The Political Religion of the Nation
Abraham Lincoln was a young practicing lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, when he delivered a speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum entitled “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions”. He had already noticed trends in our American culture, which, if gone unchecked, would result in national suicide and a complete loss of liberty. He asked the question, “How shall we fortify against it?”, to which he replied in part:
“The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;—let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap—let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges;—let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;—let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.”
NCCS’s Goal of Flooding the Nation with a Stirring Movie on the Constitution
If you have been following our monthly newsletters, you know that early this year, we set a goal for The National Center for Constitutional Studies to distribute one million copies of A More Perfect Union in DVD format to families, schools and other organizations across the nation. This comes at a critical time when reverence and obedience for our Constitution seems to be at an all-time low. For those of us who have studied its contents, its principles, and its solutions to today’s problems, it appears as though we, as a nation, are clinging to it by a single thread.
May we share with you the excitement of citizens who seem to be awakening to a sense of our awful situation and doing something to help “proclaim liberty throughout all the land?”
Congress Passes Law Requiring Annual Teaching of Constitution
As we noted in April, the Consolidated Appropriations Bill was signed on December 8, 2004, and became Public Law 108-447 and required:
SEC. 111. (a) The head of each Federal agency or department shall-
(1) provide each new employee of the agency or department with educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution as part of the orientation materials provided to the new employee; and
(2) provide educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution to each employee of the agency or department on September 17 of each year.
(b) Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.
A Congressman Makes the Constitution His Platform
At the same time this law was being passed, supporters of NCCS made it possible to distribute the educational version of A More Perfect Union movie very inexpensively on DVD. Congressman Butch Otter of Idaho was one of the first public officials to see the possibilities of this, so he ordered 10,000 copies of the DVD and determined to invite all members of Congress to view it. Here is part of his letter which accompanied the DVD gift:
Most of you likely have heard the old saying, “You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”
Well, I like to take it a little further than that. Standing for “something” is fine, but standing for what’s right and true and eternal is a much firmer foundation, and offers a much better chance of preventing a fall!
There are a few things in life that reliably provide that kind of foundation. One is God. Another is family. And here in the United States of America, the Constitution is another.
As Ezra Taft Benson so eloquently put it in his treatise, The Proper Role of Government, “I believe that the Constitution of the United States was prepared and adopted by men acting under inspiration from Almighty God; that it is a solemn compact between the peoples of the States of this nation which all officers of government are under duty to obey; that the eternal moral laws expressed therein must be adhered to or individual liberty will perish.”
That’s why I’m so very proud and happy to invite you join me in viewing the DVD “A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation.”
This award-winning feature film, dramatizing the events of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, was made under the direction of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution.
As America prepares to celebrate Citizenship Day on September 17th and Constitution Week from September 17th through September 23rd, I’m confident you will find great inspiration and a renewed sense of civic virtue from this film’s message. A special pocket edition of The Constitution of the United States also is included, to help you better understand the fruits of the Framers’ labors that have nurtured, sustained and protected our liberties for more than two centuries.
The Constitution has been throughout my career in public life, the standard by which I assess timeless wisdom and true virtue. It has become a beacon of hope and opportunity for individuals and nations the world over. It is our birthright as a citizen, and our legacy for generations yet unborn.
Please accept this invitation to learn more about the principles upon which America was founded, and upon each of us still depends as we seek to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our Posterity.”
C.L. “Butch” Otter
Member of Congress
[Enclosed: A More Perfect Union DVD]
In order to get A More Perfect Union into all the schools in America before September 17th of this year, we will need the support of your Senators and Representatives. Please email your personal Senators and Representatives encouraging them to support this project. To find your Senators go to www.senate.gov. To find your Representatives go to www.house.gov.
A Citizen Encourages Her Congressmen
One citizen supporter wrote the following note to her congressmen:
Dear Congressman ___________:
I just received an email circulating around the country that Congressman Butch Otter's staff just delivered to your office in Washington, D.C. last week about the movie "A More Perfect Union", a film on the writing of the Constitution. I have seen this movie on PBS and I hear that it also appeared on Channel One for the public schools. I think that it should be made available to all the public schools in America. I understand that it now has five lessons that go with it for helping students understand and celebrate Constitution Week and Citizenship Day. I greatly appreciate Congress recently passing the following law to help all Americans, especially our youth, better appreciate our Constitution:
[Public Law 108-447, Section 111 (a) cited]
I hope you will use your influence in Congress and in our state to help us get this great movie into all of our schools. The organization selling this civic curriculum is making it available to the schools for a limited time for only $2.00, the regular price is $40.00. Please check out their website at www.nccs.net. I have attached the letter from Congressman Otter and an email encouraging schools to get the movie, both of which apparently are circulating all over the nation.
You cared enough to pass the law requiring that all students participate in an educational program on the United States Constitution, now please help the schools obtain the best teaching materials to comply with the law.
National Organizations Join the Effort
A national organization, Homemakers for America, decided to help us through its membership. Its press release said, in part:
“Homemakers for America Inc. and the National Center for Constitutional Studies plan to place a copy of the feature film A More Perfect Union in every school and federal agency in America by September 1st and they are already well on their way. Almost a quarter of a million copies have been ordered and shipments of the DVD have gone out to schools, churches and families all across the fruited plains. So, what is all the buzz? Just what is A More Perfect Union and why has it become such a hot commodity among American citizens?
“After years of being too busy to or disinterested to deal with politics,” states Kimberly Fletcher, founder & President of HFA, “American’s are finally realizing the importance of knowing and understanding what is contained in the Constitution of the United States. The people of America are beginning to realize it has nothing to do with parties or politics but a matter of citizenship and they have awakened with a deep desire to learn more about our heritage and the Constitution that guides our nation.”
A description of the DVD, the different packages available and costs followed.
Individual Citizens Take the Challenge
Here are excerpts from a few notes we have received recently from citizens who felt the need to be involved:
“I service all the schools in my area and like to give them something to show my appreciation for their business. Please send me 400 DVDs.”
“I am attending a family reunion this weekend, need 40.”
“Thank you so much for making this available at such a great price!”
“I just placed 17 in my local schools, need 10 more as quick as possible.”
“Our community is going to celebrate Constitution Week...we will need several hundred.”
“Please send me 600 to share with all the Congressmen and Senators.”
“Need 333 for our local schools and political leaders.”
“I am teaching seminars in my area...please send 200.”
“I just emailed your special offer to my 6000 contacts.”
“Just heard about this offer from my homeschool email loop.”
“Need 75 DVDs for the teachers in our academy.”
“I just forwarded this special offer to my local schools.”
“I will put your organization in touch with a club that donates educational materials to public schools.”
“I am emailing all of my friends.”
“You are no longer just preaching to the choir.”
“I know a business that might be willing to combine your DVD with one of the products they sell.”
As a result of all this excitement and help, NCCS has ordered and/or placed over 250,000 copies of A More Perfect Union. We are on our way to 1 million!
Do We Sufficiently Remember the Captivity of our Fathers?
Moses tried to rally his people to good works by remembering the captivity of Egypt from which they were miraculously saved. Other leaders have used words like “have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers?” Abraham Lincoln, in the aforementioned speech, closes by expressing the fear that future generations will forget the Constitution because they will not longer have the memory of what captivity under European tyranny was like. Said he:
“I do not mean to say, that the scenes of the revolution are now or ever will be entirely forgotten; but that like every thing else, they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and more dim by the lapse of time. In history, we hope, they will be read of, and recounted, so long as the bible shall be read;—but even granting that they will, their influence cannot be what it heretofore has been. Even then, they cannot be so universally known, nor so vividly felt, as they were by the generation just gone to rest. At the close of that struggle, nearly every adult male had been a participator in some of its scenes. The consequence was, that of those scenes, in the form of a husband, a father, a son or a brother, a living history was to be found in every family—a history bearing the indubitable testimonies of its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the scars of wounds received, in the midst of the very scenes related—a history, too, that could be read and understood alike by all, the wise and the ignorant, the learned and the unlearned. But those histories are gone.
“They can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength; but, what invading foemen could never do, the silent artillery of time has done; the leveling of its walls. They are gone. They were a forest of giant oaks; but the all resistless hurricane has swept over them, and left only, here and there, a lonely trunk, despoiled of its verdure, shorn of its foliage; unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a few more gentle breezes, and to combat with its mutilated limbs, a few more ruder storms, then to sink, and be no more.
“They were the pillars of the temple of liberty; and now, that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason. Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense. Let those materials be molded into general intelligence, sound morality and, in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws….
“Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’”
Earl Taylor, Jr.