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The Foundations of American Freedom

The 700 Club

CBN.comPat Robertson: It is a pleasure to have with us David Barton to talk about the spiritual legacy of America. I am so glad you are he with us.

David Barton: Thanks, Pat. It's good to be with you.

Robertson: You always inspire us. The question is asked, was America founded as a Christian nation? We have said yes, yes, yes. But you have the proof.

Barton: There is a lot of proof. Not the least of which is a great 4th of July speech that was given in 1737 by one of the guys who fought in the revolution, who became a president, John Quincy Adams. His question was why is it in America that the Fourth of July and Christmas are the most celebrated holidays? His answer was that at Christmas we celebrate what Jesus Christ did for the world his birth, and on the 4th of July we celebrate what Jesus Christ did for America, since we founded it as a Christian nation. So this is a guy who fought in it, and all these years later he is saying, we did this as a Christian nation. The Declaration of Independence formed all of the principles of Christianity into our form of government. They said that on a regular basis, and it was they who said it was a Christian nation.

Robertson: He was the son of John Adams, who was very instrumental in the Declaration of Independence. It was Jefferson who penned it, but Adams was right there in all those debates and deliberations. He was probably the preeminent member of that deliberative body.

Barton: John Adams was really the key decision-maker behind the scenes. He's the guy who convinced everybody else that it should be George Washington as Commander in Chief instead of Charles Lee. He's the guy who convinced everybody else that Jefferson ought to be the chief writer of the Declaration. Adams persuaded everyone else, and Jefferson said Adams is the guy who best articulated the principles. And it is interesting, too, that on the day they approved the Declaration, John Adams said that the Fourth of July should be celebrated as a day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.

Robertson: He said that?

Barton: He said that. He said that it should be a religious holiday. The Fourth of July should be a time when we stop and say thank you God for what you have done in this nation.

Robertson: When we had a revolution to free ourselves from Great Britain there was a motto. What was that motto?

Barton: The motto that was often used, it showed up in the Vermont Legislature, and it was, "No king but King Jesus." It was built actually on what Jefferson and Franklin had proposed as the national motto, which is, "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." That's based on Acts four and five where the Apostles said, 'Well, do we obey God? Do we obey man? We think we'll obey God.' And so that motto, "No king but King Jesus" was a big part of the revolution.

Robertson: When John Ashcroft said that he was roundly condemned, but that was the motto of the Revolution.

Barton: It was the motto of the Revolution, and that's established. As a matter of fact, the currency of each state throughout the Revolution, they had their own money -- and North Carolina's currency had a picture of a crown with an x over it, and it had a Bible under it, and it said, 'the Bible is our law.' That was the currency of the revolution for the different states.

Robertson: David, you've studied all of this. Doesn't it break your heart to see what these courts are doing to strip our religious heritage?

Barton: It is amazing because that kind of decision has far-reaching repercussions. But on the other side, it's an indictment of ourselves. We have judges that are there only because elected people put them there. We have 60 million evangelicals in America, and only 15 million voted last election. Forty-five million didn't vote, and 24 million aren't registered to vote. We lost our five Senators by a collective total of 100,000 votes in five states, and yet 45 million Christians didn't vote in those states in that election. So if we want to see judges change we have to turn out this November and elect god-fearing guys to the Senate and get this stuff changed and going in a different direction.

Robertson: You have a number of books here before us. Tell us what some of them are. I know you brought them here for a purpose.

Barton: They are all indications of the deep Christian convictions of these guys who did our Declaration. For an example, here is a hand written letter from one of the signers of the Declaration. This letter is from Charles Carroll of Carrollton. He says, "On the mercy of my Redeemer I rely for salvation, and on His merits, not on the works that I've done in obedience to His precepts." So this is supposed to be one of our atheist, agnostic, deist founding fathers, and there is an open declaration of Jesus, and the mercy of our Redeemer.

Robertson: What are some of these other ones?

Barton: This is a hymnbook from 1767. It's America's very first hymnbook. This was done by a signer of the Declaration, Francis Hopkinson. He took the entire book of Psalms and set it to music. So our first hymnbook came from a political leader.

This is the first family Bible ever done in America. This was from 1791, and it's from the Reverend Dr. John Witherspoon.

Robertson: He was the editor or the compiler of that?

Barton: He was the editor and compiler of this, and he wrote a really funny introduction to this thing. It is essentially the text for the King James Bible, but he said we just fought a war to get rid of kings, and we're not about to call this the King James Bible. On top of that it's God's Bible, it's not King James' Bible anyway. So he wrote the introduction to this and compiled it as the family Bible.

Robertson: Witherspoon was the President of Princeton. Here's another one -- these are fascinating.

Barton: This is the book that the founders said they used in writing the Declaration. This is John Locke's Two Treatises of Civil Government, from 1765. This is the basis of the Declaration. This quotes the Bible 1,700 times to show the proper operation of civil government. No wonder we have had a successful government -- 226 years we celebrate this year. There are 1700 Bible verses at the base of what they did in writing the Declaration.

Robertson: One last thing, but I wish we had an hour.

Barton: This is a proclamation from John Hancock in 1791. He had been the President of Congress. You will find throughout, as you'll see here at the bottom, the Lord Jesus Christ all over this thing. It's an interesting proclamation. It's a state proclamation, and his request is, since I'm the Governor of Massachusetts, let's pray that if there is anyone who doesn't know Christ, that they would come to know Christ in Massachusetts.

Robertson: That was a state proclamation in the state of Massachusetts?

Barton: It was a state proclamation from a signer of the Declaration of Independence. So this nonsense that these guys wanted a secular nation, that they didn't want any God in government, it doesn't hold up.

Robertson: Well keep it up. I wish we had an hour to talk about this because this thrills me to hear about it. But ladies and gentlemen, we have lost our heritage. We must recapture our heritage. I thank David Barton for the work that he's done, because he always thrills us when he comes. Thank you so much.

Barton: Thanks, Pat. It's good to be with you, brother.

Related Resources:

The Spirit Behind '76

Why Washington is "The Father of our Country"

Author Looks at U.S. History and Asks: 'What If?'

Cape Henry, A Christian Nation

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