On April 30, 1789, President George Washington said:
". . . it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. . . .
"Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall [370 U.S. 421, 447] take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend."
On March 4, 1797, President John Adams said:
"And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence."
On March 4, 1805, President Thomas Jefferson said:
". . . I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations."
On March 4, 1809, President James Madison said:
"But the source to which I look . . . is in . . . my fellow-citizens, and in the counsels of those representing them in the other departments associated in the care of the national interests. In these my confidence will under every difficulty be best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future." [370 U.S. 421, 448]
On March 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln said:
". . . Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away? Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said `the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
On March 4, 1885, President Grover Cleveland said:
". . . And let us not trust to human effort alone, but humbly acknowledging the power and goodness of Almighty God, who presides over the destiny of nations, and who has at all times been revealed in our country's history, let us invoke His aid and His blessing upon our labors."
On March 5, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson said:
". . . I pray God I may be given the wisdom and the prudence to do my duty in the true spirit of this great people."
On March 4, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said:
"In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come."
On January 21, 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said:
"Before all else, we seek, upon our common labor as a nation, the blessings of Almighty God. And the hopes in our hearts fashion the deepest prayers of our whole people."
On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said:
"The world is very different now. . . . And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe - the belief that the rights of man come [370 U.S. 421, 449] not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.. . . . .
"With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."
Could all of these great men be wrong?
One year later the downfall began...
One year later the downfall began...
Prayer and the Bible Removed from Public SchoolsIn the Engel v. Vitale case (1962), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-1 against New York's "Regents' prayer," a "non-denominational" prayer which state education officials had composed for public schoolchildren to recite.
The government-sponsored religious devotion was challenged in court by a group of parents from New Hyde Park (some atheists, some believers). O'Hair was not involved in the case at all.
One year later, a case originated by a Philadelphia-area man named Ed Schempp challenging mandatory Bible reading in Pennsylvania schools reached the Supreme Court. At the same time, Murray O'Hair was challenging a similar practice as well as the recitation of the Lord's Prayer in Maryland public schools. The Supreme Court consolidated the cases and in 1963 ruled 8-1 that devotional Bible reading or other government-sponsored religious activities in public schools are unconstitutional.
Truly, these were two of the saddest days in America's history for God and His people.
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