Salvo 06.14.2024 5 minutes

In Providence We Trust

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We must reclaim the religious ideas that once animated America.

America’s founding fathers recognized that theirs was a providential venture, a divinely guided effort to establish a nation under God.

While the Declaration of Independence starts by recognizing that our rights come from God, and not from rulers or governments, it ends with these words: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Establishing our country under this Mandate of Heaven was what made the American Revolution so historically significant.

What did the Founders mean by Providence?

The Divine Providence is the invisible hand of God guiding humanity toward the fulfillment of the original purpose of creation, a world of love and goodness. It can be seen in the rise and fall of civilizations—as people, organizations, and nations support or oppose its progress. Providence is the root of religious beliefs and therefore shapes faith, culture, and politics.  

Providence precedes, and therefore transcends, all differences of race, religion, and class. It embodies an unchanging purpose. It advances when the wisdom and goodness of “Abel-type” ideas, individuals, and nations gain ascendency over their “Cain-type” counterparts.

This conception of Providence served to unite our Founders across their differences in 1776. It served to unify members of the various denominations behind the founding, because it embraces all people of good will, irrespective of religious belief or affiliation.

The Founding was the result of a conscious turning of intelligent minds upwards toward the highest purpose of all. The Founders called on the Creator of the universe for guidance in making a republic that guaranteed the freedoms that are indispensable for human beings to fulfill their God-given potential and responsibilities. America’s development into the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth is the outcome of this high-minded endeavor.

However, these blessings have not come without great sacrifices by Americans who, guided by an innate sense of providential purpose, have taken on the responsibilities of a chosen nation by fighting to eliminate the evil of slavery at home and the evils of fascism and communism threatening other lands. America has paid dearly in blood and treasure to uphold civilizational values, but its reward has been its elevation as the leader of the free world.

But in the twentieth century, while we were distracted with endless Cold War conflicts, atheistic Marxist and Neo-Marxist ideologies spread like a cancer through Western culture and institutions, bringing us to our current civilizational crisis. Both science and religion have been discarded in the name of woke materialist ideologies and unattainable utopian fantasies.

Although the main culprits behind the moral decay in our society have been leftist ideologies, the Right also bears considerable responsibility for this disaster.

Conservatives have a tendency to cave to immoral positions pushed by the Left, such as the secularization of society and the adoption of gay marriage and transgender ideology. Or the isolationist myopia of conservatives who fail to recognize the monumental evil of Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, and the incontrovertible need of the West to help Kyiv achieve outright victory over Moscow.

While our sons and daughters are sacrificed on the altar of compromise, our pathetic and unprincipled leaders obsess about diversity quotas and transgender rights and indulge in irrational fear-mongering over the “greatest danger to humankind,” as President Biden has described changes in the weather.

In light of this, there is no question that our nation has drifted far from its providential origins. We have become a very different people from those who founded America. The predominantly Christian population of that time has been supplemented by people of all races and religions, who have come here from around the world to enjoy the wonderful benefits this country offers to immigrants.

The significance of Providence in our time has been largely lost. This must be rectified. If we are to heal our nation of its deep divisions and dramatic decline, we need to regain our reverence for Divine Providence and its special meaning for America. 

For all the goodness in our Judeo-Christian civilization, we have not been able to stave off the forces of materialism, with their seductive promises of a just and peaceful world based on the principles of socialism (such as those employed by organizations like the World Economic Forum). Thus to merely go back to where we were will not solve our problems today. It will merely lead to further failures.

America is in a period of grave danger, because we have lost our humility. What is needed is a future-oriented movement that is based on a profound understanding of Providence and America’s role within it. Only an America guided by Providence can fulfill its founding destiny.

Regardless of our affiliations, we each need to turn once more to the author of all goodness.

Conservative institutions should lead the way, since they are already predisposed to live by traditional religious values. However, they must broaden their thinking to embrace others on the providential path. They should forge alliances with people of good will, including members of all faiths. They should do the same with scientists who share these ideals.  

America is the one nation where the positive transformation of society will have a ripple effect across the world. A new America aligned with Divine Providence will once again be a beacon of liberty and justice for all. 

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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