The WallBuilders Show

Restoring Unity through Faith: The Founding Fathers’ Vision for America

July 03, 2024 Tim Barton, David Barton & Rick Green
Restoring Unity through Faith: The Founding Fathers’ Vision for America
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The WallBuilders Show
Restoring Unity through Faith: The Founding Fathers’ Vision for America
Jul 03, 2024
Tim Barton, David Barton & Rick Green

What if the foundation of American greatness lies in the unwavering faith and values of its Founding Fathers? Learn how the key principles championed by figures like Benjamin Rush, who launched the Sunday school movement, can guide us in restoring national unity today. In this episode, we explore Rush's advocacy for incorporating the Bible into public education and contrast it with the profound societal changes that followed the 1963 Supreme Court decision to remove Bible readings from schools.

Join us as we highlight the deeply rooted Christian beliefs of signers of the Declaration of Independence, such as Richard Stockton, Roger Sherman, and Francis Hopkinson, and how their faith influenced their monumental contributions. From Stockton's harrowing ordeal and faith-filled legacy to Sherman's biblical devotion and Hopkinson's musical contributions to American church music, their stories offer powerful insights into the role of faith in political leadership. We also examine the vision of leaders like Gouverneur Morris and George Washington for a nation guided by religion and morality, and reflect on John Adams' call to commemorate Independence Day with acts of devotion to God. Tune in to understand the power of religious liberty in America, including recent legislative and judicial shifts that have reintroduced religious teachings in public schools.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What if the foundation of American greatness lies in the unwavering faith and values of its Founding Fathers? Learn how the key principles championed by figures like Benjamin Rush, who launched the Sunday school movement, can guide us in restoring national unity today. In this episode, we explore Rush's advocacy for incorporating the Bible into public education and contrast it with the profound societal changes that followed the 1963 Supreme Court decision to remove Bible readings from schools.

Join us as we highlight the deeply rooted Christian beliefs of signers of the Declaration of Independence, such as Richard Stockton, Roger Sherman, and Francis Hopkinson, and how their faith influenced their monumental contributions. From Stockton's harrowing ordeal and faith-filled legacy to Sherman's biblical devotion and Hopkinson's musical contributions to American church music, their stories offer powerful insights into the role of faith in political leadership. We also examine the vision of leaders like Gouverneur Morris and George Washington for a nation guided by religion and morality, and reflect on John Adams' call to commemorate Independence Day with acts of devotion to God. Tune in to understand the power of religious liberty in America, including recent legislative and judicial shifts that have reintroduced religious teachings in public schools.

Support the Show.

Rick Green

Welcome to the Intersection of Faith and Culture. This is the Wall Builder Show. I'm Rick Green, America's Constitution Coach, with David Barton, America's Premier Historian and our Founder at WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, National Speaker and Pastor and President of WallBuilders. And today we're bringing you the conclusion of David Barton's presentation just a couple of days ago about Independence Day this week what made America great in the first place and how do we restore it, how do we preserve it and pass it to the next generation? We're going to take a very quick break early on and then, when we come back, we'll join David as we begin that conclusion of his presentation about Independence Day. Stay with us. You're listening to the WallBuilders Show.

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Rick Green

Welcome back to The WallBuilders Show. Let's jump in with David Barton on Independence Day. 

 

David Barton

Benjamin Rush is the guy who started the Sunday school movement in America. So churches have Sunday school we have for a long time. He's the guy who started Sunday schools in America. He's also the guy who started the very first Bible society in America. This is the Philadelphia Bible Society. He started that before any other Bible Society and he started that because he said you know, we've got people here in Philadelphia who don't have a Bible and don't know God's Word, and so everybody needs to know God's Word. He's also the guy who did the very first mass-produced Bible in America.

This is the Bible done by Benjamin Rush and he found a way. It's a technological advance. He found a way that you didn't have to typeset with individual letters. He was able to do entire pages at a time. So this is the first mass-produced Bible, which means it was a lot cheaper. So this is the Bible that you buy and give to your friends. You got people around you that don't know the Bible. This is the one you buy. So he wanted to make the Bible really easy to distribute for everyone.

And Benjamin Rush? This is what he said. He says my only hope of salvation is that the infinite, transcendent love of God manifested the world by the death of his son upon the cross. Nothing but his blood will wash away my sins. I rely exclusively upon it. Come, lord Jesus, come quickly. Again. That sounds fairly evangelical, which that's what these guys were. They're not the atheist, agnostics, deists that we're told and see, this is how bad our education is today. We don't even know, we can't name who these guys are and we don't have a clue what they believe. We just know they're atheist, agnostics, deists, and they were all slaveholders and a bunch of racists. We're as wrong on the issue of race as we are on the issue of faith, but today, because we don't know that, we just characterize them and mis portray them. So, going back to Benjamin Rush, the other thing that's significant about Benjamin Rush is he's called the father of public schools.

Under the Constitution Prior to the Declaration of Independence, we were 13 separate nations. Once we became an independent nation, we then wrote a constitution and our 13 separate nations became one United States, and he was a leading educator of the day. He started five universities in America and so, as a leading educator, he said all right, now that we're one nation, what do we have to teach in our public schools in the 13 states to remain one nation. And so he came up with a plan of what schools needed to teach in our public schools in the 13 states to remain one nation. And so he came up with a plan of what schools needed to teach. And the one that's really kind of interesting is this piece right here, this piece right here. You see, right there he went through and gave a dozen reasons why we would never take the Bible out of public schools in America. He said the only way we can remain a nation is if we teach the Bible in schools. And that was what all 13 states were doing. And so teaching the Bible in schools. This is what he did. That's a piece that came out in 1791. And so Benjamin Rush, he said, the great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effective means of extinguishing Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that it was improper to read the Bible in schools. What have we been doing since 1963?

I've been involved in 13 cases of the US Supreme Court. If you don't know, the US Supreme Court in 1963, abedin Shep Murray Curled up. That's when they took the Bible out of schools. And yet, do you know, if we go back prior to that, there's, for example, an 1844 US Supreme Court case called Vidal v Gerard's Executives, in which the US Supreme Court, in an 8-0 decision, said look, if you're a government school, you're going to teach the Bible. We won't have a government school that won't teach the Bible. It was only in 1963, which is 180 years after the Founding Fathers we said no, no, no, you can't do the Bible in schools. And the court, when it removed the Bible from schools, the court said that what they were doing was without precedent, either historical or legal. But, being a bunch of progressives, it's just time to progress and do something new, and that's what the word progressive means. We're going to progress past what it's been Well. That didn't work out too well for us. We haven't progressed very far since we got away from the Bible. But again we're told these guys didn't want that.

Now, go back and look at the history. Then, if you take folks like Charles Thompson Charles Thompson over here, when the Declaration of Independence came out, it didn't have signatures on it. The Declaration of Independence was printed on the evening of July the 4th, and that's the original declaration that you see right there, by Charles Thompson. There's only two names at the bottom John Hancock and Charles Thompson. They signed the declaration on August 2nd, so they did it. A month later they had a different document, all handwritten, all calligraphy, but this is the original version that came out on July the 4th. He's one of only two names on the declaration on July the 4th and in addition to that, he's the guy who created the great seal of the United States. So the great seal that we have now it's on all our money. He's the guy who did that. In addition, he's the guy who created this Bible right here. This is called the Thompson Bible. Thompson Bible.

He was a Theologian, took him 19 years to do, but this is the first translation of the Greek Septuagint into English and that's called the Thompson Bible and that comes from him. So here's another one of our founding fathers. And as a theologian man, 19 years translating the Bible you must have complicated theology. Not at all. This is a theology. He says I'm a Christian, I believe only in the scriptures and in Jesus Christ, my Savior. Pretty simple yeah, whatever the Bible says, that's my theology. Again, these are founding fathers. We don't know today.

Rick Green

Another break. Folks, Stay with us. You're listening to The WallBuilders Show.

Break

Rick Green

We're back here on the WallBuilder Show. We're going to jump right back in with David Barton talking about Independence Day and freedom and how we can preserve it. This is a great week, everybody, for us to think about this and start making commitments to give our lives, fortunes and sacred honor to preserve this freedom. Let's join David Barton again.

David Barton

Richard Stockton was from New Jersey and after he signed the Declaration, the British captured him Because if you sign the Declaration, that's treason, you're trying to overthrow King George III. That's treason against the government. So he was captured and put in a prisoner of war ship called the Prison Ship Jersey. It was in New York Harbor. They tortured him, they abused him. The Americans finally arranged his release and when he got out of the prison he was shot. His body was gone. He was dying and he knew it. And the problem was he has six young children and they're about to be fatherless because he's on his way out and he knows he's on his way out. So with them about to be fatherless and he's not going to be there to raise them.

He wrote out his last will and testament and you can see up top Richard Stockton's will, I Richard Stockton, and if you notice it has a whole lot of God and Savior and really big letters throughout there and what he's doing is all right, kids, I'm about to be out of here, you're going to grow up without me. But there's some things you definitely need to know. And if you look at the word where it says, and if you can read it, it says and as my children will have, here's what he says. He says and as my children will have frequent occasion of perusing this document my last will and testament and may probably be particularly impressed with the last words of their father, I think it proper here not only to subscribe to the entire belief of the great and leading doctrines of the Christian religion, such as the divinity of the person and the completeness of redemption purchased by the blessed Savior, the necessity of the operations of the divine spirit, of divine faith accompanied with an habitual virtuous life, but also, in the balance of a father's affection, to exhort and charge my children that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, that the way of life held up in the Christian system is. Now I'm about to go out, but there's some things you need to know that is powerful stuff and that's stuff for everybody to live by, not just kids. And, by the way, what we call our last will and testament is when we give everything to the kids. Their last will and testament is more of a last will and testimony. I want to tell you about Christ. I want to tell you the spiritual things you need to survive. So we didn't just give away the stuff. We gave away spiritual counsel as well, and that's what he's doing for his kids.

And that's Richard Stockton, signer of the Declaration. Then you got Roger Sherman. He is the only founding father to sign all four founding documents. So he signed all four documents. He's the third most active member of the Constitutional Convention. He's one of the guys who have to establish a bicameral system, a House and a Senate.

He's also a theologian. He wrote the doctrinal creed for his denomination in Connecticut and you read his writings and you find statements like this. He said God commands all men everywhere to repent. He also commands them to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and has assured us that all who do repent and believe shall be saved. God has promised to bestow eternal blessings on all those who are willing to accept him on the terms of the gospel. That is, in a way, free grace through the atonement. Again, another side of the declaration.

This is the newspaper report on his Bible reading. Find it interesting, you see. It says Roger Sherman. It says the volume which he consulted more than any other was the Bible. It was his custom at the commencement of every session of Congress and, by the way, he served about 28, 30 years in Congress. He was there a long time. He says his custom at the commencement of every session of Congress to purchase a copy of the Scriptures, to peruse it daily and to present it to one of his children on his return. So every year he goes to Congress, he takes a brand new Bible and, as he's doing Bible studies, making notes, and when he gets home at the end of the session he gives it to a kid. And you have to read the Bible a lot of times because he had 15 kids, so you got to go through the Bible. But this was their practice to read the Bible once a year. That was the cultural practice. You go through the Bible, cover to cover, once a year and Roger Sherman did the same.

This man is Francis Hopkinson. Significant things about Francis Hopkinson. Significant things about Francis Hopkinson. He's the guy who designed the very first American flag. He's also the guy who helped design the Great Seal. He and Charles Thompson are the two guys that designed the Great Seal of the United States. But he also designed seals that we still use today. If you look at the seal of the US Treasury Department, that was done by Francis Hopkinson. Now, in addition to that, francis Hopkinson has appointed one of our very first federal judges. George Washington appointed him as a federal judge, but he's also involved in ministry. He's a church music director, he's a choir leader, he is responsible for this work right here.

This is America's first purely American hymn book. Now, this hymn book, what he did this is 1767, he took the entire book of Psalms and set the entire book of Psalms to music so that we could sing the Psalms like David had sung the Psalms. This is the first book in American history that has musical notation. On the inside it actually shows musical notes down. You see, right here, this is the inside of this book. Now, just as a thought, you set the entire book of Psalms to music. What if the worship team had said let's sing Psalms 119 this morning? You do know what? Psalms 119 is the largest song in the Bible. Do you know? In that hymn book, psalms 119 was 32 pages long for one song and he said it all to music. And then the worship team says let's sing it again, let's do it twice. No, it doesn't float Musician. First hymn book with musical notation in America comes from Steiner, the Declaration of Independence, and then you've got folks like Thomas McKean.

Thomas McKean was a judge. He was from Pennsylvania, he was the governor of Pennsylvania and of Delaware, but he's on the Supreme Court, chief justice at the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. And in 1778, a case came before him. And the case that came before him is called Respublica versus John Roberts. And in that particular case John Roberts has been accused of treason and, if you know, treason has a death penalty offense that goes back to the Constitution that secures the death penalty for treason. So this guy, john Roberts, jury trial. The jury says, yep, he's guilty of treason, he's trying to overthrow the United States, and so he is sentenced to death by the jury. So Judge Thomas McKean reads the sentence and you've been sentenced to death.

And then he sits down the legal stuff and he says John Roberts, he said you are about to launch into eternity and you don't know Jesus Christ. He proceeded to preach the gospel and give an altar call in the courtroom to a guy who's about to die and doesn't know Jesus. Now a lot of Christians don't do that to our neighbors, much less use a legal proceeding. He's the chief justice. Did you know that until the 1900s it was very common for judges federal judges, state judges if someone was sentenced to death, they told them you need to know God. You need to know God through Jesus because you're about to launch into eternity, and if you don't know God when you get there, this is a bad deal. In the courtroom, into the 20th century, we were given altar calls in the courtroom for someone who was sentenced to death. In both state and federal courts, we have those court decisions. So, in addition, thomas McKean is Charles Carroll.

Charles Carroll is the final surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. He lives to be 95 years old. Now, that's not impressive, because we all know people in their 90s. Do you know what the average lifespan was at that time? 33 years old. He lives to be 95. That's impressive.

So when he's 89 years old, one of his family members writes him and says Grandpa, you are going to die someday. I mean some days you will pass. Are you ready to meet God when you die? He wrote his answer back in this letter, this letter that I'm holding right here. You see it right there. You see the shaky handwriting. He's 89 years old and you've asked me am I ready to meet God when I die? And this is what he says. He says, of course I am. See, right there he says on the mercy of my here's what he says. He says. Of course I am On the mercy of my Redeemer. I rely for salvation and on his merits, not on any works I've done in obedience to his precepts. You bet I'm ready to meet God because I don't rely on what I do, I rely on what he did through Jesus Christ, again, very, very evangelical. Now other thing that's kind of fun about Charles Thompson.

Charles Thompson was one of the original signers of the Declaration back when he was much younger, but now he's much, much older. As a matter of fact, he's the last sign of the declaration to die. On the 4th of July, on the 50th anniversary of the declaration, 4th of July 1826, three founding fathers were still left alive who signed the declaration john Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Charles Carroll. Two of them died that day. John Adams and Jefferson both died on the 50th anniversary of the document they helped write and sign. He's the only one left after the 4th of July 1826.

At that point in time New York City wrote him and said we have an original copy of the Declaration. You're the last one surviving who created that. We want you to take that copy of the Declaration and write your final thoughts on it. We're going to display this in New York City. We want people to know the final thoughts of the final man who helped birth the nation, the Declaration of Independence. And so he wrote down. He said what would be your final thoughts for the last signer, the guy who helped birth the nation. This is what he said. He said I'm grateful to Almighty God for the blessings which, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, he's conferred on my beloved country. We're a blessed nation. Why? Because of Jesus Christ, our Lord. See, this is the kind of stuff that we don't get a dose of at all, which is why we have the original documents, because otherwise you'd think I'm making all this stuff up 

Break

Alrigh folks, can I interrupt David for just a moment. We're going to take another quick break. Stay with us.

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Rick Green

You’re listening to the WallBuilders Show. Let's jump in with David Barton on Independence Day. 

 

David Barton

Don't ever believe anybody you hear, doesn't matter, even if it's the apostle paul. Remember acts 17, 11. He said the Marias were the most noble because they didn't believe anything. He said, until they checked in the scriptures, check this stuff in history. That's why I brought the stuff with me this morning so you can see it.

So when, when you go back and look, authors of the Declaration of Enemies of Christ really, I've just shown you 19 of the 56 founding fathers, and I can go for a lot more, but 19 of the 56, it's hard to say that they were enemies of Christ. Matter of fact, they're more like evangelists for Christ when you look at it. And they're the political leaders and look what they're doing. See, this goes back Marty just mentioned this with George Washington In his favorable address. Washington's final warning to the nation is guys, you cannot have political prosperity apart from religion and morality. You have to promote religion and morality. We've been promoting secularism. How's our political prosperity doing? We're more polarized, weaponized and divided than we've been in generations. You have to have religion, reality for it to work, and that's the way they built it, that's the way they found it. So that's nonsense to think that.

So, closing out this morning, I want to go back to John Adams, because he specifically was talking to Abigail about the 4th of July. On the day, on the day that they approved all this, he wrote Abigail two letters talking about this Independence Day they've created. On the second of July is when they voted to separate from Great Britain. On the fourth of July is when they finalized the wording, the declaration of independence. So July the fourth, July, July the second, July the fourth, those two days went together two separate votes of congress, two acts. And he's looking down the road. He says, Abigail, here's what we just did today.

And he told her 4th of July, this is back in 1776, 4th of July. He says, and I've been thinking about how future generations are going to see what we've done you know, 200 years from now, or here we are, 248 years from now, how are they going to see this? What will they think about this? And here's what he said. He says I'm apt to believe that this day will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. I think people are going to turn this into a holiday. I think future generations are going to look back and say that's a significant date, fourth of July 1776. He says I think they're going to start celebrating this day.

And then he talked to her and he said is that a good idea? What do you think? And he said I think it probably is. He said this day, I think it ought to be commemorated. I think we ought to celebrate this day. And then he got specific this day ought to be commemorated as a day of deliverance. And how did he want the 4th of July celebrated? By solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. That's what he told Abigail on how we should we celebrate. Yeah, I guess we should celebrate. And if we're going to celebrate, let's do a solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. So I challenge you this Thursday, when we have 4th of July, turn it into a religious holiday, because that's what it was in their mind.

Matter of fact, president John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, gave a speech July the 4th, 1837, and so now we're 61 years after the Declaration and he said isn't it significant that the top two religious holidays in America are Christmas and the 4th of July? He said on Christmas we celebrate the principles that Jesus Christ brought into the world through his birth. He said on the 4th of July we celebrate the principles of Jesus Christ being brought into America, so we celebrated Christmas and 4th of July as our top two religious holidays. We leave God nearly always out of it now, but that's the product of what's happened since the 1960s. That's the product of what's happened in the courts and in the education and, by the way, in the last five years, we have seen the courts completely turn around.

If you don't know, you have more religious liberty available to you now than we've had in 70 years in America. And we saw. Just two weeks ago, we were in Louisiana with Governor Landry. He signed a bill that now puts the Ten Commandments back in every single classroom in the state of Louisiana.

If you're unaware, the court in 2022 said we made the wrong decision in 7,300 religious liberty cases. We're vacating all of those decisions. So what happens is, if you're not aware, right now there are 1,200 public schools, 1,200 public school districts in America, and those 1,200 public school districts have 200,000 kids. They're now teaching the Bible in public schools as a course for credit, and the Bible's the only textbook in that curriculum. That's public. We're not hearing this, but I'm just telling you, being a legal community, this thing is turned around. If we'll aggressively move forward with it, we can't keep letting people shove us back in the corner and say you're religious people, separation of church and state no, no, no. The court acknowledged they got it wrong 7,300 times.

Things are turning in a different direction. So I challenge you on Thursday, turn this into a religious holiday. That's the way it was designed. That was the way it was intended. We won't have political prosperity if we separate religion and morality. By the way, that's why we need more religious and moral people involved in government. You know, if you don't have religious and moral people involved in government, you're going to have debates like we've recently seen. We need more of those people as city council and school boards and state rep and everywhere. Christians can't pull ourselves out. What if Christians had pulled themselves out of the Continental Congress and not been there at the beginning? We would be like every other nation. We'd have 17 years and we would have had another revolution. The principles we built us on are the principles of Christianity. It's what John Adams said, and we've got to preserve those principles. God bless you guys. Thanks for letting me share.

Rick Green

All right, folks, we're out of time. Thanks for staying with us today. That was the conclusion of David Barton talking about Independence Day. If you missed yesterday or you joined us in the middle of this program today, you can get both episodes at our website, wallbuilders.show. That's wallbuilders.show. That's wallbuilders.show. Or go to our main website, wallbuilders.com, where you can get some other resources as well. You want to stay with us the rest of the week, though, because we're going to get Tim Barton's take on Independence Day over the next couple of days. Thanks so much for listening to the WallBuilders Show. 

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