Prayers of Our Fathers

Why American politicians eagerly adopt evangelical platforms, while British leaders avoid even mentioning God.

Issue: Jan-Feb 2011

 THE DECLARATION of Independence is a little odd. It claims not only that all people are created equal but also that they have a self-evident, God-given right to the pursuit of happiness. If it is indeed self-evident, why did no one even mention it until 1776? God did not guarantee anyone the right to pursue happiness in the sermons of Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford or the great Puritan ministers Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards, and it is impossible to imagine any of those stern preachers arguing its merits. Just read the gruesome text of Edwards’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” and you’ll agree.

You must be a subscriber of The National Interest to access this article. If you are already a subscriber, please activate your online access. Not a subscriber? Become a subscriber today!