My father, Ron Mann, wrote this speech a number of years ago. It is somewhat long but well worth the read as it is still pertinent today, perhaps even more than when he wrote it.
Several years ago a young naval officer was promoted to captain and given command of a new destroyer. He was awed with his promotion and his new assignment. One day during initial sea trials of his ship he ran into a dense fog. While standing on the bridge of his ship his communications officer, a young Lt. Commander came running in and said: “Sir there is a ship’s light heading directly in our path.” “Signal him to change his course five degrees!” The new caption said. In a few minutes the young officer returned with another message from the other commander. “You change your course!” Signed Lt. Smith. The hair of the back of the captain’s neck bristled. “Send him another message to change his course immediately!”
Anxiously the young communications officer rushed off to send the captain’s message. Shortly after sending the captain’s message he received yet another message. “You change your course immediately!” Signed Lt. Smith. Realizing they were closing in on the other ship and that they were running out of time he flew to the bridge and reported the message. In a rage the captain said send that idiot this message: “This is Captain Jones of the US Destroyer Arizona and I have the right of way, now by D--- you change your course immediately!” In a few minutes the young Lt. Commander, somewhat sheepishly returned with yet another message. It read: “This is Lt. Smith of the Green Point Lighthouse, I recommend you change your course or prepare to be grounded!” Well you can guess who changed course.
The last message sent to the brash young naval captain by the lighthouse keeper is very appropriate for us. As a nation we have lost our course and need to make an immediate course correction or prepare to end up in the graveyard of nations, nations that likewise ignored the Lighthouse Keeper! Over 150 years ago Daniel Webster one of the greatest articulators of our constitutional form of government warned the people:
In 1837, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, entitled: “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions”—this society was formed by Lincoln and other young men in the fall of 1836. In his speech he reminded his audience of their priceless heritage. Some of his message is appropriate for us this evening.
“We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty than any of which the history of former times tells us. We when mounting the stage of existence found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to uprear upon it hills and valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ‘tis ours only to transmit these –the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the later undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation—to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.”
“How then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with Bonaparte for a commander, could not force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reaches us it must spring upon amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author an finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.” —Abraham Lincoln: Complete Works, Comprising His Speeches, Letters, State Papers, and Miscellaneous Writings, Volume 1, edited by John Hay, 1907, p 9.
I believe Lincoln had it right. The Huns are not at our door but fellow occupants of our house. The termites of tyrants have been busy gnawing at our constitutional form of government for decades. Our republic, like the mighty oak has survived storms, lightening, wars and fires of passions, but also like the mighty oak may be quietly destroyed by those ubiquitous, covert and determined insects. Not content with individual personal liberty it is their desire to force their will upon all and do so by installing a new form of government that will allegedly provide peace and security. The results of such wishful thinkers is always the same – a tyrannical system that doesn’t provide peace or security, but rather destroys individual freedom and sends the society back to the dark ages. The same approach used by the termites on the oak tree are being used on our republic. They always attack the vulnerable areas first and then spread their work of carnage until they undermine the whole fabricate of society, causing it to eventually collapse. Frances Grund fired a warning shot on this when he wrote:
The American Constitution is remarkable for its simplicity; but it can only suffice a people habitually correct in their actions, and would be utterly inadequate to the wants of a different nation. Change the domestic habits of the Americans, their religious devotion, and their high respect for morality, and it will not be necessary to change a single letter in the Constitution in order to vary the whole form of government.” —The Americans, in their Moral, Social, and Political Relations, Volume 1, Francis Joseph Grund, 1837, p 171.
John Adams said that: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” Add to this the pursuit of material goods and pleasure to exclusion of most everything else, they have accomplished what Grund warned us about. So long as most have money to spend and the time to spend it they are oblivious to growth of government and the gradual erosion of respect for the constitution and the growth of the rule of man over the rule of law. The Socratic maxim that the recognition of our ignorance is the beginning of wisdom has a profound significance for our understanding of where our society is presently heading. Our inspired constitution form of government and therefore our freedom is gravely at risk and may be in jeopardy.
It is difficult to make the case for reform or a return to an old standard if by their own choice, people remain ignorant of that standard and believe all is well in Zion. “For behold, at that day shall he rage in hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good. An others will be pacify, and lull then away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion, yea Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls , and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. . .Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!” —2 Nephi 28: 20-21, 24
It was George Washington who said: “… let them persevere in their affectionate vigilance over that precious depository of American happiness, the Constitution of the United States. Let them cherish it too.” I believe like many of those who were involved in the writing of our constitution that we are the recipients of the greatest government on earth and that it was inspired of God. George Washington in his Circular Letter written to all the governors of the thirteen colonies in 1783 reminded them:
“The citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole lords and proprietors of a vast tract of continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the World, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniences of life, are now by the late satisfactory pacification, acknowledged to be possessed of absolute freedom and Independence; They are, from this period, to be considered as the actors on a most conspicuous theatre, which seems to be peculiarly designated by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity; Here, they are not only surrounded with every thing which can contribute to the completion of private and domestic enjoyment, but Heaven has crowned all its other blessings by giving a fairer opportunity for political happiness than any other nation has ever been favored with.” —”A Circular Letter from his Excellency George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States of America, dated June 18, 1783”, Lossing, Benson John. Seventeen Hundred and Seventy-six …. United States: Edward Walker, 114 Fulton Street, 1852, p. 456
A roll call of those who attended the Constitution Convention and believed that God had inspired them reads like the “Whose Who” of the time:
- Often considered as the Father of The Constitution, James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers (Paper #37): “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not perceive in it a finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequent and signally extend to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution … .”
- Alexander Hamilton the genius behind the Federalist Papers and the author of a majority of them wrote the following: “For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system, which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.” [written on October 17, 1787, in response to critiques of the Constitution by Cato]
- Charles Pinckney, author of the Pinckney plan and a major participant in the convention wrote: “But when the great work was done and published, I was not only most agreeable disappointed, but struck with amazement. Nothing less than the superintending Hand of Providence, that so miraculously carried us through the war (in my humble opinion) could have brought it about so complete, upon the whole.”
- The Sage of the convention, Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1788: “I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nations, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live and move and have their being.”
- And the President of the Convention and he who had the greatest influence over the members of the convention, George Washington said: “The Hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.” —George Washington's letter of August 20, 1778 to Brig. General Thomas Nelson
Other “Founding Fathers” who did not attend the constitution convention also held the same belief: Patrick Henry said: “America was long before that time a great and gallant nation. In the estimation of other nations we were so; the beneficent hand of Heaven enabled her to triumph, and secured to her the most sacred rights mortals can enjoy.” John Jay, First Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court said: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Today there are many religious organizations that believe God inspired our Founding Fathers. The church to which I belong, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints believes this very strongly. The genesis of this belief comes from the Doctrine & Covenants 101:77-80: “According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I are given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose I established the Constitution of this land by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”
The recent supreme court ruling in the case of Stenberg vs. Carhart provides an example of how far we have strayed from our founders belief in Providence’s involvement in the founding of our nations and the writing of our constitution and their deep respect of Him and His creations. Recall what I read from D&C 101, that one of the reasons for our constitution was “… for the protection of all flesh …” The 5 to 4 decision of the Supreme Court invalidated the Nebraska statute in the case of Stenberg vs. Carhart that prohibited partial-birth abortion, treating abortion as a “right” of such majesty and force that no state can limit its use – no matter how barbaric the method. In the process gravely diminishing the sanctity of life and the United States Constitution. This is what the supreme court now sanctifies: It allows a doctor to dilate a pregnant woman’s cervix, initiate the delivery of the baby and then reach inside the uterus so the child will enter the birth canal feet-first, coaxes the feet and torso into the world then; lunges scissors into the base of the child’s skull, opens the cranial cavity, insert a tube, sucks out the brains, collapses the skull and yanks out the limp corpse.
“Let me first start with Brenda Shafer. Brenda Shafer described herself as pro-choice. She is working as a nurse in Dayton, OH … ‘The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head and the baby’s arms jerked out, like a startled reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby went completely limp. I was really completely unprepared for what I was seeing. I almost threw up as I watched Dr. Haskell doing these things.”—Congressional Record, Volume 142, Issue 133, September 24, 1996, p 22.
If God inspired the Constitution, and I believe he did, can you believe he would have provided within that document the justification for such butchery as this? He constantly showered his love on the children. Never, never would He have allowed such a provision! I believe if He does not do something soon to punish this nation for such government approved atrocity, he will have to apologize to Sodom & Gomorrah and the wicked destroyed by the flood – which I don’t think will ever happen! I believe that God requires individual accountability for our acts as well as a national accountability. The difference between individual and national accountability is that a nation does not have an after life in which to answer for its actions; the only time is the present. Therefore it must be recompensed for it actions whether good or bad now. James Mason a delegate from Virginia explained this principle: "As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.” (“The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787,” Max Farrand, ed., Yale University Press, Vol. II, p.370, 27 August 1787)
Moreover if our silence in this ruling is considered as approbation by those who oppose it what should we expect next? Euthanasia, limitation on number of children in our families etc. Our apparent silence in Supreme Court rulings like this is not golden but cowardice! The initial justification for abortion was that it would only be used to save the life of the mother or if she had been raped. I know, I was involved in the initial debates against abortion. Repeatedly we were told it would never be used for anything else. Since the Roe—Wade decision over 40 million abortions have taken place in the United States. Abortions are encouraged with or without parental approval for twelve year olds and up as well as for any woman as a method of birth control. This is something the proponents told me in 1971-72 would never happen!
I believe one of the most destructive and profound decisions made by the supreme court was the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education decision. It declared there to be a separation of church and state in the First Amendment. In this case the court took the Fourteenth Amendment as a tool to apply against the states. The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868 to guarantee the recently emancipated slaves would have civil rights in all states. It is incredible that the court would use this to prohibit religious activity in the schools or public affairs. Up to that time (79 years) the 14th Amendment had never been so interpreted. What had changed that would allow such an interpretation? Since this decision the court has torn to shreds the very fabric of American life and constantly expands their effort of removing God from every segment of American life. Our Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves in this strange turn of events. Each new ruling pertaining to this subject has moved us closer to a total secular society. Although the Court announced its doctrine of separation in 1947, it was not until 1962 that prayers were held to violate the Establishment Clause! The litany of legal abuses of the Constitution since then are dumbfounding, to wit:
- Offering verbal prayer in school is unconstitutional!
- Freedom of speech and press is guaranteed to students unless the topic is religious!
- Unconstitutional to offer verbal prayer over lunch at school!
- Unconstitutional for students to arrive early at school to hear a student volunteer to read prayers which have been offered in Congress!
- Unconstitutional for a Board of Education to use or refer to the word God in any of its publications!
- Unconstitutional for the Ten Commandments to hang on the walls of classrooms!
- Unconstitutional for a school graduation ceremony to contain an opening or closing prayer.
- Alaska public schools (1987) students were told that they could not use the word “Christmas” in school because it had the word Christ in it!
- Recently public schools were prohibited from showing a film about the settlement of Jamestown because it depicted the erection of a cross!
- In December 1988, an elementary school principal in Denver removed the Bible from the school library!
- School teacher in Colorado Springs was stopped from teaching Christmas carols because of alleged violations of the separation of church and state!
- A boy in Omaha, Nebraska was prohibited from reading his Bible silently during free time – told it was against the law.
I believe it is significant and not by accident that the 1947 Everson case which first introduced the phrase separation of church and state had to do with education. Abraham Lincoln put his finger on it precisely when he said: “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”—American Providential History, McDowell and Beliles, Providence Press, Charlottesville, VA., 1989, p. 95 [I cannot find an original source for this quote]. One look at our present elected officials, including judges – our government -- and one has to conclude Lincoln was right! Note, much of the material for the above three paragraphs came from the book The Myth of Separation, by David Barton, Wall Builder Press, Aledo, Texas, 1992.
I do not think it is an accident that the courts have tightened their interpretation on the religious portion of the First Amendment and expanded the portion dealing with freedom of speech which allows a deluge of filth and pornography material to blanket our nation.
Perhaps one of the most egregious examples of how far we have strayed is the recent decision made by Federal District Judge Jennifer Coffman, who ruled in May, 2000 that displays of historic American documents in eastern Kentucky schools and courthouses were unconstitutional and had to be removed! In her justification she said they had the effect of “conveying a very specific governmental endorsement of religion.” And what were these terrible documents that were so blatant in endorsing religion? An excerpt from the Declaration of Independence - “... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the preamble to the Constitution of Kentucky, which states: “We the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessing, do ordain and establish this Constitution,” The American national motto, “In God We Trust”, A proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan and The Mayflower Compact. If we carry this convoluted logic to its logical conclusion they will soon outlaw our Declaration of Independence and declare it to be unconstitutional and all state constitutions that use the words “God or Providence” to be likewise unconstitutional and force the states to rewrite them.
To understand what has happened that has allowed the first amendment to be so badly misconstrued we need to learn how this body of tangled case law came about. It was not until 1925, in Gitlow v. New York, (268 US 652 (1925), that any provision of the of the Bill of Rights was applied to the states. Further it was not until 1947 that the Establishment Clause was made applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment. At the time the Bill of Rights was debated and ratified it was intended to apply only to the national government.
“The Bill of Rights came about largely as the result of the demands of the Anti-Federalist who were against the new Constitution. They feared, as George Mason of Virginia put in, that in time the national authority would “devour” the states. They felt since each state had a bill of rights, it was only appropriate that new federal government should have one as well. Many at the convention thought a Bill of Rights was not necessary and even destructive. Madison (at least at first) thought a Bill of Rights to be but a “parchment barrier” to political power, nevertheless the Federalists agreed to add a Bill of Rights.
Though the first ten amendments that were ultimately ratified fell far short of what the Anti-Federalist desired, both Federalist and Anti-Federalist agreed that the amendments were a curb on national power. When this view was questioned before the Supreme Court in Barron v. Baltimore, (32 U.S. 243 (1833) Chief Justice Marshal wholeheartedly agreed. The Constitution said what it meant and meant what it said. Neither political expediency nor judicial desire was sufficient to change the clear import of the language of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights did not apply to the states—and, he said, that was that.
Until 1925, that is. Since then a good portion of constitution adjudication has been aimed at extending the scope of the doctrine of incorporation.” “The Great Debate: Interpreting Our Written Constitution”, published by the The Federal Society, Wash. DC, 1986, speech by Attorney General Edwin Meese III., p 8-9.
As a result of this the states have lost most of their sovereignty and the power of the federal government has grown as feared it would. We need not review each of the first 10 amendments, to see how the theory of incorporation has had negative affect on the nation as a whole and the states in particular. Sadly, the basic document that divided the powers of the federal government and assigned specific limitations to each department has been ignored and/or badly twisted beyond the founders intent.
We must reverse the trend away from our Constitution as given to us by our Founding Fathers. If not reversed, the constitutional liberty, which we have enjoyed for over 200 years, will be lost. I believe it is possible but it will require dedication and an in depth understanding of the constitution and its history. That mandates frequent visits to the well spring of knowledge on the subject – the writings of our Founding Fathers and the Scriptures. Since God was the inspiration for the Constitution, it seems only logical that He will assist us in our efforts; provided we ask.