The following is an email (forward) I received from a friend that has been quite popular over the years. I am sure that you all have seen similar forwards, which try to depict our nation's founding in a 21st century religious/patriotic tone. I chose to post it here to illustrate just how prevalent the "Christian Nation" argument really is. We're not simply arguing semantics here, but issues that many American Christians take very seriously.
A very interesting piece of history. Please take a minute and read on.
Do you know what it means?
One detail that is never mentioned is that in Washington , D.C. . there can never be a building of greater height than the Washington Monument .
With all the uproar about removing the ten commandments, etc., this is worth a moment or two of your time. I was not aware of this amazing historical information.
On the aluminum cap, atop the Washington Monument in Washington , D.C. , are displayed two words: Laus Deo.
No one can see these words. In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there and for that matter, probably couldn't care less.
Once you know Laus Deo's history , you will want to share this with everyone you know. These words have been there for many years; they are 555 feet, 5.125 inches high, perched atop the monument, facing skyward to the Father of our nation, overlooking the 69 square miles which comprise the District of Columbia , capital of the United States of America
Laus Deo! Two seemingly insignificant, unnoticed words. Out of sight and, one might think, out of mind, but very meaningfully placed at the highest point ov er what is the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the world.
So, what do those two words, in Latin, composed of just four syllables and only seven letters, possibly mean? Very simply, they say ' Praise be to God!'
Though construction of this giant obelisk began in 1848, when James Polk was President of the United States , it was not until 1888 that the monument was inaugurated and opened to the public. It took twenty-five years to finally cap the memorial with a tribute to the Father of our nation, Laus Deo 'Praise be to God!'
From atop this magnificent granite and marble structure, visitors may take in the beautiful panoramic view of the city with its division into four major segments. From that vantage point, one can also easily see the original plan of the designer, Pierre Charles l'Enfant ..a perfect cross imposed upon the landscape, with the White House to the north. The Jefferson Memorial is to the south, the Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.
A cross you ask? Why a cross? What about separation of church and state? Yes, a cross; separation of church and state was not, is not, in the Constitution. So, read on. How interesting and, no doubt, intended to carry a profound meaning for those who bother to notice.
Praise be to God! Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings the memorial stones share a message.
On the 12th Landing is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore ;
on the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians;
on the 24th a presentation
made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7, Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6. Praise be to God!
When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848 deposited within it were many items including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society. Praise be to God! Such was the discipline, the moral direction, and the spiritual mood given by the founder and first President of our unique democracy 'One Nation, Under God.'
I am awed by Washington 's prayer for America. Have you ever read it? Well, now is your unique opportunity, so read on!
Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
When one stops to observe the inscriptions found in public places all over our nation's capitol, he or she will easily find the signature of God, as it is unmistakably inscribed everywhere you look. You may forget the width and height of 'Laus Deo ', its location, or the architects but no one who reads this will be able to forget its meaning, or these words: 'Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.' (Psalm 127: 1)
Now, it is always nice to see the "Washington prayer journal" turn up from time to time. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people still believe in its authenticity. What did surprise me, however, was that snopes.com, which is known for debunking email myths, etc. actually asserts this email's authenticity. Let's be clear here: the George Washington prayer journal is a FRAUD! It was fabricated in the mid 1800s by zealots who wanted to portray Washington as a devout Evangelical style of Christian. I don't know how to be any more clear on this matter...it is an OUTRIGHT FRAUD!!! People need to quit quoting from it.
The other point I enjoy is the author's apparent insistence that the inscriptions on the monument were done because it is what the founders would have wanted. We should keep in mind that the Washington Monument was finished almost 100 years after the man's death. As a result, any inscriptions should be taken with a grain of salt. They are more representative of the 19th century's surge in religious fundamentalism than they are of Washington's actual beliefs. In fact, Washington never made such declarations, or anything similar to them, during his life. As Jefferson once stated with regards to Washington's faith:
Dr. Rush tells me that he had it from Asa Green that when the clergy addressed Genl. Washington on his departure from the govmt, it was observed in their consultation that he had never on any occasion said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Xn [Christian] religion and they thot they should so pen their address as to force him at length to declare publicly whether he was a Christian or not. They did so. However he observed the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly except that, which he passed over without notice. Rush observes he [Washington] never did say a word on the subject in any of his public papers except in his valedictory letter to the Governors of the states when he resigned his commission in the army, wherein he speaks of the benign influence of the Christian religion.To insist that Washington was a devout believer in any brand of Christianity is historically irresponsible. Simply put, the evidence doesn't exist. This "Laus Deo" nonsense is just another typical example of pop-culture's attempt to distort the truth in order to advance an agenda that was never embraced by the founders.
I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his secrets & believed himself to be so, has often told me that Genl. Washington believed no more of that system than he himself did.
For a thorough overview of Washington's true religious beliefs, I invite you to check out this post that I did a while back entitled, "The Religious Paradox of George Washington." Enjoy!