Prayer has sustained our people in crisis, strengthened us in times of challenge, and guided us through our daily lives since the first settlers came to this continent. Our forbearers came not for gold, but mainly in search of God and the freedom to worship in their own way.
"We've been a free people living under the law, with faith in our Maker and in our future. I've said before that the most sublime picture in American history is of George Washington on his knees in the snow at Valley Forge. That image personifies a people who know that it's not enough to depend on our own courage and goodness; we must also seek help from God, our Father and Preserver.
-- Remarks at a White House Ceremony in Observance of National Day of Prayer, 6 May 1982
"Yet today we're told that to protect that first amendment, we must suppress prayer and expel God from our children's classrooms. In one case, a court has ruled against the right of children to say grace in their own school cafeteria before they had lunch. A group of children who sought, on their own initiative and with their parents' approval, to begin the schoolday with a 1-minute prayer meditation have been forbidden to do so. And some students who wanted to join in prayer or religious study on school property, even outside of regular class hours, have been banned from doing so.
"A few people have even objected to prayers being said in the Congress. That's just plain wrong. The Constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying; its declared purpose was to protect their freedom to pray. -- Radio Address to the Nation on Prayer, 18 September 1982
"I know that we share a belief that all people, no matter where they live, have the right to freedom of religion. This is not a right that is any government's to give or to take away. It's our right from birth, because we're all children of God." -- Remarks at the Annual Convention of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 10 June 1983
"We are a nation under God. I've always believed that this blessed land was set apart in a special way, that some divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth who had a special love for freedom and the courage to uproot themselves, leave homeland and friends, to come to a strange land. And coming here they created something new in all the history of mankind -- a land where man is not beholden to government, government is beholden to man.”
"George Washington believed that religion, morality, and brotherhood were the pillars of society. He said you couldn't have morality without religion. And yet today we're told that to protect the first amendment, we must expel God, the source of all knowledge, from our children's classrooms. Well, pardon me, but the first amendment was not written to protect the American people from religion; the first amendment was written to protect the American people from government tyranny.”
"Indeed, there is nothing in the Constitution at all about public education and prayer. There is, however, something very pertinent in the act that gave birth to our public school system -- a national act, if you will. It called for public education to see that our children -- and quoting from that act – ‘learned about religion and morality.’'' -- Remarks at a Spirit of America Rally in Atlanta, Georgia, 26 January 1984
"Nineteen eighty-three was the year more of us read the Good Book. Can we make a resolution here today? -- that 1984 will be the year we put its great truths into action?”
"My experience in this office I hold has only deepened a belief I've held for many years: Within the covers of that single Book are all the answers to all the problems that face us today if we'd only read and believe.”
"Let's begin at the beginning. God is the center of our lives; the human family stands at the center of society; and our greatest hope for the future is in the faces of our children.”
"I've said that we must be cautious in claiming God is on our side.I think the real question we must answer is, are we on His side?" -- Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Religious Broadcasters, 30 January 1984
"I know one thing I'm sure most of us agree on: God, the source of all knowledge, should never have been expelled from our children's classrooms. National Religious Broadcasters, 30 January 1984
"I believe that faith and religion play a critical role in the political life of our nation -- and always have.”
"Those who created our country -- the Founding Fathers and Mothers -- understood that there is a divine order which transcends the human order. They saw the state, in fact, as a form of moral order and felt that the bedrock of moral order is religion.”
"I believe that George Washington knew the City of Man cannot survive without the City of God, that the Visible City will perish without the Invisible City.”
"Religion played not only a strong role in our national life; it played a positive role. The abolitionist movement was at heart a moral and religious movement; so was the modern civil rights struggle. And throughout this time, the state was tolerant of religious belief, expression, and practice. Society, too, was tolerant. But in the 1960's this began to change. We began to make great steps toward secularizing our nation and removing religion from its honored place. “
"In 1962 the Supreme Court in the New York prayer case banned the compulsory saying of prayers. In 1963 the Court banned the reading of the Bible in our public schools. From that point on, the courts pushed the meaning of the ruling ever outward, so that now our children are not allowed voluntary prayer.”
"The 1962 decision opened the way to a flood of similar suits. Once religion had been made vulnerable, a series of assaults were made in one court after another, on one issue after another. Cases were started to argue against tax-exempt status for churches. Suits were brought to abolish the words 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance and to remove 'In God We Trust' from public documents and from our currency.”
"Today there are those who are fighting to make sure voluntary prayer is not returned to the classrooms. And the frustrating thing for the great majority of Americans who support and understand the special importance of religion in the national life -- the frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom, and openmindedness. Question: Isn't the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? They refuse to tolerate its importance in our lives.”
"When John Kennedy was running for President in 1960, he said that his church would not dictate his Presidency any more than he would speak for his church. Just so, and proper. But John Kennedy was speaking in an America in which the role of religion -- and by that I mean the role of all churches -- was secure. Abortion was not a political issue. Prayer was not a political issue. The right of church schools to operate was not a political issue. And it was broadly acknowledged that religious leaders had a right and a duty to speak out on the issues of the day. They held a place of respect, and a politician who spoke to or of them with a lack of respect would not long survive in the political arena.” It was acknowledged then that religion held a special place, occupied a special territory in the hearts of the citizenry. The climate has changed greatly since then. And since it has, it logically follows that religion needs defenders against those who care only for the interests of the state.”
"There are, these days, many questions on which religious leaders are obliged to offer their moral and theological guidance, and such guidance is a good and necessary thing. To know how a church and its members feel on a public issue expands the parameters of debate. It does not narrow the debate; it expands it.”
"The truth is, politics and morality are inseparable. And as morality's foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect, and our government needs the church, because only those humble enough to admit they're sinners can bring to democracy the tolerance it requires in order to survive.
"… we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief, to apply moral teaching to public questions.”
“You know, if we look back through history to all those great civilizations, those great nations that rose up to even world dominance and then deteriorated, declined, and fell, we find they all had one thing in common. One of the significant forerunners of their fall was their turning away from their God... “
"Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we're mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." -- Remarks at an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas, 23 August 1984
"I believe that the most essential element of our defense of freedom is our insistence on speaking out for the cause of religious liberty." -- Remarks at a Conference on Religious Liberty, 16 April 1985
In God We Trust