Christianity in the World Today

President and Mrs. Eisenhower, Vice President and Mrs. Nixon and members of their immediate families were seated in the congregation at National Presbyterian Church.

Seated nearby were Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, a half a dozen other Cabinet members, the governors of more than 12 states and many members of Congress.

And this is the sermon they heard—from the pastor, Dr. Edward L. R. Elson:

“ ‘In the beginning God.’ On these first words of the Bible early America staked down its life.

“This central tenet of our life was explicit in our Declaration of Independence. It is implicit in our instruments of government. It permeates our institutions. And it is manifest in our common days. The virtues of our people and the values of our culture are derived from the premise that this is ‘a nation under God.’

“This basic truth has been mediated to our people through many religious traditions and by many denominations. All espouse in common a faith in a transcendent God in history and beyond history. In some this faith in God has been intimate and personal; in others an attitude of life derived from the social climate and the cultural atmosphere produced by religious faith, principally evangelical Christian faith.

“To be sure, America has as a principle the complete separation of the institutions of the church from the institution of government. In our plural religious structure, this separation has been a source of virility to both Church and State. But while we cling tenaciously to this principle of separation, no doctrine of American life has ever or ever will eliminate or minimize the presence, the power, or the influence of religion in our national affairs. Religion and national destiny are forever ...

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