JULY 4 is the day America celebrates its independence.
So imagine to the chagrin when President Barack Obama in his Fourth of July speech, did not at one point mention ‘God’.
In 2011, he ‘forgot’ to mention God in his thanksgiving speech.
Every president has traditionally signed off with some version of “May God Bless the United States of America.”
The Pilgrim ship Mayflower has a famous place in American history as a symbol of early European colonisation of the future United States. Separatist Congregationalists who called themselves ‘Saints’, later they were referred to as Pilgrims or Pilgrim Fathers fled from religious persecution by King James of England.
They travelled aboard the Mayflower in 1620 along with adventurers, tradesmen and servants, most of whom were referred to by the Separatists as ‘Strangers’.
They settled in Plymouth Colony, forming one of the first white settlements in America.
These Pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving Feast with the Wampanoag Indians.
The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony.
The modern version of the document reads:
“In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc, etc, etc.
“In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.”
On July 4 1776, the 13 American colonies then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as 13 newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire.
Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America and they adopted The Declaration of Independence whose preamble reads:
“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The star-spangled banner is the national anthem of the United States of America.
The lyrics come from ‘Defence of Fort Mc’Henry’, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbour during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the war of 1812.
The last three lines verses of the song read:
“And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust’.
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave. O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
The pledge of allegiance of the United States is an expression of allegiance to the flag of the United States and the Republic of the United States of America, originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally adopted by Congress as the pledge in 1942.
According to the United States flag code, the current pledge of allegiance reads:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
‘God bless America’ is an American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised by him in 1938.
“God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her and guide her, through the night with a light from above; from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home. God bless America, my home sweet home.”
‘In God we trust’ was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956 as an alternative or replacement to the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum, which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782.
‘In God we trust’ first appeared on US coins in 1864 and has appeared on paper currency since 1957.
Many US states now offer ‘In God we trust’ stickers for purchase to place on their licence plates.
The states of Indiana, Florida, and South Carolina manufacture licence plates with this slogan on it as a standard plate option.
‘So help me God’ is a phrase often used to give an oath, and most commonly optional as part of an oath of office.
It is also used in some jurisdictions as a form of oath for other forms of public duty, such as an appearance in court, service as a juror, etc.
There is no law that requires presidents to use a Bible or to add the words ‘So help me God’ at the end of the oath.
Throughout its history Americans have branded God into a deity that works for them, one that mixes well with American values, one that agrees with their wars, and one who not only adheres to their way of life, in many cases, their way of life is God’s ideal, which is often suggested as one of the reasons he blesses America with prosperity.
Even those on the fringes of society fight to be recognised by main stream Christian groups.
Now that gays and lesbians have won the right to marriage, the next frontier is forcing the church to marry them, because they also want to be recognised as part of the ‘One nation under God’.
JULY 4 is the day America celebrates its independence.