In order to understand who we are and where we are going, we need to know our roots.
From the beginnings of early America, life, education, and religion took on a different meaning than the rest of the known world, especially Europe. In addition, those differences are reflected in the type of government and laws our Founding Fathers created. This new concept of law recognizes the unalienable God given rights, which includes, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, in which no government can take away these rights. This is in stark contrast to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a humanist constitution of a bad laws that the UN created in which they can at any time amend or take away by their laws your rights by a simple vote of men.
The early immigrants to America were peoples of religious strife in Europe, caused by illiteracy and lack of formal education. In addition, by law, only the priests were to read and interpret the scriptures of the bible. The British government punished the Puritans and Separatists for reading the Bible and holding their own secret non-sanction church services. Eventually, America was the only sanctuary where the peoples would be free from religious persecution for their faith in God.
The first somewhat successful colony established was in Jamestown in 1607. Those settlers did not come to American to escape persecution. Religious concerns were not foremost reason they came to America. They came because of greed. Besides, they only had one pastor, the Reverend Robert Hunt. They were so greedy that most died in the first year because they did not want to plant or gather food. Instead, they were searching for riches. It would not be until a few years that they actually turned to God and then they were able to make inroads to establishing a successful settlement that would eventually increase in wealth.
The first of these immigrates that were actually fleeing persecution, were the Pilgrims. They first lest England and settled in Netherlands and after about 12 years they decided to flee to America. In 1620, the Pilgrims arrived in the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Then in 1630, the great migration of other groups fleeing persecution began with Puritans, eventually numbering over 20,000. The Catholics followed in 1632, as they were facing the Inquisition in Portugal. The Quakers started their immigration to America in 1680, following the torture of over 10,000 of their members. In 1683, the German Anabaptists started their immigration, this included Mennonites, Moravians, Dunkers, etc. In 1685, over 400,000 French Huguenots fled France to avoid persecution by the Catholics. Austria expelled over 20,000 Lutherans, and they started their immigration to America in 1731.
The result was quite a mix of different cultures and religious beliefs. They all eventually assimilated into the first Americans.
The Geneva Bible was the main source of scriptures during the founding of early America. It was the first bible translated in 1559 into English from the original Hebrew and Greek, and it was the most popular Bible in England and it was the most used bible by the Pilgrims. The Geneva Bible had many first for its kind:
- It was the first version to employ the use of both modern chapters and verses.
- It used Roman type instead of the black letter used at the time thus making it easier to read.
- It used a printed format that it anyone could easily carry it around, unlike the large pulpit bibles, and they were priced low enough for almost anyone to own one.
- It pioneered the use of italics with words not part of the original language.
The Geneva Bible included many helps, including:
- A dictionary of names that followed the NT of about 950 names with meanings. Theses names were commonly used by the first immigrants to name their children.
- About forty pages of an alphabetic concordance of the “principal things” in the Bible
- The listing of all of Paul’s activities spanning 36 years form his conversion to his beheading by Nero.
- It included 26 woodcuts and 5 maps.
- Arguments, or summaries, were at the beginning of each chapter.
The most notable help of the Geneva Bible was it marginal Calvinistic notes and commentary. These notes were a major contrast to the Catholics, false teaching on salvation and church authority. The notes also upset King James I, who thought of himself as a God appointed king through the divine right of king’s doctrine. The Geneva Bible’s commentaries had much to say about this heresy. For example, Exodus 1:17 showed the Hebrew midwives had the right to disobey Pharaoh’s command to kill all the male babies. In addition, 2 Chronicles 15:16 showed that King Asa’s mother should have been killed instead of just removed from power because of her idolatry. To King James these commentaries encouraged civil disobedience.
The new immigrants placed a high value of moral education on the bible. They wanted everyone to be able to read the bible and laws for themselves. In 1642, the first American public education act passed, called “the Old Deluder Satan Act:”
“It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of scriptures, as in the former time…”
They did not want to relive what they left behind in Europe, a literate life of no education and not being able to read the bible for themselves and to be able to read and understand the laws.
The Founding Fathers of our country encouraged religion, morality and knowledge. Without a good public education coupled with knowledge of scriptures, a society would easily fall apart morally; government would fall into a tyranny. President George Washington signed the first federal public education law into law, “The Northwest Ordinance:”
“Religion, morality, and knowledge, being the necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, school and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” (The Northwest Ordinance: Article III)
Today we are in a post-Christian era that no longer looks for the truth in God and the Bible. The truth is whatever you feel like it resulting in the moral decay of our society, disrespect for laws and authority. The federal government does not follow the Constitution by the intent of our founders who conceived our Constitutional Republic. America needs to wake up before we return to the dark ages of humanism. If people were fleeing tyrannical governments and persecution, where would they go? To America?