|Remarks by former President
Ronald Reagan at an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas
August 23, 1984
Those who created our country -- the Founding Fathers and Mothers -- understood that there is a divine order which transcends the human order. They saw the state, in fact, as a form of moral order and felt that the bedrock of moral order is religion.
The Mayflower Compact began with the words, ``In the name of God, amen.'' The Declaration of Independence appeals to ``Nature's God'' and the ``Creator'' and ``the Supreme Judge of the world.'' Congress was given a chaplain, and the oaths of office are oaths before God.
James Madison in the Federalist Papers admitted that in the creation of our Republic he perceived the hand of the Almighty. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, warned that we must never forget the God from whom our blessings flowed.
George Washington referred to religion's profound and unsurpassed place in the heart of our nation quite directly in his Farewell Address in 1796. Seven years earlier, France had erected a government that was intended to be purely secular. This new government would be grounded on reason rather than the law of God. By 1796 the French Revolution had known the Reign of Terror.
And Washington voiced reservations about the idea that there could be a wise policy without a firm moral and religious foundation. He said, ``Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man (call himself a patriot) who (would) labour to subvert these . . . finest [firmest]\1\ (FOOTNOTE) props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere Politician . . . (and) the pious man ought to respect and to cherish (religion and morality).'' And he added, ``. . . let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.''
(FOOTNOTE) \1\White House correction.
I believe that George Washington knew the City of Man cannot survive without the City of God, that the Visible City will perish without the Invisible City.
Religion played not only a strong role in our national life; it played a positive role. The abolitionist movement was at heart a moral and religious movement; so was the modern civil rights struggle. And throughout this time, the state was tolerant of religious belief, expression, and practice. Society, too, was tolerant.
The President (Ronald Reagan) spoke at 9:26 a.m. at Reunion Arena. He was introduced by Martha Weisend, cochair of the Texas Reagan-Bush campaign.