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Forth of July

Where have you seen the name, John Witherspoon? Who was this man?

His name is among the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was a Presbyterian Pastor, and founder of the Log College of New Jersey, now Princeton University.

Matter of fact some 14 of the names on the Declaration of Independence were Presbyterian. The role of religion, specifically the Reformed Presbyterian Tradition is very much a part of the story of the founding of our country. Ambrose Serle, secretary to British General Howe, in New York, wrote on his behalf to the British Secretary of State and to the Parliament, stating “the American Revolution was ultimately a religious war.” He went on in subsequent communications to assert the revolution could not be sustained in the Colonies if it were not for the Presbyterian Ministers “who bred it.” He lamented the fact that every minister in the Colonies doubled as a politician

British historian of the American Revolution, George Trevelyan, argues “political agitation against the Royal Government had been deliberately planned by Presbyterians, it was fostered and abetted by Presbyterians in every colony. The first shots fired in the rebellion, on the Lexington Green, in front of the Meetinghouse (Presbyterian Church) were labeled by Tory William Jones, “This has been a Presbyterian war and accordingly the first firings against the King’s Troops was from a Massachusetts Meeting House.” A Hessian Captain, fighting on behalf of the British, wrote a friend in 1778, “call this war, dearest friend, by whatsoever name you may, only call it not an American Revolution, it is nothing more nor less than an Irish-Scotch Presbyterian Rebellion.

Take time to read the Declaration of Independence. Ponder the role of Christianity in the founding of our nation. As Christians, Presbyterians, what is our role to play in the ongoing struggle to “create a more perfect union?” How can we lead in our time and place in history? What can we do to call our nation to repentance for our original sins of genocide and slavery? How can we take steps to carry on the work and truth, “all are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

What, God-works can we sent skyward, in an explosion of faith, hope and love?

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