The Election is the Lesson: Our American Christian Heritage, Geography, and American Exceptionalism

October 29, 2012

Note: I’ve been working on this email for a week, and it seems almost insensitive now to be talking about elections and maps as I make a final proofread today. All of us have people we care about on the East coast. Some of our readers may be without electricity and won’t be able to read this message. Worse, I can’t imagine how it would be to sit through a dark night and be cut off from the latest news and communication. I will finish up and send the message out with a heavy heart. I’m reading Elder Oaks’ April 2004 talk, “Preparing for the Second Coming” and wondering what the “message” might be. I’m sure there is a purpose here and we will soon see it.

Our American Christian Heritage

We’re running out of time here — the election is almost upon us. One thing I hoped everyone would understand is the importance of restoring the religious depth of our early American Christian Heritage, The best teacher of that information is David Barton from Wallbuilders who has an huge collection of old books and original documents and knows our history well.

Here is a linkto several short videos David put out, some just before the Primary elections this past summer, and others recently added. The “Test of Fire” shows the courage of the Catholic Church in the face of the president’s attack on religious liberty, a subject on which our church leaders have confidently taken a strong stand. In “Voter Responsibilities” Barton quotes President Garfield:

Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.

If the next centennial does not find us a great nation it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

Amen. I really think we lost America when we stopped educating our youth in American in religion and government. If we have good outcomes in the election and if we follow that with a restoration in education, we may be able to save our Constitution. More homeschoolers = more educated Americans. More educated Americans = the blessings of the Constitution.

Here is a link to an eight minute video of a tour of the Capitol, hosted by Barton. You will see that we were, without question, once an openly Christian nation. Religious Liberty is our freedom to discuss our religion, to pray, and to behave according to Christian religious principles. Without religious liberty we will only be able to speak about our religion within our own church buildings as is the case under dictatorships. This video would be great for the family to watch for Family Night. You might also send it out to your social media friends.

Geography and American Exceptionalism

We will all certainly be watching the map come election day, which is a great time to teach geography. While you have your maps out, here is an interesting article from Meridian about American geography and how it influences the greatness of our country.

An Adventure in Ohio Geography

In the “Voter Responsibilities” video David Barton said James Garfield was our 20th President and a minister of the gospel in the Second Great Awakening. The Second Great Awakening? Where did I hear that term before? Oh, yes, in Elder Cook’s article about Religious Liberty in the September Ensign. I was soon off on a quest for knowledge. What was the “Awakening”? And did President Garfield cross paths with Joseph Smith in Ohio?

I learned that the The First “Great Awakening was from about 1720 to about 1750 and was a precursor to the American Revolution. The Second Great Awakening was from about 1800 to about 1860 and was a precursor to the end of slavery and the beginning of the Civil War. I wonder if a Third Great Awakening is happening now as Christian congregations throughout our country are fasting and praying with mightiness for good results in the upcoming election which is critical to freedom itself.

I also learned (in a nutshell here) that James Garfield was born to Campbellite parents in Chester, Ohio, in November 1831, the same year Joseph had arrived in Kirtland. Kirtland is about 250 miles north-west of Chester. Garfield was in elementary school in Chester when Joseph left Kirtland in 1838. We recognize the Campbellite church from our own church history; they considered Joseph a false prophet. Garfield attended high school and/or college in the Campbellite school in Hiram, 30 miles east of Nauvoo. Then he went East to finish college and came back to Hiram to teach in the same school, which had become a college. He became the president of the college. Later he went into the military, then government, and then served only four months as President of the United Sates before he was assassinated. He was a good and righteous man.

I spent a couple of hours making search after search as new questions arose. I had 20 pages of notes by the time I decided to quit. The bottom line is that while it seems unlikely that Garfield ever met Joseph Smith, it does seem likely that his parents would have read the Campbellite article about the Mormons, and the boy may have heard the story and followed it in his adult life. I’m sure he knows Joseph now.

I’m telling you about this block of time in my life not because of what I learned but because of the enjoyment of the journey. I began with two questions. I acted on my own. There was no assignment, no test, no grade, no one hovering over me to correct my grammar, and I’ll probably never look at my unorganized file of information again. The reward was intrinsic: the satisfaction of the quest for knowledge. This is what education should be about. I hope you and your children are having experiences like this in your homeschooling experience.

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