . . . [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible. Patrick Henry

 

As governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. . . . Let men be good and the governplainfs22 ment cannot be bad. . . . But if men be bad, the government be never good. William Penn

 

[I]f we . . . trifle with the injunctions of morality . . . no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us. . . . [No] government [can] be secure which is not supported by moral habits. Daniel Webster

 

In selecting men for office . . . look to his character. . . . [I]f the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. . . . When a citizen gives his [vote] to a man of known immorality . . . he betrays the interest of his country. Noah Webster

 

Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary [lifestyle]. Is it reasonable to expect wisdom from the ignorant? fidelity from the profligate? assiduity and application to public business from men of a dissipated life? . . . Those, therefore, who pay no regard to religion and sobriety in the persons whom they [elect] are guilty of the greatest absurdity and will soon pay dear for their folly. John Witherspoon

 

While it is too late for us as voters to apply these lessons to our current President, it is not too late for us to apply these lessons to the present election. Remember to vote–and to vote for God-fearing and moral individuals. As the Bible reminds us in Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

In the midst of the debate surrounding a potential presidential impeachment, the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” has become a focal point. This phrase is found in Article II, Section 4, Par. 1, of the Constitution, and sets forth the reasons for the removal of a President:

The President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Supporters of the President argue that what has been uncovered–thus far–does not amount to “high crimes and misdemeanors” like “treason [and] bribery.” While they admit the President’s actions to be disgusting and reprehensible, they claim that nevertheless they are not sufficiently serious felonies so as to constitute impeachable offenses.

Those who offer this argument are guilty of two errors: (1) they are ignorant of (or ignore) the clear declarations both of our Founding Fathers who authored this clause and of those who for a century-and-a-half afterwards enforced this clause, and (2) they group words together in the clause which should be kept separate that is, they talk of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as if they are they same thing; they are not.

The clause should be read “high crimes” and “misdemeanors”–two separate categories. No one can logically argue that a “high crime” is the same as a “misdemeanor.” What the Founding Fathers did in this clause was to offer a broad scope of impeachable offenses ranging from serious felonies (high crimes) to much lesser categories of misbehavior (misdemeanors).

This is further confirmed by the two specific examples the Founders included in the Constitution: treason and bribery. Treason was a serious capital offense, resulting in execution, while bribery–even though it was considered a moral wrong–was not yet a statutory crime when the Constitution was adopted! Clearly, then, what the Constitution specifies is a wide range of impeachable offenses, from high crimes (such as treason) to misdemeanors (such as bribery–not then illegal).

The definitions of “misdemeanor” confirmed this. For example, Alexander Hamilton and Justice Joseph Story (placed on the Supreme Court by President James Madison) defined a “misdemeanor” as political “malconduct,” and Noah Webster (responsible for the copyright and patent protection clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution) defined “misdemeanor” as “ill behavior, evil conduct, fault, or mismanagement.” Professor John Randolph Tucker (a U.S. Congressman, constitutional law professor, and early president of the American Bar Association) explained in his 1891 Commentaries on the Constitution that “misdemeanor” was “a synonym for misbehavior” and that “[t]he words ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ cannot be confined to crimes created and defined by a statute of the United States.”

Realizing, then, that the constitutional scope of impeachable offenses ranged from serious felonies down to misbehavior and evil conduct, Joseph Story, in his classic 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution, declared:

The offences to which the power of impeachment has been and is ordinarily applied as a remedy are. . . . what are aptly termed political offences, growing out of personal misconduct, or gross neglect, or usurpation, or habitual disregard of the public interest.

And Professor John Randolph Tucker, in the 1891 Commentaries mentioned earlier, declared:

The process of impeachment is a political proceeding, against the accused as an officer of the government, to protect the government from the present or future incumbency of a man whose conduct has proved him unworthy to fill it. . . . The impeachment power was intended to cleanse the government from the presence of worthless and faithless individuals.

That this had been the intent of the Founding Fathers was irrefutable. For example, James Iredell (an original Supreme Court Justice appointed by President George Washington) succinctly declared:

Every government requires [impeachment]. Every man ought to be amenable for his conduct. . . . It will be not only the means of punishing misconduct but it will prevent misconduct. A man in public office who knows that there is no tribunal to punish him may be ready to deviate from his duty; but if he knows there is a tribunal for that purpose, although he may be a man of no principle, the very terror of punishment will perhaps deter him.

Therefore, in the current raging debate over what constitutes an impeachable offense, do not be misled by those who would define “high crimes” and “misdemeanors” as being the same, and then who raise the bar for impeachment so high that it protects an individual from being accountable for his conduct.

Meet a Friend

Once again, it is a pleasure to highlight an organization that is having a profound impact on our society. The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is getting the Bible back into public schools nationwide. Founded in 1994 by Elizabeth Ridenour, this organization helps public schools set up elective Bible courses by first educating them to the fact that the courses are completely constitutional and then by providing the curriculum for the courses, with the Bible itself being the primary textbook.

According to the NCBCPS, the ultimate goals of these courses, in part, are to “equip the student with
a fundamental understanding of the influence of the Bible on history, law, American community life, and culture; give insight into the world views of America’sfounding fathers and to understand the Biblical influences on their views on human rights; . . . [and] familiarize the student with the Bible so that he or she becomes skillful in its use, such as finding references easily.” Currently, fifty-seven districts in twenty-six States have started teaching the Bible as an elective in public schools.

Summer 1998

Will We Go Forward or Go Back?

The primary purpose of The WallBuilder Report has been to educate and to inspire. Therefore, it is our practice to examine current issues through an historical lens, and to report from across the nation victories which typically do not receive much mainstream coverage.

We started this practice ten years ago when God providentially guided me into the series of research projects which eventually led to the formation of this ministry. During that start-up, I spent exhaustive time in the book of Nehemiah, seeing it as a Biblical plan for rebuilding a nation. Based on those studies, we not only chose the name “WallBuilders” from Nehemiah 2:17 but also discovered a principle in Nehemiah 2:18 which has since guided the content of this newsletter. In those two verses, Nehemiah pointed out areas where action was needed and called the people to rebuild; and he also reported to them “of the good hand of God.” This “good news” about what God was doing encouraged the people, and they rose to the challenge of rebuilding their nation. Based on what we saw in these verses, WallBuilders began to model Nehemiah’s practice.

The only trouble we have had with this policy of reporting what the “good hand of God” is doing across the country is that there have been far too many victories to be reported in each newsletter! The reports we receive from throughout the nation convince me that unquestionably we are winning far more battles than we are losing.

A Negative Trend

Despite this, I see a perplexing trend–an attitude, if you will–taking root among God’s people in America, and in many ways, it is a rerun of a story that occurred nearly four thousand years ago.

Throughout my Christian life, I have always been mystified by the attitudes and the behavior of those who were the beneficiaries of God’s amazing deliverance during the great Exodus. Recall? The Israelites were in slavery and bondage; God sent deliverance through Moses, Aaron, and a host of miracles; the people left their oppression behind and began new lives; their progress to the Promised Land was slower and more difficult then they expected; they turned on Moses and made him, rather than the Egyptians, the object of their wrath. You would think that being out from under bondage and oppression was something in which to rejoice; but no, they wanted to complain and quit.

It seems that this general scenario might now be occurring in America. Ten years ago, the pro-family Christian community, politically speaking, was in Egypt. Oppressed by a Congress whose policies were often hostile to the traditional family and to people of faith, we were losing battle after battle in the war to preserve our religious and moral principles. Then a dramatic change occurred.

In the 1994 election, Christian voter turnout reached its high point of recent years, and as a result, scores of aggressive pro-family and pro-faith Congressmen were added to Congress–leaders like Steve Largent (OK), Todd Tiahart (KS), David MacIntosh (IN), J.C. Watts (OK), Linda Smith (WA), Zach Wamp(TN), Dave Weldon (FL), Helen Chenoweth (ID), and numerous others.

Then, as a result of the 1996 elections, the number of “good guys” in the Senate began to climb through the addition of pro-faith and pro-family Senators like Sam Brownback (KS), Tim Hutchinson (AR), Jeff Sessions (AL), and others. In addition, more pro-family members were added to the House, including Jim Ryun (KS), Joe Pitts (PA), Bob Adderhold (AL), etc. The changes during these two election cycles did, in fact, deliver America from the oppressive stranglehold which the Congress had held over the family.

Good Progress

It is true that we are not yet in the “Promised Land” in the sense that many of the policies that pro-family Christians desire have not yet occurred. In fact, some of the Congressional leadership have promised measures and failed to deliver. Nevertheless, we apparently are out of “Egypt,” and notwithstanding the harsh criticism leveled against Congress by many within our own ranks, several major victories have occurred in the past four years.

Recall that six years ago, Congress did not have the pro-life numbers to confront the issue of partial-birth abortions (a practice occurring for years), yet in the past four years, Congress has debated and twice banned the procedure.

Although President Clinton vetoed each ban, the House overrode his veto on both occasions; the override fell short only in the Senate. Isn’t this a clear improvement over where we were six years ago when we could not even debate the issue?

Additionally, Congress has passed numerous other pro-life measures, including, for the first time during President Clinton’s tenure, a ban on all abortions on U.S. military bases.

On the educational front, even though federal programs like Goals 2000 and School-to-Work have not been eliminated (due in large part to President Clinton’s lobbying efforts),the funding for those programs has been dramatically cut. In fact, in the last four years the House Education Committee has successfully eliminated105 of the 260 federal programs it oversees. Six years ago, this, too, was impossible.

Similarly, six years ago, we could not successfully challenge many homosexual issues, yet today a ban on recognizing same-sex marriages has been passed at the federal level. Also, the House (although not the Senate) halted all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts–something else which was absolutely unthinkable six years ago. The list of our victories, while only modest in some areas, continues to grow.

Taking the Offensive

Notice, too, that our battles are now offensive rather than defensive. That is, six years ago virtually all of our time was spent repelling the attacks of terrible measures like HR 6 (which would have placed private and home schools under the same federal regulations as public schools) and the lifting of the ban on gays in the military. Similarly, we were fighting off the policies of Roberta Achtenberg (an assistant-secretary of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) which would have imposed civil penalties on those who might share their faith in the public workplace.

Today, however, the battles are no longer primarily over which policies we should fight but rather over which of our measures should go forward. For example, the House Judiciary Committee passed and the House voted on a Constitutional Amendment designed to restore school prayer and to protect religious liberties. Although it did not receive the necessary two-thirds vote for passage, nevertheless, it is the furthest that this religious liberty issue has advanced in the House in thirty-six years!

In fact, a genuine spiritual change has occurred in the Congress, evidenced by the fact that ten years ago only 20 Congressmen were involved in weekly prayer meetings and Bible studies. Today, there are over 120. And in recent weeks, I have personally stood in the halls of the U.S. Capitol with some of these Godly Congressmen, singing hymns and offering prayers.

Unquestionably, we are better off today than we were six years ago.

No Time to Quit

Although we are further along than we have been in decades, I cannot recall a period of time in which I have heard so much complaining by Christians, nor seen so many who are so frustrated and discouraged. They seem determined to quit and go back.

Perhaps the problem is that many are judging progress against the promises of some Congressional leaders rather than against where we were six years ago.

Or perhaps it is simply a matter of impatience–that they want to enter the Promised Land sooner. If that is the case, it is wise to recall God’s clear pronouncement:

I will not drive your enemies out in one year. . . . Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you are increased and can inherit the land. Exodus [user_id]23:29-30

The Lord your God will drive your enemies out little by little; you may not consume them all at once. Deuteronomy 7:22

People always want change to happen faster than God seems to permit.

Returning to the Exodus analogy, recall that although Moses was the one chosen for the initial deliverance, he was not the one who led them into the Promised Land. Similarly, even though the current Congressional leaders were instrumental in the transition from generally hostile to generally family-friendly policies, they may not be the ones to complete the journey.

And just as the people forgot Moses’ accomplishments and began to attack and malign him, many Christians now consider the current Congress their enemy and, by the tens of thousands, are abandoning the difficult journey. Here we are on the verge of victory, within sight of the Promised Land, and–explain this–Christian voter turnout has begun to fall dramatically! That fall first evidenced itself in the 1996 elections (following eight consecutive years of increased Christian voter turnout) and has continued to plummet throughout this year’s primaries.

Who can seriously believe that abandonment will accelerate our journey? Instead of shaking our fists in frustration at the Congress in general, we should focus our energies on sending home Congressmen who oppose faith and family and replace them with pro-family, pro-faith leaders!

Are we really going to give back the last ten years of progress? I certainly hope not.

If you are one of those who is discouraged, don’t quit now. Place your faith in God, not in the Congress, or even in the American voters –and especially not in the current opinion polls. Galatians 6:9 promises that we will eventually win–if we don’t give up. So hang in there!

Don’t let future generations point to us as the American version of the Biblical story of the Exodus. As the Rev. Matthias Burnet warned nearly two hundred years ago, “Let not your children have reason to curse you for prostrating those institutions and giving up those rights which your fathers delivered unto you.”

Remembering the Fourth of July

This Fourth of July America celebrates its 222nd birthday! The Fourth of July is one of our most celebrated holidays, and has been for nearly two centuries–a fact confirmed by a very elderly John Quincy Adams in a speech he delivered on the 4th of July in 1837–America’s 61st birthday.

John Quincy Adams properly reminded the crowd that one of the most important elements of the American movement for independence had been its spiritual underpinnings. He asked:

Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, our most joyous and most venerated festival occurs on this day? And why is it that . . . thousands and tens of thousands among us . . . year after year . . . celebrat[e] the birthday of the nation? Is it not that . . . the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?

The fact that there was a spiritual emphasis at the birth of the nation was confirmed by numerous others. For example, Benjamin Kent, in a letter to Samuel Adams, declared: “It is God’s doing!”

So clearly did John Adams see God’s hand in America’s independence, he even believed that to help America achieve her independence was the single reason God had created him. As he told his wife, Abigail: “The Colonies must be declared free and independent States. . . . When these things shall be once well finished, or in a way of being so, I shall think that I have answered the end of my creation.”

In a similar tone, John Page (later a Virginia Governor) told Thomas Jefferson, “I am highly pleased with your Declaration God preserve the United States! We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong [Ecclesiastes 9:11]. Do you not think an Angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?”

Yet, declaring independence was only the beginning; much sacrifice, patience, and reliance on God would still be required. As signer of the Declaration Abraham Clark explained: “This seems now to be[gin] a trying season; but that indulgent Father who hath hitherto preserved us will, I trust, appear for our help, and prevent our being crushed; if otherwise, His will be done.”

Our Founders knew that without Gods help–or, as they announced in the Declaration itself–”a firm reliance on Divine Providence”–they would never achieve their objective.

While we celebrate our liberties this year, let us not forget that those liberties came only through great personal sacrifice: nine of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration died during the War; and five were captured by the British and tortured before their death; twelve had their homes destroyed by British troops; and three lost their sons to the enemy. Such sacrifices remind us that liberty is never free–every generation must defend it anew.

The possibility that we might forget the sacrifices necessary to preserve liberty was something which troubled our Founders. This was made clear in a letter from Dr. Benjamin Rush to John Adams after witnessing the celebration surrounding America’s 35th birthday in 1811. Dr. Rush told Adams:

The 4th of July has been celebrated in Philadelphia in the manner I expected. The military men, and particularly one of them, ran away with all the glory of the day. But scarcely a word was said of the solicitude and labors and fears and sorrows and sleepless nights of the men who projected, proposed, defended, and subscribed [signed] the Declaration of Independence. Do you recollect your memorable speech upon the day on which the vote was taken? Do you re collect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the House when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress [John Hancock] to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants? The silence and the gloom of the morning were interrupted, I well recollect, only for a moment by Colonel Harrison of Virginia [a large and powerful man], who said to Mr. Gerry [a frail and tiny man] at the table [just before he signed the Declaration]: I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes; but from the lightness of your body, you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead!” This speech procured a transient smile, but it was soon succeeded by the solemnity with which the whole business was conducted.

While we should remember the sacrifices, more importantly we should remember the proper manner to celebrate the 4th of July. What is the proper manner? The answer was given in a letter that John Adams wrote Abigail on the day they approved the Declaration. He forecast: “I am apt to believe that [this day] will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the ‘Day of Deliverance’ by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty!”

Celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks and festivities and parades–but also celebrate it by setting aside a time to thank God for His numerous blessings upon our country.

 

Winter 2006

On Thursday, January 4, 2007, Keith Ellison from the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota was sworn in as a Democrat Member of the 110th Congress amid the media fanfare of being the first Muslim elected to Congress. The following day, in a swirl of national controversy, Ellison had the usual private swearing-in ceremony, but this time on a 1764 Koran owned by Founding Father Thomas Jefferson.

(Prior to his election to Congress, Ellison had been a Democrat state legislator in Minnesota, where he established a liberal voting record. Of his Muslim faith, Ellison explains: “I was raised Catholic and later became a Muslim while attending Wayne State University. I am inspired by the Quran’s message of an encompassing divine love, and a deep faith guides my life every day.” [1])

Muslims saw Ellison’s election and swearing-in as a great victory. For example, he recently spoke to a cheering crowd of 3,000 at a national convention of the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America. At that event (described as being aimed “at revival and reform”), Ellison admonished his fellow Muslims: “You can’t back down. You can’t chicken out. You can’t be afraid. You got to have faith in Allah, and you’ve got to stand up and be a real Muslim! . . . On January 4, I will go swear an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I’ll place my hand on the Quran!” The crowd responded with enthusiastic applause, cheering “Allahu akbar!” (Allah is great!). [2]

While Muslims at home and abroad were elated at Ellison’s victory, others had quite different reactions. In fact, two prominent critics, representing the feelings of many Americans, became the focus of national news stories following their outspoken denunciation of Ellison’s plans to use the Koran. One of those individuals was Jewish syndicated radio host and columnist Dennis Prager. Writing of Ellison’s intent to be sworn in on the Koran, Prager declared:

He should not be allowed to do so – not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization. . . . [I]t is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism – my culture trumps America’s culture. . . . Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book: the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath. . . . Ellison’s [swearing on the Koran] will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones, as Islamists, rightly or wrongly, see the first sign of the realization of their greatest goal – the Islamicization of America. When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11. [3]

A second individual who became a national news story was Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia. Like most other Members of Congress, numerous constituents contacted him, expressing their opposition to Ellison’s plan to be sworn in on the Koran. Goode’s blunt candidness about the issue became the object of national news coverage. He told constituents:

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing-In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country.

I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped. The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran.

My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

Sincerely yours,
Virgil H. Goode, Jr.

The media reaction to these two leaders and their outspoken criticism of Ellison’s plan included epithets such as “racist,” “bigoted,” “homophobic,” “Islamophobic,” “sexist,” “xenophobic,” “fascist,” etc. [4]

There clearly has been no lack of emotive language surrounding the swearing in of Rep. Keith Ellison. Significantly, however, there is an historical backdrop to this controversy, with many salient elements in American history that are largely unknown today. This piece will present some of the forgotten history surrounding a Muslim serving in Congress.

— — — — — —

Is Keith Ellison actually the first Muslim to serve in the U. S. Congress? According to the national media, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” [5] That may well be true; however, John Randolph of Virginia, who served in Congress from 1799-1834, expressed that in his early years, he held a position “in favor of Mahomedanism” [6] and “rejoiced in all its triumphs over the cross [Christianity].” [7] Randolph was not a Muslim in the same sense as Ellison, but he certainly cultivated what he described as a position of “natural repugnance to Christianity.” [8] Francis Scott Key, author of the “Star Spangled Banner,” [9] befriended Randolph and faithfully shared Christ with him. Randolph eventually converted to Christianity [10] and became a strong personal advocate for his newfound faith. [11] (Interestingly, Key reached out to Muslims, sharing Christianity with them and even purchasing for them copies of the Christian Bible printed in Arabic. [12]

There were numerous Muslims living in America at the time of the American Founding. Islam had been introduced into America during the early 1600s with the entrance of slavery. It is estimated that ten percent of slaves were Muslim, [13] many of whom became free and lived in America but retained their Islamic faith. There were therefore early Muslim communities in South Carolina and Florida; [14] and there were enough Muslims that by 1806 the first Koran was published and sold in America. [15]

Significantly, during the Founding Era, like today, there was great concern over the possibility of a Muslim being elected to Congress. That concern was heightened by the fact that at that time, like now, America was involved in a war on terror against Islamic terrorists. That war, called the Barbary Powers War, lasted thirty-two years, involved six years of active overseas warfare against Muslim terrorists, and spanned four U. S. presidencies: those of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. [16]

Since few today have ever heard of that war, a brief review will provide useful background in addressing the issue of a Muslim being sworn into Congress.

— — — — — —

The Barbary Powers conflict began during the American Revolution when Muslim terrorists from four different Islamic nations (Tunis, Morocco, Algiers, and Tripoli) began making indiscriminate attacks against the property and interests of what they claimed to be “Christian” nations (America, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, etc.).

The Barbary Powers (called Barbary “pirates” by most Americans) attacked American civilian and commercial merchant ships (but not military ships) wherever they found them. Prior to the

Revolution, American shipping had been protected by the British navy, and during the Revolution by the French navy. After the Revolution, however, America lacked a navy of her own and was therefore left without protection for her shipping. The vulnerable American merchant ships, built for carrying cargoes rather than fighting, were therefore easy prey for the warships of the Barbary Powers, which seized the cargo of the ships as loot and took their seamen (of whom all were considered Christians by the attacking Muslims) and enslaved them. [17]

In 1784, Congress authorized American diplomats John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson to negotiate with the Muslim terrorists. [18] Negotiations proceeded, and in 1786, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson candidly asked the Ambassador from Tripoli the motivation behind their unprovoked attacks against Americans. What was the response?

The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet [Mohammed] – that it was written in their Koran that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners; that is was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise. [19]

Given this “spiritual” incentive to enslave and make war, the Muslim attacks against American ships and seamen were frequent. In fact, in the span of just one month in 1793, Algiers alone seized ten American ships and enslaved more then one hundred sailors, holding them for sale or ransom.[20] Significantly, when Adams and Jefferson queried the Tripolian Ambassador about the seizure of sailors, he explained:

It was a law that the first who boarded an enemy’s vessel should have one slave more than his share with the rest, which operated as an incentive to the most desperate valor and enterprise – that it was the practice of their corsairs [fast ships] to bear down upon a ship, for each sailor to take a dagger in each hand and another in his mouth and leap on board, which so terrified their enemies that very few ever stood against them. [21]

The enslaving of Christians by Muslims was such a widespread problem that for centuries, French Catholics operated a ministry that raised funding to ransom enslaved seamen. As Jefferson explained:

There is here an order of priests called the Mathurins, the object of whose institutions is the begging of alms for the redemption of captives. About eighteen months ago, they redeemed three hundred, which cost them about fifteen hundred livres [$1,500] apiece. They have agents residing in the Barbary States, who are constantly employed in searching and contracting for the captives of their nation, and they redeem at a lower price than any other people can. [22]

Ransoming Americans was no less expensive, and therefore a very profitable trade for the Muslim terrorists. As John Adams explained:

Isaac Stephens at Algiers. . . . says the price is 6,000 for a master [captain], 4,000 for a mate [officer], and 1,500 for each sailor. The Dey [Muslim ruler] will not abate [drop the price] a sixpence, he says, and will not have anything to say about peace with America. He says the people (that is the sailors, I suppose) are carrying rocks and timber on their backs for nine miles out of the country, over sharp rocks and mountains; that he has an iron round his leg, &c. He begs that we would pay the money for their redemption without sending to Congress, but this is impossible. [23]

In an attempt to secure a release of the kidnapped seamen and a guarantee of unmolested shipping in the Mediterranean, President Washington dispatched diplomatic envoys to negotiate terms with the Muslim nations. [24] They secured several treaties of “Peace and Amity” with the Muslim Barbary Powers to ensure “protection” of American commercial ships sailing in the Mediterranean. [25] And because America had no threat of force against the Muslims, she was required to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars (tens of millions in today’s money) of “tribute” (i.e., official extortion) to the Muslim countries to secure the “guarantee” of no attacks. In fact, one Muslim Ambassador told American negotiators that “a perpetual peace could be made” with his nation for the price of 30,000 guineas [$2.3 million today], with an additional 3,000 guineas [$230,000] fee for himself. [26] Having no other recourse, America paid. Sometimes the Muslims even demanded additional “considerations” – such as building and providing a warship as a “gift” to Tripoli, [27] a “gift” frigate to Algiers, [28] paying $525,000 to ransom captured American seamen from Algiers, [29] etc.

These extortion payments became a significant expense for the American government. In fact, in 1795, payments to Algiers alone (including the ransom payment to free 115 American seamen), totaled nearly one million dollars [30] (and Algiers was just one of the four warring Barbary Powers). Significantly,
America had to obtain a loan from Holland to make the payment, [31] and the entire affair displeased Washington, who considered it a “disgrace” to remit funds for that purpose, preferring rather to inflict “chastisement” upon the terrorists. [32] Nevertheless, the best solution at that time was to continue paying the protection money, for America lacked a military, having neither navy nor army (the army was available only on an as-needed basis to be called up from among the people in case they needed to defend themselves; America had no standing army). Disgusted with the payments, Washington lamented:

Would to Heaven we had a navy able to reform those enemies to mankind – or crush them into non-existence. [33]

By the last year of Washington’s presidency, a full sixteen percent of the federal budget was spent on extortion payments. [34] Thomas Jefferson, who served as Secretary of State under President Washington, believed that a time would come when not only the economic effects of the extortion payments to the Muslim terrorists would be felt by every American but also that using force would be the only practicable way to end the terrorist attacks. He predicted:

You will probably find the tribute to all these powers make such a proportion of the federal taxes as that every man will feel them sensibly when he pays these taxes. The question is whether their peace or war will be cheapest? . . . If we wish our commerce to be free and uninsulted, we must let these nations see that we have an energy [willingness to use force] which at present they disbelieve. The low opinion they entertain of our powers cannot fail to involve us soon in a naval war. [35]

Eventually, Americans reached the point Jefferson had predicted: not only did they feel the economic effects but they also resented the unprovoked attacks and paying for rights already guaranteed by international law. Therefore, tiring of the largely unsuccessful diplomatic approach, military preparations were urged, thus embracing President George Washington’s wise axiom that:

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. [36]

In the last year of Washington’s presidency, he urged Congress to find the revenues to undertake the construction of a U. S. Navy to defend American interests on the high seas. [37] When John Adams became President, he vigorously pursued those plans, earning the title “Father of the Navy.” [38] Yet Adams was reticent to resort to a military solution – not because he opposed the use of force but rather because he didn’t think the people would fully support that option. [39] Furthermore, he believed that even though the extortion payments were high, the increased revenue produced by American commerce in that region would more than cover the costs. [40] Nevertheless, he longed for the change in international attitude that would result if America used military forces to defend our citizens and our rights.

Because America had adopted a policy of appeasement in response to the terrorist depredations, the Barbary Powers viewed America as weak. In fact, William Eaton, whom Adams had dispatched as American diplomat to Tunis (one of the four terrorist powers), reported to Secretary of State Timothy Pickering that “an opinion long since conceived and never fairly controverted among the Tunisians [is] that the Americans are a feeble sect of Christians.” [41] Truly, with no fear of consequence, Muslims found American targets especially inviting, fueling even further attacks.

Adams truly understood the difference that a naval force would make, explaining:

It would be a good occasion to begin a navy. . . . The policy of Christendom [i.e., of the Christian nations not fighting back for their rights] has made cowards of all their [the Christian nations’] sailors before the standard of Mahomet. It would be heroical and glorious in us to restore courage to ours. I doubt not we could accomplish it if we should set about it in earnest. [42]

By the end of Adams’ administration, extortion payments to the Muslim terrorists accounted for twenty percent of the federal budget. [43]

When Thomas Jefferson became President in 1801, having personally dealt with the Muslim Barbary Powers for almost two decades, he had already concluded that there were only three solutions to the terrorist problem: (1) pay the extortion money, (2) keep all American ships out of international waters (which would destroy American commerce), or (3) use military force to put an end to the attacks. [44] Jefferson discarded the first two options, rejecting the second as a matter of bad policy, and the first because:

I was very unwilling that we should acquiesce in the . . . humiliation of paying a tribute to those lawless pirates. [45]

He supported the third option, acknowledging:

I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace through the medium of war. [46]

Jefferson offered several reasons he believed this would be the best policy, including:

Justice is in favor of this opinion; honor favors it; it will procure us respect in Europe, and respect is a safeguard to interest; . . . [and] I think it least expensive and equally effectual. [47]

Jefferson formed this position long before his presidency; so once inaugurated, he began refusing payments to the offending nations. In response, Tripoli declared war against the United States (and Algiers threatened to do so), [48] thus constituting America’s first official war as an established independent nation. Jefferson, determined to end the two-decades-old terrorist attacks, selected General William Eaton (Adams’ Consul to Tunis) and elevated him to the post of “U. S. Naval Agent to the Barbary States,” with the assignment to lead an American military expedition against the four terrorist nations. Using the new American Navy built under Adams, Eaton transported the U. S. Marines overseas; and when the offending nations found themselves confronted by imminent American military action, all but Tripoli backed down.[49]

General Eaton therefore led a successful military campaign against Tripoli that freed captured seaman and crushed the terrorist forces. After four years of fighting, in 1805 Tripoli signed a treaty on America’s terms, thus ending their terrorist aggressions. (It is from the Marine Corps’ role in that first conflict with Muslim terrorists from 1801-1805 that the opening line of the Marine Hymn is derived: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli . . .”)

American troops returned home, and the region briefly remained quiet, but by 1807, Muslim Algiers had resumed attacks against American ships and sailors. [50] Jefferson, preoccupied with efforts to avoid war with both Great Britain and France, did not return military forces to the region.

Nevertheless, his actions had brought America its first respite to the decades old attacks; so when he left office, Congress congratulated him, noting:

These are points in your administration which the historian will . . . teach posterity to dwell upon with delight. Nor will he forget . . . the lesson taught the inhabitants of the coast of Barbary – that we have the means of chastising their piratical encroachments and awing them into justice. [51]

(Interestingly, Congressman Ellison took his ceremonial oath of office on the Koran owned by Thomas Jefferson. A pertinent question might be: Why did Jefferson own a Koran? A simple answer is: To learn the beliefs of the enemies he was fighting. Recall that Jefferson had been personally exposed to Islamic beliefs when attempting to secure peace between America and Muslim terrorists. Having been told by the Muslim Ambassador that the Koran promised Paradise as a reward for enslaving, killing, and war, Jefferson  inquired into the irrational beliefs that motivated the Muslim groups and individuals warring against America. Therefore, using Jefferson’s Koran was perhaps not as noble an image as Ellison tried to portray, despite his unfounded claim that the Koran is “definitely an important historical document in our national history and demonstrates that Jefferson was a broad visionary thinker. . . . It [the Koran] would have been something that contributed to his own thinking.” [52] The Koran did contribute to Jefferson’s thinking, but certainly not in the sense Ellison meant.)

When President Madison took office, he was immediately engulfed with the issues that led to the War of 1812, and was unable to respond with military force against the renewed terrorist attacks. (Significantly, during that time, American Jewish Diplomat Mordecai Noah negotiated with the Muslims in an attempt to secure the release of captured American Christians. [53])

When the war with the British ended in 1815, Madison dispatched warships and the military against Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, placing the American forces under the command of Stephen

Decatur and William Bainbridge (two veteran military heroes of the war on terror under Jefferson). America quickly subdued Algiers and brought her to the peace table where in July 1815, Algiers ratified a treaty freeing all Christians and ending future slavery of Christians. [54] The American fleet then sailed for Tunis, but immediately after their departure, Algiers renounced the treaty. However, two of the other nations being harassed by Muslim terrorists (Great Britain and the Netherlands) brought their fleets against Algiers and promptly defeated her, convincing Algiers to sign a new peace treaty. [55]

Meanwhile, the American forces confronted Tunis, and later returned to Algiers, where in December 1816, another treaty was signed to replace the one Algiers had renounced. [56] Thus America’s first War on Terror against Muslim terrorists was finally ended. After thirty-two years of conflict and six years of armed warfare, the terrorist attacks against Americans finally subsided.

During that extended conflict, the American public learned much about the character of the Muslim terrorists through the official correspondence between the State Department and its diplomats. For example, in addition to the insights gained from diplomats such as Adams and Jefferson, General William Eaton informed the Secretary of State why the Muslims were such dedicated foes:

Taught by revelation that war with the Christians [i.e., America] will guarantee the salvation of their souls, . . . their [the Muslims’] inducements to desperate fighting are very powerful. [57]

Even further insight came from General Eaton’s writings after he commenced military action against Tripoli:

April 8th. We find it almost impossible to inspire these wild bigots with confidence in us or to persuade them that, being Christians, we can be otherwise than enemies to Musselmen [Muslims]. We have a difficult undertaking! [58]

May 23rd. Hassien Bey, the commander in chief of the enemy’s forces, has offered by private insinuation for my head six thousand dollars and double the sum for me a prisoner; and $30 per head for Christians. Why don’t he come and take it? [59]

Throughout the extended conflict, Muslims viewed their actions in terms of a holy war against Christians; America, however, engaged in no religious war. Therefore, in the numerous treaties with the Barbary Powers, America sought to convince the Muslims there was no holy war – that as Christians, America had no hatred of Muslims per se. (Language typical in the treaties was that America had no “enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility” of the Muslims, and that our substantial differences of “religious opinions shall [n]ever produce an interruption of the harmony between the two nations.” [60]) America did not retaliate against Muslims because of their faith but rather to end their terrorism against Americans.

At the time the Constitution was written in 1787, and ratified from 1787-1790, Muslim attacks against Americas had been occurring for years. It therefore became an understandable concern of citizens as to whether a Muslim might ever be elected to federal office under the new Constitution. The question was raised because of Article VI in the Constitution, which declared:

The Senators and Representatives . . . shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Citizens wanted to know if the clause prohibiting a religious test (i.e., prohibiting the federal government from examining the religious beliefs of any candidate) meant that Muslims – then warring against America – might be elected to federal office. Not only was that question specifically raised but it was also succinctly answered in the process of debating and ratifying the U. S. Constitution. For example, in the North Carolina ratifying convention, Governor Samuel Johnston explained:

It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans, Pagans, &c., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans (or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion) can never be elected to the office of President or other high office but in one of two cases. First, if the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves. Another case is if any persons of such descriptions should, notwithstanding their religion, acquire the confidence and esteem of the people of America by their good conduct and practice of virtue, they may be chosen. [61]

Signer of the Constitution Richard Dobbs Spaight similarly explained:

As to the subject of religion. . . . [n]o power is given to the general [federal] government to interfere with it at all. . . . No sect is preferred to another. Every man has a right to worship the Supreme Being in the manner he thinks proper. No test is required. All men of equal capacity and integrity are equally eligible to offices. . . . I do not suppose an infidel, or any such person, will ever be chosen to any office unless the people themselves be of the same opinion. [62]

Supreme Court Justice James Iredell (nominated to the Court by President Washington) agreed:

But it is objected that the people of America may perhaps choose representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans may be admitted into offices. . . . But it is never to be supposed that the people of America will trust their dearest rights to persons who have no religion at all, or a religion materially different from their own. [63]

Theophilus Parsons (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts) also affirmed:

No man can wish more ardently than I do that all our public offices may be filled by men who fear God and hate wickedness; but it must remain with the electors to give the government this security. [64]

The scope of Article VI was made clear by the writers and ratifiers of the U. S. Constitution: Muslims could be elected to office – but only if the people of that district desired it. Justice Joseph Story, placed on the Court by James Madison, therefore explained in his famous Commentaries on the Constitution that because of Article VI, on the federal level it was possible that . . .

the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Armenian, the Jew and the Infidel [Muslim], may sit down at the common table of the national councils without any inquisition into their faith or mode of worship. [65]

Through the Constitution, the Framers had constrained the federal government; however, they had left the people completely free – that is, the federal government could not apply any religious test, but the voters could. As a court explained in 1837:

The distinction is a sound one between a religion preferred by law, and a religion preferred by the people without the coercion of law – between a legal establishment which the present constitution expressly forbids . . . and a religious creed freely chosen by the people for themselves. [66]

Keith Ellison was selected by the voters of the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota in the process specified by the U. S. Constitution. Perhaps Ellison was chosen because the voters there “laid aside the Christian religion,” or perhaps because Ellison “acquired the confidence and esteem of the people by his good conduct and practice of virtue,” or because “the people themselves are of the same opinion.” The reasons matter not, for Ellison was the legitimate choice of the voters of the 5th District, and neither the federal government nor citizens outside Minnesota’s 5th District may do anything about it. The rest of the nation may be offended by what Ellison did with the Koran, but that is irrelevant to the legitimacy of his office; he was not elected to represent the nation but rather the voters in his district – as the other 434 Members in the U. S. House of Representatives were elected to represent the voters in their respective districts.

Yet, that being said, is there still an understandable element of concern with Ellison’s election? Certainly. After all, America and Americans are currently the target of attacks by members of the same Islamic faith that Ellison professes; and while Ellison may not hold the same specific beliefs as America’s enemies, he nevertheless holds the same religion. That America might be concerned about Ellison because of the behavior of others in his religion may seem unfair, but it is reality. Consider the recent election results as an example.

Exit polls affirm that the top issue for voters in 2006 was “corruption and ethics.” [67] This was logical considering the highly-publicized indictments (and near indictments) of so many Republicans over the previous two years: Rep. Duke Cunningham, Rep. Tom Delay, Rep. Bob Ney, Scooter Libby (Chief of Staff for the Vice-President), Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon (from the office of the House Majority Leader), Governor Bob Taft, Governor Ernie Fletcher, Karl Rove’s multiple visits to a Grand Jury, the Jack Abramoff scandal, the sex scandal of Rep. Mark Foley, etc. Clearly, Republicans appeared “dirty” (even though Democrat U. S. Rep. William Jefferson was tainted, there were far fewer Democrats in the news for corruption problems); and since “corruption and ethics” was a top issue for voters, Republicans paid the price. Consequently, voters threw several dozen Republicans out of federal office. Yet many Republicans who lost in that political tsunami were completely clean from any charge of corruption (e.g., Rep. Jim Ryun, Rep. John Hostettler, Sen. Jim Talent, etc.); nevertheless, they were the victims of their scandalized associates – that is, the perception accorded the guilty Republicans was projected onto the innocent ones simply by virtue of the fact that they, too, were Republicans. The same is true with Keith Ellison’s Muslim faith.

Ellison may not have the same beliefs as the Muslims who openly decry and even attack America; nevertheless, their behavior reflects on him. It is therefore understandable that citizens outside his district are highly concerned. This concern was heightened by the fact that Ellison himself publicly flaunted his abrogation of American precedent by making his swearing-in on the Koran a national issue. After all, the ceremonial swearing-in is always a private ceremony, and what he did there would not have been an issue; however, he chose to make that private ceremony a public demonstration in the face of all Americans. Did any of the other 434 Members make a national issue of what they would do in their private swearing-in? No, only Ellison; he therefore should not decry the national controversy that he created.

Furthermore, the religion of Islam, both past and present, has yet to demonstrate that it is friendly to a free government and a free people.

As a modern confirmation of this fact, the U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom monitors nations for egregious violations of religious liberty, and the current list of the most religiously-intolerant nations in the world is loaded with Islamic nations, including Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (secularism and communism join Islam as the other two worst offenders). [68] On the watchlist for serious but slightly less egregious violations are numbers of other Islamic nations, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, and Nigeria (secularism and communism again join Islam among the worst violators). [69] Significantly, the Judeo-Christian belief system protects freedom and religious liberty; yet, other belief systems – especially that of Islam – have not exhibited those protections.

That intolerance and tyranny are general traits of Islam was also evident to observers two centuries ago – including political philosopher Charles Montesquieu (a particular favorite of America’s Framers [70]). In what was perhaps his most famous work (Spirit of  Laws, 1748), Montesquieu undertook a perusal of a thousand years of world history to assess the impact of both Islam and Christianity upon government. Based on his investigation, Montesquieu concluded:

A moderate [non-violent, non-coercive] government is most agreeable to the Christian religion, and a despotic government to the Mahometan. [71]

He continued:

The Christian religion is a stranger to mere despotic power. . . . [Christian rulers] are more disposed to be directed by laws and more capable of perceiving that they cannot do whatever they please. While the Mahometan princes incessantly give or receive death, the religion of the Christians renders their princes . . . less cruel. [72]

To demonstrate the truth of this fact, Montesquieu noted:

It is the Christian religion that . . . has hindered despotic power from being established in Ethiopia. [73]

Montesquieu’s reference to Ethiopia is instructive. Ethiopia became a Christian nation shortly after the time of Christ. Islam made its first appearance there in 615 AD; and even though Mohammed described Ethiopia as “a land of righteousness where no one was wronged,” [74] Muslims nevertheless began attempting to conquer and subjugate Ethiopia to the Islamic faith.

While Muslims attacked and swept over the rest of Africa exacting forcible conversions to Islam in a jihad (holy war), they were unable to defeat Christian Ethiopia until 1528 AD. In 1535, Ethiopia’s leader appealed to Europe for help, and by 1543, Christians in Ethiopia had regained their nation. Significantly, both before and after that short period of Islamic rule, Ethiopia was characterized by democratic government and non-coercion in religion. Ironically, Muslim jihads have today been renewed against Christians in Ethiopia, [75] despite the fact that Muslims there are still being well treated by Christians.[76]

Montesquieu, having examined the visible influences of both Christianity and Islam upon governments, therefore recommended:

From the characters of the Christian and Mahometan religions, we ought without any further examination to embrace the one and reject the other; for it is much easier to prove that religion ought to humanize the manners of men than that any particular religion is true. It is misfortune to human nature when religion is given by a conqueror. The Mahometan religion, which speaks only by the sword, acts still upon men with that destructive spirit with which it was founded.[77]

Montesquieu was not the only student of history to reach the same conclusion. For example, president, statesman, international diplomat, and legal scholar John Quincy Adams similarly observed:

[The] law of nations as practiced among Christian nations . . . is founded upon the principle that the state of nature between men and between nations is a state of peace. But there was a Mohametan law of nations which considered the state of nature as a state of war. [78]

And in 1898, Charles Galloway, like so many historians before and after him, also noted:

The Koran puts a premium upon war, offering the highest rewards to those who slay the greatest number of infidels. Mohammed’s cardinal principle (that the end justifies the means) consecrated every form of deception and lying and encouraged every sort of persecution and violence. . . . The citizen is the slave of the state; he has no rights to be respected. Mohammedanism is an absolute despotism. [79]

At about the same time, historian John Fiske reported of Muslim leaders:

The things done daily by the [Muslim] sovereigns were such as to make a civilized imagination recoil with horror. One of these cheerful creatures who reigned in the middle of the eighteenth century, called Muley Abdallah, especially prided himself on his peculiar skill in mounting a horse. Resting his left hand upon the horse’s neck, as he sprang into the saddle he simultaneously swung the sharp scimitar [curved broad-blade sword] in his right hand so deftly as to cut off the head of the groom who held the bridle. From his behavior in these sportive moods one may judge what he was capable of on serious occasions. He was a fair sample of the [Muslim] monarchs. [80]

These examples may seem to be extreme – that only the worst possible claims about Islam have been selected, but such is not the case. As affirmed by the current Commission on International Religious Freedom (as well as many other governmental and non-governmental human rights organizations), these characteristics accurately portray the societal outworkings of Islam today. Keith Ellison may be the one to break this pattern and start something new with Islam, but in the meantime, he should not be surprised that there is widespread concern over his decision to publicly flaunt American tradition and values and replace them with Islamic ones.

— — — — — —

Having addressed the historical perspective of placing a Muslim in Congress, consider now lessons from history pertinent to the issue of Islam in America today. American Christians (and religious Jews) concerned about the presence of Islam in America should: (1) Keep a Statistical Perspective; (2) Practice Free-Market Pluralism; and (3) Remember the Greater Danger.

1. Keep a Statistical Perspective

According to an ABC News’ Muslim affiliate in Great Britain:

Experts agree Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in America. As many as five million Muslims live in the United States and in the last five years, the number of mosques in this country has increased from 843 to about 1,300. Most of the growth has come from immigration, but much of it is home-grown. For many black Americans [such as Ellison], Islam has become the religion of choice and some one million – mostly men – have converted. [81]

Such news reports abound, and given the regularly demonstrated characteristics of Islam around the world, such reports concern many Americans. However, the claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion in America (and the world) stems primarily from Islamic propaganda rather than actual statistical data. In fact, search the web for the terms “Islam/fastest/growing/religion,” and over eighty percent of the hits link to Islamic websites.

As an example of the propagandist nature of these claims, Muslims proudly assert that Islam is growing at a rate of 235 percent. Yet, what is missing from that claim is the time factor in the rate of growth. If Islam is growing at the rate of 235 percent per year, that would be impressive; but it turns out that it is has grown by 235 percent over a fifty-year period – not nearly as impressive. In fact, the growth of Islam has been primarily from births, not conversions; [82] and numbers of the world’s religions – including Christianity – are growing at a statistically faster rate than Islam. [83]

Furthermore, according to dozens of polls over recent decades, an average of 84 percent of Americans profess Christianity as their personal religion. [84] The next largest religious affiliation is Jewish (about 2 percent [85]), and other groups are even smaller, with Islam ranking third (0.5%), and then Buddhist (0.5%), Hindu (0.4%), Universalist Unitarian (0.3%), [86] and then still smaller groups such as Native American, Scientologist, Baha’I, Taoist, New Age, Eckankar, Rastrafarian, Sikh, Wiccan, Deity, Druid, Santeria, Pagan, Spiritualist, Ethical Culture, etc. [87] The combined total of the different non-Christian religions in America (including both Islam and Judaism) is regularly under four percent. [88]

Significantly, only two religions in America have a following of larger than one percent: Christians (at 84 percent), and Jews (at 2 percent). Muslims rank third in size in America, well below one percent. Therefore, even if Muslims double in size, they still have only half the number of Jews, and will continue to remain third on the overall list. “Fastest-growing” sounds impressive, but it must be kept in perspective – Muslims have “soared” to only 0.5 percent of Americans.

This is not to say that the rise of Islam in America is something to be ignored; far from it. Public policy and immigration policy on this subject should be carefully examined. Nevertheless, the innuendo suggesting the eminent takeover of Islam in America is overblown and should not strike fear into the heart of any American.

2. Practice Free-Market Pluralism

Because of Biblical influences and Christian civil leadership in colonial America, Americans early adopted a Free-Market approach to religion, establishing that approach in law and policy. Significantly, Christian leaders did not advocate this approach because they were indifferent to Christianity or because they believed all religions were equal; they held an opposite position on both points. However, based on Biblical teachings, Christians believed that individuals must make their own voluntary choices about their own faith, and then live with the consequences, even if that choice meant (from a Christian’s viewpoint) the difference between Heaven and Hell.

God established this approach as His modus operandi from the very beginning. In fact, after creating Adam and Eve and placing them in the Garden of Eden, He allowed them a choice – a choice that meant the difference between continued fellowship with Him or separation from Him. There was neither force, nor pressure, nor coercion applied to their decision; it was completely their voluntary choice. They chose poorly, and then lived with the consequences of their choice. God could have prevented them from choosing wrongly, but He allowed them the choice.

Moses followed the same pattern (Deuteronomy 30:19), as did Joshua (Joshua 24:15), and Elijah. In fact, in Elijah’s contest against the prophets of Baal atop Mount Carmel (I Kings 18), he offered the people a choice to follow the God of Israel, or to follow the god Baal:

Elijah told the people, “How long will you waver between two views? If the Lord is God, follow Him; if Baal is god, follow him.” (v. 21)

And not only did Elijah offer the people their choice, but he also permitted the followers of Baal the opportunity to pursue their religion and even encouraged them to take additional time in expressing their religion (vv. 25-29). When they finished, Elijah would present his case for the God of Israel; the people would then make their choice. Elijah – though outnumbered 450 to one (v. 22) – nevertheless believed that when eternal truth was presented and the comparison made, the people would choose correctly.

The New Testament is filled with examples following the same pattern, demonstrated first by Jesus Himself, then by the Apostles Peter and Paul, then by ministers Philip and Timothy, etc. Christians, both then and now – like the prophet Elijah and the prophets before and after him – believed that when truth was presented to people, it would eventually triumph. Therefore, all that was necessary to prevail was to present eternal truth. Sometimes it was accepted (I Thessalonians 2:13); sometimes it was rejected (II Thessalonians 2:10-12); but the individual lived with the consequences either way. Throughout the Scriptures, the key was to present the unvarnished truth; God and the Holy Spirit (not man) would do the work of validating the truth.

Following this Biblical model, the Founders believed that the truth of Christianity would prevail on its own merits – that Christianity need fear no other religion. As Thomas Jefferson explained:

Truth can stand by itself. . . . [I]f there be but one right [religion], and [Christianity] that one, we should wish to see the nine hundred and ninety-nine wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. But against such a majority we cannot effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these, free inquiry must be indulged; and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it ourselves.[89]

Founder Noah Webster (a devout Christian and an early judge and legislator responsible for specific language in the U. S. Constitution) similarly reminded Americans:

Let us reject the spirit of making proselytes to particular creeds by any other means than persuasion. [90]

James Madison agreed:

If the public homage of a people can ever be worthy the favorable regard of the Holy and Omniscient Being to Whom it is addressed, it must be that in which those who join in it are guided only by their free choice – by the impulse of their hearts and the dictates of their consciences; and such a spectacle must be [exciting] to all Christian nations. [91]

Ezra Stiles (1727-1795), Christian theologian and President of Yale, specifically rejoiced in the Free-Market approach to religion produced by American Christianity:

Religious liberty is peculiarly friendly to fair and generous disquisition. Here, Deism will have its full chance; nor need Libertines more to complain of being overcome by any weapons but the gentle, the powerful ones of argument and truth. Revelation [the Bible] will be found to stand the test to the ten thousandth examination. [92]

Because of this Free-Market approach, American Christians openly received numerous religious groups to America, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and many others.

A Christian should never be fearful of any other religion. After all, if an individual has chosen Christianity, it is because he believes it superior to all others; he therefore should never be threatened by a religion that he personally considers weaker than the one he practices. In fact, if Christians fear the power of other religions over the power of their own, then they are in the wrong religion. A Christian’s confidence in his own religion, and his conviction that God will cause the truth to prevail when presented, should cause him not to exclude religious competition but rather to embrace it through America’s historic (and Biblical) Free-Market approach to religion.

3. Remember the Greater Danger

From a societal standpoint, there should be more concern over elected officials who are secularists and will swear an oath on no religious book, than for Muslims who swear on the Koran. After all, secularism presents a greater threat to American traditions and values than does Islam. As Jewish radio host and columnist Michael Medved warns:

It’s secularists and leftists who seek to alter the long-term essence of this deeply religious, majority Christian country . . . rather than believing fanatics who want to remake the nation as an alien, unrecognizable theocracy.[93]

Rabbi Daniel Lapin of the Jewish Policy Center similarly warns:

God help Jews if America ever becomes a post-Christian [secular] society! Just think of Europe![94]

That secularism is more dangerous to a society than any specific religious faith is statistically verifiable. For example, even though tens of millions of lives have been lost at the hands of numerous religious faiths over the past two thousand years (and most of those have indisputably been lost at the hand of Islam), the number of lives lost at the hands of secular governments in just the twentieth century alone is many times greater. For example, there were the 62 million killed by Soviet Communists; the 35 million by Chinese Communists; the 1.7 million by the Vietnamese Communists; the 1.6 million in the Polish Ethnic Cleansing; the 1 million in Yugoslavia; the 1.7 million in North Korea,[95] etc.

Furthermore, the number of deaths perpetrated by individual secular leaders is enormous. For example, Joseph Stalin was responsible for the murder of 42.7 million; Mao Tse-tung, 37.8 million; Hitler, [96] 20.9 million; Vladimir Lenin, 4 million; Pol Pot of the Khmer Rouge, 2.4 million; Yahya Khan, 1.5 million; [97] and numerous others could be listed. Significantly, secularism killed more in one century than did all religions combined in the previous twenty.

This truth was also evident two centuries ago, causing Benjamin Franklin to wisely quip:

If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it? [98]

Founding Father Benjamin Rush (an outspoken evangelical Christian), also understanding the dangers of secularism, likewise acknowledged:

Such is my veneration for every religion that reveals the attributes of the Deity or a future state of rewards and punishments that I had rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohamed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles. But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament. . . . [A]ll its doctrines and precepts are calculated to promote the happiness of society and the safety and well being of civil government. [99]

Rush was strongly committed to Christianity and sought to incorporate its principles throughout society (he started the Sunday School movement in America, founded America’s first Bible Society, endorsed the Bible in public schools, started a number of religious schools and universities, etc.); yet, he preferred having any religion in a society rather than no religion. In fact, even Muslims (with the exception of Ellison – at least based on his state legislative voting record) are pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-creation science and Intelligent Design, pro-inalienable rights, etc.; secularists are opposed to every one of these and other traditional moral and religious values.

Therefore, America, while concerned about Ellison and the potential dangers of Islam, should be more concerned about secularists. The reality is that Members of Congress who refuse to swear an oath on any religious book represent a greater threat to American faith and culture than do those who swear on the Koran. These three considerations should keep Americans of Judeo-Christian faith from becoming overly fixated with Ellison’s faith or his flaunting of American traditions and cultural values.

— — — — — —

Finally, to ensure that the negative manifestations and characteristics of Islam do not become part of American life or culture, there are several actions that citizens – particularly Christians – can take.

First, pray. (Enough said on this point.)

Second, learn more about Islam, how it operates, and what it teaches. There are numerous excellent primers available on this topic, including the current New York Times bestseller by Robert Spencer: The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion, and also The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (also by Robert Spencer). The wise recommendation of Chinese General and international relations expert Sun Tzu (544-496 BC) remains applicable today:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. [100]

Third, Christians should exercise the opportunity to use America’s religious Free-Market system to befriend and evangelize Muslims. On the conviction that through God and the Holy Spirit eternal truth will prevail, share your faith and spiritual truth with Muslims. (The web is full of useful guides on sharing one’s faith with Muslims.)

Fourth, Christians should do all they can to get other Christians out to vote – and to vote their values. In 2004, 28.9 million Evangelicals voted in the elections; [101] in this election, however, only 20.5 million voted [102] (a drop of 8.4 million Evangelicals). If citizens desire to see someone different than Keith Ellison elected to office, they must show up at the polls.

Furthermore, since public policy does not address issues of theology but rather of common values and of one’s philosophy of government, voting Biblical values may result in voting for a candidate that is not of the voter’s particular religion, race, gender, or political party. As Jewish syndicated radio host and columnist Dennis Prager acknowledges:

I am a Jew (a non-denominational religious Jew, for the record), and I would vote for any Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Mormon, atheist, Jew, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Wiccan, Confucian, Taoist or combination thereof whose social values I share. Conversely, I would not vote for a fellow Jew whose social values I did not share. I want people of every faith, and of no faith, who affirm the values I affirm to enter political life. [103]

Similarly, I am a Protestant Christian, but I will quickly vote for Jews, Mormons, Catholics or any others who embrace Judeo-Christian values in public policy before I would vote for many self-described Evangelicals who do not embrace those values. For example, I would unhesitatingly vote for Jewish Rabbi Daniel Lapin for any office for which he might run – and I would do so over many Evangelicals who might run for the same office, for I personally know the strength of Lapin’s Judeo-Christian worldview and his approach to public policy.

Therefore, determine that it matters not the race, gender, religion, or political party of the candidate, but rather his or her willingness to preserve America’s religious, moral, and constitutional heritage. If Christians are not willing to vote, and to vote their values, then they should not complain about the philosophy or practices of those who are elected to office.

Fifth, if Christians are specifically concerned about Ellison’s Muslim faith, perhaps they should follow the example set by Francis Scott Key in his dealings with John Randolph; get to know him, build a trusting friendship relationship with him, share your Christian faith with him, and see if he will convert to Christianity!

Art and Photo Credits: p. 1: Ellison’s swearing in, Courtesy of Reuter’s; p.
3: Francis Scott Key, Courtesy of the Collection of the Maryland State Archives;
p. 4: Salieh Aga, Ambassador of Tripoli, Courtesy of Sotheby’s; John Trumbull’s
“American Prisoners,” Charles Allen Munn Collection Fordham University Library
Bronx, New York; p. 6: Thomas Jefferson, White House Historical Association
(White House Collection); p. 7: Ellison’s swearing in on Koran, Courtesy of
Reuter’s; p. 8: James Madison, White House Historical Association (White House
Collection); General William Eaton, Photo Courtesy of the Maryland Historical
Society; p. 9: Richard Dobbs Spaight, Independence National Historical Park;
p. 15: Thomas Jefferson, Independence National Historical Park.

© David Barton, 2007

 

NOTES


[1] CNN.com, “Minnesota voters send first Muslim to Capitol Hill” (at https://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/11/08/muslim.elect/).

[2] Detroit Free Press, “1st Muslim congressman thrills crowd in Dearborn” (at https://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061226/NEWS05/612260367).

[3] Townhall.com, “Dennis Prager: America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on” (at https://www.townhall.com/columnists/DennisPrager/2006/11/28/america,_not_
keith_ellison,_decides_what_book_a_congressman_takes_his_oath_on
).

[4] Townhall.com, “Dennis Prager: A response to my many critics – and a solution” (at https://www.townhall.com/columnists/DennisPrager/2006/1/05/a_response_to_my_many_critics_-_and_a_solution).

[5]See, for example, Washingtonpost.com, “But It’s Thomas Jefferson’s Koran!” (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/03/AR2007010300075_pf.html); MSNBC.com, “First Muslim elected to Congress; Minn. Democrat converted in college, was once with Nation of Islam” (at https://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15613050/); CNN.com, “Minnesota voters send first Muslim to Capitol Hill” (at https://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/11/08/muslim.elect/); and Associated Press of Pakistan, “Keith Ellison is first Muslim member of US Congress” (at https://www.app.com.pk/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1547&Itemid=2)..

[6] Hugh A. Garland, The Life of John Randolph of Roanoke (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1853), Vol. II, p. 102, to Dr. Brockenbrough, September 25, 1818.

[7] Garland, Life of John Randolph, Vol. II, p. 102, to Dr. Brockenbrough, September 25, 1818.

[8] Garland, Life of John Randolph, Vol. II, p. 100, to Dr. Brockenbrough, September 25, 1818.

[9] The Analectic Magazine (Philadelphia: Moses Thomas, 1814), Vol. IV, P. 433, “Defence of Fort M’Henry.”

[10] Garland, Life of John Randolph, Vol. II, pp. 87-88, in a letter from Francis Scott Key, May-June 1816; pp. 99-100, Randolph’s letter to Francis Scott Key, September 7, 1818; pp. 103-104, Key’s letter to Randolph; 106-107, Key’s reply to Randolph’s letter of May 3, 1819; and pp. 108-109, Key’s reply to Randolph’s letter of August 8, 1819.

[11] Garland, Life of John Randolph, Vol. II, pp. 99-100, from a letter to Francis Scott Key, September 7, 1818; pp. 100-102, from a letter to Dr. Brockenbrough, September 25, 1818; p. 106, from a letter to Francis Scott Key, May 3, 1819; pp. 107-109, from a letter to Francis Scott Key, August 22, 1819; pp. 373-374.

[12] National Humanities Center, “Islam in America: From African Slaves to Malcolm X” (at https://www.nhc.rtp.nc.us/tserve/twenty/tkeyinfo/islam.htm).

[13] National Humanities Center, “Islam in America: From African Slaves to Malcolm X” (at https://www.nhc.rtp.nc.us/tserve/twenty/tkeyinfo/islam.htm).

[14] DawaNet, “American Muslim History” (at https://www.dawanet.com/history/amermuslimhist.asp).

[15] The Koran, Commonly Called The Alcoran of Mahomet, Sieur De Ryer, translator (Springfield: Henry Brewer, 1806).

[16] Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Claude A. Swanson, editor (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1939), Vol. I, p. v.

[17] A General View of the Rise, Progress, and Brilliant Achievements of the American Navy, Down to the Present Time (Brooklyn, 1828), pp. 70-71.

[18] Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb & Albert Ellery Bergh, editors (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. V, p. 195, to William Carmichael, November 4, 1785.

[19] Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian P. Boyd, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954), Vol. 9, p. 358, Report of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams to John Jay, March 28, 1786.

[20] Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Claude A. Swanson, editor (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1939), Vol. I, p. 55.

[21] Jefferson, Papers, Vol. 9, p. 358, to John Jay, March 28, 1786.

[22] Jefferson, Writings, Vol. VI, pp. 47-48, to John Adams, January 11, 1787.

[23] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1853), Vol. VIII, p. 394, to Thomas Jefferson, May 23, 1786.

[24] President Washington selected Col. David Humphreys in 1793 as sole commissioner of Algerian affairs to negotiate treaties with Algeria, Tripoli and Tunis. He also appointed Joseph Donaldson, Jr., as Consul to Tunis and Tripoli. In February of 1796, Humphreys delegated power to Donaldson and/or Joel Barlow to form treaties. James Simpson, U. S. Consul to Gibraltar, was dispatched to renew the treaty with Morocco in 1795. On October 8, 1796, Barlow commissioned Richard O’Brien to negotiate the treaty of peace with Tripoli. See, for example, Ray W. Irwin, The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with the Barbary Powers (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1931), p. 84.

[25] See, for example, the 1787 treaty with Morocco; the 1795, 1815, and 1816 treaties with Algiers; the 1796 and 1805 treaties with Tripoli; and the 1797 treaty with Tunis. The American Diplomatic Code, Embracing A Collection of Treaties and Conventions Between the United States and Foreign Powers from 1778 to 1834, Jonathan Elliot, editor (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970; originally printed 1834), Vol. I, pp. 473-514.

[26] Jefferson, Papers, Vol. 9, p. 358, to John Jay, March 28, 1786.

[27] Gardner W. Allen, Our Navy and the Barbary Corsairs (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1905), p. 66.

[28] Allen, Our Navy, p. 57.

[29] Allen, Our Navy, p. 56.

[30] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, John C Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1940), Vol. 33, p. 385, to the Secretary of the Treasury, May 29, 1794; see also Library of Congress, “American Memory: America and the Barbary Pirates: An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe” (at https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/jefferson_papers/mtjprece.html).

[31] Washington, Writings, Vol. 33, p. 397, to The Secretary Of The Treasury, June 7, 1794.

[32] Washington, Writings, Vol. 29, p. 185, to Marquis de Lafayette, March 7, 1787.

[33] Washington, Writings, Vol. 28, p. 521, to Marquis de Lafayette, August 15, 1786.

[34] The federal budget was $6,115,000 in 1795; a payment of nearly $1 million was given that year to Algiers alone, not including what was given to the other Barbary Powers. See U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States (White Plains, NY: Kraus International Publications, 1989), p. 1106; and Library of Congress, “American Memory: America and the Barbary Pirates: An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe” (at https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/jefferson_papers/mtjprece.html)

[35] Jefferson, Writings, Vol. V, p. 91, to John Page, August 20, 1785.

[36] Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1939), Vol. 30, p. 491. “First Annual Message to Congress,” January 8, 1790.

[37] J. Fenimore Cooper, The History of the Navy of the United States of America (Philadelphia: Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1847), pp. 123-124; see also A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents: 1789-1897, James D. Richardson, editor (Washington, D. C.: Published by Authority of Congress, 1897), Vol. I, p. 193, from Washington’s “Eighth Annual Address,” December 7, 1796.

[38] Dictionary of American Navel Fighting Ships, s.v. “John Adams”; see also Hazegrey.org, “Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. III: John Adams” (at https://www.hazegray.org/danfs/frigates/j_adams.htm).

[39] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1853), Vol. VIII, p. 407, to Thomas Jefferson, July 3, 1786.

[40] Adams, Works, Vol. VIII, p. 379, to John Jay, February 22, 1786.

[41] Charles Prentiss, The Life of the Late Gen. William Eaton (Brookfield: Merriam & Company, 1813), p. 146, to Mr. Smith, June 27, 1800.

[42] Adams, Works, Vol. VIII, p. 407, to Thomas Jefferson, July 3, 1786.

[43] Wikipedia, “First Barbary War” (at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War).

[44] Jefferson, Writings, Vol. V, p. 327, to Colonel Monroe, May 10, 1786.

[45] Jefferson, Writings, Vol. I, p. 97, from Jefferson’s Autobiography.

[46] Jefferson, Writings, Vol. V, p. 364, to John Adams, July 11, 1786.

[47] Jefferson, Writings, Vol. V, p. 365, to John Adams, July 11, 1786.

[48] Naval Documents, Vol. I, pp. 451, 453-454; see also Glen Tucker, Dawn Like Thunder: The Barbary Wars and the Birth of the U. S. Navy (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1963), p. 127.

[49] Report of the Committee to Whom was Recommended on the Twenty-Sixth Ultimo A Resolution Respecting William Eaton(City of Washington: A&C Way, 1806), January 8, 1806; Documents Respecting the Application of Hamet Caramalli, Ex-Bashaw of Tripoli (Washington, D.C.: Dwane & Son), pp. 58-60, letter from John Rodgers to Robert Smith, Secretary of the Navy, June 8, 1805.

[50] Glenn Tucker, Dawn Like Thunder: The Barbary Wars and the Birth of the U. S. Navy (Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1963), p. 448.

[51] Jefferson, Writings, Vol. XVII, p. 399, from the Congress, “Farewell Address to Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States,” February 7, 1809.

[52] Detroit Free Press, “Ellison: Quran influenced America’s founding fathers” (at https://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070105/NEWS01/70105032/1004/NEWS02).

[53] Frederick C. Leiner, The End of Barbary Terror (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 29-30; see also Jewish Virtual Library, “Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress: Mordecai Manuel Noah” (at https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/loc/noah.html). A description of Noah’s diplomatic service in his own words is found in: Mordecai M. Noah, Travels in England, France, Spain, and the Barbary States, In the Years 1813-14 and 1815 (New York: Kirk and Mercein, 1819).

[54] Treaties and Conventions Concluded Between the United States of America and Other Powers Since July 4, 1776 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1889), pp. 6-10, “Treaty of Peace and Amity,” June 30 and July 6, 1815, Articles III and VI; see also Yale Law School, “The Avalon Project: Treaty of Peace, Signed Algiers June 30 and July 3, 1815” (at https://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/diplomacy/barbary/bar1815t.htm).

[55] British State Papers (London: James Ridgway and Sons, London, 1977), Vol. 3, p. 516, “Declaration of the Dey of Algiers, relative to the Abolition of Christian Slavery,” August 28, 1816.

[56] Treaties and Conventions Concluded Between the United States of America and Other Powers Since July 4, 1776 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1889), pp. 10-15, “Treaty of Peace and Amity,” December 22 and 23, 1816; see also Yale Law School, “The Avalon Project: Treaty of Peace and Amity, December 22 and 23, 1816” (at https://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/diplomacy/barbary/bar1816t.htm).

[57] Prentiss, Life, pp. 92-93, to Timothy Pickering, June 15, 1799.

[58] Prentiss, Life, p. 325, from Eaton’s journal, April 8, 1805.

[59] Prentiss, Life, p. 334, from Eaton’s journal, May 23, 1805.

[60] The American Diplomatic Code, Embracing A Collection of Treaties and Conventions Between the United States and Foreign Powers from 1778 to 1834, Jonathan Elliot, editor (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970; originally printed 1834), Vol. I, p. 493, Article 15.

[61] The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot, editor (Washington, D. C.: Jonathan Elliot, 1836), Vol. IV, pp. 198-199, Governor Samuel Johnston, July 30, 1788.

[62] Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, p. 208, Richard Dobbs Spaight, July 30, 1788.

[63] Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, p.194, James Iredell, July 30, 1788.

[64] Elliot’s Debates, Vol. II, p. 90, Mr. Parsons, January 23, 1788.

[65] Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, and Company, 1833), Vol. III, p. 731, §1873.

[66] State v. Chandler, 2 Harr. 553, 2 Del. 553, 1837 WL 154 (Del.Gen.Sess. 1837).

[67] CNN.com, “Corruption named as key issue by voters in exit polls” (at https://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/11/07/election.exitpolls/index.html).

[68] U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, “Countries of Particular Concern” (at https://www.uscirf.gov/countries/countriesconcerns/index.html).

[69] U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, “USCRIF Watch List” (at https://www.uscirf.gov/countries/countriesconcerns/watchlist/2006watchList.html).

[70] Donald S. Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1988), pp. 142-145.

[71] Charles Secondat de Montesquieu, Spirit of Laws (London: J. Nourse and P. Vaillant, 1752), Vol. II, p. 147.

[72] Montesquieu, Spirit, Vol. II, p. 147.

[73] Montesquieu, Spirit, Vol. II, p. 147.

[74] Food for the Hungry International, “Christian History: Christianity in Ethiopia” (at https://www.fhi.net/fhius/ethiopiafamine/christian.html).

[75] See Voice of Martyrs Canada, “Continuing Persecution in Rural Ethiopia” (at https://www.persecution.net/news/ethiopia7.html); “Ethiopian Missionary Beaten and Arrested” (at https://www.persecution.net/news/ethiopia8.html); “Ethiopian Evangelist Killed for Refusing to Deny Christ,” (at https://www.persecution.net/news/ethiopia9.html); “Evangelist Badly Beaten” (at https://www.persecution.net/news/ethiopia10.html); “Churches Burned and Christians Attacked” (at https://www.persecution.net/news/ethiopia12.html); “Christians Arrested Following Violence” (at https://www.persecution.net/news/ethiopia13.html); and many others.

[76] Somaliawatch.org, “Coping With Islamic Fundamentalism Before And After September 11” (at https://www.somaliawatch.org/archivemar02/020316601.htm), stating “According to tradition, a group of Arab followers of Islam in danger of persecution by local authorities in Arabia took refuge early in the seventh century in the Aksumite Kingdom of the Ethiopian Christian highlands. They were well treated and permitted to practice their religion as they wished. Consequently, the Prophet Muhammad concluded that Ethiopia should not be targeted for Jihad. Ethiopia’s Christian rulers left no doubt, however, that Islam would be subservient to Christianity. Christian-Islamic relations remained generally cordial until Islamic raids from the Somali port of Zeila plagued the highlands in the late fifteenth century.”

[77] Montesquieu, Spirit, Vol. II, pp. 148-149.

[78] John Quincy Adams, The Jubilee of the Constitution (New York: Samuel Colman, 1839), p. 73.

[79] Charles B. Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth (Nashville, TN: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1898), pp. 39-40.

[80] John Fiske, The Critical Period of American History: 1783-1789 (Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1896), p. 158.

[81] BICNews, “Fastest-Growing Religion Often Misunderstood” (at https://www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews/Islam/islam21.htm).

[82] FrontPageMag.com, “Don Feder: Oh, Those Mischievous Muslims!” (at https://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=25182).

[83] For a statistical analysis, see article The Interactive Bible, “Encyclopedia of Islam Myths” (at https://www.bible.ca/islam/islam-myths-fastest-growing.htm).

[84] Pew Research Center, “The 2004 Political Landscape” (at https://people-press.org/report/display.php3?PageID=757) and “The Diminishing Divide…American Churches, American Politics” (at https://people-press.org/reports/print.php3?PageID=451); The Barna Group, “Annual Study Reveals America Is Spiritually Stagnant” (at https://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=84) and “American Faith is Diverse, as Shown Among Five Faith-Based Segments” (at https://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=105); City University of New York, “Graduate Center: American Religious Identification Survey, 2001 (at https://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_studies/aris.pdf); Adherents.com, “Largest Religious Groups in the United States of America” (at https://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html) and “Gallup Polling Data over Last Ten Years” (at https://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html- gallup); Harris Interactive, “Large Majority of People Believe They Will Go to Heaven” (at https://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=167); ABCNews.com, “Poll: Most Americans Say They’re Christian; Varies Greatly From the World at Large” (at https://abcnews.go.com/print?id=90356); American Public Media, “A Look at Americans and Religion Today” (at https://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/godsofbusiness/galluppoll.shtml); The Gallup Poll, “Focus On Christmas” (at https://poll.gallup.com/content/default.aspx?ci=14410&pg=2); Baylor University, “American Piety in the 21st Century” (at https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/33304.pdf).

[85] City University of New York, “Graduate Center: American Religious Identification Survey, 2001” (at https://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_studies/aris.pdf); Adherents.com, “Gallup Polling Data over Last Ten Years” (at https://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html- gallup); Pew Research Center, “The 2004 Political Landscape” (at https://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=757).

[86] City University of New York, “Graduate Center: American Religious Identification Survey, 2001” (at https://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_studies/aris.pdf).

[87] City University of New York, “Graduate Center: American Religious Identification Survey, 2001” (at https://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_studies/aris.pdf).

[88] City University of New York, “Graduate Center: American Religious Identification Survey, 2001” (at https://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_studies/aris.pdf).

[89] Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1794), pp. 233-234, “Query 17.”

[90] Noah Webster, An Oration Pronounced Before The Citizens of New-Haven On The Anniversary Of The Independence Of The United States, July 4, 1798 (New-Haven: T. and S. Green, 1798), p. 13.

[91] James Madison, A Proclamation, for September 9, 1813, from The Weekly Register, Saturday, July 31, 1813, p. X.

[92] Ezra Stiles, The United States Elevated To Glory And Honor A Sermon, At the Anniversary Election, May 8th, 1783 (New Haven, MA: Thomas & Samuel Green, 1783), p. 56.

[93] Townhall.com, “Michael Medved: Religion, madness and secular paranoia” (at https://www.townhall.com/columnists/MichaelMedved/2006/10/04/religion,_madness_and_secular_paranoia).

[94] WorldNetDaily, “Rabbi Daniel Lapin: Which Jews does the ADL really represent?” (at https://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51671).

[95] R. J. Rummel, Death By Government (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1994), p. 4.

[96] Despite the fact that some Holocaust survivors believe Hitler to have been a Christian, recent documentation made available from the OSS (the noted intelligence agency of World War II), proves that Hitler was anti-Christian and that the Nazis engaged in a systematic campaign to eradicate European Christianity. See Nuremberg Project, “July 6, 1945 – The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches” (at https://org.law.rutgers.edu/publications/law-religion/nurinst1.shtml); see also Christianity Today, “Christian History Corner: Final Solution, Part II” (at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/102/52.0.html), and BBC News, “Nazi trial documents made public” (at https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1753469.stm). Furthermore, Hitler killed more than twice as many Gentiles as Jews (while Hitler had 6 million Jews murdered, he was responsible for the deaths of a total of 20.9 million people. See Rummel, Death, p. 8. And both he and the Nazi party were linked to anti-Biblical occultism (see, for example, The History Channel, “In Search of History: Hitler and the Occult” (at https://store.aetv.com/html/product/index.jhtml?id=72289&
browseCategoryId=&location=&parentcatid=&subcatid
), and the list of books at Brough’s Books, “Nazi Occultism” (at https://www.dropbears.com/b/broughsbooks/military/occult_nazism.htm).

[97] Rummel, Death, p. 8.

[98] Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan, Whittemore and Mason, 1840), Vol. X, p. 282, to Thomas Paine.

[99] Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas & Samuel F. Bradford, 1798), p. 8, “Of the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic.”

[100] Yuni Words of Wisdom, “Sun Tzu on The Art of War: An Intelligent Guide to Life Strategies and Wisdom” (at https://www.yuni.com/library/suntzu.htm).

[101] In the 2004 elections, a total of 125,736,000 votes were cast; twenty-three percent of voters were “Evangelicals,” thus translating into 28.9 million votes. See sources at New York Times, “Religious Voting Data Show Some Shift, Observers Say,” (at https://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50F17F7355B0C7A8CDDA80994DE404482
&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fE%2fEvangelical%20Movement
); and U. S. Census Bureau, “Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004” (at https://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/p20-556.pdf).

[102] In the 2006 elections, a total of 85,251,089 votes were cast; twenty-four percent of voters were “Evangelicals,” thus translating into 20.5 million votes. See sources at George Mason University, “United States Elections Project: 2006 Voting-Age and Voting-Eligible Population Estimates” (at https://elections.gmu.edu/Voter_Turnout_2006.htm); New York Times, “Religious Voting Data Show Some Shift, Observers Say” (at https://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50F17F7355B0C7A8CDDA80994DE404482
&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fE%2fEvangelical%20Movement
).

[103] “A response to my many critics – and a solution,” Dennis Prager, Tuesday, December 5, 2006 (at https://www.townhall.com/columnists/DennisPrager/2006/12/05/a_response_to_my_many_critics_-_and_a_solution).

Summer 2006

Celebrating America’s Birthday
This Fourth of July, America will celebrate its 230th birthday. Neither our closest allies nor our fiercest enemies have experienced the stability with which we have been blessed. In fact, during the time that America has flourished under the Declaration of Independence, France has had fifteen different governments. And Brazil has had seven since 1822; Poland, seven since 1921; Afghanistan, five since 1923; Russia, four since 1918; and the story is similar for other nations throughout Europe, Africa, South America, and the rest of the world.

Some describe this remarkable achievement as “American Exceptionalism” – a term coined in 1831 by Alexis de Tocqueville, a famous French visitor to America who penned the classic, Democracy in America. As De Tocqueville expressed it:

The position of the Americans is quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one.

However, such a description should never be a cause for any sense of American superiority. On the contrary, Psalm 75:6-7 indicates that such achievements are from the Lord and therefore should be a cause for an appreciative humility. As President John Adams rightly observed:

It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation’s humble acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence.

Understanding this truth, earlier generations frequently incorporated thankfulness to God as an integral component of Independence Day celebrations. In fact, on the original Independence Day in 1776, John Adams had recommended:

[This day] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.

America regularly celebrated Independence Day with a recognition of our gratitude to God Almighty. For example, on July 4, 1837, some sixty-one years after the Declaration of Independence was first issued, John Quincy Adams delivered an oration in which he noted that America’s two most popular holidays (Christmas and the Fourth of July) were inseparably intertwined:

In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. It forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation. The Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission on Earth [and] laid the cornerstone of human government on the first precepts of Christianity.

Does the Declaration of Independence actually embody what Adams described as “the first precepts of Christianity” – does it truly incorporate Biblical principles?

To answer that question, consider the philosophy that undergirds the Declaration. Where did the signers find the ideas of God-given inalienable rights, religious freedoms, liberty of conscience, individualism, limited government, full republicanism, etc. – ideas that have now made the Declaration the most successful government document in the history of the world?

James Otis (the mentor of both Samuel Adams and John Hancock) identified the source of many of the signers’ ideas when he declared:

The authority of Mr. Locke has . . . been preferred to all others.

John Locke(1632-1704) was an English theologian and political philosopher, and Declaration signers such as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Rush, and many others sang his praises. John Quincy Adams even affirmed:

The Declaration of Independence [was] . . . founded upon one and the same theory of government . . . expounded in the writings of Locke.

Locke authored numerous works that influenced America (including the original constitution of Carolina, 1669), but his writing that most influenced the Founders’ philosophy in the Declaration of Independence was his Treatise of Government. In fact, signer of the Declaration Richard Henry Lee declared that the Declaration was “copied from Locke’s Treatise on Government.”

Locke’s Treatise (actually two separate treatises combined into one book) is less than 400 pages long; but in the first treatise, Locke invoked the Bible in 1,349 references; in his second treatise, he cited it 157 times. Imagine! In the primary work influencing the Declaration of Independence, Locke referred to the Bible over 1,500 times to show the proper operation of civil government. No wonder the Declaration has been such a successful document!

(Locke’s Two Treatises of Government is still available today from most major booksellers; I highly recommend this work for modern readers.) Clearly, the Bible (and what Adams had called “the first precepts of Christianity”) did indeed rest at the base of the Declaration of Independence, and therefore the Fourth of July. So self-evident was this fact that generations later, President Abraham Lincoln reminded the nation:

These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” . . . [T]hey established these great self-evident truths that . . . their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew that battle which their fathers began, so that truth and justice and mercy and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land. . . . Now, my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrines conflicting with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence . . . let me entreat you to come back. . . . [C]ome back to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence.

As we commemorate this year’s Fourth of July, let’s remember John Adams’ admonition to celebrate it “as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

To aid in that pursuit, President Ronald Reagan once offered a prayer request that is still worth honoring this Fourth of July:

Let us ask that God’s light may illuminate the minds and hearts of our people and our leaders so that we may meet the challenges that lie before us with courage and wisdom and justice. In prayer, let us recall with confidence the promise of old that if we humble ourselves before God and pray and seek His face, He will surely hear and forgive and heal and bless our land.

A Few Famous July Fourth Orations
1793 • Elias Boudinot
During the Revolution, Boudinot was in charge of securing the release of captured American soldiers from the British; he then became President of the Continental Congress. Also, he was a Member of the first federal Congress where he helped frame the Bill of Rights, the first attorney admitted to the US Supreme Court bar, a noted theologian, and the first president of the American Bible Society.

Who knows but the country for which we have fought and bled may hereafter become a theatre of greater events than yet have been known to mankind? May these invigorating prospects lead us to the exercise of every virtue – religious, moral, and political. May we be roused to a circumspect conduct – to an exact obedience to the laws of our own making – to the preservation of the spirit and principles of our truly invaluable Constitution – to respect and attention to magistrates of our own choice. . . . And may these great principles in the end become instrumental in bringing about that happy state of the world when – from every human breast joined by the grand chorus of the skies – shall arise with the profoundest reverence that divinely celestial anthem of universal praise: “Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth! Good will towards men!” [Luke 2:14].

1794 • Dr. David Ramsay
Ramsay was a noted physician, a member of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, and a famous historian.

We ought, in the first place, to be grateful to the all-wise Disposer of Events Who has given us so great a portion of political happiness. To possess such a country with the blessings of liberty and peace together with that security of person and property which results from a well-ordered, efficient government is – or ought to be – [a] matter of constant thankfulness.

1798 • Noah Webster
Webster is considered one of America’s three most significant educators, being titled the “Schoolmaster to America”; he was also a soldier in the American Revolution, and a legislator and judge afterwards.

[O]ur fathers were men – they were heroes and patriots – they fought – they conquered – and they bequeathed to us a rich inheritance of liberty and empire which we have no right to surrender. . . . Yes, my fellow freemen, we have a rich and growing empire – we have a lucrative commerce to protect – we have indefeasible [inalienable] rights – we have an excellent system of religion and of government – we have wives and children and sisters to defend; and God forbid that the soil of America should sustain the wretch who [lacks] the will or the spirit to defend them. Let us then rally round the independence and Constitution of our country, resolved to a man that we will never lose by folly, disunion, or cowardice what has been planned by wisdom and purchased with blood.

1824 • George W. Adams
George Washington Adams was the son of John Quincy Adams and grandson of John Adams.

The effects of this Declaration are now everywhere visible. Look through the country and behold our accumulated blessings: see nature robed in beauty, fertile in rich luxuriance; see health and plenty everywhere around you; see a dense and settled population stretching from the cold regions of the North to the exuberant [rich] valleys of the South, from the prolific intervals of the East to the flourishing prairies of the West; see your shores washed by two oceans and the soil your own. Are not these motives for rejoicing?

1826 • George Bancroft
Bancroft, a distinguished historian, has been titled “The Father of American History”; he also served as the Secretary of the Navy, was responsible for the founding of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and then served as the Secretary of War – known today as the Secretary of Defense.

From the omnipotent Power Who dwells in the unclouded serenity of being, without variableness or shadow of change [ James 1:17], we proceed as from the Fountain of Good, the Author of Hope, and the Source of Order and Justice, now that we assemble to commemorate the revolution, the independence, and the advancement of our country! . . . The festival which we keep is the festival of freedom itself – it belongs not to us only but to man. All the nations of the earth have an interest in it, and humanity proclaims it sacred! . . . Trusting in the Providence of Him, the Universal Father, let the country advance to the glory and prosperity to which – mindful of its exalted privileges – it aspires! Wherever its voice is heard, let it proclaim the message of liberty and speak with the divine energy of truth [and let] the principles of moral goodness [be] consistently followed in its actions! And while the centuries – as they pass – multiply its population and its resources, let it manifest in its whole history a devoted attachment to public virtue, a dear affection for mankind, and the consciousness of its responsibility to the God of nations!

[These orations are available in our book: Celebrate
Liberty! Famous Patriotic Speeches & Sermons
]

* * *

The following two proclamations are applicable to this Fourth of July. The first, issued in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan for that year’s National Day of Prayer, contains sentiments that befit the Fourth of July. The second, issued in 2003 by Texas Governor Rick Perry, also is appropriate. Enjoy!

1988 • Ronald Reagan
“Americans in every generation have turned to their Maker in prayer. In adoration and in thanksgiving, in contrition and in supplication, we have acknowledged both our dependence on Almighty God and the help He offers us as individuals and as a Nation. In every circumstance, whether peril or plenty, whether war or peace, whether gladness or mourning, we have searched for and sought God’s presence and His power, His blessings and His protection, His freedom and His peace, for ourselves, for our children, and for our beloved land.

That was surely so at the very beginning of our Nation, in the earliest days of our quest for independence and liberty. It could only be thus, for a people who recognized God as the Author of freedom; who cherished the ancient but ever new words of Leviticus [ch. 25, ver. 10], ‘Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof ’ and who cast those words where they would ring out forever, on the Liberty Bell; who affirmed along with Thomas Jefferson that the God Who gave us life gave us liberty as well.

So did they believe, those who gathered in Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia in 1774, the members of the First Continental Congress. They had come together, in times that tried men’s souls, to deliberate in the united interests of America and for our ‘civil and religious liberties.’ John Adams later wrote his wife Abigail about what followed: ‘When Congress first met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with prayer.’ Some delegates opposed the motion, citing differences in belief among the members; but Sam Adams, that bold lover of liberty and our country, arose to utter words of healing and unity. ‘I can hear the prayer,’ he said, ‘of anyone of piety and virtue who is . . . a friend to his country.’ He went on to suggest that a clergyman of a persuasion other than his own open the First Continental Congress with prayer.

And so it happened. Because Sam Adams gave voice to all the goodness, the genius, and the generosity that make up the American spirit, the First Continental Congress made its first act a prayer – the beginning of a great tradition.

We have, then, a lesson from the Founders of our land, those giants of soul and intellect whose courageous pledge of life and fortune and sacred honor, and whose ‘firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,’ have ever guided and inspired Americans and all who would fan freedom’s mighty flames and live in ‘freedom’s holy light.’ That lesson is clear that in the winning of freedom and in the living of life, the first step is prayer.

Let us join together, Americans all, throughout our land. Let us join together, in factories and farms, in homes and offices, in places of governance and places of worship, and in outposts everywhere that service men and women defend us. Let us, young and old, join together, as did the First Continental Congress, in the first step – humble, heartfelt prayer. Let us do so for the love of God and His great goodness, in search of His guidance and the grace of repentance, in seeking His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our Nation, our friends in the defense of freedom, and all mankind, now and always. . . .”

2003 • Rick Perry
Whereas, the words of President George Washington ring true now as they did more than 200 years ago, ‘Almighty Father. Bless us with Thy wisdom in our counsels and with success in battle, and let our victories be tempered with humanity. Endow, also, our enemies with enlightened minds, that they become sensible of their injustice, and willing to restore our liberty and peace. Thy will be done. Amen.’; and

Whereas, as these words show, prayer has been a vital part of our shared national life since before the founding of our nation and state, providing comfort and direction in times of crisis and conflict, and reminding us of the calm assurance that God cares for us . . .

Whereas, many brave and courageous men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have been deployed in the Middle East and around the world to keep freedom and protect liberty now find themselves in harm’s way and in need of our prayers and petitions to God on behalf of their safety and wellbeing; and

Whereas, it seems right and fitting that the people . . . should join with the soldiers in their foxholes, the pilots in their planes, and the sailors on the seas and stand in solidarity with them through prayer for their safe return and the resumption of peace in the region and throughout the world;

Now, Therefore, I . . . [urge] prayers and petitions for peace and safety on behalf of our troops deployed in the Middle East and around the world, that they may return home safely to the care and comfort of their families and that we may return to our daily lives of peace and calm.”

Black History Issue 2006

Casual students of the Civil War often disagree about whether the War was fought over slavery, unjust economic policies, or “states’ rights.” Yet for millions of Americans in the 1860s, their reason for going to war can be found in the words of a famous 1830 speech made by Daniel Webster in the US Senate.

At that time, South Carolina was threatening secession. On the floor of the Senate, Webster eloquently proved that there was no such right under the Constitution and that to secede would be an act of treason. (Numerous Founding Fathers – including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, and others – had previously rejected the doctrine of secession used by the Confederacy.) The closing words of Webster’s speech have become some of the most famous in American history:

When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union. . . . Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous [flag] of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced . . . not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured . . . [A]s they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, [may they unfurl] that sentiment dear to every true American heart: Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!

Liberty and Union. For millions in 1861, this was the driving motivation: Liberty (ending slavery), and Union (keeping the nation intact). Pursuing that double objective resulted in over 600,000 American lives being lost and an additional 410,000 maimed and crippled, making it by far the bloodiest war in American history. Black Americans were not just spectators in the great war in their behalf; from running the Underground Railroad to leading the charge in battle, they were often active participants.

Even though black Americans had already fought bravely in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, it was their service in the Civil War that forever silenced the myth that blacks could not perform well in battle. In fact, the battlefield bravery and tactical skill of black soldiers not only met but often surpassed that of their counterparts; and their deep Christian faith was just as visible as was their great courage.

The examples of distinguished black soldiers in the Civil War are many, but this issue will profile three heroic individuals.

Robert Smalls (1839-1916)
Robert Smalls was raised as a slave in Charleston, South Carolina, where he learned steamboats – including how to pilot large vessels along the Atlantic seaboard. He earned a reputation for exceptional navigational skills, and at the outbreak of the Civil War was forced into service for the Confederacy as quartermaster on the Planter, a 300-ton side-wheel steamer. As quartermaster, Smalls was in charge of the ship’s steering, thus making him the de facto pilot of the Planter; but he did not hold that title, for such an important post was not allowed a black slave in the Confederate south.

On the evening of May 12, 1862, while the Planter was docked in Charleston, the Confederate officers left the ship to attend a party onshore, leaving Smalls and the rest of the crew to ready the ship for departure the next morning. Always watchful for an opportunity to gain his freedom, and recognizing the potential in this situation, Smalls alerted the families of the crew to be in hiding nearby. Upon receiving his signal, they quickly boarded the ship.

Smalls took the wheel and quietly headed toward open sea. Knowing he would have to pilot the ship past Confederate sentinels, he donned the captain’s clothing and hoisted the Confederate flag. Moving the ship along slowly, and blowing the usual signals, Smalls was successful in not attracting unwanted attention. In fact, a Confederate soldier later reported that even though he saw the Planter moving away from the wharf, he didn’t “think it necessary to stop her, presuming that she was but pursuing her usual business.”

Having surmounted the dangers of the initial departure, Smalls and his crew still faced two major obstacles. The first was Fort Johnson (which Smalls safely passed, giving the customary steam-whistle salute); the second – and much more ominous threat – was Fort Sumter, the starting place of the Civil War. As the Planter approached its stark gray walls, some of Smalls’ crew urged him to turn back, fearing that the Sumter guards would board and inspect the ship.

Smalls cried out to God: “Oh, Lord, we entrust ourselves into Thy hands. Like Thou didst for the Israelites in Egypt, please stand guard over us and guide us to our promised land of freedom.” Rather than retreating, he continued bravely on, knowing that if they were stopped or shot, at least they would enter heaven as free men.

As they approached Fort Sumter, Smalls – still wearing the familiar hat and coat of the captain – turned his back slightly to the sentry in order to obscure his own face and features. He then signaled with the whistle, asking for permission to pass. The crew waited in tense expectation; and after what seemed like hours, the Confederate guard finally answered, “Pass the Planter!”

Yet, even though the most difficult part of the escape was now behind them, it was still too early to celebrate. When the Planter eventually reached the outer edge of Confederate waters, Smalls replaced the Rebel flag with a white sheet of surrender – but nearly too late. The commander of an oncoming Union vessel, the US Onward, had almost given the command to fire on the Planter before recognizing the flag of truce. He guided his ship alongside the Planter and the Union crew boarded the vessel. When they asked for the captain, Smalls proudly answered, “I have the honor, sir, to present the Planter, formerly the flagship of General Ripley!”

The ship was now in Union hands; but even more valuable to the Union was Smalls’ extensive knowledge of Confederate placements around Charleston. Upon delivering these precious spoils, Smalls explained with a wry smile, “I thought they might be of some service to Uncle Abe.”

President Lincoln personally invited Robert Smalls to Washington, where he and his crew were recognized for their bravery. Smalls was then commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the 33rd Regiment of United States Colored Troops. (For a black American to be commissioned as an officer was extremely rare and was an exceptional honor: at that time, most officers – even of black troops – were white.) After receiving his commission, Smalls was made the official pilot of the Planter, now sailing for the Union.

The Planter was assigned to transport service, delivering supplies along the coastal waterway near Charleston. On a routine trip in November 1863, the Planter came under Confederate bombardment. The shelling proved so intense that the Union captain of the ship panicked, wanting to surrender. Smalls refused, knowing that he and the crew would be killed if captured by the Rebels. (The Confederacy had issued orders that black Americans who surrendered were not to be made prisoners but were to be put to death on the spot.) The frightened Captain fled below deck, leaving Smalls in charge; he brought the ship safely through the shelling, landing amidst the cheers of thousands gathered at the dock awaiting the supplies. Union Major General Quincy Gillmore immediately promoted Smalls to Captain, a position he held until the end of the war. Smalls eventually rose to the rank of Major General in the South Carolina Militia.

After the War, Smalls was elected as a Republican to the South Carolina House and then to the United States Congress, where he served for nine years. As a Member of Congress, he pursued equal treatment for black Americans, often explaining, “My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.”

Robert Smalls was a strong Christian, whose faith was evident in both the military and the political arena.

Andre Cailloux (1825-1863)

Andre Cailloux was a member of the Afro-Creole community of New Orleans (the Afro-Creoles were French in language and culture, and Roman Catholic in faith) and a pioneer in black American military history. Although born into slavery, he received his freedom in 1846 and quickly began to make his mark as a leader within what was considered one of the most prosperous black regions in the nation. Cailloux received a formal education, married, purchased a home, bought his mother out of slavery, sent his sons to a prestigious school, and was elected to various posts within the Afro- Creole community.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, most battlefield activity initially occurred far from Louisiana, in the North and the East. But with the Union’s desire to break the communication and supply lines of the Confederates, gaining control of the Mississippi River became a priority. In April 1862, the Union army captured New Orleans, and then authorized the formation of the Louisiana Native Guards – black Americans from New Orleans who would fight for the Union and help hold New Orleans and Louisiana in Union hands.

In 1862, Cailloux was commissioned as captain of E Company in the 1st Regiment of Louisiana Native Guards – the first black regiment officially recognized for military service in the Civil War. Upon receiving his commission, Cailloux began recruiting and enlisting both free men of color and runaway slaves from the New Orleans region.

An imposing figure in character and stature, Cailloux was a direct visual repudiation to the image of black servility, inferiority, and cowardice long perpetuated by racists. His gentlemanly demeanor, athletic build, and keen intelligence gave him a confidence and charisma that made him a natural to help lead the newly formed Louisiana Native Guards.

Cailloux and his men faced many challenges – and not all from their Confederate enemy. Too often they had to endure insults from white troops, insufficient supplies (less than what their white counterparts often received), and excessive manual labor pushed on them by lazy officers and soldiers. Nevertheless, they continued to train, anxious to prove their mettle on the battlefield.

That opportunity arrived in May 1863. The Confederate stronghold of Port Hudson on the Mississippi River (north of Baton Rouge) was under siege from forces led by Union General Nathaniel P. Banks. The 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guards had been assigned to Banks and were chosen to mount an attack on the heavily fortified bluffs and rifle pits protecting Port Hudson. It was a critical but dangerous assignment; and Cailloux’s E Company was designated to lead the charge as the standard bearer for the entire regiment.

As the regiment took the field, Cailloux encouraged his men with calm words of assurance. They charged, met by extremely heavy Confederate fire that required Cailloux and the other officers to regroup and rally their men on several occasions. At last, Cailloux led a charge all the way to the backwater of the Port, just 200 yards shy of the bluffs. He and his men finally got off a round of musket shot, only to be answered with a wave of Confederate artillery. Their losses were heavy; and Cailloux himself was wounded, taking a bullet through his arm just above his elbow. He rallied his men once again and charged across the muddy waters toward the bluffs, his useless arm dangling beside him. This charge was his final heroic act; he received a fatal blow in the head from an enemy shell.

All along the line, Union forces were pushed back with heavy casualties; both the 1st and the 3rd Regiments were finally forced to break ranks and seek shelter in the surrounding willow trees. Nevertheless, the bravery of Andre Cailloux did not go unnoticed, or the actions of so many of his troops who fought fiercely against overwhelming odds. The story of Cailloux and his men quickly spread across the North; the false stereotype had been shattered; and the black soldier was now viewed as a valuable and integral part of the war – a reputation strengthened with the accomplishments of the Native Guards’ counterparts in the North, the Massachusetts 54th (the subject of the movie Glory, 1989). By the end of the Civil War, some 180,000 black Americans had fought in the United States Armed Forces.

Andre Cailloux – a hero in New Orleans (and the first black hero of the Civil War) – received a hero’s funeral. He laid in-state for four days, watched over by a military guard, and his funeral procession was led by a band of musicians playing somber dirges followed by a horse-drawn, tasseled caisson with Cailloux’s body. Mourners lined the streets for almost a mile along the funeral route, holding tiny American flags as his remains rolled by. The attack in which Cailloux lost his life had been unsuccessful – as was a subsequent attack two weeks later. Union General Banks eventually pulled back and laid siege to Port Hudson, finally forcing their surrender a month-and-a-half later. That surrender was considered one of the Confederacy’s most devastating defeats, opening the Mississippi River to Union troop and supply movements.

Over 12,000 lives were lost at Port Hudson; 5,000 of those lives were Union, and many occurred during the initial attack led by Cailloux. Nevertheless, the attack had not only produced the first black hero of the Civil War but it also proved the strength and courage of black American troops, firmly cementing their permanent place in future American military service.

William Carney (1840-1908)
Sergeant William H. Carney – another black American renowned for his heroism – was born into slavery in Norfolk, Virginia. While William was still a boy, his father escaped to freedom on the Underground Railroad. He soon purchased the family out of slavery and brought them to New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, black Americans – both slave and free – believed that God would use President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant to bring them freedom in the same way that God had used Moses to lead the Israelites out of captivity. Viewing abolition as a spiritual mission made black Americans all the more eager to help, thereby hastening the arrival of freedom.

In 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and the Union Army began actively recruiting black volunteers. William understood the powerful spiritual dimension of emancipation and eagerly enlisted – a decision that sprang from his deep Christian convictions. As he explained: “Previous to the formation of colored troops, I had a strong inclination to prepare myself for the ministry; but when the country called for all persons, I could best serve my God [by] serving my country and my oppressed brothers.”

Carney joined the Morgan Guards, who later became part of the Massachusetts 54th (featured in the 1989 movie Glory). The regiment was led by the 25 year-old white Colonel Robert Shaw, son of prominent Boston abolitionists. The all-black 54th included both freeborn men and former slaves as well as two sons of Frederick Douglass (Douglass played a major role in establishing the 54th). Upon completing their training, the 54th was assigned to attack Fort Wagner, South Carolina.

On the evening of July 18, 1863, the 600 men of the 54th lay along the sandy beach 1,000 yards from the fort. Chosen to lead the charge, they were awaiting orders to move out. Union guns had pounded the Confederate stronghold all day long, attempting to weaken its defenses. That evening, the order to advance finally came.

The men set with fixed bayonets, running toward the enemy; but the Union bombardment had failed to weaken the gun emplacements, and the 54th ran right into a heavy Confederate cannon fire and torrent of bullets that sliced through them, causing extensive casualties. Among those who fell was Sergeant John Wall, the carrier of the United States flag. Sergeant William Carney, who had been running next to Wall, dropped his rifle and caught the flag before it could hit the ground (the scene displayed on this issue’s cover).

As he carried the flag, he was shot in the leg, but he continued to lead the attack. Ignoring the searing pain, he and his forces pushed forward and were able to gain control of a small part of the fort. Carney proudly planted the American flag and held his position against the wall of Fort Wagner for nearly half an hour through hand-to-hand combat. In the darkness of the night, Carney saw troops moving toward him and made the mistake of believing them to be fellow Union fighters. Suddenly surrounded by Confederate soldiers, Carney quickly wrapped the flag around its staff as he and the others fell back down the embankment.

Retreating across the chest high water, he held the flag high, keeping it aloft even as he was shot twice more, once in the chest and again in the leg. Still he continued on, resolved not to let the flag fall. A member of another regiment pleaded with the injured Carney to let him carry the flag, but Carney quickly replied, “No one but a member of the 54th should carry the colors.” Carney was shot again (for the fourth time), this time narrowly escaping death as the bullet creased his skull. At last he reached the safety of what remained of the 54th, proclaiming breathlessly before collapsing, “Boys, I only did my duty. The flag never touched the ground.”

The attack against Fort Wagner was unsuccessful, and the battle was a defeat for the Union. The total lives lost that day were 351, only twelve of whom had been Confederates; but the 54th had acquitted itself courageously, just like their counterparts in the Louisiana Native Guards.

On May 23, 1900, Sergeant William Harvey Carney was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Though several black Americans had already received the prestigious award for gallantry in both the Civil War and the subsequent western Indian Campaigns, Carney’s heroism at Fort Wagner was the earliest action of the Civil War to be recognized. He died eight years later in New Bedford, still strong in his Christian faith. His grave is marked with a gold image of his nation’s highest award for valor in battle – an award which very few American soldiers can claim.

Conclusion
The list of black American heroes of the Civil War is long and impressive. All the more impressive is that many of these men not only fought bravely against the enemy but also against occasional racism in their own army. Admirably, their response to racist opposition did not include personal animosity, bitterness, or hate, but rather an increased determination to prove wrong the misconceptions. In fact, to have harbored destructive feelings of ill-will would have violated their strong Christian faith. They lived by Biblical admonitions such as those delivered long before by the Rev. Richard Allen (himself a former slave), who had urged:

[L]et no rancor or ill-will lodge in your [heart] for any bad treatment you may have received from any. If you do, you transgress against God, Who will not hold you guiltless. He would not suffer it even in His beloved people Israel; and you think He will allow it unto us? . . . I am sorry to say that too many think more of the evil than of the good they have received.

The illustrious stories of Robert Smalls, Andre Cailloux, and William Carney are the stories of heroes who not only followed the teachings of Christianity but who also fought with exceptional courage, doing the work of the Lord in “Liberty and Union.”

“Be strong and of a good courage;
fear not, nor be afraid of them,
for the Lord thy God –
He it is that doth go with thee;
He will not fail thee
nor forsake thee.”
Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9


 

Winter 2005

Inside Election 2004: A Moral Mandate?

Most observers of the recent presidential election were surprised by the size of President Bush’s win as well as by the fact that “moral issues” (i.e., marriage, abortion, selection of God-fearing judges) ranked among the top reasons for voting. A very effective way to analyze the election is on the basis of voters’ religious convictions rather than on partisan or any other affiliations.

A Religious Divide Among Voters
A major reason that Republicans won the election decisively (retaining not only the presidency but also increasing their numbers in both the House and the Senate) was that their stands on Biblical and moral issues more closely coincided with those of the voters. In fact, polls before the election indicated that the best predictor of how an individual would vote was frequency of church attendance. As Washington Post writer Thomas Edsall noted: “Pollsters are finding that one of the best ways to discover whether a voter holds liberal or conservative value stands is to ask: How often do you go to church? Those who go often tend to be Republican, those who go rarely or not at all tend to be Democratic.” Election 2004 reinforced these findings.

In this election, 61% of Bush’s vote came from people from all faiths who attend services weekly (a group comprising 41% of the electorate); conversely, 62% of Kerry’s vote came from people who never attend worship (accounting for 14% of the electorate). In fact, many groups that voted more Republican in this election than in previous ones did so largely because of Republican stands on Biblical and moral issues.

For example:

Evangelical Voters: 23% of all votes cast were by evangelicals (i.e., 27.1 million votes). Bush received 78% of those votes (21.2 million), representing an amazing 35% of his total of 60.7 million votes. (In 2000, Bush received 10.7 million evangelical votes, representing 21% of his 50.5 million total votes.) Undoubtedly, one of the reasons that moral issues were of such importance in this year’s election was the 80% increase in the number of evangelical voters compared to the 2000 election.

Catholic Voters: While Catholics have long been considered a safe Democratic constituency, in this election, 52% of Catholic voters supported President Bush. Associated Press writer Richard Ostling noted: “The majority of Catholics preferred an anti-abortion Methodist incumbent to one of their own – underscoring that today’s religious divide cuts across denominational lines.”

Hispanic Voters: Hispanics, another traditional Democratic block, accounted for 7 million voters, or 12% of the total vote; President Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote (the largest share for a Republican since recording began in 1972). Biblical issues helped President Bush make significant gains among Hispanics. In Spanish-language media, Bush ran ads against abortion and homosexual marriage; and one Hispanic voter summed up the feeling of many when he explained, “I voted for Bush based on his moral stance. Bush is pro-life; I’m pro-life. He believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, and so do I.”

African American Voters: While African Americans continue to be the Democrats’ most loyal constituency, President Bush increased his share of the black vote from 8% in 2000 to 11% in this election. While that gain seems small, it was actually greater than it appears. In 2000, Bush received 864,000 votes from African Americans; in 2004, he received 1.45 million votes – a 70% increase in the actual number of individual African Americans voting for President Bush.

As suggested by columnist Gregory Kane of the Baltimore Sun, the cause for much of the African American increase in support for President Bush was his pro-life and pro-traditional marriage position. Just days after the election, Kane explained:

The first inkling I had that Sen. John Kerry would lose the Nov. 2 election came exactly a week before, when I participated in a telephone conference call that the Massachusetts senator had with about 350 black clergy. After former President Bill Clinton introduced him, Kerry told the group that the issue of gay marriage was a red herring. ‘I ask you not to be diverted from the real issue in this case.’ . . . As if blowing off the moral issue that would eventually cost him the election weren’t enough, we have to look at what else was wrong with the picture: when you’re telling clergy folks that things many Christians regard as sins don’t matter, you might not want an admitted philanderer to be the guy introducing you. Earlier in the campaign, Kerry shared a stage with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, another fella not yet bitten by the monogamy bug, who [also] said moral issues in Campaign 2004 were a diversion.”

African American voting in this election demonstrated a growing trend of choosing candidates because of their Biblical positions on moral issues.

Youth Voters: There were 4.6 million more youth voters (ages 18-29) in this election than in 2000. Although youth supported Kerry by a margin of 54% to 44%, the expected gains from “Rock the Vote,” “Vote for Change,” and the “Vote or Die” efforts of MTV and secular entertainment artists were in large part offset by the “Redeem the Vote” efforts of Third Day and nearly three dozen other Christian bands who encouraged youth to vote Biblical and moral issues.

(To see other election stats, visit www.wallbuilders.com and click on “Election 2004: A Moral Mandate?”)

State Marriage Initiatives
One indicator that Biblical issues directly affected the election was the state traditional marriage initiatives. The first state to vote on the issue was Missouri (voting three months before the November election). Even though pro-marriage advocates in Missouri were outspent by a margin of 40 to 1, the measure passed with 71% support amidst record voter turnout. Matt Franck of the St. Louis Post Dispatch concluded, “values appeared to beat dollars at the ballot box.”

Ohio next confirmed the voter energy on the marriage issue. With only nine weeks to gather 323,000 signatures to place the issue on the ballot, citizens collected 557,000 signatures – and 54,500 Ohio citizens registered to vote simply to voice their support of traditional marriage at the ballot box.

On election night, traditional marriage proposals were on the ballots in 11 states, with almost 20 million Americans voting on the issue. The measures passed in all 11 states by an overall margin of 2-1, with support ranging from a low of 57% support in Oregon (still an impressive number) to an astounding 86% support in Mississippi. The marriage measures even passed by wide margins in blue states won by Kerry; and eight out of eight states also included a ban on civil unions as well as same-sex marriages.

Support for traditional marriage was also a defining issue in several US Senate races – including that of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who was defeated by John Thune (the first time in 52 years that a Senate party leader has lost a reelection bid).

The Pro-Life Vote
The issue of abortion, like that of marriage protection, was another of the key “moral issues” in the election. In fact, 25% of voters said they voted only for pro-life candidates while just 13% said they voted a straight pro-abortion ticket, resulting in a distinct advantage for pro-life candidates.

For example, the Susan B. Anthony List (which endorses only pro-life candidates) placed almost $5 million into pro-life races, while Emily’s List (which endorses only pro-abortion candidates) placed almost $45 million into pro-abortion races. Despite being outspent by more than 8 to 1, 80% of the candidates endorsed by Susan B. Anthony won, compared to only 39% of those endorsed by Emily’s List. Furthermore, Susan B. Anthony candidates defeated six candidates backed by Emily’s List, 15 backed by Planned Parenthood, five by the National Abortion Rights Action League, 11 by the pro-abortion National Organization of Women, and 11 by the pro-abortion Women’s Candidate Fund. Pro-life victories were numerous in Election 2004.

The New Faces Elected
The voters’ support for life, faith, and traditional marriage helped produce an outstanding class of conservative freshmen House and Senate Members. For example, of the nine freshman US Senators, seven are pro-life (all the Republicans). Furthermore, the records of the American Conservative Union (ACU – a group that publishes the voting records of Members of Congress based on their adherence to conservative principles) demonstrate that the freshmen Republicans tend to be much more conservative than the Senators they replaced.

On the Democratic side, the two new freshmen Senators – Barack Obama (IL) and Ken Salazar (CO) – are both pro-abortion and both oppose marriage protection.

Seven New Pro-Life Senators
South Dakota John Thune (former House Member; ACU: 92%) will replace Tom Daschle (ACU: 22%).
South Carolina Jim DeMint (current House Member; ACU: 100%) will replace Fritz Hollings (ACU: 15%).
North Carolina Richard Burr (current House Member; ACU: 96%) will replace John Edwards (ACU: 30%).
Louisiana David Vitter (current House Member; ACU: 100%) will replace John Breaux (ACU: 42%).
Florida Mel Martinez (a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage Secretary of hud under President Bush) will replace Bob Graham (ACU: 20%).
Georgia Johnny Isakson (current House Member; ACU: 96%) will replace Zell Miller (ACU: 47%).
Oklahoma Tom Coburn (former House member; ACU: 97%) will replace retiring Don Nickles (ACU rating: 100%).

In the House, there are 40 new freshmen: 24 Republicans and 16 Democrats. Of the 40, 25 are prolife (63%). As in the Senate, the Democratic House Members tend to be pro-abortion and the Republicans pro-life.

A Few of the New Pro-Life Pro-Family Advocates
Geoff Davis Kentucky
Bobby Jindal Louisiana
Virginia Foxx North Carolina
Ted Poe Texas
Louie Gohmert Texas
Mike Sodrel Indiana
Patrick McHenry North Carolina
Kenny Marchant Texas
Bob Inglis South Carolina
Dave Reichert Washington

The US Senate has become significantly more pro-life over the last two elections. (The 2002 and 2004 elections added 19 new Members to the US Senate: 15 Republicans and four Democrats; all 15 Republicans are pro-life, but none of the four Democrats are.) The US House has also become much more pro-life (almost two-thirds of freshmen House Members in the past two elections have been pro-life.)

Post Election Reactions
Since “moral issues” was such a decisive factor in the 2004 election, a predictable post-election reaction includes a deliberate attempt to reshape the universally understood meaning of “moral issues.” For example, the Rev. Robert Edgar (the general secretary of the National Council of Churches and a former Democratic US Congressman) laments: “The religious right has successfully gotten out there shaping personal piety issues – civil unions, abortion – as almost the total content of ‘moral values.’ And yet . . . God doesn’t want 45 million Americans without health care.” Additionally, supporters of same-sex marriage are now asserting that it is “moral” to extend partnership rights to two men or two women who have “committed” themselves to each other; and pro-abortion advocates are now claiming that it is “moral” for a poor mother to have an abortion rather than give birth to a child she might not want. Imagine! Advocating abortion, homosexual marriage, and health care as part of “moral issues”!

Another frequently mentioned “moral value” involves taking care of the poor. As the Rev. Stephen Bouman explains, “One thing Jesus was absolutely clear about was helping the poor.” It is true that the Bible has much to say about helping the poor; but it is also true that the Bible prioritizes certain moral issues. Consider the fact that God took over 600 laws and reduced them into His “Top Ten” commandments. The protection of innocent life does make God’s Top Ten (#6); and the protection of the sanctity of marriage does make God’s Top Ten (#7); however, taking care of the poor does not make God’s Top Ten. Therefore, to elevate that moral issue above where God has elevated it is to usurp His authority and that of His Word.

A Moral Mandate?
Statistical indicators affirm that “moral issues” were indeed a major influence in Election 2004. As Terence Jeffrey of Human Events summarized it, “It’s the culture, stupid! While there were many important issues in this historic election, the single most important one for the largest bloc of voters was not the economy, the Iraq War, or the Terror War. It was the Cultural War. . . . A resolute army of voters . . . marched out in massive numbers to strike a peaceful blow at the ballot box for a traditionalist vision of American society.”

However, citizens must be just as involved after the election as they were during it; the Sen. Arlen Specter incident demonstrates that they are. The day following the election, when even the secular media was acknowledging a moral mandate in the election, pro-abortion Republican Senator Arlen Specter (the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) appeared to issue a thinly veiled warning to the President not to send conservative pro-life judicial nominees before his committee.

Within hours, Senate offices were inundated with thousands of calls, asking Senators to deny Specter the committee chairmanship (some Senators were receiving over 10,000 calls each day). That unorchestrated, spontaneous, and rapid response from citizens had a profound effect inside the Senate.

As a result of the citizen pressure, Senators confronted Specter. Following several closed-door meetings, Specter backtracked and issued a public and a written pledge to support the President’s nominees, help end the filibusters of judges, and move constitutional amendments through his committee, even if he personally disagreed with them (i.e., the Federal Marriage Amendment). This favorable outcome was the result of citizens staying involved after the election, thus ensuring that the message they delivered during the election will be heeded as policy is being made.

The new legislative session is now beginning, and legislators need to hear the same message from citizens that was delivered on November 2nd. Therefore, be active in contacting your elected officials! (If you do not know who your Congressman is, go to www.wallbuilders.com and click on “Find Your Congressman.”)

The War in Iraq
With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence . . . ” This phrase was more than just rhetoric in the Founding Era; it reflected Americans’ awareness of their complete dependence upon God, for in early America, death was an ever-present reality. In fact, with the high mortality rates, the average lifespan at that time was only 35 years. Children succumbed to countless diseases; women frequently died in childbirth; tiny scratches often became infected and resulted in death; fatal epidemics were rampant; and death from a hostile enemy – whether Indians, French, or British – was common. This daily reality of death prompted citizens – especially soldiers – to frequent consideration of their spiritual preparedness
for eternity. In fact, when Virginia soldiers were preparing for the French and Indian War,
Samuel Davies exhorted them:

Fly to Jesus on the wings of faith – all of you. . . . that are now about generously to risk your lives for your country. . . . What can do you a lasting injury while you have a reconciled God smiling upon you from on high, a peaceful conscience animating you within, and a happy immortality just before you?

Two decades later, signer of the Declaration John Witherspoon issued a similar admonition to soldiers in the American Revolution:

[T]here is no soldier so undaunted as the pious man – no army so formidable as those who are superior to the fear of death. There is nothing more awful to think of than that those whose trade is war should . . . expose themselves to the imminent danger of being [sent] to the blaspheming rage and despairing horror of the infernal pit. Let therefore everyone who . . . offers himself as a champion in his country’s cause be persuaded to reverence the name and walk in the fear of the Prince of the kings of the earth and then he may with the most unshaken firmness expect [God’s protection] either in victory or death.

This message is no less applicable for American troops today in Iraq. In fact, a French journalist who witnessed a group of US Marines holding a worship service shortly before entering the deadly hotbed terrorist city of Fallujah reported:

Men with buzz cuts and clad in their camouflage waved their hands in the air, M-16 assault rifles laying beside them, and chanted . . . lyrics in praise of Christ. . . . The US military . . . has deep Christian roots. In times that fighting looms, many soldiers draw on their evangelical or born-again heritage to help them face the battle. . . . [After reading Scriptures], the marines then lined up and their chaplain blessed them with holy oil to protect them. . . . The crowd then followed him outside their small auditorium for a baptism of about a half-dozen marines who had just found Christ. . . . [They] laid down in a rubber dinghy filled with water and the chaplain plunged their heads beneath the surface. “I just wanted to make sure I did this before I headed into the fight,” said one of the young men. . . . “Sometimes, all you’ve got is God.”

Let’s remember to pray not only for our leaders and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2) but also for our troops – for the chaplains as they minister to the soldiers and for our soldiers as they face death from terrorist guns and bombs.

“God is our refuge and strength, a
very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“He teacheth my hands to war.” Psalm 18:34

Summer 2005

We have closed yet another school year – America’s 363rd since the passage of its first public education law. Many changes in education have occurred over the past four centuries; this report will focus on the current state of education in America.

Americans & Education
Americans cherish education. Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). We spend over $470 billion each year on education; therefore, judging by the amount of “treasure” we invest in education, it must be dear to our hearts. Sadly, however, current statistics demonstrate that Americans are not getting a good return on their investment.

American students now regularly finish at the bottom in international competitions in math and science. Recent international testing found that American elementary students performed above average, junior high students at average, and high school students below average. This sequence of results prompted one observer to remark: “The longer US students stay in school, the less they seem to know.”

America’s education system has become so substandard that it actually prevents many students from entering post-graduate work. As national columnist Thomas Sowell confirms: “For years, most of the PhDs awarded by American universities in mathematics and engineering have gone to foreigners. We have the finest graduate schools in the world – so fine that our own American students have trouble getting admitted in fields that require highly trained minds.”

Despite the fact that America far outspends other nations on education, our students are outperformed by students from Poland, the Slovak Republic, Czechoslovakia, Iceland, China, Taiwan, Canada, Korea, Wales, and many other nations. America currently has one of the poorest outcomes per education dollar spent among all industrial nations.

The performance of American education is now so poor that the US Department of Education has concluded:

The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a People. . . . If an unfriendly power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.

What has caused the current problems with American education? Three significant factors will be examined in this report: (1) the current philosophy of education; (2) curricular content; and (3) teacher competency.

(Addressing this third category may offend some, but as Jesus noted in Luke 6:40: “Every student, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher.” It is therefore appropriate to examine whether academic scores are falling because students are becoming like their teachers.)

Changing Philosophy of Education
Unbeknown to most Americans, in the last few years the philosophy of education has been radically transformed in basic subjects such as reading, grammar, and math.

Math
In recent months, a controversy has emerged in Massachusetts; many shocked parents have become aware that teaching math is no longer the top priority for math teachers. Written priority #1 in the new standards for math class is to teach “respect for human differences” and “live out the system-wide core value of ‘respect for human differences’ by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors.” Written priority #2 is “problem solving and representation – students will build new mathematical knowledge as they use a variety of techniques to investigate and represent solutions to problems.”

The primary purpose of math no longer is the teaching of math skills (i.e., learning to use fractions and integers, or doing multiplication and division); it is now viewpoint inculcation. When challenged as to the source of this new philosophy, school officials pointed to the “Principles and Standards for School Mathematics” from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

A stark example of this new math philosophy is exhibited in the recent textbook that some have dubbed “rain-forest algebra.” In that 800+ page text, not a single question on math was asked until page 107. The first 107 pages were dedicated to coverage of Maya Angelou poetry, competitive chili cook-offs, the Dogon tribe of West Africa, etc. In fact, the questions in that math book included: “What role should zoos play in today’s society?”; “What other kinds of pollution besides air pollution might threaten our planet?”; and “The topic for the essay this year is ‘Why should we save an endangered species?’”

A US Senator correctly summarized the effect of such texts: “This new mush-mush math will never produce quality engineers or mathematicians who can compete for jobs in the global market place. In Palo Alto, California, public school math students plummeted from the 86th percentile to the 56th in the first year of new math teaching. This awful textbook obviously fails to do in 812 pages what comparable Japanese textbooks do so well in 200. The average standardized math score in Japan is 80; in the United States it is 52.”

Grammar
Just as the national council of math teachers has changed its emphasis, so, too, has the National Council of English Teachers. Claiming that providing grammar instruction, and teaching fundamental skills such as diagramming sentences, only bores students and turns them off to writing, such training was dropped several years ago. The result? A recent national study revealed that a meager one-fourth of students can now write at a proficient level – and only 1 percent can write at an advanced level.

Reading
In reading, national educational groups and teaching professionals demanded that phonics be dropped and whole-language reading be adopted instead. Scores plummeted; in fact, they tumbled so far that the California Board of Education eventually took what one national newspaper described as “the drastic step” of re-adopting phonics – of going back to what had worked for generations. Reading scores have since shown some recovery, but millions of students have incurred lasting academic handicaps in the meantime.

Encouraging Achievement
The new philosophy of education also opposes any competition that recognizes student achievement. As a result, many schools no longer post honor rolls or exemplary work on bulletin boards. Also disappearing from local schools are publicly graded events such as spelling bees as well as other academic competitions. As one elementary principal explains: “I discourage competitive games at school. They just don’t fit my worldview of what a school should be.”

Many traditional educational practices no longer fit the new “worldview of what a school should be” – including homework. Education specialists amazingly claim that doing away with homework will “give kids ownership over their education.”

The use of red ink also does not fit the new educational worldview; and in schools from New York to Alaska, red ink is now on the educational blacklist. Explains a Massachusetts teacher: “If you see a whole paper of red, it looks pretty frightening. Purple stands out, but it doesn’t look as scary as red.” A Florida teacher agreed: “I do not use red; red has a negative connotation, and we want to promote self-confidence. I like purple. I use purple a lot.” Color consultants concur: “Red is a bit over-the-top in its aggression.”

Of course, that is just the opinion of teachers and educational specialists; then there is the opinion of a student who voiced the common sense that the experts seem to lack: “I hate red. But because I hate it, I want to work harder to make sure there isn’t any red on my papers.”

School Discipline
Under the new educational worldview, students with the worst behavioral problems are protected from any accountability so long as they also have certain academic so-called weaknesses. For example, a Virginia student brought a loaded gun to school – and bragged about it – but went unpunished because he had been diagnosed with a “weakness in written language skills.” Similarly, a Georgia student repeatedly urinated on his classmates, but because of a similar “diagnosis,” he could not be punished. In Pennsylvania, a student set fire to a school cafeteria; upon being disciplined, he filed and won a federal lawsuit against the school for violating his rights. And in Oklahoma, a public school suspended nearly all of the sixth-grade class for disruptions and quasi-riots. The principal ruefully estimated that teachers now “spend 85 percent of their time reprimanding students.”

Since schools cannot punish the real offenders, they apparently go after whomever they can punish. For example, a 13- year old was recently ordered suspended for 10 days from a Florida school for committing a Level 4 offense – the most serious level. The offense? He “assaulted” and threatened others with a “weapon” (he shot a rubber band). In another school, two kindergartners were sent home for “assault” with “weapons” (they had pointed their fingers at each other and said “bang!”).

Viewpoint Indoctrination
While core academics, discipline, and red ink do not fit the new “worldview of what a school should be,” viewpoint indoctrination does. For example, the largest teacher’s group in America (the National Education Association) aggressively promotes what it calls “diversity education”; it has been relatively successful in passing state laws mandating such teaching at all grade levels.

In compliance with such a law, schools in one state held a “Week of Diversity” in which outside speakers made 82 presentations to students. Of the 82 presentations, 14 were pro-homosexual; 11 were pro-left, urging support for communist Cuba, guerilla forces in Columbia, etc.; 17 promoted animal rights, vegetarianism, and radical environmentalism; and 5 were anti-law enforcement. A week of academic instruction was sacrificed in order to indoctrinate specific viewpoints.

Another clear indication of viewpoint indoctrination was evident in the NEA lesson-plan distributed nationally to teachers following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The lesson taught that no group was responsible for the attacks and that instead, teachers should discuss “historical instances of American intolerance” in order to avoid “repeating terrible mistakes.” Unfortunately, the new educational “diversity” regularly expresses itself in anti-Americanism.

Apparently, many professional educators now want to be known more for introducing something “new” or “innovative” than for the success of the students they teach. Consequently, academics take a backseat as students become classroom guinea pigs for a new generation of educrats. Peter Murphy, a New York educational consultant, properly asks: “How many more years of declining scores will it take for the school committee and state officials to put a stop to this educational malpractice on schoolchildren?”

Evangelists for a New Worldview
Who has been behind these radical changes? A new breed of professional educators – working through two primary vehicles: teachers’ colleges, and teachers’ unions.

Concerning the former, a professor writing in the Texas Education Review charges: “Schools of education have been transformed into agencies of social change with mandates to achieve equality at all costs. Colleges of education no longer believe that knowledge should be the center of the educational enterprise. Colleges of education do not serve the interests of children or parents. Instead, they serve the interests of an educational bureaucracy by pushing the growth of the profession, protecting it from competition, and discouraging outside scrutiny.”

Anyone who doubts the accuracy of these charges need only review the resolutions passed at the annual NEA conventions. Those resolutions routinely avoid academic issues and instead advocate the teaching of social positions that most Americans oppose. For example, at recent conventions, NEA educators have passed resolutions calling for schools to encourage:

• Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people
• Globalism and nuclear disarmament
• The United Nations and the International Court of Justice
• School-based health clinics that promote abortion
• National healthcare, population control, and Earth Day
• Multi-culturalism and diversity education
• Pre-K-12 AIDS programs (yes, pre-K:
AIDS education for three and four-year-olds!)

While the NEA supports these issues, it also opposes many, including:

• Competency testing of teachers
• Standardized testing to evaluate students, teachers, or schools
• Educational choice or competition in education
• Homeschooling
• “Homophobia” (the belief that homosexuality is wrong or that marriage should
be between a man and a woman)
• A moment of silence to open the school day

Where is the emphasis on academics? Conspicuously absent. As one national columnist queried: “Since the National Education Association describes itself as ‘America’s largest organization committed to advancing the cause of public education,’ is it not fair to ask why it spends so much of its energy on political issues having little to do with education?” That point was not lost on all NEA delegates (some teachers do oppose the current direction of the NEA, but they are in a clear minority); in fact, one such delegate – after seeing the resolutions passed at the convention – lamented: “We’re the National Education Association, not the National Everything Association.”

Results of this Philosophy
The academic weaknesses of this new educational worldview are statistically measurable in a number of curricular areas.

Civics & Citizenship
According to current studies, after twelve years of school, only a meager 26 percent of students have enough preparation in civics to make informed choices at the polls. Imagine! American education currently is producing only one in four students capable of informed voting!

Furthermore, only 9 percent can name two ways that society benefits from the active participation of its citizens. And while 80 percent of students can name the winner of “American Idol,” only half know the political affiliation of their own state governor; and less than 10 percent can name both of their US Senators. Our educational system simply no longer produces civically prepared, well-informed citizens.

Geography
Thirty-four percent of students know that the island on the “Survivor” television program was in the South Pacific, but only 30 percent can find New Jersey on a United States map; 50 percent of students cannot find New York and 30 percent cannot locate the Pacific Ocean. And although Americans have been involved in a lengthy war in Iraq, only 13 percent of students can find Iraq on a map.

Reading & Math
By the fourth grade, only 30 percent of students are competent in reading and math; the number is much lower by the eighth-grade level; and by the end of high school, less than one fourth of college-bound students have the basic academic knowledge necessary to succeed in college (one can imagine how much worse it is for non-college-bound students).

History
Only one in ten high school seniors is proficient in American history. Why? Because the new educational worldview emphasizes behavior rather than knowledge. Consequently, the recent history standards proposed by the State of New Jersey excluded the Pilgrims and the Mayflower, and George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. This trend has been growing for a decade, and a number of states now teach what is called “The Twentieth Century Model” under which high school students are taught only 20th century history. According to one astute educational observer, in American schools “history is not dumbed down, but erased.”

Consequently, 70 percent of fourth-graders thought that Illinois, Texas, and California were part of the original 13 colonies; and 60 percent had no idea why the Pilgrims came to America. And when students were asked to identify “Memorial Day,” the most common answer was, “The day when the pools open.” Recent testimony before a congressional hearing correctly concluded: “We are raising a generation of people who are historically illiterate.”

Ignoring the Obvious
The above academic results have been revealed primarily through independent surveys of students rather than through academic testing conducted by educators. Why? Recall the position of the teachers’ unions? “The [NEA] opposes the use of standardized tests when . . . results are used to compare students, teachers, programs, schools, communities, and states.”

Professional educators oppose testing and argue that it is not an accurate measure of what students really know. Of course, they offer no other proposal for measuring student knowledge; they just don’t like testing that exposes academic weaknesses, and thus could lead to teacher accountability.

Despite the opposition of educators to testing, legislators are beginning to demand it – but they are not liking what they find. For example, in Virginia, students were required to pass a state exam, but when 93 percent of students failed the test, the requirement was dropped.

In other states where legislators require testing, educators find ways to evade the purpose of the tests by simply lowering the bar. For example, in Florida, 13,000 high school seniors failed to pass the state exit test. (Originally many more had failed, but the passing grade was lowered to only 40 percent to reduce the number of failures to just 13,000!) Similarly, so many students were having difficulty passing the state’s required history test that the passing score was lowered to a mere 23 out of 100 – that is, students can get three out of four history answers wrong and still pass the test!

So what do educators propose as a solution for these high failure rates? According to national columnist Thomas Sowell: “The National Education Association – the biggest teachers’ union in the country – is urging that an extra year be added to high school for those students who fail to meet the standards for graduation. In other words, when educators fail to educate for 12 years, the 13th year will be the charm.” Too many students now spend their educational career in what one commentator described as “legally enforced incarceration in government buildings that are euphemistically called schools.”

Many of the good public school educators have come to recognize that public schools are no place to educate their own children. In fact, public school teachers are twice as likely as other parents to place their own children in private schools – including 44 percent of public school teachers in Philadelphia, 41 percent in Cincinnati, 39 percent in Chicago, etc. Why do so many public school teachers place their own children in private schools? A common answer given by these educators is: “Private and religious schools impose greater discipline, achieve higher academic achievement, and offer overall a better atmosphere.”

A Call for Results – and an Unexpected Response
Educators unreasonably assert that the current problems in education can be fixed only through more money and higher teacher salaries. Most citizens see a different problem; as Star Parker of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education pointedly notes: “Businesses that face competition deliver more and more for less and less. Monopolies deliver less and less for more and more. What else can we expect from the NEA and government school monopoly than claims that spending is the alleged answer for everything?”

The public is starting to deafen to the incessant and unceasing clamor for more money and is instead beginning to demand more bang for the buck. As a result, laws are now being crafted at the state and federal levels that attach school funding to academic performance but because teachers’ jobs may now depend on how well they teach as measured by objective testing scores, some schools and teachers are taking unorthodox steps to ensure that scores remain high: they have resorted to cheating.

For example, on the accountability test in Texas, organized teacher-led cheating was uncovered. What initially alerted investigators to the cheating? An elementary school in Dallas in which students had previously ranked in the bottom 4th percentile in one year, suddenly finished as the second best school in the state the next year. Similar teacher-led cheating has been exposed in Nevada, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arizona, and elsewhere. In the classic “end justifies the means” mentality, teachers from the new educational worldview are simply cheating to help bolster testing scores and preserve their jobs.

One testing expert correctly notes: “When you have a system where test scores have real impact on teacher’s lives, you’re more likely to see teachers willing to cheat.” And because the problem of teacher-led cheating is growing rather than shrinking, a whole new industry has sprung up to provide monitoring of
teachers as they administer tests. Perhaps a reporter from the Indianapolis Star best summarized this new trend when he said: “I hope people are aware of the irony of the situation that America now faces. We are talking about how to keep teachers from cheating.”

Teacher Competency
Because the current rash of testing has revealed deep academic weaknesses in students, attention properly has been focused on teachers: why can’t teachers produce students with a grasp of academic basics? There may be many answers, but statistics irrefutably document that one of the causes is a widespread epidemic of academically incompetent teachers.

The federal government’s own National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that college education majors have the lowest Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores of any undergraduate major. And the results of the standardized entry exam for students seeking post-graduate degrees reveals that education majors have the second-lowest scores of all majors. And if an education major decides to enter law, the LSAT (the Law School Admission Test) shows that education majors rank at the bottom – 26th out of 29 majors. This is not to suggest that all teachers lack basic academic knowledge; but the fact is undeniable that their profession ranks as one of the lowest in academic competency.

Sadly, once these low-performing education majors become teachers, states demand even less from them. For example, of the 29 states that test teachers, only one requires math teachers to attain the national average in math to be able to teach math; and no state currently requires a teacher to reach the national average in reading in order to teach reading. In many states, a teacher can score in the bottom quarter in math and reading and still be rated competent to teach those subjects. In the current system, it is relatively easy for underperforming teachers to be certified.

Once certified, many states require teachers to participate in some form of continuing education to stay certified. The concept is reasonable on paper, yet teachers in Illinois get professional development credits for taking Tai Chi classes, learning to give massages, and for gambling at racetracks. For gambling at racetracks? Reporters who investigated that class reported: “The afternoon of gambling was part of a two day, 15-credit hour class called ‘Probabilities in Gaming.’ The teachers learned how to read the racing guide and calculate the payout. Before placing their bets, they discussed betting odds and how to pick a winner, such as considering the age of the horse and the days since his last race. . . . The professor who taught this course claimed that a day at the race track gets teachers excited about math.”

Regrettably, when groups clamor for “certified” teachers, today the phrase has become relatively meaningless. In fact, home-schooled students average 30 to 37 academic points higher than their counterparts in public schools on the same academic tests, even though less than 14 percent of homeschool “teachers” (i.e., moms) are certified. Similar results are seen in private schools, where the majority of teachers are not certified yet produce academic results well above their counterparts in public schools. Public school certification is no longer any assurance of quality.

Teachers Oppose Accountability
Not only are teachers’ scores collectively among the lowest of all groups in the nation, but teachers’ groups stridently resist efforts to raise the bar. For example, in Massachusetts, suit has been filed against the testing of math teachers, claiming that such testing is “unfair, illegal and discriminatory.” As national commentator Thomas Sowell points out, teachers appear to be saying, “We know our algebra and geometry so well that we don’t want anybody testing us to find out. . . . What makes this huffy response especially ironic is that over half the applicants for teaching jobs in Massachusetts a couple of years ago failed a very simple test. Here is a chance for Massachusetts educators to vindicate themselves and prove their critics wrong. Yet somehow they are passing up this golden opportunity.”

Similarly, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that in Philadelphia, “half of the district’s 690 middle school teachers who took exams in math, English, social studies and science in September and November failed.” Notice: half of the currently-certified teachers failed the relatively easy state teaching test but are still teaching in the classroom! Why have so few heard about this? Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell explains, “releasing the data could subject teachers to humiliation.” Great! – permanently impair students rather than embarrass incompetent teachers!

This “circle the wagons” mentality to defend failure is predictable, though illogical. Chester Finn of the Fordham Foundation seemed to express the thoughts of most rational Americans when he stated: “Pressure to perform is not a bad thing. Educators have been spared it for so long that they’ve forgotten that it’s part of life in almost every other line of work. I mean, bus drivers are under pressure not to crash their buses. Prison guards are under pressure not to let their prisoners escape. Doctors are under pressure not to let their patients die. Lawyers are under pressure to win their lawsuits. Everybody is under pressure
in their job. Educators have had this curious sort of charmed life in which results don’t matter. This is just nuts.”

Dismissing Incompetent Teachers
So why not just get rid of incompetent teachers? Because under the current tenure rules, getting rid of just one teacher can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses and years of time. For example, it took three years to get rid of a teacher who engaged in brawls with students, was unable to control her classrooms, and who changed her name to “God”; it took four years to get rid of a teacher who refused to follow a lesson plan and who swore at her students; it took five years to get rid of a teacher who showed first-graders a R-rated movie; and it took eight years and $300,000 to get rid of a teacher who refused to answer students’ questions in class.

In Los Angeles, it is so difficult to get rid of incompetent teachers that in that district of 35,000 teachers, over the span of a decade the district was able to get rid of only one incompetent teacher. And of the 300,000 teachers in California, only 227 were dismissed over that same decade – only one-tenth of one percent were dismissed as incompetent, despite the fact that national studies find as high as 18 percent of current teachers are incompetent. One school official lamented, “It takes longer to fire a teacher than to convict a murderer.” A state legislator agreed: “Unless you’re molesting children or robbing banks, you can’t be fired.”

The story is the same in state after state – all because of tenure. (Currently, all states provide, and about 80 percent of teachers have been awarded, tenure.) A Florida group properly notes that tenure “creates an environment where there is simply no incentive to be a good teacher. . . . Serving time is what is rewarded, not teaching excellence.” A California school board member agrees: “Good teachers do not need tenure. Poor or incompetent teachers use it to protect their jobs.”

So why do educational unions fight so hard for teacher tenure, and then fight so hard to keep incompetent teachers from being dismissed? As one Kansas legislator explained: “Unions fight for poor-performing teachers because then the schools hire more remedial teachers. More teachers equals more money for the union. . . . They want as many teachers as possible making as much money as possible. . . . It means more teachers, more pay, more money for the union.”

Summary
The successful philosophy of education that characterized America for centuries clearly has undergone a radical revolution in recent years. Many are unaware of the changes, and others are simply complacent about them. Yet, every citizen should be concerned and informed about the condition of education. As educator Noah Webster long ago warned:

The education of youth should be watched with the most scrupulous attention. . . . [I]t is much easier to introduce and establish an effectual system . . . than to correct by penal statutes the ill effects of a bad system. . . . The education of youth . . . lays the foundations on which both law and gospel rest for success.

It is our responsibility as citizens not only to protect the proven educational philosophy that made and has kept America great but also to do everything that we can to transmit a successful educational philosophy to future generations, just as our forebears did throughout the first four centuries of American education.

A Solution
What is the solution for many of the education problems that America now faces? Much of the answer may be found in a new DVD we have just introduced on the national market: Four Centuries of American Education. (This new work was entered into national competitions with works from groups such as CBS, HBO, Paramount, Fox, etc., and won the top award in its class!)

Four Centuries of American Education examines education both past and present. It presents not only many of America’s greatest textbooks but also its greatest educators from Benjamin Rush and William McGuffey to Emma Willard and Booker T. Washington. It documents what long made America a world leader in education, what caused the change, and what can be done to re-attain genuine educational achievement.

Four Centuries of American Education is an excellent tool for educating others about our educational system and is appropriate for use at home or school, or in churches or civic clubs. The remarkable information in this work will both challenge and inspire you.

Black History Issue 2005

African American History Month provides an excellent opportunity for WallBuilders to accomplish its mission of “presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious, and constitutional heritage.”

In this year’s issue, WallBuilders will highlight three notable (but often forgotten) ministers who were active before and during the national revival known as the Second Great Awakening (1795- 1845). These black ministers labored alongside white Christians and preached to both white and black congregations.

This should not seem unusual, however, for truly mature followers of Christ in all eras have long recognized that there are not several races but only two: the believer and the nonbeliever (Galatians 3:28 & Colossians 3:11). The stories of these three ministers are inspiring and are characterized by sacrifice and Christian courage.

African American poet James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) properly said of these ministers:

The old-time Negro preacher has not yet been given the niche in which he properly belongs. . . . It was through him that the people of diverse languages and customs, who were brought here from diverse parts of Africa and thrown into slavery, were given their first sense of unity and solidarity. He was the first shepherd of the bewildered flock. His power for good or ill was very great. It was the old-time preacher who for generations was the mainspring of hope and inspiration for the Negro in America.

The Rev. Andrew Bryan 1737-1812
Andrew Bryan was born in slavery and grew up as a slave on a plantation in South Carolina. In 1782, Andrew and his wife Hannah became Christians under the preaching of the Rev. George Liele (1752 – 1828), an African American born into slavery who ministered the Gospel to other slaves. (Liele was the first African American ordained as a Baptist preacher.) Only nine months after his conversion, Andrew – still a slave – was preaching to both black and white congregations. He evangelized slaves on neighboring plantations and erected a crude wooden church; his congregation grew rapidly, attended by both blacks and whites. On January 20, 1788, Bryan was ordained as a Baptist minister.

As a result of the rapid growth of his church, persecution was initiated by nearby slave owners who feared a revolt if slaves heard the message of freedom in the Gospel. Hundreds of converted slaves not only were denied water baptism by their masters but also were forbidden to attend Bryan’s services. Many who did attend were flogged and severely punished, and even Andrew was whipped, beaten, and imprisoned (much like Paul and Silas in Acts 16:19-25), and his church was seized. (Andrew’s master, who supported his ministry, helped arrange his release from jail.)

Was Andrew bitter at this unjust treatment? Not at all. Instead, just as Jesus had instructed in Matthew 5, Andrew exulted in his persecution, proclaiming that “he rejoiced not only to be whipped but would freely suffer death for the cause of Jesus Christ;” he also prayed for the men who had persecuted him. This Christ-like behavior in Andrew won the respect of many observers.

Upon the death of his “master” in 1790, Andrew purchased his freedom and that of his wife. In 1794, several influential whites helped him raise the money to purchase property upon which to build a new church – the Bryan Street African Baptist Church (the first black Baptist church in America). Andrew then purchased a lot near the church upon which to build his home.

Within six years, the church had grown to almost 700 members (a large church at any time, it definitely was a mega-church in that era). In 1800, the church was reorganized as the First African Baptist Church of Savannah, and one of its ministries was a black Sabbath school – the first in the city. However, because Andrew’s goal was not simply to have a large congregation and an impressive church, in 1802 he deliberately split the congregation and planted a new church: the Second African Baptist Church of Savannah (its pastor, Henry Francis, started a school in the church to educate black children). The church growth continued, and in 1803 Andrew split the church again, forming the Third African Baptist Church of Savannah. As these churches grew, their congregations pioneered churches in other parts of the State.

At that time in America’s history, Georgia was one of the most stridently pro-slavery states in America. Thomas Jefferson (who in 1783 proposed the first antislavery law in America) noted that it was the influence of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina that kept the national anti-slavery law from passing in Congress. Georgia had even been unable to provide its share of soldiers for the American
Revolution because its citizens feared that if they left their plantations to fight for American independence, their slaves would escape. Clearly, slavery was strongly embraced in Georgia, so Andrew labored in a region of the country in which ministry by – or to – African Americans was exceptionally difficult.

Nevertheless, upon Andrew’s death in 1812, the Savannah Baptist Association (comprised of the white Baptists of the city), praised Bryan’s work, proclaiming:

The Association is sensibly affected by the death of the Rev. Andrew Bryan, a man of color, and pastor of the First Colored Church in Savannah. This son of Africa, after suffering inexpressible persecutions in the cause of his divine Master, was at length permitted to discharge the duties of the ministry among his colored friends in peace and quiet, hundreds of whom, through his instrumentality, were brought to knowledge of the truth as “it is in Jesus.”

The ministry of Andrew Bryan brought thousands in Georgia to a personal relationship with God through Christ.

The Rev. “Black Harry” Hoosier (or Hosier) 1750-1810
Harry Hoosier was born a slave in North Carolina, but toward the end of the American Revolution he obtained his freedom, converted to Methodism, and became a preacher. In 1781, he delivered a sermon in Virginia entitled “The Barren Fig Tree” – the first recorded Methodist sermon by an African American. Despite the fact that Hoosier was illiterate, he became famous as a traveling evangelist and was considered one of the most popular preachers of his era. In fact, after hearing Harry preach in and around Philadelphia, Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), a signer of the Declaration of Independence and an evangelical Christian, declared that accounting for his illiteracy, Hoosier was “the greatest orator in America.”

Early in his ministry, Harry became a close associate of Bishop Francis Asbury (1745- 1816), the “Founding Father of the American Methodist Church.”

(In 1771, Asbury – an Englishman – heard an appeal from John Wesley for preachers to go to America to “spread the Word.” Asbury responded, and during the next four decades he preached almost 20,000 sermons and rode over a quarter of a million miles across America – on horseback! When Asbury first arrived, there were only 550 Methodists in America, but by the time of his death in 1816, there were 250,000 – and 700 ordained Methodist ministers. In 1924 when a statue of Bishop Asbury was erected in Washington, DC, President Calvin Coolidge declared of Asbury that “He is entitled to rank as one of the builders of our nation.”)

Hoosier and Bishop Asbury traveled and preached together, but Bishop Asbury (who drew huge crowds) remarked that Harry drew even larger crowds than he did! In fact, the Rev. Henry Boehm (1775-1875) reported: “Harry. . . . was so illiterate he could not read a word [but h]e would repeat the hymn as if reading it, and quote his text with great accuracy. His voice was musical, and his tongue as the pen of a ready writer. He was unboundedly popular, and many would rather hear him than the bishops.” Harry also traveled and preached with other popular bishops of that era, including the Rev. Richard Whatcoat (1736- 1806), the Rev. Freeborn Garretson (1752-1827), and the Rev. Thomas Coke (1747-1814). The Rev. Coke said of Asbury that, “I really believe he is one of the best preachers in the world. There is such an amazing power that attends his preaching . . . and he is one of the humblest creatures I ever saw.”

Hoosier ministered widely along the American frontier and is described by historians as “a renowned camp meeting exhorter, the most widely known black preacher of his time, and arguably the greatest circuit rider of his day.” However, he was unpopular in the South for two reasons: first, frontier Methodists such as Hoosier tended to lean Arminian in their theology, contrasted with the denominations of the South that were largely Calvinistic (e.g., Presbyterians, Reformed, Episcopalians,
Baptists, etc. – yes, the Baptists of that day were largely Calvinistic!); second, Methodists were outspoken against slavery whereas the majority of the South supported slavery. Therefore, southern groups such as the Virginia Baptists came to use the term “Hoosiers” as an insulting term of derision that they applied to Methodists like Black Harry Hoosier, meaning that they were anti-slavery in belief and Arminian in theology.

Fisk University history professor William Piersen believes that this is the source of the term “Hoosier” that was applied to the inhabitants of Indiana. Piersen explains, “Such an etymology would offer Indiana a plausible and worthy first Hoosier – ‘Black Harry’ Hoosier – the greatest preacher of his day, a man who rejected slavery and stood up for morality and the common man.”

Noted African American historian Carter Woodson reported the words of early Methodist historian John Ledman in describing the closing chapter of Harry Hoosier’s life:

After he had moved on the tide of popularity for a number of years . . . he fell by wine – one of the strong enemies of both ministers and people. And now, alas! this popular preacher was a drunken ragpicker in the streets of Philadelphia. But we will not leave him here. One evening, Harry . . . determined to remain there until his backslidings were healed. Under a tree he wrestled with God in prayer. Sometime that night, God restored to him the joys of his salvation [Psalm 51:12]. . . . About the year 1810, Harry finished his course. . . . An unusually large number of people, both white and colored, followed his body to its last resting place, in a free burying ground in Kensington [near Philadelphia].

The Rev. Harry Hoosier was used by God to draw thousands of Americans to Christ during the early decades of the Second Great Awakening.

The Rev. John Marrant 1755-1791
John Marrant was born in New York in 1755. His father died early in John’s life; and in 1766 when John was eleven, his mother sent him to Charleston, South Carolina, to live with an older sister and learn a trade. After arriving in Charleston, John had a change of plans; as he explained: “I had passed by a school and heard music and dancing, which took my fancy very much; and I felt a strong inclination
to learn the music. I went home and informed my sister that I would rather learn music than go to a trade.” John therefore undertook the study of music and became skilled with both the violin and the French horn. According to John, within two years (while he was only thirteen years of age): “I was invited to all the balls and assemblies that were held in the town, and met with general applause of the inhabitants. I was a stranger to want, being supplied with as much money as I had any occasion for.”

On his way to play at one of those musical events, John and a friend passed a crowded meetinghouse. John noticed that the large crowd was gathered around “a crazy man halloing there.” The “crazy man” was the Rev. George Whitefield, and the assembly was one of many religious meetings that occurred during the First Great Awakening – a national spiritual revival that lasted from 1730-1770.

(The Rev. George Whitefield (1714-1770) has been called the greatest evangelist of all time. Born in England, he became a missionary to America, making seven separate trips and spending nine years preaching across the country. It is estimated that he preached to nearly ten million individuals in his lifetime, with crowds of 20,000 being common and reaching as high as 100,000 (of course, there was
no sound amplification then, and it was reported that Whitefield’s natural voice could be heard up to one mile away, thus easily accommodating such crowds). Whitefield preached some 18,000 sermons in his life – an average of 500 a year, and 10 each week. Often, up to 500 hearers at a time would fall to the ground and lie prostrate under the power of his sermons.)

John’s friend who was accompanying him, wanting to disrupt Whitefield’s event, dared John to take his French horn and “blow [it] among them.” Marrant accepted the challenge; raising the horn to his lips and preparing to blow, Whitefield suddenly looked directly at John, pointed his finger at him, and announced, “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel!” Marrant immediately fell prostrate as though struck down (c.f., John 18:6 & Revelation 1:17), remaining motionless for almost half an hour. When John recovered, Whitefield ministered to the young boy and spent time with him. On the third day, Marrant committed his life to Christ and dedicated himself to Gospel ministry. (Marrant’s conversion occurred on Whitefield’s final missionary journey to America.)

An overjoyed Marrant returned to his family to share his newfound experience with them, but they rejected him. Like Moses of old (Exodus 2:15), John fled to the wilderness. There he met a Cherokee warrior and they spent ten weeks together, hunting and becoming fast friends. When they eventually returned to the Indian’s camp, Marrant was made a prisoner (the Cherokees at this time were often at war with the settlers; it was clear to the Cherokees that the black Marrant was not an Indian, so he therefore was an enemy settler).

When the Cherokee chieftain threatened John with death, John addressed the Cherokees in their own language and shared with them the Gospel of Christ. According to Marrant, “The king [the chief ] himself was awakened, and the others set at [spiritual] liberty. A great change took place among the people; the King’s house became God’s house; the soldiers were ordered away; and the poor condemned prisoner [Marrant] had perfect liberty and was treated like a prince. Now the Lord made all my enemies become my great friends.” Thus being released from his captivity, the chief granted Marrant permission to evangelize among the Cherokee – which he did for the next nine weeks, also evangelizing among the
Muskogees. As noted by African American historian Arthur Schomburg (1874-1938), Marrant was: “A Negro in America [like] the Jesuits of old, who spread the seed of Christianity among the American Indians before the birth of the American Republic.”

Following his success with his missionary endeavors, Marrant returned to his family; but they again rejected him because they now considered him too much of an Indian. Ironically, throughout his life Marrant was often faced with rejection which he overcame on each occasion: first, his family rejected his calling toward the Gospel ministry (yet he persevered and entered anyway); next, the Cherokees rejected him because he was a settler (again he overcame and evangelized among them); then, when he returned to his family, they rejected him as being too much of “a savage” in “the Indian style” (once more he persisted until he broke through the rejection and was finally reunited with his family).

Following these evangelistic efforts, Marrant agreed to work as a carpenter on a plantation near Charleston; and while working there, he evangelized among the slaves. As he explained, “During this time, I saw my call to the ministry fuller and clearer – had a feeling of concern for the salvation of my countrymen.” Sadly, however, when the mistress of the plantation found the slaves at prayer, she alerted her husband, who rounded up a posse and raided the prayer meeting. According to Marrant, “As the poor creatures came out, they caught them and tied them together with cords till the next morning, when all they caught – men, women, and children – were stripped naked and tied (their feet to a stake, their hands to the arm of a tree) and so severely flogged that the blood ran from their backs and sides to the floor, to make them promise they would leave off praying.”

All of this activity occurred before the American Revolution; and when the Revolution did commence, Marrant was impressed by the British into the navy. Following the war, he settled in England, and on May 15, 1785, was ordained as a Christian minister by the Calvinistic Methodists, a group started by George Whitefield. (Whitefield and the Wesleys worked together in forming the Methodist church, but the Wesleys became more Arminian in theology whereas Whitefield remained more Calvinistic and thus headed the Calvinistic Methodists.) Marrant continued his ministry efforts, preaching in England, then Canada, and then back in the United States. While in America, he became ill, and being in poor health, he desired to return to England to see his friends there. He died shortly thereafter at the age of thirty-six. Despite the apparent shortness of his life, Marrant nevertheless accomplished much, and was among the first African Americans to evangelize successfully among the American Indians.

Summary
These three famous ministers (the Rev. Andrew Bryan, the Rev. Harry Hoosier, and the Rev. John Marrant) were all well-known and even nationally known ministers in their day; all were extremely effective; all contributed greatly to the growth of American Christianity in particular and America in general. These three are just a few examples of the forgotten heroes and history that WallBuilders is proud to reintroduce to this generation of Americans!

 

 

Black History Issue 2004

Black Patriots of the American Revolution

Americans have lost much of their knowledge of basic historical facts, particularly those relating to the American Revolution. In fact, a recent survey of high-performing college seniors found that more thought that Ulysses S. Grant (a Civil War general in the 1860s) commanded the troops at Yorktown than George Washington (who actually did lead those troops in the 1780s). Since advanced college seniors cannot identify the commander-in-chief of the American Revolution, it is not surprising that today’s Americans know even less about the thousands of African Americans who fought during the Revolution, or that they participated in every major battle of the War.

Although this part of our history is unfamiliar today, it was known in previous generations because of the writings of black historians such as William Nell, an award winning young scholar in Boston during the 1830s. He studied law and became the first black American to hold a post in the federal government. In 1852, he authored Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776 and 1812, and three years later, he penned The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution.

This issue is dedicated to a recovery of the knowledge of our black patriot heroes to whom today’s Americans of all colors owe a debt of gratitude.

James Armistead (Lafayette) (1760-1832)
James Armistead was one of the most important American spies during the Revolution. As a slave in Virginia, he witnessed much of the War; and following the British siege of Richmond in 1781, he asked his master, William Armistead, for permission to serve in the cause of American independence with General Marquis de Lafayette, a young Frenchman who came to fight with the Americans. His master agreed, and Lafayette accepted his services. Lafayette dispatched Armistead to the camp of the patriot-turned-traitor, Benedict Arnold (then a British general), to pose as an escaped slave looking for work. Arnold accepted Armistead and allowed him to work in the camp, thus placing him around other British generals, including British commander-in-chief Lord Cornwallis. Armistead obtained much vital information about British plans and troop movements, which he daily sent to General Lafayette. Ironically, Lord Cornwallis so trusted Armistead that he even asked him to become a British spy to watch the Americans. Armistead agreed and thus became a double-spy, feeding accurate information to the Americans and inaccurate information to the British.

Upon learning that the British fleet was moving Cornwallis and his troops to Yorktown, Armistead quickly relayed that information to Lafayette and Washington, who gathered the American forces at Yorktown. After the British troops had landed and the British fleet had unsuspectingly departed from Chesapeake Bay, the Americans engaged the British while the French fleet blockaded the Bay to keep the British navy from returning. The Battle of Yorktown ensued, and the British – without their navy to provide reinforcements or supplies and with no way to retreat off the peninsula on which they were trapped – finally surrendered. Armistead’s crucial information had helped bring a victorious end to the American Revolution.

Following the War, Armistead returned to slavery on his master’s plantation. Three years later, in 1784, General Lafayette returned to America for a visit and met with his friend, Armistead. Lafayette penned a certificate to Virginia leaders praising the work and important contributions of Armistead. Armistead then petitioned the legislature for his freedom, which was granted on New Year’s Day, 1787. (In his latter years, Armistead also received a retirement pension from the State for his military services.) Following his emancipation, Armistead adopted the name Lafayette and thereafter called himself James Lafayette. He remained in the State as a farmer.

General Lafayette became an ardent foe of slavery both in America and in Europe, and it is believed that it was his association with James Armistead that helped clarify his views on slavery, leading him to begin his strong public crusade against that evil.

In 1824, General Lafayette made his final visit to America; his tour across the nation was greeted by crowds of thousands in city after city. When touring Richmond, the General recognized in the crowd his black comrade from four decades earlier (now an old man) and called him out by name and embraced him – the last time the two patriot friends were to meet.

Jordan Freeman (? – 1781);
Lambo (Lambert) Latham (? – 1781)

In 1781, both black and white soldiers fought side by side at the Battle of Groton Heights, Connecticut. The American force of only 84 men, led by Lt. Col. William Ledyard, was attempting to defend the town of New London from a large invading force led by American traitor-turned-British General Benedict Arnold.

After suffering heavy casualties against the overwhelming British numbers, Col. Ledyard and his remaining troops retreated to tiny Fort Griswold, equipped with only a few small cannons. The Americans eventually ran out of ammunition; and when the British charged the fort, the Americans used their rifles as clubs, fighting back the British with only bayonets and pikes. The British began scaling
the walls of the fort; upon reaching the top, the British officer leading the attack – Major Montgomery – was speared and killed by black patriot Jordan Freeman. The British rushed over the walls and quickly overran the fort, overpowering the few remaining Americans.

A British officer then asked the American prisoners, “Who commanded the fort?” Colonel Ledyard replied, “I did once. You do now,” and handed his sword to the British officer, as was customary with a surrender. The British officer then took Ledyard’s own sword and thrust it through Ledyard’s body all the way to the hilt.

That act was witnessed by all the remaining Americans, including black patriot Lambert Latham. (When the flagpole of the fort had earlier been shot down by the British during the battle, Lambert grabbed the American flag and held it high until he was captured.) Latham had stood silently with the other American prisoners, but upon witnessing the coldblooded murder of his commander, Nell records what next occurred: “Lambert . . . retaliated upon the [British] officer by thrusting his bayonet through his body. Lambert, in return, received from the enemy thirty-three bayonet wounds, and thus fell, nobly avenging the death of his commander.”

The British – angered by the loss of so many of their soldiers at the hands of so few Americans – promptly slaughtered all the remaining Americans left in the fort, including Jordan Freeman.

Interestingly, Freeman had been a slave of Col. Ledyard, the commander of the fort, but had been freed by him. As a free man, Freeman had remained in the area and married. When the region came under attack from the British, Freeman chose to stay and fight for America side by side with the man who had once been his owner.

Today, at the site of old Fort Griswold is a plaque showing the moment in which Jordan Freeman killed the attacking British officer. There is also a huge monument standing there; the names of Jordan Freeman and Lambert Latham appear on that monument, along with the other American soldiers who gave their lives defending American liberty in that battle.

Peter Salem (1750-1816)
Peter Salem was a member of the famous Massachusetts Minutemen and was involved in a number of important battles, including the battles of Bunker Hill, Concord, and Saratoga (the first American victory of the Revolution). However, it was in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, that he gained notoriety.

After the battles of Lexington and Concord, American troops from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island assembled at Boston to confront the 5,000 British troops stationed there. The outmanned American forces engaged the British outside the city. The Americans were winning the conflict until they began running out of ammunition. With the Americans near defeat, British commander Major John Pitcairn (who had earlier led the British forces against the Americans at Lexington) mounted the hill and shouted, “The day is ours!” whereupon Salem promptly shot him, sending the British troops into confusion and allowing the Americans to escape safely. Peter Salem was honored before General Washington for his soldierly act.

Salem became a member of the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment and served throughout the rest of the Revolution – a total of seven years of military service in behalf of his country, a length of time achieved by few other soldiers in the Revolution. Salem had entered the Revolution as a slave but finished it as a free man, marrying in 1783, at the conclusion of the Revolution.

A stone monument was erected to Peter Salem at Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1882; and Salem is pictured in the famous painting of John Trumbull titled, “The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill.”

Prince Whipple (c. 1756 – c. 1797)
Prince Whipple had been part of a wealthy (perhaps even a royal) African family. When he was ten, he was sent by his family to America for an education; but while on the voyage, he was shanghaied by the ship’s treacherous captain and sold into slavery in Baltimore. He was bought by New Hampshire ship captain William Whipple, a famous leader in that State.

William Nell, in his 1852 The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, tells the early story of Prince in America:

As was customary, Prince took the surname of his owner, William Whipple, who would later represent New Hampshire by signing the Declaration of Independence. . . . When William Whipple joined the revolution as a captain, Prince accompanied him and was in attendance to General Washington on Christmas night 1776 for the legendary and arduous crossing of the Delaware. The surprise attack following the crossing was a badly needed victory for America and for Washington’s sagging military reputation. In 1777, [William Whipple was] promoted to Brigadier General and [was] ordered to drive British General Burgoyne out of Vermont.

An 1824 work provides details of what occurred after General Whipple’s promotion:

On [his] way to the army, he told his servant [Prince] that if they should be called into action, he expected that he would behave like a man of courage and fight bravely for his country. Prince replied, “Sir, I have no inducement to fight, but if I had my liberty, I would endeavor to defend it to the last drop of my blood.” The general manumitted [freed] him on the spot.

Prince Whipple did enter the service of America as a soldier during the Revolution and is often identified in a number of early paintings of the War, including that of General Washington after crossing the Delaware. In fact, many identify Prince Whipple as the man on the oar in the front of the boat in the famous crossing of the Delaware picture painted in 1851. Although Whipple did not actually cross the Delaware with Washington in the manner depicted, he was representative of the thousands of black patriots who did fight for American independence – and of the many African Americans who did cross the Delaware with Washington.

Prince Whipple fought in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 and the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778. He directly attended General Washington and the general staff throughout the Revolution, serving as a soldier and aide at the highest levels.

Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833)
Lemuel Haynes was abandoned by his parents when he was five months old. He was taken in and apprenticed by the David Rose family. According to Haynes: “He [David Rose] was a man of singular piety. I was taught the principles of religion. His wife . . . treated me as though I was her own child.”

Haynes was given the opportunity for education – something rare for African Americans in that day. Haynes explained: “I had the advantage of attending a common school equal with the other children. I was early taught to read.” He also educated himself at night by reading in front of a fireplace. He developed a lifelong love for the Bible and theology, and even as a youth he frequently held services and preached sermons at the town parish. He also memorized massive and lengthy portions of the Bible.

In 1774 when he turned 21 and had finished his tradesman apprenticeship, he enlisted as a Minuteman in the local Connecticut militia. While he was not part of the Battle of Lexington, he did write a lengthy ballad-sermon about that famous battle. However, a week following that battle, Haynes and the Connecticut troops were part of the siege of Boston. Haynes was also part of the military expedition against Fort Ticonderoga, made legendary by Ethan Allen and the famous Green Mountain Boys. Haynes became an ardent admirer of George Washington and remained so throughout his life. In fact, Haynes regularly preached sermons on Washington’s birthday and was an active member of the Washington Benevolent Society.

After the Revolution, Haynes continued his studies in Latin, Greek, and theology and became the first African American to be ordained by a mainstream Christian denomination (the Congregationalists, in 1785), to pastor a white congregation (a congregation in Connecticut), and to be awarded an honorary Master’s Degree (by Middlebury College in 1804). Over his life, Haynes pastored several churches in Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York (often white churches), published a number of sermons, and was a confidant and counselor to the presidents of both Yale and Harvard.

Lemuel Haynes died at the age of eighty, having written the epitaph for his tombstone: “Here lies the dust of a poor helldeserving sinner, who ventured into eternity trusting wholly on the merits of Christ for salvation. In the full belief of the great doctrines he preached while on earth, he invites his children, and all who read this, to trust their eternal interest on the same foundation.”

Black Commandos
In December 1776, the secondin- command of the American Army, General Charles Lee, was taken prisoner by the British. In order for the Americans to effect his release through a prisoner exchange, a British general of the same rank was needed. A bold plan was therefore undertaken by Lt. Col. William Barton. He would slip past British forces at Newport, Rhode Island, enter the heart of the British camp, capture British General Richard Prescott in his quarters, and return him to the American side before the British learned of the raid.

Col. Barton hand-selected about forty elite soldiers, both black and white. He gathered the group, explained to them his plan, warned them of the risk, and asked for volunteers. All chose to be part of the daring operation.

Waiting until the middle of the night, the group loaded into small boats, and with muffled oars, rowed silently past General Prescott’s warships and guard boats anchored in the harbor. Landing near the general’s headquarters, the Americans quickly overpowered the guards and surrounded the house of the sleeping general. They entered his house and, standing outside his locked door, they had only to break down the door and quickly grab Prescott before he realized what had occurred.

At that moment, one of the black commandos, Prince Sisson – a powerful man – stepped forward and charged the door, using his own head as a battering ram; on the second try, the locked door gave way and Prince entered the quarters and seized the surprised general. They safely returned with Prescott to the American lines where he was subsequently exchanged for the second-in-command of the American Army, General Charles Lee. The daring act of Sisson is still celebrated to this day.

Rhode Island Fighters
The First Rhode Island was a regiment of 125 black patriots – both slave and free – commanded by Colonel Christopher Greene. That regiment, created during the infamous winter at Valley Forge, became noted for its bravery and courage, receiving its first baptism by fire during the Battle of Newport in 1778.

When reinforcements failed to arrive during that battle, the Americans were forced to retreat in the face of heavy British attacks, especially from the dreaded Hessian mercenaries. The First Rhode Island thrust themselves between the retreating Americans and the advancing Hessians and repulsed the British forces three separate times, inflicting heavy casualties on the mercenaries. (Following the battle, the Hessian commander asked to be transferred to a different location for fear that his remaining soldiers might shoot him because of the fearful losses which had been inflicted on them, and the deaths of so many of their comrades.)

In 1781 during the Battle of Croton River, Colonel Greene – commander of the regiment – was cut down by the British. William Nell, in his 1855 The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, described what next occurred:

“Colonel Greene, the commander of the regiment, was cut down and mortally wounded: but the sabres of the enemy only reached him through the bodies of his faithful guard of blacks, who hovered over him, and every one of whom was killed.”

While Colonel Greene’s squad was killed, others of the Rhode Island First survived and served the remainder of the War. A battle-hardened and loyal unit, they were with George Washington when he accepted the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown to end the Revolution.

Conclusion
Numerous other black patriots distinguished themselves during the American Revolution, including James Forten, Peter Poor, Cuff Smith, Cesar and Festus Prince, and thousands of others. It is appropriate that during African American history month, we should remember these great black patriots who contributed so much to the establishment of America as the foremost nation of the world.