The greatest nation in history should use Fourth of July celebrations to find a way out of the wilderness of moral morass so we can get back to the promised land of moral righteousness.

More than three centuries ago the Pilgrims and Puritans came to settle in this new land with their newly translated King James Bibles and farming tools. The "old country" had lost its way spiritually and morally. These godly pioneers were committed to build a new "shining city on a hill."

These settlers knew who they believed and what they believed: God of their Bible and his great teachings. They had found the truth and reality for living. The old country had missed the mark for righteousness, so these folks were going to build a new nation: a government of laws and a land of freedom with responsibility.

Their posterity then fought their way to freedom in the American Revolution. They fashioned one of the two greatest political documents in history, the American Declaration of Independence. Subsequently they forged the other great political instrument, the Constitution of the United States of America. Together they built that risky but unique form of government, later described by Abraham Lincoln as "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people." No government which had entrusted the power to be vested in individual people had been able to survive. But these young Americans knew their venture would succeed because they had dedicated their new land and new government to their God.

President John Adams proclaimed: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other people." Much later, President Dwight Eisenhower declared: "Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor American way of life."

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That risky experiment in 1776 secured the freedom of the people and generated prosperity and power in the new land. When the early Americans would begin to lose their way by abuse of their blessings, strong people of God would lead spiritual revivals to take the people back to God and the Bible. Ben Franklin wrote that "Atheism is unknown here, and infidelity is rare and secret."

World War II took America to the top of the world. Then godless communism raised its head as our revival, threatening to take the world for their "isms" of man: selfish, humanism, secularism, atheism and socialism: the gods of man. Then our enemies crashed by trusting in man rather than God.

In the 20th century, and especially the 1960s, more Americans began toying with socialism and big government. There came to be less obedience to and understanding of God's view. With increasing prosperity and power many Americans came to feel no need for God, as had many of God's chosen people in the Old Testament. They had compromised their faith by acceding to the siren songs of their pagan neighbors, who worshipped many gods and "the things and ways of the world." Those were big violations of The Ten Commandments and their covenants with the Lord God Jehovah. These are the same problems that plague our culture today.

But there is a way of escape today as there was then. Most Americans who profess to be connected to God seem to lack commitment. We need a new introduction to the God of our founding fathers as we celebrate the Fourth of July.

This editorial is adapted from the writing in 2000 of Harry Shuler Dent, a St. Matthews native who served three U.S. presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George Bush.

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