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Thorns and Roses
July 29, 2008

Truth and History
by Mary Ann Kreitzer

[Breaker: Old Lies, New Vehicle]

Defending the truth is a dangerous proposition. Socrates was forced to drink the cup of deadly hemlock. First-century Christians were covered in pitch and used to light Nero's gardens. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maximilian Kolbe were killed in German prison camps.
Liars, on the other hand, are often rewarded. Current events abound with examples of men and women who lie and rationalize to get what they want. We know from experience where the lie takes a culture, but learning those lessons demands the study of authentic history. Philosopher and author George Santayana wrote, “Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it.” At least a passing knowledge of history is essential to understand and interpret the events of the present. Knowing the mistakes of the past can help to avoid them in the future. But honest and truthful historians are requisite.

Thanks to decades of public schooling that has concentrated more on social engineering than on education, the U.S. is producing a nation of historical illiterates who cannot put major events in their correct century, much less understand and appreciate their meaning. Teachers often present history in such a "politically correct" and revisionist context that it contradicts reality. For example, children learn that the Pilgrims were travelers who journeyed to a new land where they were helped by the Indians and held the first Thanksgiving to express their gratitude to them. The truth, that the Pilgrims escaped religious persecution and held the first Thanksgiving to express their gratitude to God for surviving the bitter winter, is left untold.
People can sin against truth by telling direct lies or by telling only part of the truth and withholding important information. The latter is probably more insidious because it usually has the ring of truth, and people can be fooled more easily. In recent decades, religion has been purged from textbooks so students learn a sanitized version of the past. How many people know, for example, that Christopher Columbus' primary reason for setting out on his trip to India was to bring Christianity to the Great Khan of China? Columbus wrote about it in his logbooks, and witnesses like Bartolomé de las Casas, a Dominican priest whose father traveled with him, affirmed it.
Columbus’ faith is expressed on almost every page of the log. He believed his name, which means Christ-bearer, was providential and that God Himself had called him to fulfill his great ambition. Queen Isabella, a fervent Catholic monarch, supported him primarily for religious reasons. But students rarely learn that. They are told Columbus was motivated by fame and fortune. That is a partially true but incomplete picture. Spanish exploration of the New World was motivated by God, glory, and gold — in that order. The Spanish are not quite the villains so many textbooks make them out to be.
The historical revision that has, perhaps, had the worst effect on our nation is the myth of "separation of church and state." It is based on the lie that the Founding Fathers were deists who had no intention of establishing a Christian country. This view conflicts with the words of the Founders themselves, words like those of Virginia firebrand Patrick Henry, who said "This great nation was founded... not by religionists but by Christians... not on religion but on the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Benjamin Franklin, venerable patriarch of the Constitutional Convention, called for daily prayer during its proceedings to beg God's blessing. He firmly believed in the necessity for Divine help in the affairs of government and, in fact, declared a few years earlier that, "He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity... will change the face of the world." John Quincy Adams, sixth president, said the "glory of the American Revolution" was that it joined "civil government with Christian principles," a direct contradiction of the separation claim.
The first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay, stated that "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers... and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of a Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."  For over a hundred years, most states required public servants to be Christians.    
George Mason, who wrote the Virginia Constitution that served as the model for the federal document, warned that the country must embrace moral principles because "As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world... they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects... Providence punishes national sins by national calamities."

James Madison echoed Mason’s concern, saying, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization... not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future... of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
These are the same Ten Commandments that have been prohibited from our schools and the halls of government, ostensibly because the Founders intended it. Their own words tell a far different story. In his farewell address, George Washington said, "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
 Washington’s words were prophetic. The bogus principle of separation of church and state was legally imposed in the 1962 Supreme Court decision, Engel v. Vitale, which removed prayer from public schools. The justices cited zero legal precedents because there were none to cite. Since then violent crime has risen 544 percent. Divorce, cohabitation, sexually transmitted diseases, unwed pregnancies, illiteracy, and suicide skyrocketed as well.
If we look at the world reflected in a funhouse mirror, we get a distorted picture. If we look at the past through a flawed lens, we misinterpret what we see. Those who value truth must depend on historians who are honest and whose worldview is accurate. If a historian is not rooted in respect for the truth, everything he writes will be misleading. Those who believe that the Incarnation, God made man in Jesus Christ, is the central event of human history and examine historical events from that perspective will be the most reliable sources. Their basic principle is Truth Himself from whom all other truth emanates.

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Thorns and Roses
by Mary Ann Kretizer is copyright © 2008 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved.

Mary Ann Kreitzer has a bachelor's degree in English from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., and a master's degree in Public Administration from George Washington University. As a certified instructor of Natural Family Planning, she taught NFP for 15 years at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C.

She is the president of both Les Femmes and The Catholic Media Coalition, organizations dedicated to promoting and defending authentic Catholic faith and culture.

Mrs. Kreitzer is active in Church and community affairs and promotes full-time motherhood as an essential and irreplaceable vocation. She especially values time spent with her five children, their spouses, and her 18 grandchildren. She writes from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia on pro-life, pro-family, and Church issues.

For an expanded biographical sketch.

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