One Nation Under God

By: Dr. Ted Baehr; ©2000
Using the example of a recent visit to Plymouth, Massachusetts, Dr. Baehr explains how America?s religious heritage is being erased, revised, or ignored especially in our public schools and in Hollywood.



My third son, 14-year-old Robby, recently visited Plymouth, Mass, as part of his school curriculum. At the Plymouth Plantation, his guide told him that the experts (whoever they are) don’t know why the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving and don’t believe that many or any Indians came to celebrate with the Pilgrims. Although my son is very media-wise, he was clearly impressed by the guide, who, after all, should know all about the Plymouth Colony.

Therefore, on Thanksgiving this year, I found myself reading some of the original accounts of the Pilgrims’ three-day thanksgiving feast celebrated in early November of 1621 by two of the young colony’s leaders, Governor William Bradford and Master Edward Winslow. In his own hand, Gov. Bradford described how the Pilgrims, joined by 90 native Americans, celebrated a thanksgiving to God for the crops and for survival. (It should be noted that the first day of thanks to God in America was observed in Virginia at Cape Henry in 1607.)

Thus, I was able to set the historical record straight, but the question arises: what about the other children who visit Plymouth Plantation, and what about our other cultural teachers and leaders? How do they present our religious history to our vulnerable children?

At the latest Religious Heritage of America banquet, as the retiring chairman of that august organization, I was asked to talk about how Hollywood has portrayed America’s religious heritage. Looking over the films of the past, I was surprised to see that there were many positive references to American’s religious history, especially in Golden Age movies like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Devil and Daniel Webster and Drums along the Mohawk. In fact, a survey of historical movies showed there have been more movies with positive references to America’s religious history than there have been movies denigrating America’s religious history. So I had to ask myself, “Why worry?”

The problem is not that historical movies necessarily contradict America’s religious history, although some of the more modern movies, such as the recent abomination falla­ciously called The Scarlet Letter, do just that. Quite the contrary, many movies, even modern historical films like Squanto, do a good job of being faithful and even evangelical about America’s religious history. Rather, the problem is that these historical movies them­selves are an anomaly in a vast sea of movies which ignore, trivialize or reduce God to an insignificant role, and which lift up other, false gods, including the gods of war, materialism and sex, with much more artistic vision and vigor.

Textbook publishers may be erasing references to America’s religious history; the courts may be restraining schools from teaching the Christian roots of our Founding Fa­thers and our founding documents; the press may be obfuscating the issue; but, by and large, Hollywood is effectively confusing the issue and trivializing God with a flood of mov­ies presenting all sorts of bogus theologies.

Therefore, Christians need to bypass the gatekeepers in our society and proclaim the true religious history of America to our children before they are totally confused; or worse, lost to the revisionist Marxists.

In this regard, the Religious Heritage of America has a glorious history. This is the oldest and most prestigious organization concerned with America’s religious heritage. It takes pride that it got the phrase “One Nation under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, initiated the modern, yearly National Day of Prayer observances and initiated prayer rooms in Congress. The mission of the Religious Heritage of America is threefold: to help people remember America’s religious history; to pray for the nation; and, to recognize and honor men and women who have lived their faith in action – great Christian men such as Sir John Templeton and Dr. Bill Bright.

Regrettably, however, the generation who founded the Religious Heritage of America is passing away. Therefore, I came on board as chairman to help the Religious Heritage of America transition into the 21st Century. Thanks to God and an inspired recommendation from Dr. Bill Bright, I was able to secure the services of successful businessman John Damoose as the new CEO of Religious Heritage of America two years ago.

On Nov. 20-22, 1999, God showed us that his hand was on this decision when John revived the Religious Heritage of America Awards Ceremony and merged it with his vision for Freedom Ministries. The reborn Awards Ceremony recognized some extraordinary individuals, such as PaxTV owner Bud Paxson, and set forth the goal of communicating America’s religious heritage to our children through the inspired vehicle of the Great Free­dom Train – a reborn Bicentennial Train which will bring the truth of American’s religious heritage to communities throughout the U.S.

The famous Bicentennial Train in 1976 was a traveling exhibit that brought America’s founding documents to communities throughout the land. It helped children all over America learn about America’s founding documents. The Great Freedom Train will expand the mission of the Bicentennial Train so that it becomes a traveling theme park to bring America’s religious history to a generation that has never heard the true story of America’s founding. Through the Great Freedom Train, the Religious Heritage of America will bypass the gatekeepers and bring the true story of America’s history to children throughout the country. Confronted by the truth, perhaps then the guide at Plymouth Plantation will re­member the reason the Indians joined with the Pilgrims to give thanks to Almighty God.

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