Leadership: Even before George Washington is said to have taken a knee in prayer at Valley Forge, men and women of faith and courage endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights have guided this nation to greatness.
Some 45 million people watched Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow complete that 80-yard touchdown pass play to Demaryius Thomas on the first play from scrimmage in overtime to lead his team over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday's wild card playoff game.
They also saw him take a knee and give thanks to the God he believes in, an act that's been dubbed "Tebow-ing."
The act has been mocked by comedians and pundits and derided by the secularists among us, those who've banned prayer from the public schools, and fought Christmas displays on public property, the words "One Nation Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and even the words "In God We Trust" on our coins.
The fact that Tebow had 316 yards passing and averaged 31.6 yards per pass in the game didn't escape notice. Tebow wore "John 3:16" on his eye black in the 2009 BCS Championship game, a Bible passage often seen on signs held at sporting events at every level.
On the postgame show, CBS analysts "Tebow-ed" in unison, mocking the seriousness of Tebow's intent. "Saturday Night Live" has done a skit in which Jesus appears in the Bronco locker room. God does not take sides in football games, Tebow's critics say.
Tebow would agree with that, but he also acknowledges a higher power's influence on his life, win or lose, just as the Founding Fathers did when they acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence that we were "endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights," rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of, not from, religion.
Public expressions of faith are frowned on these days from the war on Christmas to prohibitions on certain words at graduation ceremonies. The desire to preserve the separation of church and state has led the secularists to attempt to drive every last vestige of religious expression from the public square.
In a case that's entered the presidential campaign, U.S. District Court Judge Fred Biery ruled this year that a high school graduation in a San Antonio suburb may not include an opening and closing prayer, even if nondenominational, or the words "invocation" or "benediction." That, he said, would constitute an establishment of religion, something banned, we're told, by the Constitution.
The phrase "separation of church and state" in fact appears nowhere in the Constitution but in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to a group of Danbury Baptists assuring them that the First Amendment prohibited Congress from establishing a national church, such as the Church of England.
Of course, Jefferson also said in a letter written to his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush dated Sept. 23, 1800, the words that are carved into the Jefferson Memorial:
"I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
That statement is rarely quoted.
We are a nation founded by men of faith who felt their actions were guided by a divine providence, a higher authority than governments or men.
Indeed, the day after it approved the First Amendment, the House passed a resolution establishing a national day of prayer and thanksgiving. It too believed in a document that forbade the congressional establishment of religion. But it also believed in not prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Beginning with Washington in 1789, annual presidential proclamations have declared the last Thursday of November as the Thanksgiving date. In 1941, a congressional declaration officially designated the fourth Thursday of November as the date of the Thanksgiving holiday. That Tebow gives his thanks on a Sunday playing football should not make any difference.