Happy Independence Day!
Psalm 33:12 (NRSV)-
12 Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.
Yesterday, as I was preparing for one of several meetings in Mexico City, I came across the following segment of a speech that then, congressional candidate John F. Kennedy, gave on July 4, 1946 at Faneuil Hall during the City of Boston’s Independence Day celebration:
“The informing spirit of the American character has always been a deep religious sense. Throughout the years, down to the present, a devotion to fundamental religious principles has characterized American though and action.”
For anyone wondering what fundamental religious principles had to do with Independence Day, President Kennedy made the connection explicit by stating, “Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual. It was this religious sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’”
The Declaration of Independence issued from Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 included four separate references to God. In addition to the “endowed by their Creator” line mentioned by JFK in his July 4 speech, there is an opening salute to “the laws of nature’s God,” an appeal to “the Supreme Judge of the World,” and a closing expression of “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”
The foundation of our nation being rooted in reliance upon God and the inalienable rights that he has endowed each of us with has been diluted and forgotten over the last several decades. To this end, we occasionally read about hard-core believers in the separation of church and state viewing The Declaration of Independence as a violation of the US Constitution’s First Amendment’s clause prohibiting Congress from establishing a religion.
The Declaration of Independence’s concept of God-given inalienable of rights of liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness is not without its flaws. But, make no mistake about it, our Founding Father’s were God-Honoring men who believed that these, among other rights, came from the Creator of the Universe. So, in the same document in which they declared independence from Great Britain, they gave him the glory.
Today, knowing that the American Revolution and thus the country we live in started with a firm faith in God, amid the fireworks and barbecue smoke, let’s pause for a moment to honor and reflect on the one our founding fathers called the Creator.
Heavenly Father God, we come to this Independence Day, grateful for the foundation of our country and for the men and women who gave their lives so that we might be free. So, as we watch the magnificent explosions of color on this red, white, and blue holiday, we are reminded of our spectacular Lord and Savior who is great beyond our imaginations. May His name be honored, praised, and celebrated throughout our country on this joyous national holiday! And, may you continue to bless The United States of America. Amen!