Americans have "moved away from knowing our own history" in believing the Founding Fathers were a group of non-religious men and women, the head of a national pro-family group says.
Dr. David Barton, speaking Tuesday to a record crowd of 1,800 at the 32nd annual Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast, said truths about the country's founders have been removed from history textbooks, misinterpreted by courts and distorted by the media.
"We're so much smarter these days," said Dr. Barton, the founder and president of Wall Builders, a national pro-family organization that promotes the country's forgotten history and heroes.
What Americans are not taught today, he said, is that a majority of signers of the Declaration of Independence held seminary or Bible school degrees, that Congress printed the first English-language Bible in America and that the country's first two presidents left numerous writings extolling the virtue of religion in public life.
Reese Griffin of Rising Fawn, Ga., said Dr. Barton's address was "spectacular" and reminded him of the Biblical admonition that "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
People take "a little bit of fact and create a whole lie" when talking about the Founding Fathers, he said.
The Rev. Lurone Jennings, executive director of Bethlehem Community Center, said Dr. Barton was "right on target."
Too often people just swallow what they are told and "get afraid, shell-shocked" at hearing the truth, he said.
The Rev. Todd Gaddis, pastor of First Baptist Church of LaFayette, Ga., said he hoped the address "opened our eyes to the way things really are."
The purpose of the Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast is to encourage morality and ethics in the lives of all people in positions of leadership in business, government and in professions.
He said it's probably a stretch to simply say that America is a Christian nation today but not a stretch to say that's what the Founding Fathers wanted.
Dr. Barton said Americans still have the opportunity to follow George Washington's challenge to his beleaguered men following their winter at Valley Forge: "To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."
"Become a part of what made America great," Dr. Barton said. "We need religion and morality ... to thrive as Americans."
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