So why can’t we say a prayer in school or at a public event? In preparing a recent sermon from Psalm 11, I read Washington’s first inaugural address and took some time to analyze it. It runs 1419 words, and I was astounded to find 522 of them – well over a third of the entire speech – devoted to sections acknowledging God and His role in human history.
- At the beginning of his speech, Washington said: It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States…. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.
- In the middle of his speech, Washington said: We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained…
- At the end of his speech, Washington concluded by asking for God’s divine blessing… on which the success of this Government must depend.