his Farewell Address of September 17, 1796, President George
Washington, the most respected American of the eighteenth century,
said: "Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality
can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to
the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure,
reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality
can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
In 1798, the great patriot and second president of the United States,
John Adams, noted:
"We have no government armed with power of contending with
human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition,
revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution
as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is made only for
a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government
of any other."
The brilliant author of the Declaration of Independence and third
president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, declared
"The God Who gave us life gave us liberty at the same
time." He also said: "And can the liberties of a nation
be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis,
a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are
the gift of God? That they are not violated but with his wrath?"
Dr. Benjamin Rush of Pennsylvania was a signer of the Declaration
of Independence and reputed to be the single most learned man in
the colonies. In 1798 he said:
"The only foundation for a useful education in a republic
is to be laid in religion. Without it there can be no virtue,
and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the
object and life of all republican governments."
fourth president of the United States, James Madison, observed
"It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator
such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him.
This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of
obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can
be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered
as a subject of the Governour of the Universe."
When there seemed to be an impasse at the Constitutional Convention
in 1787, it was the oldest delegate, 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin,
who rose to suggest a day of prayer, remarking:
"Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously
answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have
observed frequent instances of superintending providence in our
favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of
consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national
felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do
we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived,
Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs
I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men."
It should be noted that the above quotations are not obscure or
arcane references, but are typical of the thoughts and convictions
of our founders. And it is evident from this small sampling of quotations
that, if we were to remove references to God and faith from American
history, our history would simply weaken and collapse.
That great, nineteenth century observer from across the Atlantic,
Alexis de Tocqueville, noted:
"I have already said enough to put Anglo-American civilization
in its true light. It is the product (and one should continually
bear in mind this point of departure) of two perfectly distinct
elements which elsewhere have often been at war with one another
but which in America it was somehow possible to incorporate into
each other, forming a marvelous combination. I mean the spirit
of religion and the spirit of freedom."
Tocqueville indicated, in America we see a "marvelous combination"
of freedom and faith. Indeed, that is the solid rock, the foundation
of Anglo-American civilization. To put it even stronger, Tocqueville
seems to intentionally place the "spirit of religion"
before the "spirit of freedom," perhaps to indicate that,
for Americans, freedom is actually drawn from faith. That was certainly
the belief of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and nearly every other
patriot of the late eighteenth century.
But as important as that foundation of faith is, faith alone is
not enough. Faith must generate courage, which in turn, must produce
action. So, from the origins of our national faith far away on the
eastern seaboard, we turn toward the West, toward the "Wave
of the Future."
Those original colonies, which became the thirteen states that
are forever honored in the thirteen stripes of our flag, were only
the cradle of our nation. The vast continent stretched westward,
and a sense of destiny seemed to call and compel brave people toward
the Pacific. We know them as trailblazers, scouts, pioneers, settlers.
Above all, they were dreamers of a new world and they pressed on
over hills, prairies, mountains, and desolate places. Until they
reached the final edge of the frontier. Along that frontier, there
is nothing that quite equals the dynamism of our City of Los Angeles.
And that is where a young man from Kansas headed in the early part
of the twentieth century. George Pepperdine moved to California
to expand his Western Auto Supply Company. And in 1937 he created
a different kind of college, a new kind of dream in the City of