Contributed by: Lewis J. Walker, CFP®
On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation. “Whereas 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; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have...requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’”
The War for Independence ended in 1783. We were a young nation with a revolutionary idea for a government free from the top down oppressions of monarchy. Deliberations of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 were held behind closed doors in strict secrecy. When adjourned, public curiosity was intense. A Mrs. Powell of Philadelphia queried Ben Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” In one of the most famous of his quotes, he crisply replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Like George Washington, Franklin recognized the importance of Divine Providence in our coming struggles as a nascent nation. Said he, “We have been assured, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest.”
Read the stirring words of George Washington in full. Access the Heritage Foundation, www.heritage.org. Type “Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation” into their internal search engine for the complete text. You will not see such spiritually uplifting words from today’s politicians. Where is God today in our national identity?
In two landmark court decisions – Engel v. Vitale on June 25, 1962, and Abington School District v. Schempp on June 17, 1963, the U. S. Supreme Court declared school-sponsored prayer and Bible readings unconstitutional. God has been banned from the public square. Move On.org has been circulating a petition, to wit, “No longer should the phrase ‘In God We Trust’ be printed on all money, or the phrase ‘under God’ be in the pledge. It is wrong for religion to be forced on the entire United States, and it is time for something to be done about it.” Thankfully, that has yet to happen.
As ISIS slaughters and enslaves Christians and targets anyone who does not share their radical views, we are blessed to worship, pray, and, yes, offer thanks to Almighty God for our good fortune as individuals and citizens of the United States, recognizing our dependence on Divine Power. Churches, synagogues, and mosques around the world are under attack by radicals. To MoveOn.org I say, “If we cannot trust in God, in whom shall we trust?” Do we press on to lose our national soul, with godless debates not even worthy of a Tower of Babel?
Spanning 67 years, Gallup has surveyed Americans six times, asking what they personally are most thankful for around Thanksgiving. "Family" ranks high, but not always is the most-mentioned response. “Health” or “good health” often tops the list. A year after the end of W.W. II in 1946, the most cited response was "war is over, world at peace." Same response in 1954 after the Korean War ended; 54% of those surveyed said “peace.”
Aside from the fact that the election is over, what should we be thankful for and pray for? Leaders, men and women with true character, perhaps as Josiah Gilbert Holland opined in his 1872 tome, Wanted? “God, give us men! A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands; Men whom the lust of office does not kill; Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy; Men who possess
opinions and a will; Men who have honor; men who will not lie; Men who can stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking! Tall men, sun crowned, who live above the fog in public duty and in private thinking; For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds, their large professions and their little deeds, mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps, wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps.”
May the Lord God grant our nation mercy and forgive the misguided. May you and yours truly be blessed this Thanksgiving.
Lewis Walker is a financial planning and investment strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-2603. Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. The SFA does not give tax or legal advice.