A copy, once owned by Thomas Jefferson, of the original records of the Virginia Company describing the Christian goals of the Jamestown settlers
Tour guides at the American birthplace of Jamestown, Va., are being prevented from explaining Christian history and are under orders to refer to items such as the Ten Commandments and Lord’s Prayer only as “religious” in nature.
That according to California pastor and researcher Todd DuBord who says he was stunned on a recent tour of the historic town when “our guide responded to our inquiry by saying that she was ‘unable to speak about the plaques. We are only allowed to say they are religious plaques.'”
Jamestown is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year.
When the issue arose, DuBord’s group was in the heart of the community which had been established in 1607 – 13 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Mass. – to make money for the Virginia Company and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ on orders from the newly crowned King James I.
“While the tour guides at the Jamestown Settlement and Museum were cordial and informative on many points, we were all caught off guard by their unwillingness (yes, unwillingness) to discuss Jamestown’s religious roots. As one of the tour guides was leading us through the very heart of the replica of the community, the Anglican Church, we asked if she could speak about the significance of the three religious plaques on the wall in the front of the church: the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles’ Creed (the same are in the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg),” said DuBord, of Lake Almanor Community Church.
But his group was told the guides were only allowed to give a generic description as “religious.”
So DuBord, who earlier documented similar efforts to edit Christianity from the historic references at the U.S. Supreme Court and Jefferson’s Monticello estate, is now asking Jamestown officials to change its procedures, because at this point visitors get “absolutely no religious information from Jamestown guides about this first colony in America.”
“Without our own well-educated, informative guides from Christian Legacy Tours (Sacramento), we would have left Jamestown with the impression that these settlers were nothing more than predecessors pressed from the capitalist-greed molds of the 21st century,” he said.
His concerns are being raised just as the area is marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the settlers. The same removal of Christianity from history is taking place with many of those events, also, where officials have even banned the use of the word “celebration” because contemporary leaders of Native American tribes consider the settlement an “invasion.”
Because of the removal of Christianity from the history of Jamestown, Vision Forum has launched plans for a full series of events to celebrate the arrival of the settlers. The Jamestown Quadricentennial: A Celebration of America’s Providential History will be centered around events planned for June 11-16.
Those events are including the settlers’ Christian heritage, because Vision Forum President Doug Phillips said the war over the accuracy of the historical presentations “is one of the most significant battles of our day.”
“It is the battle for our history,” he said.
“Jamestown’s Christian legacy of law and liberty is significant,” Phillips told WND. “The vision for settlement at Jamestown was first communicated by a British cartographer and preacher named Richard Hakluyt who hoped the Virginia settlement would be a beacon for religious liberty. The Virginia Charter for 1606, both empowering and governing the Jamestown settlement, was expressly rooted in the Great Commission of Holy Scripture.”
He said the law system on which the colony was governed incorporated a millennia-long, Christian common law tradition.
“The Jamestown settlers brought with them the Holy Scriptures and were the first to establish its enduring legacy of its presence in North America. Jamestown gave us our first Protestant house of worship, our first Christian conversions and baptisms and our first ‘interracial’ marriages based on the Christian faith. Jamestown also gave us a vision of republican representative government which was understood to find its origins in the Old Testament of Holy Scripture,” Phillips said.
DuBord’s research through archives in the Library of Congress and from various historians shows the Jamestown settlers were commissioned through their Virginia Company not only to advance the company’s economic interests, but to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ on orders from King James I, who called for the “propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.”
“Historian Sydney Ahlstrom notes that, ‘From 1607-1619 the colony’s religious affairs were guided by the Virginia Company, which framed its laws and sent out ministers in the capacity of chaplains,” DuBord wrote. “Early governmental figures ‘met in the choir loft of the Jamestown church as America’s first elective assembly.’ According to Ahlstrom, their enactments included morality, in which:
“immoderate dress was prohibited; and ministers were to reprove the intemperate, publicly if need be. There were fines for swearing, and excommunication and arrest for persistent sinning. Morning and afternoon services were required on Sunday, and neglectful persons were subject to censure. The governor set apart ‘glebes,’ or lands to support the church and ministers in each of the four parishes into which the colony had been divided. To promote evangelism among the Indians, each town was to educate ‘a certain number’ of natives and prepare them for college. There was even talk of founding a missionary ‘university’ at Henrico … “
DuBord wrote in his research that his tour took him to Jamestown Settlement, run by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is adjacent to the Historic Jamestown, run by the APVA Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service.
The guide’s inability to respond was a surprise.
“We were noticeably shocked by her comments and challenged her that these were very important in the lives of the colonists, and not educating others about them is a deliberate avoidance and minimizing of Christian history. We were all appalled, and shared so with her, especially understanding that this was an educational tour, on which students from across the country were being taught every week,” he said.
He said later another guide repeated on several occasions that the settlers were in America “to make money.”
“In fact, he expected and prodded our group to replicate his three-word answer like a mantra, as he frequently asked us, ‘And why did these settlers come to America?'” he wrote.
Historical documents note that the settlers arrived on what they named Cape Henry on April 27, 1607.
“The nine and twentieth day we set up a cross at Chesupioc Bay, and named the place Cape Henry,” according to colonist George Percy’s writings.
And history records a prayer meeting was conducted by their minister, Rev. Robert Hunt.
DuBord noted that a new letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior in Yorktown, Va., reconfirmed the religious goals of the settlers, including an original charter notation that instructed, “Lastly and chiefly, the way to prosper and obtain good success is to make yourselves all of one main for the good of your country and your own, and to serve and fear God the giver of all goodness. For every plantation which our Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted out.”
In fact, Thomas Jefferson had a copy of the original records of the Virginia Company, a document later installed in the Library of Congress, that describes the Christian goals of the settlers.
“The document illustrates the Virginia Company’s concern for the health of the church. It orders the settlers to offer generous financial assistance ‘to the intent that godly learned & painful Ministers may be placed there for the service of Almighty God & for the spiritual benefit and comfort of the people,'” according to the Library of Congress description.
A letter from Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine noted the tour guides have “no restrictions in regards to commenting on religious items or history,” however they may not “be as familiar with questions outside of the routine tour … .”
But Dubord said that wasn’t the case at all.
“The guide said, ‘I am unable to speak about the plaques. We are only allowed to say they are religious plaques.'”
“Fifty people (witnesses) were with us from the church in Sacramento, and there is no one who misunderstood the restrictive emphasis the guide was making,” he said. And if those guides are unfamiliar with such issues, “I must question who is doing the training and with what are they being educated?”
He noted Charles Galloway observed more than a century ago with words, now in his “Christianity and the American Commonwealth,” that historians have been reducing the references to religion from the formative forces of the United States.
“Books on the making of our nation have been written, and are the texts in our colleges, in which the Christian religion, as a social and civil factor, has only scant or apologetic mention. This is either a fatal oversight or a deliberate purpose, and both alike are to be deplored and condemned. A nation ashamed of its ancestry will be despised by its posterity,” he wrote.
“I will be leading a group of 53 Californians in early June to the Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestown,” Dubord wrote. “This time I hope to hear more about America’s godly heritage!”
To obtain Pastor Todd DuBord’s research on this issue, as well as research into the editing of Christian references at the U.S. Supreme Court and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate, visit the Lake Almanor Community Church website.
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