Those of you in the National Association of Evangelicals are known for your spiritual and humanitarian work. And I would be especially remiss if I didn’t discharge right now one personal debt of gratitude. Thank you for your prayers. [My wife] and I have felt their presence many times in many ways. And believe me, for us they’ve made all the difference.
The other day … someone asked me whether I was aware of all the people out there who were praying for [me]. And I had to say, “Yes, I am. I’ve felt it. I believe in intercessionary prayer.” But I couldn’t help but say to that questioner after he’d asked the question that — or at least say to them that if sometimes when he was praying he got a busy signal, it was just me in there ahead of him. I think I understand how Abraham Lincoln felt when he said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” From the joy and the good feeling of this conference, I go to a political reception. Now, I don’t know why, but that bit of scheduling reminds me of a story which I’ll share with you.
An evangelical minister and a politician arrived at Heaven’s gate one day together. And St. Peter, after doing all the necessary formalities, took them in hand to show them where their quarters would be. And he took them to a small, single room with a bed, a chair, and a table and said this was for the clergyman. And the politician was a little worried about what might be in store for him. And he couldn’t believe it then when St. Peter stopped in front of a beautiful mansion with lovely grounds, many servants, and told him that these would be his quarters.
And he couldn’t help but ask, he said, “But wait, how — there’s something wrong — how do I get this mansion while that good and holy man only gets a single room?“ And St. Peter said, “You have to understand how things are up here. We’ve got thousands and thousands of clergy. You’re the first politician who ever made it.”
But I don’t want to contribute to a stereotype. So I tell you there are a great many God-fearing, dedicated, noble men and women in public life, present company included. And yes, we need your help to keep us ever-mindful of the ideas and the principles that brought us into the public arena in the first place. The basis of those ideals and principles is a commitment to freedom and personal liberty that, itself is grounded in the much deeper realization that freedom prospers only where the blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly accepted.
The American experiment in democracy rests on this insight. Its discovery was the great triumph of our Founding Fathers, voiced by William Penn when he said: “If we will not be governed by God, we must be governed by tyrants.” Explaining the inalienable rights of men, Jefferson said, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” And it was George Washington who said that “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
And finally, that shrewdest of all observers of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, put it eloquently after he had gone on a search for the secret of America’s greatness and genius — and he said: “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the greatness and the genius of America. America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
Well, I’m pleased to be here today with you who are keeping America great by keeping her good. Only through your work and prayers and those of millions of others can we hope to survive this perilous century and keep alive this experiment in liberty, this last, best hope of man.
Can you name the Evangelical who said that?
Was it James Dobson? Mike Huckabee? George W. Bush?
This is a relevant trackback to a post about another Evangelical politician. Let’s see if Allahpundit allows it.