May 29, 2023, Rev. Jack Phelps

An American historian once stated that in all of history, no civilization has survived the loss of its faith. This statement is not to be doubted, but it has a corollary. That is, every civilization has a faith. Moreover, every great civilization has great faith.

It is a matter of record that these United States prospered from the beginning, and quickly grew to be the greatest civilization the world has ever known. No nation in recorded history has enjoyed more liberty, more prosperity or more vigor than that found in the United States of America.

It is also a matter of record (no matter how this fact may be protested today) that the basic faith in America has been, from the beginning, the Christian religion. The Christian faith in the Creator, in love and forgiveness, in the natural rights of persons and in a hopeful vision of the future – these beliefs have been the root of American greatness.

James Madison, a principal author of the Constitution and America’s fourth president, wrote:

We have staked the whole future of the American civilization, not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future . . . upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves, according to the Ten Commandments of God.

George Washington, the first president, wrote:

It is impossible to govern rightly without God and the Bible.

We gather together on this Memorial Day to honor those who fought and died to preserve this country, its way of life and the source of its greatness. Our heroes, well known or unsung, went to the field of battle and laid down their lives for this country. They did so as an act of faith.It has been said that there are no atheists on the battlefield. This is true, but there is more. Our war-killed brothers not only had faith in God, but they died with faith in the rest of their countrymen. They trusted us to continue the civilization for which they died.

Those who fought for America, fought for freedom and for the basic rights which alone constitute freedom: life, personal liberty and the private ownership of property. We would do well to remember G.K. Chesterton’s remark that those who stand for nothing will fall for anything. Our war heroes died with the faith that we would stand for liberty. We dare not let them down.

A prerequisite to Americans standing for liberty, however, is the imperative that America regain her public faith. We must be, once again, bold enough to proclaim that our cherished freedoms are a gift of God, bestowed upon a nation who believes in God the Creator, God the Sustainer of Life and Jesus Christ the Redeemer of mankind. To the degree to which we surrender that belief, that faith, we will lose our liberties.

We must remember, in the days ahead, the words of our great Declaration of Independence: “Men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; and that among these are the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Finally, we must remember, gratefully, that these freedoms are bought and kept with a price.