President George W. Bush stands with an actor in period garb today during a tour of the Jamestown Settlement, in Jamestown, Va. The president and Mrs. Bush joined the celebration honoring the 400th anniversary of the settlement, but made no specific mention of its strong Christian heritage.
President Bush commemorated America’s 400th anniversary during a ceremony at the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia today, but made no specific mention of the Christian faith, the spread of which was the primary purpose for creation of the settlement.
“The story of Jamestown will always have a special place in American history,” Bush said. “It’s the story of a great migration from the Old World to the New. It is a story of hardship overcome by resolve. It’s a story of the Tidewater settlement that laid the foundation of our great democracy.”
As WND has reported, the Jamestown settlement, which predated the Plymouth, Mass., Pilgrims by 13 years, was founded with the primary instruction from King James of England that its members propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This year is the celebration of the 400th anniversary of that founding.
“Today we celebrate that moment as a great milestone in our history,” Bush said, “yet the colonists who experienced those first years had little reason to celebrate. Their search for gold soon gave way to a desperate search for food.”
“I am just floored with the president’s behavior,” said one WND reader, who was anxious to see if Bush would mention the Christian heritage.
The president did not completely leave out reference to the divine realm, with two generic references in his remarks:
Looking back, 400 years later, it is easy to forget how close Jamestown came to failure. The low point came after the terrible winter of 1610. The survivors boarded their ships. They were prepared to abandon the settlement, and only the last minute arrival of new settlers and new provisions saved Jamestown. Back in London, one court official summed up the situation this way: “This is an unlucky beginning. I pray God the end may prove happier.”
From these humble beginnings, the pillars of a free society began to take hold. Private property rights encouraged ownership and free enterprise. The rule of law helped secure the rights of individuals. The creation of America’s first representative assembly ensured the consent of the people and gave Virginians a voice in their government. It was said at the time that the purpose of these reforms was, “to lay a foundation whereon a flourishing state might, in time, by the blessing of Almighty God, be raised.”
Bush also concluded his remarks with, “May God bless you, and may God bless America.”
The content of acknowledgments for the 400th anniversary has become an issue because of what Christians describe as a massive effort to apply politically correct perspectives on America’s history – retroactively – at Jamestown. Official events this year, for example, have banned the word “celebration,” because Native American activists describe the settlement as an “invasion.”
Bush did not ignore that sentiment, noting: “The expansion of Jamestown came at a terrible cost to the native tribes of the region, who lost their lands and their way of life. And for many Africans, the journey to Virginia represented the beginnings of a life of hard labor and bondage. Their story is a part of the story of Jamestown. It reminds us that the work of American democracy is to constantly renew and to extend the blessings of liberty.”
Queen Elizabeth II, in a visit at Jamestown last week, also jumped onto the politically correct bandwagon.
“Over the course of my reign and certainly since I first visited Jamestown in 1957, my country has become a much more diverse society just as the commonwealth of Virginia and the whole United States of America have also undergone a major social change,” she said.
Bush’s previous presidential proclamation in honor of the 400th at Jamestown doesn’t mention the Christian faith or Christianity, and the leader of a group working to have that history accurately portrayed is troubled.
“America looks to our leaders in moments of historic importance to remind us of our foundations as a free people. Historically American presidents have taken the opportunity of the celebration of Jamestown to point out that this experiment in liberty was first dedicated to God,” said Doug Phillips.
He is president of Vision Forum Ministries and the founder of the Jamestown Quadricentennial: A Celebration of America’s Providential History, Vision Forum’s own series of events to celebrate the quadricentennial June 11-16
He’s called the battle over the accurate inclusion of Christianity’s influence in history one of the most significant battles today, because it is a battle over the very history of this nation.
The president’s first proclamation noted “endurance” and “courage.”
Four centuries ago, after a long journey, a small group of colonists stepped boldly onto the shores of the New World and established the first permanent English settlement in North America. During the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, America honors the early pioneers whose epic of endurance and courage started the story of our Nation.
The ideals that distinguish and guide the United States today trace back to the Virginia settlement where free enterprise, the rule of law, and the spirit of discovery took hold in the hearts and practices of the American people. Noble institutions and grand traditions were established in Jamestown. Amid tremendous difficulties, a determined few worked the land and expanded into the wilderness. Without knowing it, the colonists who built communities at Jamestown laid the foundation for a Nation that would become the ultimate symbol and force for freedom throughout the entire world.
Much has changed in the 400 years since that three-sided fort was raised on the banks of the James River. Today, we are a strong and growing Nation of more than 300 million, and we are blessed to live in a land of plenty during a time of great prosperity. The long struggle that started at Jamestown has inspired generations of Americans. Advancing the right to live, work, and worship in liberty is the mission that created our country, the honorable achievement of our ancestors, and the calling of our time.
“This nation was established on the foundation of Christianity,” Phillips said. “There are some important positives about the president’s proclamation, but there also appear to be some very troubling edits of this significant document prior to its release to the American people.”
As WND also has reported, officials managing the guided tours at the historic location recently confirmed that spreading the Gospel of Jesus was, in fact, the primary goal given to the Jamestown settlers.
So steeped in Christianity was the Jamestown settlement, according to a group trying to rededicate the nation to Jesus, the community had a nearly 3,000-word prayer that was spoken twice daily either by “the Captain of the watch himself, or by some one of his principal officers.”
While Phillips has been raising issues of politically correct history in the events around the 400th anniversary, Calfornia pastor Todd DuBord of Lake Almanor Community Church has raised similar issues regarding the actual presentations by tour guides at the historic sites.
It was in response to his concerns that officials at Jamestown confirmed that guides are being instructed to discuss the propagation of Christianity as the primary goal for Jamestown.
Joseph A. Gutierrez, Jr., senior director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, told DuBord he is comfortable that the new instructions include the necessary balance of religious and secular interests.
DuBord said he had written to Bush, expressing his concern.
“I was respectfully disappointed, as I know millions are too, not to read any mention of God or their Christian purpose in your proclamation, when the early colony had at its heart a Christian mission (as outlined in the 1606 Charter) and a twice-daily prayer that thanked God for their colony and spoke about the ‘highest end’ of the colony being to uphold the banner of Jesus Christ,” his letter said.
“As a Christian, and for all who understand the real history of the colony, I ask you to please say something publicly about the Christian mission/purpose of the colony when you are giving your speech from Jamestown on the weekend of May 11-13. Your public speech writers would do great justice to include a quote of the Christian mission from the 1606 Charter into your public speeches when you’re there,” he wrote.
DuBord has documented similar efforts to edit Christianity from the historic references at the U.S. Supreme Court and Jefferson’s Monticello estate, and also has that research, as well as his Jamestown research, available on his church website.
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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