Thanksgiving, that quintessential American Holiday full of good cheer, good food, family and friends, arrives this Thursday. Since 1621, Americans have gathered together in the fall to celebrate life and thank Almighty God for their blessings.
Just seven months after taking his oath of office, President George Washington proclaimed the last Thursday of November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God….”
In 1863, after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln issued a presidential proclamation to re-institute Washington’s Day of Thanksgiving and set the official date as the last Thursday in November to satisfy the proposal of 74 year old author Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale who lobbied for the day for many years. Ironically, Lincoln issued the proclamation for Thanksgiving on October 3, 1863, exactly 74 years after Washington’s announcement.
Visitors to New England towns would have heard dining rooms everywhere reciting the children’s poem of Lydia Maria Child from 1844
Over the river
And through the woods
To Grandmother’s house
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
And drifted snow, Oh!…
Today, Thanksgiving is still going strong despite the cultural wars of the 21st century. According to the 2007 Survey of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 78.4% of Americans are Christians with 4.7% comprising other religions such as American Jews at 1.7% totaling at 83.1%, plus religious unaffiliated citizens at 5.8%, or 89% of the total population, while Atheists comprise only 1.6% of the populace. Given these statistics why is it that religion in general and believers in Jesus Christ specifically are under continual attack from our government, and the media?
The evidence for this conclusion is overwhelming: public schools no longer have a Christmas Concert, nor a Holiday Concert, now they attend a Winter Solstice Concert like Ancient Druids – even the Pledge of Allegiance is being targeted in some districts, along with attacks on the exhortation “In God We Trust”. And now President Obama has injected himself into this cultural skirmish by reading the Gettysburg Address to a nationwide audience deliberately omitted the word God from the following passage that ends the speech “– that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Abraham Lincoln – November 19, 1863
Why did the President of the United States, on the Sesquicentennial of this venerable speech remove the words under God? The logical conclusion was to placate his Atheist constituency. Or possibly, the president wanted to mess with the heads of the members of the Tea Party, sending them into a tizzy. Either way, the president seems to deserve his reputation as a divisive politician. Mr. Obama is also on the wrong side of history.
Three contemporaneous reporters from 1863 telegraphed the text of the actual speech as they heard it and wrote: “…that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom…”
The most famous hand-written copy of the speech (The Bliss copy) is on display at the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House where Mr. Obama lives. It is signed and dated by President Lincoln himself.
And so it goes, Merry Christmas has become Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays. Hanukkah Menorahs and Christian Crèches are routinely removed from town greens in an attempt to remove religion in general and Christianity in Particular from the Public Square. Even Tim Tebow’s eye blacks under his football helmet were eventually banned by the NCAA. Tebow’s crime was wearing John 3:16 which proclaims “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is of course a phrase revered by nearly 80% of the American people.
Even though recent history has embolden the 1.6% Atheists, Thanksgiving Day itself causes quite the conundrum for them today. Just who are they giving thanks to on the last Thursday of every November? If Atheist are true to their doctrine, there is nobody there to hear their giving of thanks. Now that’s a conundrum for even an Atheist with a PhD.
When parents enter the hospital waiting room to learn of any news of their daughter’s surgery to remove a burst appendix, who are they praying to? Almighty God is the logical answer. Atheists are silent regarding this question because even when they pray for a miracle to find an abducted child safe and sound they end up praying to God despite their best efforts.
During the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, some American soldiers hit Omaha Beach as Atheists but after some intense reflection they ran to their safety as believers – the proverbial foxhole conversion.
So, this Thursday on Thanksgiving Day concentrate on giving thanks to Almighty God for your blessings and tenderly slip a separate prayer to the Lord, beseeching him to make Atheists drop their self-absorbed hubris and realize that if God did not already exist, we would have to invent him. Happy Thanksgiving to All.
Geoffrey G. Fisher is a federally designated Highly Qualified state-certified history teacher living in southwest Florida. He holds a BA in History from the University of Connecticut and a MA in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. In addition to teaching he is a former elected official and speechwriter. Mr. Fisher now writes the political blog: THE THINKING CAP at www.theamericanthinkingcap.blogspot.com
He is also a weekly columnist for the Political eMagazine: THE PATRIOTUPDATE.COM