Cultural Trends

Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving . . . but Not to God

(From The Center for Vision & Values, Grove City College. Used by permission.)

By Dr. Paul Kengor

In 1789, America’s first president proclaimed a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” George Washington implored the heavens to “pardon our national and other transgressions” and urged the citizenry to practice “true religion and virtue.”

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln urged his countrymen to set aside the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Subsequent presidents continued this civic-religious tradition. “More than three centuries ago, the Pilgrims, after a year of hardship and peril, humbly and reverently set aside a special day upon which to give thanks to God,” said John F. Kennedy in his first Thanksgiving proclamation. “They paused in their labors to give thanks for the blessings that had been bestowed upon them by Divine Providence.” Quoting the Bible, President Kennedy affirmed: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.” Read more about Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving . . . but Not to God

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