Lincoln’s Other Proclamation, "We Have Forgotten God." - When Faith Gives Reason a Back Rub

Lincoln’s Other Proclamation, “We Have Forgotten God.”

On this date in 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that there would be a national day of fasting to humble ourselves before God (it is celebrated about a month later).
“We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace…”
– Abraham Lincoln

America’s Forgotten History




Our society has become so self-confident we forget everything we have is from people who put their trust for this country in God. These were people who prayed to God for His help, saying publicly that American democracy could not survive without His undeserved favor. Just read virtually every single president’s inaugural address starting with the first.

God in The First Inauguration

“…we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained…
I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favour the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparellelled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”
– George Washington, First Inaugural Address of the United States of America (emphasis added)

What if everything we have is nothing else than Washington’s answered prayer?

That seems to be similar to what Lincoln thought. It was never a given that the US would survive or be at peace and it is not a given today. These men believed it was only by God’s favor that the United States would survive.
In Lincoln’s words,
we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
We should honor God with our lips. We should thank him and pray to Him. Publicly and privately. That is literally how it has always been. There is nothing more American than that.
God is not just on our pledge his name is on our currency and founding documents like the Declaration of Independence. Of his Emancipation Proclimation that freed the slaves, Lincoln said, “some reference to the deity must be inserted.
“And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”
– Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation

Forgetting God: Not Just About Religion



Lincoln strongly believed that tolerating slavery was forgetting God. Many of the southerners who owned slaves were Christians, or “Christians” (in quotes). Yet Lincoln saw that mistreatment for the weak was forgetting God even if they worshipped the true God. Great sins coming from believers in God is forgetting God.
And so it is today.

Our National Stupidity


The unbeliever forgets God, but believers do as well. We forget God not only when we commit idolatry but also when we do not care for the poor, the weak, and the foreigners among us. 
This is something impossible to miss if you read the first half of the bible.
We seem to think we can get away with supporting whichever candidate is not a Democrat because they are more likely to defend belief in God. But how concerned did Jesus seem to be with defending himself? He is, after all, the crucified Lord who told us we should follow the example he set. We should expect to be persecuted, not avoid it like the plague.
And what if the person we are supporting was more like a Pharisee? Would Jesus sacrifice his principles to support a Pharisee? Of course not!
Something else in the bible which is obvious is that people who worship the right God and have all the right ceremonies can forget God.
“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies… Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:13, 16-17, NIV)

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’ But they refused to pay attention… So the Lord Almighty was very angry.” (Zechariah 7:9-12 NIV, emphasis added)

When religious people forget God it’s the worst. For these people know better. Jesus got far more angry at the religious Pharisees than he did at the Romans.
What if this is how God thinks about our country? I don’t know for sure but I think it is quite possible. We seem more concerned with blaming the poor for being poor rather than helping and defending them. We seem more concerned with human documentation for the foreigner than caring about them. What if God is more concerned with his documentation… the image of God he created them in? The seal of Christ on many of their hearts? It is something at least worth considering.

“We are all Guilty-We Ought all to Plead Guilty”

Something else Lincoln may have hinted at is that we are all guilty. We all ought to ask for forgiveness from God. As he said in his second inaugural address quoting the bible, “let us judge not, that we be not judged.” Lincoln said even slaveholders we shouldn’t judge. God has the right to judge, we have no right to say we are better than anyone else.
Rather than finding someone else to blame like liberals, conservatives, or independents (and none are worse than slaveholders were in Lincoln’s time) we all should call on the mercy of God that we all need. As another man of faith said while fighting slavery,
“We are all guilty-we ought all to plead guilty, and not to exculpate ourselves by throwing the blame on others…”
– William Wilberforce, 1789 Abolition speech. Wilberforce is the man largely responsible for ending the slave trade in Britain.

Lincoln’s Full Proclamation



March 30, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.
And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.
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