The Faith of our Fathers by Morgan Gates
It is Easter Sunday as I write this blog; therefore, I think it appropriate to say a few words about the Christian faith and how it sustained those who came before us. If that offends you, then you probably shouldn’t be reading my blogs anyway.
The Faith of Our Fathers is the name of an old English hymn sung in both Catholic and Protestant churches. It deals with having faith in times of trouble. Our country was founded on faith, a fact that many today have forgotten, or in some cases, are actively trying to erase. This was not the case for our forefathers. One of the first things the early pioneers built in a new place was their church, and sometime the church is the last thing still standing in the ruins of a former town.
I dare say that without faith we would not be here today. Why else would a man pack his family into a leaky wooden ship, not much bigger than a greyhound bus, with 130 other people, and spend over two months crossing the stormy Atlantic? How else could a man strike off into an unknown wilderness, with little more than an ax and a musket, to build a new life knowing that there was no guarantee of success, and that both he and his family might die in that wilderness?
Even more to the point is that this is not the story of one man, or even a dozen, but untold thousands of pioneers that have repeated this same pattern, over and over again, over a span of hundreds of years, each time new lands opened up.
Without faith, how could a few ragtag farmers, lead by a few backwater intellectuals, rise up against the most powerful empire in the world and fight them to a point that they allowed some of their most valuable overseas real estate to go its separate way? Not only did that unlikely event transpire, it set the stage for a movement that would transform the world.
That same faith allowed these “backwater intellectuals”, that we now revere as our founding fathers, to establish a Republic-- an extremely risky type of government (There had not been a successful republic in over 1800 years at the time of our nation’s founding. To prove the risk, note that when the French people attempt to do likewise a few years later, it ended in disaster). To help protect this fragile form of government the Bill of Rights was added to the American Constitution. The very first of which is:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Some people today have tried to twist the meaning of this amendment from its original meaning of; freedom from government intervention in religion, into freedom from religion but that was clearly not the intention of those who penned it! Yes, that makes me a “Strict Constructionist”!
Ok now let’s confront the 800-pound gorilla in the room! I write quite a lot about the Civil War, in which the southern states, including my own, tried to leave this country that I have been waxing eloquent about. How do I reconcile this with “The Waah”? That’s easy. You see, my 3rd great grandfather, John Morgan Gates, was one of those “axe and musket” pioneers that came to Mississippi shortly after it opened as a territory. The Confederate constitution was copied almost word for word for the U.S. constitution and many Confederate leaders thought they were the true sons of the founding fathers. They too you see had faith.
Even with their faith, the southern founding fathers lost, so was their faith was pointless? No! Faith, you see, is no guarantee of success. In this day of money back guarantees and litigation if the doctor (or whatever) doesn’t work, we expect results; however, what God wills to succeed or fail is not man’s to see. Faith is what makes us step outside our comfort zone, to take a chance, to risk all on a roll of the dice of fate with the chance for a better life, and even if that fails, a better world awaits, because of the one who we have faith in. It is on Easter Sunday that we remember why we can have that faith.