What is the source of America’s liberty?
The fact that so many Americans stumble over the question gives rise to a new book warning that the nation’s “collective amnesia” concerning its past inevitably will lead to a loss of that liberty.
In “American Amnesia: Is America Paying the Price for Forgetting God, the Source of Our Liberty?” author, radio and TV host, and TV producer Jerry Newcombe diagnoses the problem and offers concrete solutions through a collection of current-event columns he wrote over the past several years on God, government, the American experiment, culture, church and state.
“We have been blessed by God perhaps more than any other nations before us. But in the process of being blessed, we have forgotten God, ” he writes in the introduction.
In one essay, he points out the irony of banning God from America’s public square: The First Amendment that gives atheists the right to profess no religion and to petition against expressions of religion is based on principles of Christian faith.
“It was Christianity that gave us our religious freedom in the first place,” Newcombe noted in an interview with WND. “But now it’s the Christian perspective that isn’t tolerated.”
He cites Thomas Jefferson, in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom – a forerunner of the First Amendment – stating that “the holy author of our religion,” Jesus Christ, chose to “influence” the mind by reason rather than coercion.
“Almighty God hath created the mind free,” Jefferson wrote in 1777.
Newcombe, a WND columnist, is the senior producer for D. James Kennedy Ministries. He’s the author or co-author of 26 books, including bestsellers “George Washington’s Sacred Fire” and “What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?” He hosts the weekly radio program “Vocal Point.”
Much of America’s amnesia problem, contends Newcombe, can be blamed on its educational system.
He pointed to an American history textbook that dedicated seven pages to Marilyn Monroe and just one paragraph to George Washington.
“How can kids get the right perspective on American history with material like that?” Newcombe asked.
Furthermore, the history that is recounted in American classrooms typically distorts the religious and spiritual dimension.
The Puritans, for example, “blessed us in so many different ways, but all they get, as far as memory is concerned, is the ugly chapter of the witchcraft trials, as if that’s the end all, be all of the Puritan experience.”
It’s the Puritans who created Harvard and Yale, Newcombe pointed out.
“There is not a day that goes by that we in modern America don’t enjoy all kinds of liberties because of the Puritans applying biblical principles to the law and education,” he said.
Newcombe also recalled the great Puritan leader John Winthrop and the image of a city on a hill that so often was quoted by President Reagan.
“People forget the link between the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the biblical concept of covenant,” he said.
The 1620 Mayflower Compact established by the Puritans was the first of many to employ the biblical concept of covenant, calling on God as a witness and binding each man to another.
“This tradition of an agreement for self-government paved the way for the Founding Fathers writing the Constitution,” Newcombe told WND.
“American Amnesia” is comprised of 116 essays with titles such as “A Nation in Need of True Revival,” “Ten Reasons Why the Church Should not Abandon Politics” and “Just Who Is Rewriting History?” The chapters are divided into three parts: “Remembering our Nation’s Judeo-Christian Roots,” “Renewing our Role as Active Citizens” and “Recovering Our Religious Liberty in the Face of a Militant Secularism.”
Preserving government by we the people
Newcombe argues that a limited government, governed by “we the people,” requires a people who themselves are governed by religious faith.
In the introduction, he recalls French political philosopher and historian Alexis de Tocqueville observing in his 1838 book “Democracy in America”: “The main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality.”
“If you remove [religious faith], ” Newcombe told WND, “we can’t get enough police to guard everybody, or army battalions to protect us from our fellow citizens.”
In one essay, he cites Daniel Webster’s 1820 address celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing at Plymouth Rock.
Webster, a member of both chambers of Congress and secretary of state under three presidents, said America’s forefathers believed moral habits “cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits.”
“Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens,” he said.
Finally, said Webster, “let us not forget the religious character of our origin.”
“Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary.”
Webster concluded: “Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this influence still more widely; in full conviction that this is the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity.”