This is the last column that I will be submitting to the New Era on a regular basis. Life-changing events happen for all of us, and it is no different with the Cooper family. My husband is officially retiring (from his second career) in August, and we will become Oma and Opa for the second time this fall. We hope to be freer to spend much more time visiting our children and grandchildren in Arizona.
I will never forget the phone call that I received from New Era Opinion Editor Jennifer P. Brown in January 2012 asking if I would consider writing a conservative column for the paper. I was lying in bed recovering from knee replacement surgery, and I am sure that drugs helped me reply with a hearty, “Yes!”
I am grateful to both Jennifer and New Era Editor Eli Pace for the opportunity to have my thoughts printed in the paper twice a month. I know many of my articles must have caused great consternation for the editorial staff, but only two that I submitted were not printed. Yes, my articles were “conservative,” but I like to think of them as expressing a “traditional” Kentucky point-of-view.
I have been mulling over what my last message should be. I have come to the conclusion that what I most want you to remember and believe is that we are an Exceptional Nation with a Godly heritage. In the 1830s, just 50 years after we adopted our Constitution, the world marveled at the outstanding nation that the United States had become.
Frenchman Alex de Tocqueville decided to come to America and witness firsthand what it was that made America so extraordinary. He traveled and explored the American continent from 1831 to 1835 and wrote in his book, “Democracy in America,” that when he looked at what Americans had done, it was exceptional. He is given credit for coining the phrase American exceptionalism. That term has certainly proven to be accurate.
How did America become an exceptional nation? I believe it happened because our founders were devout Christians and knew the important role that Christian principles played in education, government and public affairs.
Those whom we consider America’s founders didn’t think of themselves that way. They thought their pastors were the founding fathers. On the Fourth of July celebration in 1816, John Adams gave credit for our independence and exceptional nature to preachers like George Whitfield, Samuel Cooper, Richard Allen, and Charles Chauncey, names we do not recognize today. The Declaration of Independence listed 27 violations of freedoms, and every violation had been preached about in American pulpits prior to 1763.
When discussing the faith of our fathers, Wallbuilders founder David Barton affirms, “Virtually every one of the 55 framers of the Constitution were members of orthodox Christian churches.” Multiple founders would read the Bible cover-to-cover once a year. George Washington asked for military chaplains seven separate times during The Revolution. Blazoned across the top of the peace treaty we signed with Britain in 1783, was “In the Name of the most Holy and undivided Trinity.”
Founder Dr. Benjamin Rush’s impact on American development is immeasurable. He helped to found the AME Church, is considered the father of public schools in America, father of American medicine and started our Sunday school movement. He believed that evil would triumph if Americans were not grounded in scripture.
The first printing of an English language Bible on the continent was initiated by Congress in 1782. Prior to that, British laws forbid those who lived in English speaking colonies to print a Bible in English. Congressional records confirm that 20,000 were printed for the expressed purpose of use in schools. Bibles were used in our in public schools until the Supreme Court decision of June 17, 1963.
Knowing our history proves we are a Christian nation, but Christianity was not the only religion in America. The Founders were not afraid of the presence of other faiths; they believed if they shared the truth, the Holy Spirit would take care of the rest. Records in 1619 and 1654 show that Muslims and Jews, respectively, were present in the colonies. Being a Christian nation does not mean Christianity was decreed as the law of the land. It means Christian values had a major influence on the development of the culture.
Knowing our past affects our future. The United States has the longest surviving form of government in the world. Could that be the result of our Christian foundation? We must again embrace those Christian principles if we are to remain a vital nation. If you want to verify the history of our Godly heritage and exceptional nature check out wallbuilders.com, and please make it a priority to see Dinesh D’Souza’s movie, “America.”
Willee Cooper is a former teacher and military spouse. A Hopkinsville resident, she is past president of the Kentucky Federation of Republican Women. Her column runs twice a month. Reach her at email@example.com.