Because America has forgotten the truth concerning her Christian heritage, secularists and the irreligious have successfully deceived the nation, resulting in cultural and moral decline. However, Christian Heritage Fellowship provides the historical evidence to demonstrate that America’s Christian founding has been the source of her rise to global prominence. In our series, “When Congress Asked America to Fast, Pray, and Give Thanks to God,” we provide the primary evidence that America’s Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly and deeply committed Christians who practiced their faith in government and asked their states and nation to follow their example. The following article relates only one of the sixteen spiritual proclamations of Congress issued during the War of Independence that called America to seek the favor and blessing of God. As part of thousands of documents proving America’s Christian biblical foundation, the excerpt provided below is taken from the minutes of Congress and represents a primary record of the Christian spiritual allegiance of America’s Founding Fathers.
The subject addressed in this article is discussed at greater length in When Congress Asked America to Fast, Pray, and Give Thanks to God. Christian Heritage Fellowship would be honored to work with individuals, businesses, churches, institutions, or organizations to help communicate the truth concerning the positive influence of the Christian faith by providing bulk pricing: Please contact us here... To purchase a limited quantity of this publication, please click: Purchase here...
By the end of 1778, the Continental Congress had elected its sixth President. His name was John Jay. Nearly a decade later, Jay became the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. As a deeply committed Christian, John Jay became the second president of the American Bible Society, following Elias Boudinot who was the tenth president of Congress. At the age of twenty-nine, Jay was the youngest member of the First Continental Congress. His term as president of Congress began on December 10, 1778 and continued until September 27, 1779 when he was selected to help negotiate a treaty with Spain. During the period of his presidency, only this spiritual proclamation of March 1779 was issued.
Committee Composes Proclamation
Uncharacteristically, the names of the members of the committee to prepare the “fasting, humiliation and prayer” proclamation for the spring of 1779 were not recorded in the Journals of Congress, though it is evident that a committee was selected:
THURSDAY, MARCH 4, 1779
Resolved, That the committee be instructed to prepare a recommendation to the several states to set apart a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, and an earnest address to the inhabitants thereof to rouse them to vigorous exertions on the present critical situation of public affairs.
The effort of the selected committee resulted in one of the longest spiritual proclamations of the Continental Congress. As a note toward the bottom of the following excerpt indicates, at least a portion of this proclamation was recorded by the hand of John Jay. Given the fact that no committee members’ names were designated, we are left to speculate whether the president of Congress, John Jay, was a prominent member of the committee. For the first time, the president and secretary of Congress placed their names at the end of the proclamation. Both men possessed deep Christian spiritual interests. If, indeed, either of these men were members of this committee, this may help to explain both the length and character of the proclamation.
Charles Thomson held the office of secretary of Congress from its inception to the formation of the new government under the Constitution (1774-1789). In addition to his political contributions to America’s independence, Thomson was well-known for his “Thompson Bible,” the first American translation of the Greek Old Testament, as well as theological works such as A Regular History of the Conception, Birth, Doctrine, Miracles, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. Such were the Christian men and women who birthed America.
A little more than two weeks after the selection of a committee to prepare a fasting proclamation to be sent to each of the states, Congress formally approved and issued the following proclamation:
SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 1779
The committee appointed to prepare a recommendation to the several states to set apart a day of fasting humiliation and prayer, brought in a draught, which was taken into consideration, and agreed to as follows:
Whereas, in just punishment of our manifold transgressions, it hath pleased the Supreme Disposer of all events to visit these United States with a destructive calamitous war, through which His divine Providence hath, hitherto, in a wonderful manner, conducted us, so that we might acknowledge that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong: and whereas, there is but too much Reason to fear that notwithstanding the chastisements received and benefits bestowed, too few have been sufficiently awakened to a sense of their guilt, or warmed our Bosoms with gratitude, or taught to amend their lives and turn from their sins, that so He might turn from His wrath. And whereas, from a consciousness of what we have merited at His hands, and an apprehension that the malevolence of our disappointed enemies, like the incredulity of Pharaoh, may be used as the scourge of Omnipotence to vindicate his slighted Majesty, there is reason to fear that he may permit much of our land to become the prey of the spoiler, and the Blood of the innocent be poured out that our borders to be ravaged, and our habitations destroyed:
Resolved, That it be recommended to the several states to appoint the first Thursday in May next, to be a day of fasting, Thanksgiving humiliation and prayer to Almighty God, that he will be pleased to avert those impending calamities which we have but too well deserved: that he will grant us his grace to repent of our sins, and amend our lives, according to his holy word: that he will continue that wonderful protection which hath led us through the paths of danger and distress: that he will be a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless children, who weep over the barbarities of a savage enemy: that he will grant us patience in suffering, and fortitude in adversity: that he will inspire us with humility and moderation, and gratitude in prosperous circumstances: that he will give wisdom to our councils, firmness to our resolutions, and victory to our arms That he will have Mercy on our Foes, and graciously forgive them, and turn their Hearts from Enmity to Love.
That he will bless the labors of the husbandman, and pour forth abundance, so that we may enjoy the fruits of the earth in due season.
[That he will cause union, harmony, and mutual confidence to prevail throughout these states: that he will bestow on our great ally all those blessings which may enable him to be gloriously instrumental in protecting the rights of mankind, and promoting the happiness of his subjects and advancing the Peace and Liberty of Nations. That he will give to both Parties to this Alliance, Grace to perform with Honor and Fidelity their National Engagements].1 That he will bountifully continue his paternal care to the commander in chief, and the officers and soldiers of the United States: that he will grant the blessings of peace to all contending nations, freedom to those who are in bondage, and comfort to the afflicted: that he will diffuse useful knowledge, extend the influence of true religion, and give us that peace of mind, which the world cannot give: that he will be our shield in the day of battle, our comforter in the hour of death, and our kind parent and merciful judge through time and through eternity.
[Note 1: 1 Words in brackets are in writing of John Jay.]
Done in Congress, this 20th day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine, and in the third year of our independence.
John Jay, President.
Attest, Charles Thomson, Secretary
There is no evidence to support the wild claim by irreligious voices that America was founded by Deists and secularists who wished to marginalize the influence of Christianity in public life. Rather—just as this excerpt from the minutes of Congress demonstrates—thousands of pieces of evidence exist to prove America was founded by those who feared and honored God. World history bears universal witness to the fact that secularism and its Marxist and irreligious companions have always produced pain and suffering in every society where they have been permitted to flourish—every society! The principles of the Christian faith are the foundation of America’s greatness—just ask the earliest Congresses of her Founding Fathers!
America deserves to know its true heritage.
Please contribute today!
March 16, 1776: Second Congressional Fasting Proclamation
American History | Congressional Spiritual Proclamations | March Articles
The Christian influence upon the formation of the Thirteen English colonies prior to the American Revolution, may be seen everywhere in the historical records of each colony. During and following the Revolution, America's Founding Fathers continued to influence the politics of their states and nation with their Christian faith. One of the clearest evidences of this fact is seen in the Christian spiritual proclamations Congress issued from June 1775 to August 1784—sixteen proclamations in all.Second Congressional Fasting Proclamation These siRead more...
March 19, 1782: Eighth Congressional Fasting Proclamation
American History | Congressional Spiritual Proclamations
Far from pushing Christianity and religious observance from the life of government, the Continental Congress (and subsequent Confederation Congress) endorsed and encouraged Christian observances such as fasting, prayer, and thanksgiving. No single denomination or church was permitted to dominate at the congressional or national level, though most states endorsed established churches. This practice of allowing states to have their own state churches, but not a national church, continued under the Constitution.Eighth Congressional Fasting ProclamRead more...
Should Christians Always Submit to the Government?
Historical | Products | Role of Pastors
For more than a century, irreligious forces have assailed America's Christian heritage with defiant resolve. Ironically, their success has been achieved upon the back of an indifferent American church. Many Bible-believing pastors have advanced the myth that America was not founded upon Judaeo-Christianity. Tragically, church leaders have failed to rehearse to their congregations the vital roles the clergy and the church occupied in the birth of the American Republic. But pastors in mid-eighteenth century America believed that what ScripturRead more...
March 11, 1780: Sixth Congressional Fasting Proclamation
American History | Congressional Spiritual Proclamations
During the American Revolution, Congress issued sixteen spiritual proclamations calling upon the Thirteen States to fast, pray, and give thanks to God. Congress usually designated a day when the proclamations were to be observed. So seriously did Congress take these Christian spiritual practices that it asked "that servile labour and recreations be forbidden on the said day."Sixth Congressional Fasting Proclamation Soon after the Second Continental Congress convened in May 1775, it began to observe the Christian disciplines of fasting, prayiRead more...
March 20, 1781: Seventh Congressional Fasting Proclamation
American History | Congressional Spiritual Proclamations
There is no historical evidence to support the myth that America's Founding Fathers were Deists or irreligious. Rather, just the opposite is true. Not only is the historical record replete with the Christian character of the English colonies that gave birth to America, but from the beginning of America as an independent nation following the War of Independence, all historical evidence points to the fact that the Founding Fathers accorded a place of influence to the principles of Christianity, though no single denomination was granted the right Read more...
 William Jay, The Life of John Jay: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers, 2 vols. (New York: J. and J. Harper, 1833), 1:30.
 Journals of the Continental Congress, 13:272.
 David Barton, “Aitken Bible,” WallBuilders (http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=46, November 20, 2013).
 Journals of the Continental Congress, 13:342-344.