Founding Father Fisher Ames, a celebrated early member of the House of Representatives, authored the key section of the First Amendment on religion. “On August 20, 1789, Ames proposed a more focused revision to the Amendment:
‘Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience’.”
His proposal passed and was eventually ratified by the States after other provisions failed, and became the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
A month later (Sept. 20, 1789) Ames warned in an article published in the Palladium magazine:
“We have a dangerous trend beginning to take place in our education. We’re starting to put more and more textbooks into our schools. … We’ve become accustomed of late of putting little books into the hands of children containing fables and moral lessons. … We are spending less time in the classroom on the Bible, which should be the principle text in our schools. … The Bible states these great moral lessons better than any other manmade book.”
Inasmuch as God’s faithfulness is dependent upon political decency and common morality, the Founders encouraged Biblical instruction to America’s youth. Solomon taught that
“The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.”
Hebrew scholar Michael V. Fox put it thus:
“The Lord ranks righteousness even above sacrifice.”
This amounts to
“the priority of ethics over ritual.”
Prior to Fisher Ames’ proposed revision to the First Amendment, Thomas Jefferson two years earlier had drafted the Northwest Ordinance (1787). Early Americans completed the Northwest Ordinance as the single most important piece of legislation other than the Declaration of Independence. The legislation created a framework by which new states would be admitted to the Union.
Northwest Ordinance, Article III - “
[Christianity], morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
A.W. Tozer superbly amplified the idea that America has to retrace her steps or perish, by writing:
“If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation, it must be by other means than any now being used. If the Church in the second half of this century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting.
“Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be not one but many), he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom. Such a man is likely to be lean, rugged, blunt-spoken and a little bit angry with the world. He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness to die for the glory of the One and the salvation of the other. But he will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath.”
Gideons and Rahabs are beginning to stand. God is about to speak loudly.
American Renewal Project
[1-2] Russell Kirk, Redeeming The Time
 Proverbs 14:34
 Mayflower Compact
 Proverbs 21:3
 Bruce K. Waltke, Proverbs Commentary
 A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men