• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: Reasons for Conservatives to Be Thankful

    There are plenty of things to be thankful for this week, and this year as well.

    Yes, after our country’s recent elections, big government remains the rule here in the United States and throughout the West. Yet the language used by the candidates (both talked of reducing federal spending and creating jobs, for example) and the closeness of the race proved that, in the U.S. at least, conservatism remains a powerful force.

    Conservative thinkers present a compelling, principled alternative to liberal ideas. Right-leaning politicians retained control of the House of Representatives, where they’ll control all spending bills and be able to push back against the expansion of government. Conservative governors will run 30 states and can use their offices to thwart federal overreach. Many governors, for example, have already announced they won’t set up Obamacare insurance exchanges, which will save the states money and may doom the entire federal power grab.

    Rather than despair, conservatives should use this holiday season to count our blessings, review our plans, and further our agenda in 2013.

    But the act of giving thanks requires someone or something to give thanks to. So it’s also worth noting that Thanksgiving highlights the importance of religion in public life, and that our unique founding ensures that religion remains a key pillar of American greatness. President Abraham Lincoln created the modern Thanksgiving Day tradition when he announced, in 1863, that it would be celebrated as an official national holiday.

    Lincoln unapologetically cited “the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” Long before that, President George Washington named November 26, 1789, as a day of thanksgiving devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

    Famously, God went unmentioned last year. Yet President Obama has made it a point in years past to direct thanks to God. “As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation,” read his Thanksgiving Presidential Proclamation in 2010.

    In defense of Obama, some will surely cite a “wall of separation between church and state” that doesn’t actually exist in the Constitution.

    As Daniel Dreisbach explains in a First Principles essay, this figure of speech actually dates to a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802. In reality, the First Amendment didn’t aim to protect people from ever being exposed to any religion. It only aimed to ensure that the federal government wouldn’t establish a state-run church, such as the Church of England.

    Dreisbach cites Jefferson’s second inaugural address, when the third President declared:

    In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the powers of the general [i.e., federal] government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.

    Although the First Amendment prevents Congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting its free exercise, Presidents, as well as Congress, have always recognized the American regard for sacred practices and beliefs. Jefferson himself actively supported religious institutions. While in office, he personally approved federally funded programs that built churches and supported Christian missionaries.

    This Thanksgiving, instead of replaying our disappointments, let’s focus on the great things about our exceptional nation. The American people are still self-governing citizens. Our Constitution is still the most successful constitution known to man. American churches continue to give people a spiritual home and, along the way, save lives through good works. That’s worth pausing to give thanks for—this week and every week.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    20 Responses to Morning Bell: Reasons for Conservatives to Be Thankful

    1. D.L. Cote says:

      And thank you Rich, for an uplifting and excellent column.

    2. D Workman says:

      Amen. We also thank God for patriots such as those at Heritage who remind us of and guard our freedoms

    3. Carolyn Kortkamp says:

      Thank you, Heritage Foundation, for those very supportive and encouraging words. My attitude since Nov. 6th has been anything but uplifting. I thank God each day for his many blessings and pray for the welfare of our people. I find it very difficult to support any person that tries to eliminate our God from their daily life, especially those who are governing our country. I find it very disparaging that many of my Christian friends support the present administration.

      Thanks again for your encouragement. Keep it coming….the people need to hear good things. God Bless

    4. David Dunagan says:

      I needed some positive things to be expressed after this disaster of an election. Also it summarizes how much we will need to do in the future to maintain this great country of ours for future generations. Thanks for the post

    5. Belinda Stanley says:

      We can always look at a situation as a glass half-full or half-empty. We CAN be thankful that there are still 100s of millions of citizens in the USA who believe in a sovereign God, and put love of family and country above love of self.

    6. hilf says:

      Praise the heavens for small favors. The really bad effects of Obamacare are becoming known and will increase over the next several months. They include a reduction in benefits for the elderly and a reduction in payments to doctors, leading to physician shortage and over-all reduction in care. We must pounce on these broken promises and let people know the negative effects and in particular let people know that the leftist-controlled media have let them down by not reporting truths about Obamacare. Readers and advertisers will learn that the NYT and network tv, plus cable outlets like MSNBC are stupid ways of becoming informed and these media will hopefully descend to their proper places in journalism — the bottom.

    7. Daryn Kent-Duncan says:

      Our Constitution with the Declaration of Independence as its moral underpinning has been the most successful Constitution and did work until it was fatally corrupted by the Supreme Court and certain amendments, most notably the 16th (income tax). It takes a long time to totally destroy such a great nation; at this time we are living on the remnants of those great Founding documents. What we have to be thankful for is that they do exist, and they have been proven to work.

    8. Lloyd Scallan says:

      When we look around this morning, every one of us should thank God each day for the things we have been given and worked for. But make no mistake, under Obama and the present political leaders in both parties, all of those things will not be there in four more years. This reelection of a pure Marxist, backed by a Democrat Party, and a media that condoned the lies, distortions, and misleading statement, in the most disgusting and dirtiest campaign in US history, not to menion the voter fraud that went unchallenged by a Republican Party that is unbelivealy inept to stop the onslaught of the collapse of American values, paves the way to the end of what we once had. When a conservative news outlet suggest what Obama read from a teleprompter two years ago concerning God is still valid today, or then, is foolish false hope. We should absolutely be thankful for "our exceptional nation" today, but tomorrow will be a whole new world under Obama.

    9. Oscar Brown says:

      Ever since I first read that famous Jefferson letter, I've been thankful for his frugality in matters constitutional. It was not about denying God, only presidential (government) help in a matter that was not
      in the president's power to provide. He went on to say that he would pray for a favorable outcome. I believe that eventually happened.

      God and government should not be diametrically opposed; they are supposed to be working towards the same end, allowing people to seek their fullest potential. God does it by appropriate blessing; government doe it by staying out of the way as much as possible.

    10. Lucy says:

      Realizing you must protect your tax-free status, why didn't Heritage Action work DIRECTLY w/the RNC and the Romney Campaign to promote this plan actively before the last election? Talk has been far too cheap, and now it is too late.

    11. Texas Independent says:

      Well, I don't personally approve of spending my tax dollars to support religious institutions. They already get enough of my tax money because they don't pay local taxes that support things like roads, streets, police, fire, water and wastewater facilities that the rest of us taxpayers have to pay.

    12. Frank says:

      So far we have a lot to be thankful for, but look ahead, it is bleak, unless we get back to separation of POWERS! All we see and hear what the so called president (He's not mine) is doing irrespective of the legislature. This is not what our goverment was designed to be. He must be reigned in and challenged in all that he does, unless in some strange happening he decides to operate within our laws! I put this to those elected to the legislatures, get going or get out!

    13. Curt Krehbiel says:

      Abraham Lincoln quote Thanksgiving, 1863.

      "No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."

      Until November 6, 2012.

    14. Steve says:

      I read only part of your article. My feeling is this. So far we have not been terrible successful in stopping this president in what he wants to do. If congress disagrees he does it by fiat, some call it a mandate. He did this while he was coming up for re-election. Well, he is there now for four years with nothing to worry about, except his heinous plans for our country. He did not hesitate to lie to us before. Why should we expect this to change? Many of our talking heads clamored about violations of our constitution. But nothing was done. Strange we could find a reason to put a President's feet to the fire about lying to congress concerning sexual misconduct , but we could not find a way to bring a bill of impeachment for lying to Congress and the American people. I have concluded the loyal opposition is impotent and could not stop him in the first term and will not, in the second term, be able to stop anything he really wants to do.

      I wrote "hopefully last term" because there is precedent for a president to attempt for a third term and also one effort to create a "President for life" in this country. Why should we think he has not thought of those possibilities? I believe he has not only thought of them, but he has had staff members working on the how of the to make the previously possibilities a reality, since before his election to the Presidency.

      Alexis de Tocqueville was right and we have been declining as the "Great experiment in Democracy" since at least the time of our Civil War and possibly before that. When the public purse can be raided the end is near. Elected officials have been raiding the "public Purse" for a vey long time.

    15. Ron says:

      Phil. 4:13; Do we as Christian Americans have the faith and the will to act on our beliefs?
      I know that public schools have degenerated to the point they need to be replaced.
      Do we have the will to badger our current elected representatives and to support new ones so that money goes to the parents instead of a monolith that cares more about the employees than the kids and the nation?
      We have to admit sooner or later, the problem is those of us who will not stand up to illegitmate use of power, whether in Washingto D.C. or locally.
      As the always interesting Rev. Al Sharpton said, "Resist We Much".
      I think if we show that we are willing to say no to the federal government and the over reach in Education, helathcare, abortion funding and etc. we can return power back to the citizens where the Consttution placed it.

    16. rich gingras says:

      i enjoyed reading something that didn"t finaly maken me feel worse…God bless America!

    17. 1goodbob says:

      This Pres. is always mis-quoting the Bible, trying to convince s that he is a Christian. We know who & what he really is, regardless of the Mocking, joking, ridicule & put downs.

    18. RennyG says:

      We are geatful for all your efforts. We are greatful for all the Blessings our Lord has given us. But it is sad when intellegent people look to a "Santa Clause." You would think they were old and intelligent enough to know there is no "Santa Clause," like the big "O!!!" Lord have mercy on our country and we the people!!

    19. Sam R. Ekey says:

      Amen

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×