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Louie G.
Republican TX 1

About Rep. Louie
  • Our Judeo-Christian Heritage

    by Representative Louie Gohmert

    Posted on 2015-12-18

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    GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, this will be the last session before we enter Christmas. And, Mr. Speaker, I have noted from a couple of articles that have been in the news this week, this one from December 17, a story from Minnesota, the title: ``Parents Question Choice to Sing `Allahu Akbar' at Holiday Concert.'' It is intriguing that, in an age when groups are attacking our Judeo- Christian heritage, trying to rewrite our history, trying to prevent any mention of our Christian heritage--I am looking at the full face of Moses directly above me in front of me because we have, in this Chamber, profiles of people who were considered to be the greatest lawgivers of all time. And until recent years, Moses was considered the greatest lawgiver of all time. The Founders believed that.

    The Supreme Court now has relegated Moses to the ash heap of history. His revelation that he said came from God, that a man shall leave his father and mother, a woman leave their home, the two shall become one flesh. Jesus doubled down on that. He said not only is that what marriage is, what God joined together, let nobody pull apart.

    So we have relegated Moses to the ash heap. We have had the Supreme Court, for years now, saying, first, you can't have prayer in public, even though the Founders started each day of the Continental Congress with prayer; and although the Constitutional Convention didn't start each day with prayer, when they hit a brick wall and could go no further, Benjamin Franklin made his powerful speech about how they had begun each day with prayer, as he said, his exact words: ``In the beginning contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room. Our prayers, sir, were heard and they were graciously answered.'' He went on to say: ``If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable an empire could rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writing, that `except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.' '' He said: I also firmly believe that without His--God's--concurring aid, we will succeed in our political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We will be confounded by our local partial interests and we, ourselves, shall be bye words through time.

    So I know our heritage. They didn't have money to pay for a chaplain that they could all agree on to do the prayer every day. He pointed out in the debate that we agreed on a chaplain. We didn't agree on any specific person here to do the prayer for all the different denominations. But we don't have a treasurer. We don't have money. We can't hire a chaplain.

    And that is when Randolph made his motion. Okay, basically, they had hit a brick wall. They were making no progress. As Franklin had said, we have more noes than ayes on virtually every vote.

    So he moved that they recess--here it was the end of June--they recess and reconvene to celebrate the country's birthday in early July, and worship together. So they did. That one passed. They reconvened to worship God at the Reformed Calvinistic Church there in Philadelphia.

    You can go online, Mr. Speaker, and find what is reported to be the prayer that he gave. It had a powerful influence. And when they reconvened, there was a new spirit. They were able to come together and end up arriving at the Great Compromise.

    Founder after Founder, including Washington himself, pointed out that clearly God's hand was upon them in the preparation of the Constitution, and then, ultimately, resulting in the Bill of Rights.

    {time} 1030 The first right within the Bill of Rights was basically to make clear that government would never interfere with religion.

    Basically, we have come to a place after all these years where the United States Supreme Court has said not only can you not have the Judeo-Christian God as part of any government--the same God that the Founders were giving credit to and praying to--but now this year the Supreme Court took the ultimate step of saying: Forget Moses. Forget Jesus. We are the new God and here is what we pronounce in place of Moses and Jesus and our founding principles. So this is a big year.

    I know the President says we are not a Christian nation, and I won't argue that point with him. I won't debate him. I think he is right. I know where we started, and I know every time, according to my staff, I mention God here where--in this Capitol, God's name has been invoked from the very beginning of this Capitol and before this Capitol and when it was in Philadelphia and when the first Congress was sworn in and President George Washington was sworn in at Federal Hall in New York City. It was his idea to bring his Bible and put his hand on the Bible, his idea to add the words ``so help me God.'' It was all their idea that the first thing they would do as a Congress together, after being sworn in, was to walk down, basically, Wall Street to St. Paul's Chapel there in New York and dedicate this country there in 1789 to God Almighty.

    I won't debate the President saying we are not a Christian nation, but the Bible has been quoted over our history in this Chamber more than any other book as a reason for or against legislation passing. It is a part of our heritage, to a much lesser extent in more recent years, as the Supreme Court--at least the five majority in the Supreme Court becoming our God instead of the God that was acknowledged by Ben Franklin, George Washington, basically every President.

    Mr. Speaker, we have a job to represent our constituents. We have an oath to the Constitution. I know we take that seriously. Part of our job in representing our constituents is to educate people on the issues and what has been important and what has been our strength, what has been our weaknesses. If you don't know our history, then, as the saying goes, those who refuse to learn from history are destined to repeat it. It is important to know history.

    It is important to note the official words of the United States' highest magistrate, our President. Jefferson was asked once as he rode his horse [[Page H10701]] down Pennsylvania Avenue on a Sunday morning--he had a big Bible in his hand, it was reported. I have had this verified by the Congressional Research Service.

    When Jefferson was President for those 8 years, when he was in Washington, not only did he condone the church service, the largest Christian church service in Washington that occurred just down the hall, but he participated. He would even have the Marine Band come and play the hymns on many occasions for the Christian church service.

    As he rode down this one occasion, he was asked, ``Mr. President, where are you going?'' He said, ``I am going to church up in the Capitol.'' The statement was made, ``Mr. President, you don't believe everything they do.'' Because he had questions about some of the miracles reported in the Bible.

    But it was reported that his response was, ``Sir, I am the highest elected magistrate in this country. It is imperative that I set the proper example.'' Now, I asked the Congressional Research Service is it true what has been attributed to the person people claim to be the father of the Constitution, James Madison, that when he was President for his 8 years, that he also condoned and participated in church services just down the hall here every Sunday he was in Washington? The Congressional Research Service, a bipartisan, nonpartisan service, reported, yes, but he was different from Jefferson. Jefferson normally rode a horse down Pennsylvania Avenue whereas Madison would normally come to church up here in the Capitol in a coach drawn by horses rather than on horseback.

    So, Mr. Speaker, as we take the traditional Christmas recess, no matter what your religious preference is or no preference at all, it is a fact this is a Christmas recess.

    Although this was not a statement at Christmastime, the commander of our military in 1778, George Washington, made this order as commander of our military. Some say this is really the reason God blessed their efforts, is because of their commitment and dedication. This is an order of George Washington to the troops at Valley Forge. This is George Washington's order, Mr. Speaker. I will read it verbatim: The Commander in Chief directs that divine service be performed every Sunday at eleven o'clock in each brigade which has chaplains. Those brigades which have none will attend the places of worship nearest to them. It is expected that officers of all ranks will, by their attendance, set an example for their men. While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to laud the more distinguished character of Christian.

    Those are George Washington's words as commander of our military.

    Well, John Adams, without whom it is unlikely we would have arrived at the place we did with the Declaration--he is the one that directed Thomas Jefferson to do the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. He was critical in holding things together. Even though he only won one term as President, he was Vice President for two terms. He was very important in arriving at our Constitution.

    John Adams on October 11, 1798, said this to the First Brigade, Third Division, of Militia of Massachusetts: We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

    This is from a Founder that knew how the Constitution was forged, made a difference in our country's beginning. He says our Constitution is not fit as a governing document for any but a moral and religious people. So over the years we have been taken down the road away from being a moral and religious people.

    Franklin Roosevelt started many social programs. He made a lot of decisions, I think, that were dramatic mistakes. The man deserves credit for leading this Nation through a time of war, mistakes being made.

    He got us through a war and helped with Winston Churchill and other leaders to keep freedom alive so that it would be present in our lifetime, even as we see our freedoms being taken by government the further we go along.

    Exactly 2 weeks after the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, a day he said in this very Chamber from right up here at this level--he had a marble podium and not this wooden one--but he said that was a day that would live in infamy.

    Exactly 2 weeks later, December 21, 1941, this was Franklin Roosevelt's message to our Nation: Sincere and faithful men and women are asking themselves this Christmas: How can we light our trees? How can we give our gifts? How can we meet and worship with love and with uplifted spirit and heart in a world at war, a world of fighting and suffering, and death? How can we pause even for a day, even for Christmas day, in our urgent labor of arming a decent humanity against the enemies which beset it? Parenthetically, Mr. Speaker, he didn't mean holiday. He meant what he said, Christmas day.

    Roosevelt goes on: How can we, as men and women, put the world aside in peaceful years to rejoice in the birth of Christ? Looking into the days to come, I have set aside a day of prayer and in that proclamation I have said: The year 1941 has brought upon our Nation a war of aggression by powers dominated by arrogant rulers whose selfish purpose is to destroy free institutions. They would thereby take from the freedom-loving peoples of the Earth the hard-won liberties gained over many centuries. The new year of 1942 calls for the courage. Our strength, as the strength of all men everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us. Therefore, I do hereby appoint the first day of the year 1942 as a day of prayer, of asking forgiveness for our shortcomings of the past, of consecrations to the task of the present and of asking God's help in days to come. We need His guidance that this people may be humble in spirit, but strong in the conviction of the right, steadfast to endure sacrifice, and brave to achieve a victory of liberty and peace.

    Franklin Roosevelt says our strongest weapon in this war is that conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas day signifies against enemies who preach the principles of hate and practice them. We set our fate in human love and in God's care for us in all men everywhere.

    A year later, on Christmas Eve, Franklin Roosevelt said: To you who serve in uniform, I also send a message of cheer that you are in the thoughts of your families and friends at home and that Christmas prayers follow you wherever you may be. To all Americans, I say that loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is not enough, that we, as a Nation and as individuals, will please God best by showing regard for the laws of God. There is no better way of fostering goodwill toward men than by first fostering goodwill toward God.

    {time} 1045 Then Franklin Roosevelt basically takes a quote from John 14:15 in saying: ``If we love Him, we will keep His Commandments.

    ``In sending Christmas greetings to the Armed Forces and merchant sailors of the United Nations, we include therein our pride in their bravery on the fighting fronts and on all the seas.

    ``It is significant that tomorrow--Christmas Day--our plants and factories will be stilled. This is not true of the other holidays we have long been accustomed to celebrate. On all other holidays work goes on--gladly--for the winning of the war. So Christmas becomes the only holiday in all the year.

    ``I like to think that this is so because Christmas is a holy day. May all it stands for live and grow throughout the years.'' Well, Mr. Speaker, 5 years later exactly, Harry Truman nationally broadcast this address at the lighting of the National--not holiday tree but Christmas Tree--on the White House lawn. Again, Mr. Speaker, just as those who failed to learn from the mistakes of history are destined to repeat them, we can avoid the mistakes by looking at what strengthened America and what caused God to bless America.

    We won a war against evil fascism that is raising its head yet again. Just as Hitler colluded with radical Islam, agreed with some of his fascist ideas against Jews, against Christians, there is so much ignorance. Some people try to say Hitler was a Christian. It is the farthest thing from it.

    These are Harry Truman's words, December 1947 on Christmas Eve: ``My fellow countrymen: We are met on the South Lawn of the White House.

    [[Page H10702]] Above the barren treetops rises the towering shaft of the Washington Monument. The scene is peaceful and tranquil. The shadows deepen, and the holy night falls gently over the National Capital, as we gather around our Christmas tree.

    ``Down the ages, from the first Christmas through all the years of 19 centuries, mankind, in its weary pilgrimage through a changing world, has been cheered and strengthened by the message of Christmas.

    ``The angels sang for joy at the first Christmas in a faraway Bethlehem. Their song has echoed through the corridors of time and will continue to sustain the heart of man through eternity.

    ``Let us not forget that the first Christmas was a homeless one. A humble man and woman had gone up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, to Bethlehem. There is a sense of desolation in St. Luke's brief chronicle that Mary `brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.' ``For many of our brethren in Europe and Asia, this too will be a homeless Christmas. There can be little happiness for those who will keep another Christmas in poverty and exile and in separation from their loved ones.

    ``As we prepare to celebrate our Christmas this year in a land of plenty, we would be heartless, indeed, if we were indifferent to the plight of less fortunate peoples overseas.

    ``We must not forget that our Revolutionary fathers also knew a Christmas of suffering and desolation. Washington wrote from Valley Forge 2 days before Christmas in 1777: `We have this day no less than 2,873 men in camp unfit for duty because they are barefooted and otherwise naked.' ``We can be thankful that our people have risen today, as did our forefathers in Washington's time, to our obligation and our opportunity.

    ``At this point in the world's history, the words of St. Paul have greater significance than ever before. He said, `And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.' ``Let us then put our trust in the unerring star which guided the Wise Men to the manger of Bethlehem. Let us hearken again to the angel choir singing, `Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men.' ``With hope for the future and with faith in God, I wish all my countrymen a very Merry Christmas.'' A year later, Harry Truman, as President of the United States, officially said: ``For of all the days of the year, Christmas is the family day. Christmas began that way.

    ``The moving event of the first Christmas was the bringing forth of the first born in the stable in Bethlehem. There began, in humble surroundings, the home life of the Holy Family, glorified in song and story and in the hearts of men down through the centuries. The great joys and mysteries of that event have forever sanctified and enriched all home life.

    ``The hallowed associations of Christmas draw all hearts toward home. With one accord, we receive with joy and reverence the message of the first Christmas: `Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill to men.' ``What could be more appropriate than for all of us to dedicate ourselves to the cause of peace on this holy night. As a Nation, we have a history of little more than a century and a half. But the religion which came to the world, heralded by the song of the angels, has endured for 19 centuries. It will continue to endure. It remains today the world's best hope for peace if the world will accept its fundamental teaching: that all men are brothers.'' Then he quotes from Scripture: ``God that made the world and all things therein hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the Earth.'' Then Truman says: ``In the spirit of that message from the Acts of the Apostles, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas.'' I know, Mr. Speaker, there are people that go nuts when we talk about these official pronouncements by government officials as part of their government duty, but it is part of our history.

    For those who go ballistic when this part of our history, that led us to being the greatest nation in the history of the world--more assets for individuals; a country where the number one health problem for the Nation's poor is obesity; a country where we have sacrificed our greatest treasure, American lives, for other people's freedom without a demand for imperialism, without a demand that they convert to our government's leadership--that is why they speak French in France, Japanese in Japan, and German in Germany.

    Dwight Eisenhower, who knew something about fighting, said this 7 years after the last statement I read from Harry Truman. This was his official pronouncement. President Eisenhower said: ``This evening's ceremony here at the White House is one of many thousands in America's traditional celebration of the birth, almost 2,000 years ago, of the Prince of Peace.

    ``For us, this Christmas is truly a sense of goodwill--and our first peaceful one since 1949. Our hopes are bright, even though the world still stands divided in two antagonistic parts.

    ``More precisely than in any other way, prayer places freedom and communism in opposition, one to the other. The Communist can find no reserve of strength in prayer because his doctrine of materialism and statism denies the dignity of man and, consequently, the existence of God.

    ``But in America, George Washington long ago rejected exclusive dependence upon mere materialistic values. In the bitter and critical winter at Valley Forge, when the cause of liberty was so near defeat, his recourse was sincere and earnest prayer. From it, he received new hope and new strength of purpose out of which grew the freedom in which we celebrate this Christmas season.

    ``As religious faith is the foundation of free government, so is prayer an indispensable part of that faith.

    ``Would it not be fitting for each of us to speak in prayer to the Father of all men and women on this Earth, of whatever nation, and of every race and creed--to ask that He--God--help us and teach us and strengthen us and receive our thanks? ``Should we not pray that He help us?'' He always capitalized ``He'' when he spoke of God.

    ``Should we not pray that He receive our thanks? For certainly, we are grateful for the opportunity given us to use our strength and our faith to meet the problems of this hour. And on this Christmas Eve, all hearts in America are filled with special thanks to God that the blood of those we love no longer spills on battlefields abroad. May He--God-- receive the thanks of each of us for this, His greatest bounty--and our supplication that peace on Earth may live with us, always.'' So the leader of our fight against fascism, world domination of hate in World War II, Dwight Eisenhower, made those rather profound words.

    But, Mr. Speaker, we see through our history when our Nation was deeply troubled--whether it was Washington, whether it was Lincoln, whether it was Franklin Roosevelt in World War II, Eisenhower in the Korean war, Kennedy during Vietnam--all of our Presidents have known up to this point that our greatest hope comes through prayer to God.

    I am not speaking these words and reading our historic statements by Presidents--by our leaders--to try to convert anybody, but just so our history is understood, as our way continues to grow darker, critical violence is escalating again, racial divides are growing deeper when I thought we had--we have--we have come so far. We need to turn, according to our former leaders, historically--what they said is: Turn to God.

    This is not to convert anybody. It is simply so that this record of where Presidents, leaders, and Americans used to turn be part of the Record today.

    So John Kennedy's words, as President, December 17, 1962--at this time, there were only advisers in Vietnam--at the official lighting of the National Christmas Tree. It was still a Christmas tree for John Kennedy: ``With the lighting of this tree, which is an old ceremony in Washington and one which has been among the most important responsibilities of a good many Presidents of the United States, we initiate, in a formal way, the Christmas season.

    [[Page H10703]] ``We mark the festival of Christmas, which is the most sacred and hopeful day in our civilization. For nearly 2,000 years, the message of Christmas, the message of peace and goodwill towards all men, has been the guiding star of our endeavors.

    ``I had a meeting which included some of our representatives from far-off countries in Africa and Asia. They were returning to their posts for the Christmas holidays.

    {time} 1100 ``Talking with them afterwards, I was struck by the fact that in the far off continents Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, as well as Christians, paused from their labors on the 25th day of December to celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace. There could be no more striking proof that Christmas is truly the universal holiday of all men. It is the day when all of us dedicate our thoughts to others; when all are reminded that mercy and compassion are the enduring virtues; when all show, by small deeds and large and by acts, that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

    ``It is the day when we remind ourselves that man can and must live in peace with his neighbors and that it is the peacemakers who are truly blessed. In this year of 1962 we greet each other at Christmas with some special sense of the blessings of peace. This has been a year of peril when the peace has been sorely threatened. But it has been a year when peril was faced and when reason ruled. As a result, we may talk, at this Christmas, just a little bit more confidently of peace on Earth, good will to men. As a result, the hopes of the American people are perhaps a little higher. We have much yet to do. We still need to ask that God bless everyone.'' Of course, each President has made pronouncements of a similar nature various times.

    This was Jimmy Carter, President Carter, December 15, 1977, at what he described as the Christmas Pageant of Peace Ceremony on the White House Ellipse: ``Christmas has a special meaning for those of us who are Christians, those of us who believe in Christ, those of us who know that almost 2,000 years ago, the Son of Peace was born to give us a vision of perfection, a vision of humility, a vision of unselfishness, a vision of compassion, a vision of love.'' President Carter in 1978 said: ``Rosalyn and I send our warmest wishes to our fellow citizens who celebrate the birth of Christ and who rejoice with us in the coming of the peace He symbolizes.

    ``We welcome this opportunity to offer our thanks to those who have given us their encouragement and prayers.

    ``We also join in this season's traditional expression of appreciation to God for His blessings in the past year, and we ask for His continuing guidance and protection as we face the challenges of 1979.'' President George W. Bush, President Clinton, President George W. Bush, and President Obama have delivered Christmas messages, and President Obama his holiday messages.

    I would like to conclude at this time with President Reagan's message, as he says on the observance of Christmas, December 19, 1988, his last Christmas message as President: ``The themes of Christmas and of coming home for the holidays have long been intertwined in song and story. There is a profound irony and lesson in this, because Christmas celebrates the coming of a savior who was born without a home.

    ``There was no room at the inn for the Holy Family. Weary of travel, a young Mary close to childbirth and her carpenter husband Joseph found but the rude shelter of a stable. There was born the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace--an event on which all history would turn. Jesus would again be without a home, and more than once; on the flight to Egypt and during His public ministry, when he said, `The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the son of man hath nowhere to lay his head.' ``From His very infancy, on, our Redeemer was reminding us that from then on we would never lack a home in Him. Like the shepherds whom the angel of the Lord appeared on the first Christmas Day, we could always say: `Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us.' ``As we come home with gladness to family and friends this Christmas, let us also remember our neighbors who cannot go home themselves. Our compassion and concern this Christmas and all year long will mean much to the hospitalized, the homeless, the convalescent, the orphaned--and will surely lead us on our way to the joy and peace of Bethlehem and the Christ child who bids us come. For it is only in finding and living the internal meaning of the nativity that we can be truly happy, truly at peace, truly home.'' He concludes, as I will--President Reagan: ``Merry Christmas, and God bless you.'' I yield back the balance of my time.


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