*** Notes for Today’s Show ***
It is the 28th of May 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
Mail Bag! Jessica in Connecticut asks “How did America get its official motto “In God We Trust”?
That’s a good question… I can give you a brief history of how it came to be.
There are church historians who would explain the entire history of America- on a popular social level- as the history of Great Awakenings.
Great Awakening Colonial Edwards and Whitefield
Second Great Awakening- mid 19th century
3rd Great Awakening 1865-1914
All the wars
4th Great Awakening 1945-1960
In the 1950s conversions outpaced the growth of the population. In 1950 57% of the population claimed to be Christians but by 1963 it would be over 63%.
Prior to 1945 the percentage of Americans claiming to be church-going Christians was never over 50%.
The Irony of Ike
President Eisenhower was the first President to be baptized in office, but this at the badgering of Billy Graham and others.
When asked what church he would join, the president answered “Presbyterian, I suppose”. And then the real humdinger, “our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don't care what it is”
It was in this spirit of… ambiguous religiosity that the Pledge of Allegiance (originally written by a Baptist socialist) added “One Nation Under God” and “In God, We Trust” became the official national motto. It is worth noting that “In God, We Trust” comes from a forgotten stanza in the Star-Spangled Banner, "Then conquer we must when our cause it is just, And this be our motto — 'In God is our trust”. “In God, We Trust” would be put on coins and the like from the civil war on, it wasn’t until this 4th Great Awakening and the urging of Dwight Eisenhower that it would become America’s official motto.
The last word for today comes from 1 Peter chapter 2. A word for Christians regardless of their earthly citizenship:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 28th of May 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by “a Lutheran, I suppose” Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man waiting for the weirdness of another Great Awakening, Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.