HRES 888 IH

 

 

HRES 888 IH

110th
CONGRESS

1st
Session

H.
RES. 888

Affirming the rich spiritual and religious
history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and expressing support
for designation of the first week in May as `American Religious History Week’ for
the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.

IN
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 18, 2007

Mr. FORBES (for himself, Mr. MCINTYRE, Mr.
AKIN, Mr. BARRETT of South Carolina, Mr. CULBERSON, Mr. DOOLITTLE, Mr. FEENEY,
Mr. GINGREY, Mr. GOHMERT, Mr. HAYES, Mr. HENSARLING, Mr. HERGER, Mr. JONES of
North Carolina, Mr. MCHENRY, Mrs. MUSGRAVE, Mr. PEARCE, Mr. PENCE, Mr. PITTS,
Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin, Mrs. SCHMIDT, Mr. WALBERG, Mr. WILSON of South Carolina,
Mr. WOLF, and Mr. YOUNG of Florida) submitted the following resolution; which
was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

RESOLUTION

Affirming the rich spiritual and religious
history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and expressing support
for designation of the first week in May as `American Religious History Week’
for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.

Whereas religious faith was not only
important in official American life during the periods of discovery,
exploration, colonization, and growth but has also been acknowledged and
incorporated into all 3 branches of American Federal government from their very
beginning;

Whereas the Supreme Court of the United
States affirmed this self-evident fact in a unanimous ruling declaring `This is
a religious people … From the discovery of this continent to the present
hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation’;

Whereas political scientists have documented
that the most frequently-cited source in the political period known as The
Founding Era was the Bible;

Whereas the first act of America’s first
Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and to lead Congress
in the reading of 4 chapters of the Bible;

Whereas Congress regularly attended church and Divine service together en
masse;

Whereas throughout the American Founding, Congress frequently
appropriated money for missionaries and for religious instruction, a practice
that Congress repeated for decades after the passage of the Constitution and
the First Amendment;

Whereas in 1776, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence with
its 4 direct religious acknowledgments referring to God as the Creator (`All
people are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among
these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’), the Lawgiver (`the laws
of nature and nature’s God’), the Judge (`appealing to the Supreme Judge of the
world’), and the Protector (`with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine
Providence’);

Whereas upon approving the Declaration of Independence, John Adams
declared that the Fourth of July `ought to be commemorated as the day of
deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty’;

Whereas 4 days after approving the Declaration, the Liberty Bell was
rung;

Whereas the Liberty Bell was named for the Biblical inscription from
Leviticus 25:10 emblazoned around it: `Proclaim liberty throughout the land, to
all the inhabitants thereof’;

Whereas in 1777, Congress, facing a National shortage of `Bibles for our
schools, and families, and for the public worship of God in our churches,’
announced that they `desired to have a Bible printed under their care & by
their encouragement’ and therefore ordered 20,000 copies of the Bible to be
imported `into the different ports of the States of the Union’;

Whereas in 1782, Congress pursued a plan to print a Bible that would be
`a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools’ and therefore
approved the production of the first English language Bible printed in America
that contained the congressional endorsement that `the United States in
Congress assembled … recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants
of the United States’;

Whereas in 1782, Congress adopted (and has reaffirmed on numerous
subsequent occasions) the National Seal with its Latin motto `Annuit Coeptis,’
meaning `God has favored our undertakings,’ along with the eye of Providence in
a triangle over a pyramid, the eye and the motto `allude to the many signal
interpositions of Providence in favor of the American cause’;

Whereas the 1783 Treaty of Paris that officially ended the Revolution and
established America as an independent begins with the appellation `In the name
of the most holy and undivided Trinity’;

Whereas in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia,
Benjamin Franklin declared, `God governs in the affairs of men. And if a
sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an
empire can rise without His aid? … Without His concurring aid, we shall
succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel’;

Whereas the delegates to the Constitutional Convention concluded their
work by in effect placing a religious punctuation mark at the end of the
Constitution in the Attestation Clause, noting not only that they had completed
the work with `the unanimous consent of the States present’ but they had done
so `in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven’;

Whereas James Madison declared that he saw the finished Constitution as a
product of `the finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and
signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution,’ and
George Washington viewed it as `little short of a miracle,’ and Benjamin
Franklin believed that its writing had been `influenced, guided, and governed
by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler, in Whom all inferior
spirits live, and move, and have their being’;

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Whereas from 1787 to 1788, State conventions to ratify the United States
Constitution not only began with prayer but even met in church buildings;

Whereas in 1795 during construction of the Capitol, a practice was
instituted whereby `public worship is now regularly administered at the
Capitol, every Sunday morning, at 11 o’clock’;

Whereas in 1789, the first Federal Congress, the Congress that framed the
Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, appropriated Federal funds to
pay chaplains to pray at the opening of all sessions, a practice that has
continued to this day, with Congress not only funding its congressional
chaplains but also the salaries and operations of more than 4,500 military
chaplains;

Whereas in 1789, Congress, in the midst of framing the Bill of Rights and
the First Amendment, passed the first Federal law touching education, declaring
that `Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and
the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be
encouraged’;

Whereas in 1789, on the same day that Congress finished drafting the
First Amendment, it requested President Washington to declare a National day of
prayer and thanksgiving, resulting in the first Federal official Thanksgiving
proclamation that declared `it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the
providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits,
and humbly to implore His protection and favor’;

Whereas in 1800, Congress enacted naval regulations requiring that Divine
service be performed twice every day aboard `all ships and vessels in the
navy,’ with a sermon preached each Sunday;

Whereas in 1800, Congress approved the use of the just-completed Capitol
structure as a church building, with Divine services to be held each Sunday in
the Hall of the House, alternately administered by the House and Senate
chaplains;

Whereas in 1853 Congress declared that congressional chaplains have a
`duty … to conduct religious services weekly in the Hall of the House of
Representatives’;

Whereas by 1867, the church at the Capitol was the largest church in
Washington, DC, with up to 2,000 people a week attending Sunday service in the
Hall of the House;

Whereas by 1815, over 2,000 official governmental calls to prayer had
been issued at both the State and the Federal levels, with thousands more
issued since 1815;

Whereas in 1853 the United States Senate declared that the Founding
Fathers `had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see
us an irreligious people … they did not intend to spread over all the public
authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting
spectacle of atheistical apathy’;

Whereas in 1854 the United States House of Representatives declared `It
[religion] must be considered as the foundation on which the whole structure
rests … Christianity; in its general principles, is the great conservative
element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free
institutions’;

Whereas, in 1864, by law Congress added `In God We Trust’ to American
coinage;

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Whereas in 1864, Congress passed an act authorizing each State to display
statues of 2 of its heroes in the United States Capitol, resulting in numerous
statues of noted Christian clergymen and leaders at the Capitol, including
Gospel ministers such as the Revs. James A. Garfield, John Peter Muhlenberg,
Jonathan Trumbull, Roger Williams, Jason Lee, Marcus Whitman, and Martin Luther
King Jr.; Gospel theologians such as Roger Sherman; Catholic priests such as
Father Damien, Jacques Marquette, Eusebio Kino, and Junipero Serra; Catholic
nuns such as Mother Joseph; and numerous other religious leaders;

Whereas in 1870, the Federal government made Christmas (a recognition of
the birth of Christ, an event described by the U.S. Supreme Court as `acknowledged
in the Western World for 20 centuries, and in this country by the people, the
Executive Branch, Congress, and the courts for 2 centuries’) and Thanksgiving
as official holidays;

Whereas beginning in 1904 and continuing for the next half-century, the
Federal government printed and distributed The Life and Morals of Jesus of
Nazareth for the use of Members of Congress because of the important teachings
it contained;

Whereas in 1931, Congress by law adopted the Star-Spangled Banner as the
official National Anthem, with its phrases such as `may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation,’ and `this be our
motto, `In God is our trust!’;

Whereas in 1954, Congress by law added the phrase `one nation under God’ to
the Pledge of Allegiance;

Whereas in 1954 a special Congressional Prayer Room was added to the
Capitol with a kneeling bench, an altar, an open Bible, an inspiring
stained-glass window with George Washington kneeling in prayer, the declaration
of Psalm 16:1: `Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust,’ and the
phrase `This Nation Under God’ displayed above the kneeling, prayerful
Washington;

Whereas in 1956, Congress by law made `In God We Trust’ the National
Motto, and added the phrase to American currency;

Whereas the constitutions of each of the 50 states, either in the
preamble or body, explicitly recognize or express gratitude to God;

Whereas America’s first Presidential Inauguration incorporated 7 specific
religious activities, including–

(1) the use of the Bible to administer the oath;

(2) affirming the religious nature of the oath by the adding the prayer
`So help me God!’ to the oath;

(3) inaugural prayers offered by the President;

(4) religious content in the inaugural address;

(5) civil leaders calling the people to prayer or acknowledgement of God;

(6) inaugural worship services attended en masse by Congress as an
official part of congressional activities; and

(7) clergy-led inaugural prayers, activities which have been replicated
in whole or part by every subsequent President;

Whereas President George Washington declared `Of all the dispositions and
habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are
indispensable supports’;

Whereas President John Adams, one of only 2 signers of the Bill of Rights
and First Amendment, declared `As the safety and prosperity of nations
ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of
Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an
indispensable duty which the people owe to Him’;

Whereas President Jefferson not only attended Divine services at the
Capitol throughout his presidency and had the Marine Band play at the services,
but during his administration church services were also begun in the War
Department and the Treasury Department, thus allowing worshippers on any given
Sunday the choice to attend church at either the United States Capitol, the War
Department, or the Treasury Department if they so desired;

Whereas Thomas Jefferson urged local governments to make land available
specifically for Christian purposes, provided Federal funding for missionary
work among Indian tribes, and declared that religious schools would receive
`the patronage of the government’;

Whereas President Andrew Jackson declared that the Bible `is the rock on
which our Republic rests’;

Whereas President Abraham Lincoln declared that the Bible `is the best
gift God has given to men … But for it, we could not know right from wrong’

Whereas President William McKinley declared that `Our faith teaches us
that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers, Who has so
singularly favored the American people in every national trial and Who will not
forsake us so long as we obey His commandments and walk humbly in His
footsteps’;

Whereas President Teddy Roosevelt declared `The Decalogue and the Golden
Rule must stand as the foundation of every successful effort to better either
our social or our political life’;

Whereas President Woodrow Wilson declared that `America was born to
exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from
the revelations of Holy Scripture’;

Whereas President Herbert Hoover declared that `American life is builded,
and can alone survive, upon … [the] fundamental philosophy announced by the
Savior nineteen centuries ago’;

Whereas President Franklin D. Roosevelt not only led the Nation in a 6
minute prayer during D-Day on June 6, 1944, but he also declared that `If we
will not prepare to give all that we have and all that we are to preserve
Christian civilization in our land, we shall go to destruction’;

Whereas President Harry S. Truman declared that `The fundamental basis of
this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our
Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St.
Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul’;

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Whereas President Harry S. Truman told a group touring Washington, DC,
that `You will see, as you make your rounds, that this Nation was established
by men who believed in God. … You will see the evidence of this deep
religious faith on every hand’;

Whereas President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared that `Without God there
could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life.
Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic, expression of
Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s
help, it will continue to be’ in a declaration later repeated with approval by
President Gerald Ford;

Whereas President John F. Kennedy declared that `The rights of man come
not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God’;

Whereas President Ronald Reagan, after noting `The Congress of the United
States, in recognition of the unique contribution of the Bible in shaping the
history and character of this Nation and so many of its citizens, has …
requested the President to designate the year 1983 as the `Year of the Bible’,’
officially declared 1983 as `The Year of the Bible’;

Whereas every other President has similarly recognized the role of God
and religious faith in the public life of America;

Whereas all sessions of the United States Supreme Court begin with the
Court’s Marshal announcing, `God save the United States and this honorable
court’;

Whereas a regular and integral part of official activities in the Federal
courts, including the United States Supreme Court, was the inclusion of prayer
by a minister of the Gospel;

Whereas the United States Supreme Court has declared throughout the
course of our Nation’s history that the United States is `a Christian country’,
`a Christian nation’, `a Christian people’, `a religious people whose
institutions presuppose a Supreme Being’, and that `we cannot read into the
Bill of Rights a philosophy of hostility to religion’;

Whereas Justice John Jay, an author of the Federalist Papers and original
Justice of the United States Supreme Court, urged `The most effectual means of
securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is always to
remember with reverence and gratitude the Source from which they flow’;

Whereas Justice James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution, declared that
`Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law
which is Divine … Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin
sisters, friends, and mutual assistants’;

Whereas Justice William Paterson, a signer of the Constitution, declared
that `Religion and morality … [are] necessary to good government, good order,
and good laws’;

Whereas President George Washington, who passed into law the first legal
acts organizing the Federal judiciary, asked, `where is the security for
property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert
the oaths in the courts of justice?’;

Whereas some of the most important monuments, buildings, and landmarks in
Washington, DC, include religious words, symbols, and imagery;

Whereas in the United States Capitol the declaration `In God We Trust’ is
prominently displayed in both the United States House and Senate Chambers;

Whereas around the top of the walls in the House Chamber appear images of
23 great lawgivers from across the centuries, but Moses (the lawgiver,
who–according to the Bible–originally received the law from God,) is the only
lawgiver honored with a full face view, looking down on the proceedings of the
House;

Whereas religious artwork is found throughout the United States Capitol,
including in the Rotunda where the prayer service of Christopher Columbus, the
Baptism of Pocahontas, and the prayer and Bible study of the Pilgrims are all
prominently displayed; in the Cox Corridor of the Capitol where the words
`America! God shed His grace on thee’ are inscribed; at the east Senate
entrance with the words `Annuit Coeptis’ which is Latin for `God has favored
our undertakings’; and in numerous other locations;

Whereas images of the Ten Commandments are found in many Federal
buildings across Washington, DC, including in bronze in the floor of the
National Archives; in a bronze statue of Moses in the Main Reading Room of the
Library of Congress; in numerous locations at the U.S. Supreme Court, including
in the frieze above the Justices, the oak door at the rear of the Chamber, the
gable apex, and in dozens of locations on the bronze latticework surrounding
the Supreme Court Bar seating;

Whereas in the Washington Monument not only are numerous Bible verses and
religious acknowledgements carved on memorial blocks in the walls, including
the phrases: `Holiness to the Lord’ (Exodus 28:26, 30:30, Isaiah 23:18,
Zechariah 14:20), `Search the Scriptures’ (John 5:39), `The memory of the just
is blessed’ (Proverbs 10:7), `May Heaven to this Union continue its
beneficence’, and `In God We Trust’, but the Latin inscription Laus Deo meaning
`Praise be to God’ is engraved on the monument’s capstone;

Whereas of the 5 areas inside the Jefferson Memorial into which
Jefferson’s words have been carved, 4 are God-centered, including Jefferson’s
declaration that `God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a
nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the
gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just,
that His justice cannot sleep forever’;

Whereas the Lincoln Memorial contains numerous acknowledgments of God and
citations of Bible verses, including the declarations that `we here highly
resolve that … this nation under God … shall not perish from the earth’;
`The Almighty has His own purposes. `Woe unto the world because of offenses;
for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the
offense cometh’ (Matthew 18:7); `as was said three thousand years ago, so still
it must be said `the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether’
(Psalms 19:9); `one day every valley shall be exalted and every hill and
mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the
crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be
revealed and all flesh see it togetherÌ (Dr. Martin Luther KingÌs speech, based
on Isaiah 40:4-5);

Whereas in the Library of Congress, The Giant Bible of Mainz, and The
Gutenberg Bible are on prominent permanent display and etched on the walls are
Bible verses, including: `The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness
comprehendeth it not’ (John 1:5); `Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore,
get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding’ (Proverbs 4:7); `What
doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk
humbly with thy God’ (Micah 6:8); and `The heavens declare the Glory of God,
and the firmament showeth His handiwork’ (Psalm 19:1);

Whereas numerous other of the most important American government leaders,
institutions, monuments, buildings, and landmarks both openly acknowledge and
incorporate religious words, symbols, and imagery into official venues;

Whereas such acknowledgments are even more frequent at the State and
local level than at the Federal level, where thousands of such acknowledgments
exist; and

Whereas the first week in May each year would be an appropriate week to
designate as `American Religious History Week’: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That
the United States House of Representatives—-

(1) affirms the rich spiritual and diverse religious
history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history, including up to the
current day;

(2) recognizes that the religious foundations of
faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation’s
most valuable institutions and form the inseparable foundation for America’s
representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures;

(3) rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any
effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation’s public
buildings and educational resources; and

(4) expresses support for designation of a `American
Religious History Week’ every year for the appreciation of and education on
America’s history of religious faith.

*To view cosponsors and check on the status of this bill, visit Thomas and search for “H.Res. 888.”

 

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