To the chagrin of the anti-religionists among us today, on September 25, 1789, the first act of Congress after framing the Bill of Rights, which prohibited an establishment of religion, was to pass a resolution requesting that the President of the United States recommend to the people a “Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer.”
George Washington enthusiastically agreed to the Resolution of both Houses of Congress. In his Proclamation dated October 3, 1789, he began:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; …”
Nowadays, Thanksgiving in America is a joyful celebration; a day to come together and spend time with family and friends; a day to eat turkey; a day to watch football and Thanksgiving Day parades. But at this time of great division in our own nation, it is important that we reflect on the reasons for our Nation’s First Thanksgiving.
“[T]hat we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed;”
On this Thanksgiving Day, please, take time to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in this amazing land of ours ...
... And implore God’s protection, over the men and women serving in our Armed Forces, standing the lonely guard, in rough and faraway places, so that we may openly thank God this Thanksgiving Day far from the sounds of war.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Thomas More Law Center
Richard Thompson is the president of the Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit law firm that advocates for the constitutional right to freedom of religion.