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The window on history of the time between the Pilgrim landing in 1620 and the Declaration of Independence signed in 1776 provides needed review.

 

Much happened in the 156 years between those events, but historians often treat the two as though little time passed. The rest of the story, forgotten or ignored, is critical if one wants to view the establishment of the new nation with critical facts.  

The pilgrims did come to North America for religious reasons – to worship God in freedom not allowed in England. The final blow was King James establishing a diverse group of Christians to write what we know as the King James Bible.

He followed his mother, Queen Mary, to the throne. She killed many Christians to re-establish the Catholic faith in England. The Puritans objected because they used the Geneva Bible written in Geneva by Calvin and many others who took refuge in Geneva to escape death in the Queen’s England. James did not like the study notes in that new Bible in the English language because it wrote that even kings are accountable to God.

That Geneva Bible was the first one in any language that every family could afford. Each Puritan family brought one on the Mayflower. It was used to teach citizens to read and exposed them directly to God’s word. Ideas for the Mayflower Compact and later the Declaration of Independence and Constitution came from the Geneva Bible as generations of individual Americans learned to read it at Sunday schools.

This early colony and others that followed combined church and government to build a Bible-based community system. Each colony developed a different system, all based around individual freedom of choice and opportunity.

Over time, religion faded as prosperity and free choice combined with less government control allowed each individual to make good and bad choices. By the next century when Boston citizens threw tea into the harbor, money and taxes were primary motivators rather than God’s plan.

In the early 1700s a new movement of God, described in history as the Great Awakening, swept across England and the American colonies. George Whitfield, a follower of the Wesley brothers, was one of many who spread the word across the English-speaking colonies. These preachers of the “new light” as opposed to the “old light” of the established church ignited a revival of religion in the colonies.

The basic concept of individual choice and freedom shook both the church and the state. Few people today know that churches were then financed by taxes collected by the government. Massachusetts was the last state to stop the practice in 1828.

The Bible was quoted throughout the Declaration of Independence. The basic assertion that the Creator God gave individuals the rights that could not be taken away by a king who ruled by divine right was a basic challenge to King George. A similar assertion in the Geneva Bible study notes had motivated King James to develop a Bible without that quote.

As he suspected, that idea came back again as citizens realized even kings and queens or dictators are accountable to God.

Since the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution, religious influence has been a motivation for education, moral government that changed drinking habits and ended slavery have occurred as the Great Awakening continued through the 1800s and into the early 1900s. Some believe the Charismatic movement in the second half of the last century was a continuation.

Women have been a critical part of that history and made major change happen in politics and government. Much of that happened long before women received the right to vote in 1920.

Not all improvement in life requires government intervention. Not so many years ago most hospitals were owned and operated by churches. Lots of charity work was done.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July in 2018, check how God has blessed us. You do not have to believe in God to share the individual freedoms found only in this nation. Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion.

Celebrate and rejoice in the freedom and opportunity this nation defends and stands for.

Note: If your club, political group, church or school would like more facts about history of your country, Dr. Robertson is available to speak. Check www.marvinswindow.com for more columns and contact information.

  

    

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