Culture & Society
What Makes America Great?
From a meager beginning, the United States of America became the greatest nation the world has ever known.
It gained this distinction because of its wealth, generosity, ingenuity, military power, and values that celebrated the right of freedom for all men. As the greatest military power the world has seen, it did not use that power to expand its rule over weaker nations. No nation has amassed the wealth that the United States has, and no nation has been so generous with that wealth when a disaster has struck in a distant land. No other nation has executed such behavior on the world stage. In fact, at the end of World War II, the United States didn’t take over the land or economies of Japan or Germany—it rebuilt them!
This powerful, great nation was unique in its interaction with other countries. What was it that made it different? Is it still in play today? The United States displayed a high character that was unmatched in history. What was the foundation from which this character came? Simply put, this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles that gave it a national moral conscience. This moral conscience came from Christianity and its roots. The wealth of our nation came from capitalism, which the founders allowed to be established and to flourish. They truly felt that the Christian faith and capitalism were compatible with each other. Christianity (in whatever form it was practiced) and capitalism existed in this new nation because people had the liberty to pursue them. The two were securely linked together in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These revolutionary words launched a for-real revolutionary war, which won our nation its independence. The founders did not shy away from tying liberty to faith. For them, liberty meant the freedom to pursue wealth, not to be guaranteed wealth or even a contrived “living wage.” The nations from which the colonists came were ruled by monarchs, making tyranny the norm. Tyrants care nothing for the pursuit of happiness for the people they rule. They only seek control and order over their subjects as they exploit them for their own power and riches. Tyrants do not see all people having equal rights. They benefit from a system where they make sure the common man has fewer rights. The concept that all men have equal rights because they are all created by God is sacrilege to the tyrant.
Conservative talk show host and author Mark Levin reveals the attitude the founders had regarding the advantage faith played in society and a nation’s welfare:
Faith is not a threat to civil society but rather vital to its survival. It encourages the individual to personally adhere to a dogma that promotes restraint, duty, and moral behavior, which not only benefit the individual but the multitudes and society generally. (1)
Founding Father Gouverneur Morris, who is credited with being the literary composition overseer of the Constitution, could well have served as spokesman for the founders on this topic when he wrote, “Religion is the only solid Base of morals and Morals are the only possible Support of free governments” (2). The Christian faith was seen as a necessity by the founders when establishing the nation. It is a shame that such a view is not shared by our politicians today.
The ownership of property is at the heart of capitalism. It was highly valued by the founders, and they saw it tied to the Christian faith, as the words of John Adams reveal:
The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet” and “Thou shalt not steal” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. (3)
Our mother country, England, like most other European nations, was not an advocate of the common man owning property. Land was dispersed to favored nobles of the king who secured his political power. The ordinary citizen had little or no hope of owning his own land and gaining his own wealth. This fact made migration to America popular. The idea of property ownership as a part of one’s basic rights was indeed an earth-shaking concept, especially when it was tied to the Creator.
The founders saw the value of religious faith as a restraint on the behavior of the people while still assuring them basic liberties. The Constitution was the instrument to restrain government to make sure liberties were not eroded. The Constitution does not overtly reference religious faith in its text except in the First Amendment, which this book will focus on in Part 3. However, the founders did not feel that their work on this document was absent the hand of God. James Madison, who is credited with being the Father of the Constitution, wrote:
It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution. (4)
The Father of the Constitution had no doubt the Father in heaven was actively involved in the drafting of this historical document. The three founding pillars of Christianity, capitalism, and Constitution are strongly tied together and must not be taken for granted. In my recent book, The Three Cs That Made America Great, I reveal how important these three factors are in the history of our nation and how they made the United States the greatest nation in the history of the world.
In March of 2019, Eric Holder, the attorney general for President Obama, said that America was never great. He went on to say that it was not great when slavery existed, when women could not vote, or when gays could not marry. Never great! Really? (5) I bet the French during World War II thought the USA was great when we freed them from German occupation. One can bet the Holocaust survivors thought we were great when our troops freed them from Hitler’s death camps. One can imagine many around the world have thought America was great when a lifesaving drug was created in the USA and made available around the world. One thing is for certain, if the leftists and socialists have their way, America will cease to be great, and that would be a tragedy for the world.