"You shall not remove your neighbor's landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance, which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess." Deuteronomy 19:14

When the land of Canaan was divided among the twelve tribes it was further divided to the families in each tribe. Each family would mark the boundaries of their fields with a landmark such as a stone or a post. An unscrupulous neighbor could move the landmark over time and effectively "steal" a portion of his neighbor’s inheritance. In a very like manner the spiritual inheritance of Americans has been "stolen" over time.

The chances are very strong that those of us who have been educated in the government or secular educational systems have been taught that our nation was founded primarily by deists and agnostics. We have been further taught they built "an impregnable wall of separation between church and state" that prevents the church from influencing the state.

At times in our lives we may have heard a voice saying that America was founded on Biblical truth and Christian principles. Because of the secular education we have received we might be inclined to think this kind of person has to be a real weirdo. After all, what we’re hearing from news reporters and commentators on television and in the press reinforce the idea that America has always been a secular nation.


The political science professors at the University of Houston decided they would research the founding of America and establish what the landmarks of America’s heritage were. It took them ten years. They first gathered 15,000 documents written by those who comprised the Continental Congress; wrote the Declaration of Independence and made exceptional contributions to the founding and formation of our nation. From those first 15,000 documents they selected 3,154 which they felt made the greatest political impact in shaping this nation.

The first thing these political writers wanted to know was what literature had influenced our founding fathers. They discovered that thirty-four percent of their quotes were from the Old and New Testaments that made up the Christian Bible. They found that another sixty percent of their quotes were from other men who were quoting from the Christian Bible such as Blackstone, Montesquieu, John Locke, etc. Ninety-four percent of what they wrote in documents and said in their speeches was based upon the Bible

The second thing these political scientists wanted to know was the philosophical and/or religious beliefs held by these founding fathers. They found that 52 out of 55 were bold and forthright in their profession of being Christian.

The slogan for George Washington was "First in war; first in peace and first in the heart of his countrymen". In his Farewell Speech, George Washington summed up the principles on which our nation was founded and on which he governed as our first president: "Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars."

"Give me liberty or give me death" is a ringing quote widely recognized as coming from the lips of Patrick Henry. Here is one that is widely forgotten, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians - not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were the only individuals to suggest the terminology of the Declaration of Independence which has four references to God. In 1813, John Adams wrote Thomas Jefferson, "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity."

Daniel Webster reflected on the National Constitution and made this statement at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1820, "…more than all, a government and a country were to commence with the very first foundations laid under the divine light of the Christian religion…Who could wish that his country’s existence had otherwise begun? Let us not forget the religious character of our origin."

John Quincy Adams reflected on the foundations of our nation on July 4, 1821, "From the day of the Declaration…they (the American people) were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledged as the rules of their conduct."

John Jay was an outstanding contributor to our nations constitution and the first Chief Justice of our Supreme Court. He 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."

Just three years after the Declaration of Independence was signed the Supreme Court ruled in 1799, "By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion, and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty."

It would probably be an amazement to many that in 1892, just 106 years ago the Supreme Court ruled that the United States is a Christian nation. Justice Brewer delivered the court’s decision (142 U.S.. 257), "These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation…Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon, and embody, the teaching of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise. To this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian."


The often quoted phrase "wall of separation between church and state" does not appear in the constitution or any amendment to the constitution or any Supreme Court decision until 1947. The only previous reference was in a personal letter written by Thomas Jefferson. As a result of the Everson Vs Board of Education case in 1947 the court ruled, "The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable." This ruling laid the foundation for removing every reference to Christian teaching or practice from public institutions and public activities. Amazingly, even the statements of our founding fathers in regard to the Christian morals and principles upon which our nation was founded would be against the law to be quoted in our public school class rooms.

What did the First Amendment to our Constitution say? "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It can be demonstrated from the historical development of the first amendment that it was simply saying that Congress cannot establish a state church (like the Church of England) or prohibit the free exercises of any church.

But the wall of separation was effectively raised and has been effectively used to prevent Christian morals and principles from being taught in public institutions to our nation’s children. Few of us need to be reminded what the tragic consequences have been. Our spiritual and moral heritage has been lost in the public area.


The process of restoring the landmarks of our spiritual and moral principles to the public area are indeed formidable and many would say impossible. Some admirable efforts are being put forth. William Bennett, former Secretary of Education, is an example. Not only has he written best selling books advocating a return to the teaching of moral values but he has traveled our nation speaking at schools and colleges, government bodies, talk shows, and news programs. We wish him and others like him well.

Others have taken a different route. As a result of the moral and spiritual vacuum in our public institutions there has been a ground-swell of home schooling, church sponsored schooling and private schooling.

Many parents are also awakening to the realization that they can teach their children spiritual and moral truths no matter how lacking these principles are in the public area. Indeed, many are accepting this as their primary responsibility.

Even business leaders are seeing the importance of teaching their employees the values that made America a great nation. They host seminars and sponsor conferences that emphasize how essential these principles are in all our relationships…the workplace, the home, and the social life.

What are those spiritual and moral principles our founding fathers admired and felt were so vital to the fabric of our nation? Many have written very helpfully. Perhaps, Dick De Vos, the president of the Amway Corporation has done the best job of all in cataloging and illustrating what they are. In his book, "Rediscovering American Values" the table of contents outlines the teaching and examples that made America a truly great nation. To the extent they are embraced and practiced they will revitalize the truly great qualities of America.


Doing What Is Right

Honesty, Reliability, Fairness, Compassion, Courage, Humility, Reason, Self-discipline


Doing What We Want As Long As It Is The Right Thing To Do

Optimism, Commitment, Initiative, Work, Perseverance, Accountability, Cooperation, Stewardship


Helping Others To Do The Same

Encouragement, Forgiveness, Service, Charity, Leadership, Opportunity, Education, Brotherhood

Our response might well be, "Wow, when we consider where we are and how much we need to learn and teach others and practice, there’s a lot to do." Yes, but families, church, and God can join together. We can find help in the Bible and books like "Rediscovering American Values" and a surprising number of other places. When we see the results in our own families it will be worth it all. When we see the results in our nation we’ll be delighted indeed.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV except as otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.