The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


August 14, 2013

Geoff Caldwell, guest columnist: Faith and prayer nothing new to America

JOPLIN, Mo. — The ink on the Declaration of Independence was barely dry when Gen. George Washington was trapped on Long Island with British forces in front and the East River at his back.

He ordered a nighttime tactical retreat, but there were not enough boats to evacuate all troops before sunrise.

Yet as the sun rose that August morning, the American side had clear view while the British were in a thick fog.  Many cite this as the first occurrence of “divine Intervention” in the fate of the American nation.

John Adams stated: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”

Announcing the Normandy invasion in June 1944, Franklin Delano Roosevelt took to the radio with words that were in no uncertain terms religious. Starting with “And for us at home ... help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. ... I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer ... invoking Thy help to our efforts.”

He closed with “And, O Lord, give us faith ... with Thy blessing, we shall prevail. ... Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.”

On Christmas Eve 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 read the first 10 verses of Genesis to millions of Americans listening back on Earth. And when John Glenn returned to the heavens on the space shuttle Discovery he noted: “To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith.”

From this nation’s beginning to the current times, we have always been a nation of faith. And on Sunday, Aug. 4, 19-year-old Katie Lentz reminded us once again of the power of that faith.  

After a head-on collision on a rural Missouri highway, she had been trapped for almost an hour in her mangled Mercedes. Emergency workers were losing her, and the on-site equipment was not sufficient to remove her. In spite of her own situation, she asked her rescuers to pray with her. They did. And in what seemed the very next moment, a priest appeared and gave Katie the anointing of the sick and absolution. Minutes later a neighboring crew arrived, the equipment worked and Katie was put on a helicopter.  

As those on site looked for the mysterious priest to thank him, he had vanished as quickly as he appeared and the “miracle priest” story was born — and with it, a renewed discussion on the power of prayer and divine intervention. Said New London fire Chief Raymond Reed: “It was nothing more than sheer faith and nothing short of a miracle.”  

While we now know that the “angel” is the mortal Rev. Patrick Dowling of the Jefferson City Diocese, that does not take away from the miracle of peace and calm that happened that Sunday afternoon on a lonely stretch of Missouri highway. If anything, it reinforces that you do not have to be a believer to realize that there are times, there are circumstances, there are events in this world that have no worldly explanation.

Ever since the first Madalyn Murray O’Hair lawsuit in the early 1960s, the political left has been launching one attack after another on any public acknowledgment of God in this country. And ever since, we have witnessed the decline of civility and social cohesion.

Katie’s experience reminds us that you can remove the quotes from our schools, you can kick him off the courthouse square, you can even deny his existence, but in the end God is as much in the public eye today as he ever was. You just have to look past the fog.

Geoff Caldwell lives in Joplin.

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