Founding Fathers recognized God

It had been a jubilant evening of songs and sermons, of ovations and overtures. But at the invitation of President Gordon B. Hinckley, those in the capacity-filled audience in the Marriott Center on the BYU campus bowed their heads and joined in a prophet's prayer for the nation.

"May thy peace rest upon this nation. May we as a people look to thee and live," he prayed.In a firm and forthright speech Sunday, June 29, during the annual Provo Freedom Festival Patriotic Fireside, President Hinckley praised "the Founding Fathers as men who believed in God, as men who prayed to God, as men who recognized God and wished to do His will. What a singular and remarkable group they were," he said.

Then, as if thinking aloud, he said: "As I look across the world today, I search in vain for such a group as walked together across the stage of history when this nation was born. . . . Where in all the world today can even one or two such men be found, let alone the great aggregation who participated in the birth of America?"

President Hinckley cited George Washington's First Inaugural Address delivered in 1789 when he said: "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."

"Are we so arrogant as to believe that we can get along without Him?" President Hinckley asked. "We see the manifestation of that arrogance in the great host of social problems with which we deal these days. Teen pregnancy, abandoned families, failure to recognize the property and rights of others, gangs of young people aimlessly cruising the streets of our cities, and many other problems like these have resulted, in substantial part at least, from failure to recognize there is a God to whom someday each of us must give an accounting.

"We are forsaking the Almighty, and I fear He is forsaking us."

He then invited the audience and those viewing the proceedings by the Church's satellite broadcast to join with him in a prayer for the nation.

He prayed for the Lord to "touch the minds of those of our Congress that they shall stand tall and independent in defense of the liberty of the people. . . . Bless the Supreme Court of the United States which in recent days has declared unconstitutional a measure designed to secure the religious liberty of the people of this nation," he said, referring to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by Congress in 1994. He prayed for a way to be found under "divine inspiration to bring about another measure which will be sustained by the Court."

Prior to President Hinckley's remarks, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir presented a portion of its sesquicentennial program that it is performing throughout the state. The choir received several ovations for patriotic favorites.

Also attending the festival was U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno; U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, who offered the invocation and benediction; U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon; and Utah first lady Jackie Leavitt.

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