Judeo-Christian Heritage Bill Challenges Obama’s Claim That U.S. Is A Secular Nation
June 11, 2009 - 4:08 PMRep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) says the United States is a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and he hopes that his sponsorship of a bill designating the first week in May as "America's Spiritual Heritage Week" will make that belief official.
“Our Founding Fathers unanimously said we have a Creator who gave us those rights,” Forbes told CNSNews.com, referring to the Declaration of Independence, which says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
“If we let people who want to challenge that convince us there is no Creator, then we also have no rights,” Forbes said.
The “Spiritual Heritage” bill includes a long list of congressional actions that testify to how and when Judeo-Christian principles have shaped the nation, from Congress approving in 1777 the distribution of Bibles for schools and families throughout the states, to the law passed by Congress in 1954 adding “one nation under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.
Forbes said he first introduced the act in the 110th Congress, inspired by the sacrifices made by the Founding Fathers and the self-serving nature of today’s politicians. But President Barack Obama’s remarks made during his tour of the Middle East have renewed Forbes’s determination to preserve America’s religious heritage, the congressman said.
At an Apr. 6 press conference with Turkey’s president, Obama said secularism is what makes America great.
“That’s something that’s very important to me,” Obama said. “And I’ve said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is – although as I mentioned we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”
On May 4, Forbes introduced the House Resolution 397 in the House of Representatives and spoke about it on the House floor on May 6.
“When our Constitution was signed, the signers made sure that they punctuated the end of it by saying, ‘in the year of our Lord, 1787,’” Forbes said. “And 100 years later in the Supreme Court case of Holy Trinity Church v. The United States, the Supreme Court indicated, after recounting the long history of faith in this country, that we were even a Christian nation.”
“President George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan all disagreed with the President’s [Obama’s] comments and indicated how the Bible and Judeo-Christian principles were so important in this nation,” Forbes said. “And Franklin Roosevelt even led this nation in a six-minute prayer before the invasion of perhaps the greatest battle in history, the Invasion of Normandy, and asked for God’s protection.” (Video.)
In that same speech in Turkey, Obama compared that nation’s history to the founding of the United States.
“I think Turkey was – modern Turkey was founded with a similar set of principles, and yet what we’re seeing is in both countries that promise of a secular country that is respectful of religious freedom, respectful of rule of law, respectful of freedom, upholding these values and being willing to stand up for them on the international stage,” said Obama.
But Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, said Turkey and the United States differ because of their distinct view of religion.
“The American founders certainly created a secular Republic,” Bandow told CNSNews.com. “They created a government that was not going to be itself directly tied to religion and they certainly did not expect to have a nationally established church.”
“On the other hand, they were very much the believers in and respecters of a religious tradition,” Bandow said. “While not all of them were personally religious, they recognized that the American people were religious people.”
“So they never would have planned the sorts of strong efforts to keep religion anywhere out of the public square [and] that’s what you see in Turkey,” Bandow said.
Forbes told CNSNews.com that he decided to replace the pictures of himself posing with politicians and dignitaries on the wall of his congressional office with a copy of the Declaration of Independence and pictures of the men who signed that historic document.
The spiritual heritage bill is a way to honor those men and educate people about the Judeo-Christian principles the country was founded upon, Forbes said.
“They can pull God off of the walls of every federal building, and if they convince us that talking about a Creator is somehow mixing religion with government, they will be refuting the core principles that our Founding Fathers utilized to birth this nation,” Forbes said.