Daniel L. Dreisbach is a professor at American University in Washington, D.C. He earned a D.Phil. degree from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. degree from the University of Virginia. He has authored and edited ten books, including Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers. He writes:
“A commonplace axiom among 18th-century Americans was that a people’s happiness or misery and a nation’s prosperity or distress were inseparable from the moral character of their rulers …Because man is a fallen creature and inclined to sinful things, human rulers ought not to be entrusted with absolute power [one should expect rulers to be fallible and liable to error in their work, and, indeed, disposed to corruption and even oppression].”
Early America held Exodus 18:21 as a rule for elected leadership: “You shall select from all the people competent men who [reverently] fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; you shall place these over the people as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.”
American Founding Father Noah Webster [1758-1843], known as the Father of American Scholarship and Education, and author of the famous Webster’s Dictionary, agreed: “In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect [party] of the candidate – look to his character …It is alleged by men of loose principles or defective views of the subject that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men ‘who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.’”1
“If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded.
“The moral principles and precepts contained in Scripture ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.”2
To Webster’s point, of the estimated 65-80 million Evangelicals in America, 50% are not registered to vote [which means they’ve never voted], and if history remains consistent, 50% of that half won’t vote on Election Day 2024.
No wonder that we currently are living in such a godless, reprobate culture in America.
Dr. Dreisbach continues that national prosperity and political happiness were viewed in Early America as directly related to the moral character of a nation’s civil rulers. No biblical text received more references in the 18th-century than Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
With that said, we come to 2024 and the critical need for American Christendom to bring Biblical values to the public square.
North Carolina Pastor Cameron McGill shepherds White Lake Church and serves as a Bladen County Commissioner. He says, “I invite you to join the American Renewal Project’s voter registration drive throughout January as we prepare for one of the most important and influential voter cycles that we have ever known.
“The Bible tells us that ‘When the righteous are in authority, people rejoice, but when the wicked bear rule, people will mourn.’
“There’s only one way for the righteous to be in authority, and that is for righteous candidates to run and for righteous people to vote and put them in office.
“Here at the White Lake Church we are getting our people registered and fired up to make sure that they go to the polls as we Christians make a difference in this great democracy, this constitutional republic. The future of America is counting on you and me.” [Cameron McGill video]
Will Gideons and Rahabs please stand!
American Renewal Project
1. The American Patriot’s Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America.