Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
FAITH IN AMERICA--A FOURTH OF JULY SERMON
(Extensions of Remarks - November 19, 1999)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E2504-E2506] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] FAITH IN AMERICA--A FOURTH OF JULY SERMON ______ HON. MAC COLLINS of georgia in the house of representatives Thursday, November 18, 1999 Mr. COLLINS. Mr. Speaker, as Congress prepares to recess for the Session, I wanted to commend for the reading of the Members words delivered to a small Mississippi congregation on the Fourth of July of this year by Rev. Ray N. Daniel, Jr. I bring these remarks to your attention now because I believe that as we return to the people who sent us here, we may have time to reflect on the inspiration of the basic beliefs upon which this Nation was founded. I trust that the views are shared by many across this country. As we close this year, and look to a new Session, may the inspiration of these words cause us to stop and think about why we are here, what we stand for, and how we will put the words of this sermon into action for the good of ourselves, our constituents, and the Nation as a whole. Faith in America--A Fourth of July Sermon (By Reverend Ray N. Daniel, Jr.) Scripture Reading: Paul's Letter to the Romans 1:16-2:3 KJV For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Prayer: Lord God, we pray your word be upon our hearts and your blessings upon our nation. Amen. How many of you are flying your flag today? Well those of you away from home and visiting have a good excuse. I bought a flag so that I could fly it. Fly it proudly. My remarks today are unashamedly patriotic and Christian, what I have to share with you is not purely Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist, it's a Christian view of our country today. While Bill Moyers was President Lyndon Johnson's press secretary, one day at lunch, Bill said grace (a prayer of thanks or blessing for food). President Johnson said ``Speak up, Bill, I can't hear a thing.'' To which Bill replied quietly, ``I wasn't addressing you, Mr. President.'' Prayer, a cornerstone of our Faith is under attack. For there are those who would have us cease talking to God. They would if they could banish God from any public forum. Woodrow Wilson said, ``A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.'' We will take a few moments to look at where we have come from, what the faith of our founding fathers was, take stock of where we are today, and where we need to go. Where we need to go is to almighty God. A FEW QUOTES FROM AMERICA'S BEGINNINGS ``It cannot be emphasized too strongly or to often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.''--Patrick Henry (2) ``We have staked the whole future of America's civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions * * * upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.''--James Madison ``And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis--a conviction in the minds of people that these liberties are the gift of God.? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.''--Thomas Jefferson ``He who shall introduce into the public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.''--Benjamin Franklin On June 12, 1775, our nation's Congress actually called for ``a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer,'' wherein `` ``[we] offer up our joint supplications to the all-wise, omnipotent and merciful disposer of all events.'' In initiating this day, Congress attended an Anglican service in the morning and a Presbyterian service in the afternoon. Congress even commissioned the printing of the Bible on October 26, 1780, stating that ``it be recommended to such of the states who may think it convenient for them that they take proper measures to procure one or more new and correct editions of the Old and New testaments to be printed. * * *'' Later, Congress allocated money for the Christian education of Indians. There are countless examples of such actions by Congress. So, how can our Christian history be so obviously ignored by those blatantly attempting to demonize Christian activism in the modern culture? They look to a simple phrase--``a wall of separation'' between church and state-- that was once written in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptist worshipers. (Please note that this statement does not appear in the Constitution, even though network reporters frequently refer to the false notion of a ``constitutional separation of church and state.'') In September 1779, the House of Representatives, after passing a resolution calling for a day of national prayer and thanksgiving, received Mr. Washington's response: ``It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly to implore His protection and favor * * That great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that ever will be, that we may then unite in rendering unto Him or sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people. * * *'' Second President John Adams frequently referred to ``an overruling providence'' and ``devotion to God almighty'' in his writings, and recurrently contended that human freedom was founded in the ordinance of the Creator. Washington and Adams were not alone in their beliefs. These were predominately-held convictions of our Founding Fathers. Even Benjamin Franklin, often seen as a secularist member of the group, stated in later-life, ``the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth--that God governs in the affairs of men.'' The most foundational of documents to our society, in fact the document which we celebrate today is-- The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies ``In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776 The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying [[Page E2505]] its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses: For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has adbicated Government here by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethern, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethern. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends. We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitud of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare. That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows: New Hampshire--Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thorton; Massachusetts--John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry; Rhode Island--Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery; Connecticut--Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott; New York--William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris; New Jersey--Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark; Pennsylvania-- Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross; Delaware--Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean; Maryland--Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton; Virginia--George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton; North Carolina--William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn; South Carolina--Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton; Georgia--Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.'' ____ Remember these words, for countless Americans have fought for them, fought to preserve them, fought to keep us free from tyranny. We need to exercise our rights, speaking freely, worshiping freely, preserving our freedoms. We are only about a month away from our first primary here in Mississippi, many are thinking about not voting because ``my vote doesn't count''. At the eve of the vote for the Declaration of Independence a vote was taken and those wanting it to pass were one vote short of having votes from all 13 colonies. Not present was a delegate from Delaware, Caesar Rodney. Some one was sent to tell Caesar Rodney of the need of his vote, he left his sick bed on the night of July 2, to ride through the night, through storm and mudslides to arrive at Liberty Hall in time to cast the deciding vote. His one vote made the difference between tyranny and freedom. Your one vote can make a difference in our upcoming elections. But there are many who ask this question: What Happened to America? What has happened, what have we become. It is well said in a poem titled ``What Happened to America?'' by Sharon Lambright Duncan-- ``What happened to America, When did we go astray? Was it when they told our children While in school you must not pray. Or maybe it all began when they said There's not right or wrong. Just do what feels the best for you And everyone else can get along. Or was it when they said You can kill an unborn child? After all if it's not wanted, It would never be worthwhile. Or could it be when God's word was ignored, And they said it's not a sin For women to love other women And men to be lovers of men. What happened to America, [[Page E2506]] Where did we go wrong? When did we lose the principles Our nation was founded on? ``In God we trust'' no longer seems To be the motto of our land. We've become so educated and smart, So we place our trust in man. What happened to America, How did we get this way? I really think it happened When God's people had nothing to say. If we're not willing to speak God's truth, And on his words firmly stand, Can we expect Him to keep us safe In His protective hand? What WILL happen to America, Will she come back to God someday? Nothing is impossible If God's people will earnestly pray. ____ Shortly after the shooting fiasco at a Littleton High School this guest editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News-- [From the Dallas Morning News, May 2, 1999] Generation Has Some Questions (By Marcy Musgrave) I am a member of the upcoming generation the one after Generation X that has yet to be given a name. So far, it appears that most people are rallying behind the idea of calling us Generation Next. I believe I know why. The older generations are hoping we will mindlessly assume our place as the ``next'' in line. That way, they won't have to explain why my generation has had to experience so much pain and heartache. ``What heartache?'' You say. ``Don't you know you have grown up in a time of great prosperity?'' Yeah, we know that. Believe me, it has been drilled into our heads since birth. Unfortunately, the pain and hurt I speak of can't be reconciled with money. You have tried for years to buy us happiness, but it is only temporary. Money isn't the answer, and it is time for people to begin admitting their guilt for failing my generation. I will admit that I wasn't planning to write this. I was going to tuck it away in some corner of my mind and fall victim to your whole ``next'' mentality. But after the massacre in Littleton, Colo., I realize that, as a member of this generation that kills without remorse, I had a duty to challenge all of my elders to explain why they have allowed things to become so bad. Let me tell you this: These questions don't represent only me but a whole generation that is struggling to grow up and make sense of this world, We all have questions; we all want explanations. People may label us Generation Next, but we are more appropriately Generation ``Why?'' ____ Remember God's Word and its truth, in a time when people say the only truth is what I say at the moment is truth. God's word says, ``If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.; (John 14:6 KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Jesus said, ``I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'' This week our congress sought to pass a declaration that would implore Americans to repent and turn to the Almighty, it was defeated, I am assured it will come up again and receive the support it so richly deserves, to call on the nation to humble themselves before the creator, to pray, to repent of their manifold sins. But alas there are those who do not believe there is sin, everything is o.k. No the ills of America, can't be solved at the polls alone, but there is a need for Godly leadership, for Men and Women who will put principles before money and self, who will put America, before the economy of the world and other nations. It is time America, to wake up and heed the call, to faith, to faith in the one true God of our fathers. It is time America, to repent of accepting sin for normal behavior and call sin, sin. It is time America, to stand on the truth of God's word, his plan, not our own. Let us Pray. Reverend Ray N. Daniel, Jr. is an elder serving in the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church, appointed to the Rose Hill Charge. He has been serving in town and country ministry since 1980. Rev. Daniel graduated from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, and obtained a Master of Divinity from the Iliff School of Theology, in Denver, Colorado. ____________________