From Tony Perkins, Family Research CouncilJul 02, 2009
A Open Letter From Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, On The Meaning Of Independence Day
In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams told her of the actions of the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776. "The second day of July, 1776 [the actual day the Declaration was adopted], will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever."
As we celebrate Independence Day, as John Adams so aptly predicted, we must not forget nor overlook the intense struggle our Founding Fathers faced. Their Christian faith played a critical role in an era that altered the history of the world.
There is not a better example of this seamless devotion to God and country than Samuel Adams. In his time, Sam was far more famous than his cousin, John. Sam was known as the last of the great Puritans and the father of the Revolution. It was Sam Adams who organized the Sons of Liberty and the Committees of Correspondence. (By the way, if you're going out to a Tea Party on Saturday, historians believe that the first tea party, the one in Boston, was organized by Samuel Adams. It was that Boston Tea Party that lit the fuse of the American Revolution).
When Sam Adams was elected to that First Continental Congress and traveled to the gathering of leaders in Philadelphia, he thought the Continental Congress needed to begin its work on its knees — in prayer. But when the motion was made to call in a local clergyman to lead the worship, John Jay of New York and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina objected. We are too diverse, they said. We could never agree on whose prayers to say.
Rising to his feet, Sam Adams spoke: "I am no bigot," he said, "I can hear the prayer of any man of piety and virtue who is a friend to his country." Deeply moved, the delegates voted to approve Sam Adams' idea. The next morning, amid reports of the British moving against the people of his hometown of Boston, Sam knelt in prayer with his fellow delegates, as the Rev. Jacob Duch? prayed. "Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me, and fight against them that fight against me."
That inspired move by Sam Adams did much to overcome suspicions among the delegates. Joseph Reed of Philadelphia called that prayer "a masterly stroke." Those Founding Fathers could now work together for liberty.
Soon, Sam Adams would sign the Declaration of Independence. Alongside Sam Adams' name you can find that of Charles Carroll, a delegate from Maryland. Carroll was the richest man in Congress and the only Roman Catholic. Nowhere else on earth in 1776 could you find an Evangelical like Sam Adams pledge "his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor" alongside a Catholic like Charles Carroll. They both risked death by hanging for signing that great Declaration. But they served the King of Kings and had no fear of King George III.
In our efforts to maintain the freedoms won by our forefathers we must be like them — people of action and prayer. We must never sever our personal faith from our public stand for faith, family and freedom.
After we celebrate our independence as a nation on Saturday, I invite you to join thousands of Christians from across the nation on Sunday as they fall on their knees in prayer as a part of FRC's Call2Fall, declaring their dependence upon God, just like our Founding Fathers.