Below is the talk I gave in church today. The topic we had was 'In God We Trust.' Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
In God we Trust. A slogan, a Battle Hymn, and a silent prayer. That phrase has passed through the ages as a banner of peace and hope for millions of people the world over. For it was trust in God that brought Nephi and his family to the American continent. The Pilgrims as well nearly a millennium later. Millions of people since have come the America because of the freedom that was established because of trust in God.
In God We Trust was first put into law as the official motto of the United States of America in 1956 by President Dwight D Eisenhower. Many believe the origin of the national motto came from the final stanza of the Star Spangled Banner written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 “. . . And this be our motto: In God is our trust.” While it wasn’t officially adopted as our national motto until 1956, it has appeared on US coins since 1864 and has been a part of the fabric of the building up of our nation. The founding fathers (and mothers) believed in God deeply and between 1700 and 1740 an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the population attended some kind of organized church.
George Washington in his first inaugural address in April 1789 said “. . . we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” Even at that early state, many knew the importance of keeping God in our culture. An Ancient American prophet, long since dead speaks from the dust to us, in this day. “. . . behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fullness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off. And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God-that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fullness come, that ye may not bring down the fullness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land hitherto done.” Ether 2: 10-11.
The America’s have long been a refuge for God’s people and we have been promised to be free and prosperous as long as we keep the covenants and commandments given to us. Elder Mark E Petersen said “Three great civilizations have occupied the Western Hemisphere. Two have passed into oblivion. Those that disappeared died by virtual suicide. They brought about their own extinctions as they defiled the land and defied their God by extensive crime, sexual deviation and other loathsome sins of almost every kind.”
In my lifetime, I have seen a drastic decline of morality in society (and I haven’t lived all that long). “. . . much of the corruption which is common among us today resembles in striking detail the degradation that afflicted [those ancient civilizations].” Many popular TV shows and movies don’t just show the collapse of the moral core of our nation, they flaunt it. But if we tried to say a prayer in a public building or bring a bible to class, we would be arrested and charged as criminals. We have lost our sense values.
John Adams said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If we, as a nation, loose our morals, we will loose that government that God designed for us.
As society’s moral core begins to degrade and fall part, we see that many things we have taken for granted thrown into question. Such things as religious freedom and the right to practice our religion as we see fit. In the book Freedom From Religion, a law professor makes this three-step argument.
1. In many nations “society is at risk from religious extremism”
2. “A follower if more likely to act on the words of a religious authority figure than other speakers.”
3. Therefore, “in some cases, society and government should view religious speech as inherently less protected than secular political speech because of its extraordinary ability to influence the listener.”
He concludes “We must begin to consider the possibility that religious speech can no longer hide behind the shield of freedom of expression. Contemporary religious extremism leaves decision-makers and the public alike with no choice but to re-contour constitutionally granted rights as they pertain to religion and speech.”
That book was published by the Oxford University Press in 2009, only 2 years ago. In recent history books, many speeches like the Gettysburg address have been edited to take out Abraham Lincoln’s reference of God and religion. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in an address to the Chapman University law students, “It is easy to believe that there is an informal conspiracy of correctness to scrub out references to God and the influence of religion in the founding and reservation of our nation.”
The first amendment of the Bill of Rights states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” We are seeing before our eyes, the efforts of many misguided and mislead individuals to revoke that freedom.
In God We Trust stands as a symbol of the sacrifice and religious fortitude that our nation has stood for, for over 200 years. We have fought wars both at home and abroad over that freedom. Today we see that freedom again under attack. Over this Fourth of July celebration, I pray that we can again remember that it was God and his hand that gave us the freedoms we enjoy today. Because truly, In God We Trust.