Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization …”
– President Franklin D. Roosevelt, D-Day
On June 6, 1944, the largest armada ever assembled in American history had crossed the English Channel to begin the invasion of Normandy and to bring about the end of World War II. President Roosevelt publicly appealed to “Almighty God” for victory.
As I sat in a small courtroom at the Naval base in Norfolk, Va., Sept. 13 and heard the verdict of “guilty” pronounced against Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a chaplain in the United States Navy, my thoughts went back to that day over 60 years ago and how things have changed in America.
Chaplain Klingenschmitt had just become the latest victim in the culture war to remove the recognition of God from our land. He had fallen into disfavor with the Navy command because of his continued opposition to the new Navy policy prohibiting “sectarian” prayer in public, specifically those prayers uttered in the name of Jesus.
The views of the Navy are best reflected by the response to questioning of one of the potential jurors, a Navy officer, by one of the attorneys in the case. He related that he was “agnostic” and was personally offended by public prayer because he felt such prayer was “pushing” religion on him. In order to be “inclusive,” the Navy has decided that God should remain generic so no agnostic or atheist will ever “feel” offended. Every chaplain or Navy officer who fails to comply will suffer a fate similar to that of Lt. Klingenschmitt.
But serious consequences follow when we remove the knowledge of God from our life!
A decline in our education system began in 1962 when the U.S. Supreme Court took prayer from our schools and, one year later, banned reading of the Bible in our classrooms. A drastic increase in violence and crime followed the Court’s removal of the Ten Commandments from a Kentucky school in 1980 and the prohibition of teaching creationism in 1987.
The exclusion of God in our public life has had similar results. A loss of moral direction has affected our institutions and governmental operations. In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that a Nativity scene on public property was appropriate only if surrounded by “secular” symbols; in 2005, it ruled that the Ten Commandments could only be displayed on government property if it is part of a historical menagerie mixed with other secular documents or displays.
Money, not faith in God, is now the engine that drives politics and our government. Politicians in both parties have abandoned public trust for the sake of power and privilege, resulting in a government full of corruption and empty of integrity.
The Allied commander on D-Day, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who later became the 34th president of the United States, commented in 1954: “Today … there is a need for positive acts of renewed recognition that faith is our surest … strength, our greatest resource.” Regarding four military chaplains who heroically gave their lives when the troopship Dorchester sank in 1943, Eisenhower declared that “all the history of America bears witness to [the] truth … that in times of test and trial, we instinctively turn to God.”
In addition to the Navy turning away from the recognition God as our true source of strength, the Air Force has also issued recent guidelines stating that prayer “should not usually be part of routine official business,” and that if it is included, it should be “non-denominational” and “inclusive.” This drive to ensure that atheists and agnostics feel no discomfort or offense due to the recognition of God will inevitably affect our other branches of service. But the history of the military dictates otherwise. An 1853 U.S. Senate report observed, our forefathers never intended “to send our armies and navies forth to do battle for their country without any recognition of that God on whom success or failure depends.” With troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and various other potential “war zones,” we should be particularly cognizant of this warning.
When asked about the Klingenschmitt case, a spokesman for President Bush replied, “The president believes that chaplains ought to be free to express their religious beliefs. He further believes in allowing the military to handle its own issues.” However, this is not just a military problem, but a national one, and as commander in chief, President Bush is responsible and should take appropriate action to restore the freedom of our military to recognize God. The president should remember, as our second president, John Adams once observed, that “God Almighty has always been our General and Commander in Chief, and we have never had any other.”
With our Pledge “Under God” in jeopardy and our national motto “In God We Trust” under attack, we cannot – we must not – allow our military establishment to succumb to a political correctness that has all but destroyed our education system and corrupted our politics. The survival of our nation and our future depends upon it!
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