By him [Jesus] let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15
Dear Praying Friends,
We often read of activist “educators” who have banned or perverted the celebration of Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas in their classrooms. Instead of teaching and inspiring their students with powerful stories about America’s historic heroes, they indoctrinate children with negative, twisted accounts from rewritten American history. Distorted views about our nation’s spiritual heritage serve to erode our children’s faith in God and love for America.
In 2011, Dr. Kenyn Cureton, FRC’s V.P. for Church Ministries responded to one such school principal, who had written, “For many of us and our students, celebrating [Christopher Columbus] is an insult and a slight to the people he annihilated. On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well.” Dr. Cureton wrote:
This argument ignores what the first Thanksgiving was … and still is – about. Thanksgiving was a time to give thanks to God for his bountiful blessings.
Among the first American settlers, the pilgrims were faithful in giving God thanks. Pilgrim Edward Winslow expressed their gratitude in the fall of 1621: “God be praised, we had a good increase of corn … by the goodness of God, we are far from want… Our governor sent four men [turkey hunting], so that we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.” … The pilgrims invited Chief Massasoit and his tribe for three days of feasting, games and celebration. The good relations the pilgrims (and Puritans) enjoyed with the natives lasted some 50 years.
That tradition of Thanksgiving grew in colonial New England, and eventually spread. In fact, the Continental Congress issued a number of thanksgiving proclamations… A day after the first Federal Congress approved the Bill of Rights, which some claim includes the doctrine of “separation between Church and State” in the First Amendment, they voted to ask President George Washington to proclaim a “National Day of Prayer” to thank God for the establishment of our government and for His blessings. On Oct. 3, 1789, Washington issued the following: “Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the People of these United States … That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks … for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed…” (see Dr. Cureton’s The Founders and Thanksgiving, with notes and footnotes).
Those close to George Washington attested that he was a true man of prayer. He gave thanks to God at every opportunity, even when he, his men and America were in great peril. When he learned in July 1776, that our Founding Fathers, trusting in God, had pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to sign the Declaration of Independence, he commanded his men to attend divine services and give God appropriate thanks. During years of fighting with few successes, low on supplies, and his troops haggard, Washington prayed. Eyewitness reports have resulted in iconic images of Washington praying on bended knee.
In the fall of 1781, our French allies finally sent their army and navy to aid the American cause. For the first time, British General Cornwallis who had been crushing American troops across the south was cornered at Yorktown by Washington, French General Rochambeau and the French Fleet under Admiral De Grasse. With no way out, Cornwallis tried to flee but was prevented by a God-sent wind. He surrendered, not just the battle, but the war. That was October 20, 1781. The next day being Sunday, Washington ordered that “Divine service is to be performed tomorrow in the several brigades and divisions. The commander-in-chief recommends that the troops not on duty should universally attend with that seriousness of deportment and gratitude of heart which the recognition of such reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demand of us” (see Davis, The Religion of George Washington; Christianity.com; A Gracious Gift).