Gil Gutknecht: Those Men of Faith

“Faith can survive without freedom. But, freedom cannot survive without faith.”

You have to hand it to President Trump. He definitely knows how to pull the strings of our friends on the Left. He managed to drive them into a deeper orbit last week with his speech to the NRA. It was bad enough that he reaffirmed his loyalty to the Second Amendment and in our right to defend ourselves. But, he wasn’t satisfied. He went further. He pledged that as long as he was the President, we would remain a nation under God. 

The Left went apoplectic. 

They apparently never learned what our founders said and believed. William Penn warned, “If we will not be governed by God, we must be governed by tyrants.” Those words are totally foreign to the Left. Unwittingly, they choose agnostic socialists who will surely become tyrants. Venezuela is but the latest example.

Of all the sad things we have witnessed over the last 25 years, the saddest has been the decline of faith among the American people. Perhaps it is the effects of our growing affluence. Maybe it results from the daily assaults on faith by the Left and their parrots in the media. The demeaning character assassination of people of faith certainly takes its toll. With the unrelenting pounding of the waves, the rock has been warn down.

It is a critical component in the great divide and incivility we see in today’s body politic. 

Before we become pessimistic, remember the Israelites. They had been led by Moses out of bondage. Even though they had seen several miracles, when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, they had changed teams. They turned on Moses and their faith. Such is the nature of man.

It wasn’t so long ago we had a President named Ronald Reagan. He was unapologetic about the role faith had played in his life and the life of our Republic. He gave many speeches built around this theme. It should be noted that the angry Left didn’t appreciate him either. 

Recently, my wife and I visited Normandy and the cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach. It was emotional to walk among the 9380 graves and see the places where so many fell.

President Reagan spoke at several locations during his visit to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historic D-Day landing. Watching the video of his tribute to the “Boys of Pointe du Hoc, the Men who took the cliffs” still brings a lump to my throat. 

It was what he said at the cemetery that left the most powerful impression. Please permit me to edit slightly his remarks and distill the essence of his message. 

He said that those men of Normandy were men of great faith. They had faith that they fought for all humanity. They had faith that they fought for a just cause. They had faith in a loving God, who would grant them His tender mercy on this beachhead…or the next. They somehow knew that word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. That in Georgia, they were filling the churches at 3:00 AM. In Kansas, they were kneeling and praying on their porches. And in Philadelphia, they were ringing the Liberty Bell.  

President Trump will be traveling to France in early June to participate in the 75th anniversary of the landing. He will be speaking at the beaches and the cemetery. He should not pretend to be Ronald Reagan. His love of country and depth of belief will more than compensate for any oratorical shortcomings. Hopefully he will remind the world of the importance that faith has played in the survival of freedom. 

Over a decade ago, His all Holiness Bartholomew, the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church came to Washington to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. After spending much of his adult life wrestling with godless Communists he told us the most important lesson he had learned. He said, “Faith can survive without freedom. But, freedom cannot survive without faith.”

It is a message that may offend the sensitive sensibilities of our friends on the Left. But, now more than ever, it is a message that the citizens of America and the world need to hear. 

Gil Gutknecht served six terms each in the Minnesota and the U.S. House of Representatives. He writes about healthcare and political issues of the day.