Thursday, February 09, 2012

President Wilson's Plea for Soldiers to Read the Bible

In August 1917, with the United States in the middle of the Great War, United States President Woodrow Wilson instructed that Bibles be given to every American soldier with an inscription from him in the front leaf. The personal words from our 28th President read:

"The Bible is the word of life. I beg you that you will read it and find this out for yourself--read not little snatches here and there, but long passages that will really be on the road to the heart of it.

You will find it full of real men and women, not only, but also of things you have wondered about and been troubled about all your life, as men have been always, and the more you read the more it will become plain to you what things are worth while and what are not; what makes men happy; right dealings, speaking the truth, readiness to give everything for what they think their duty and most of all, the wish that they may have the real approval of the Christ who gave everything to them--and things that are guaranteed to make men unhappy--selfishness, cowardice, greed and everything that is low and men.

When you read the Bible you will know that it is the word of God, because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness and your own duty." Woodrow Wilson


Rex Ray said...

Wonder what religious books are on Obama’s book shelves and the ones that are read most often? But of course that would be an invasion of privacy.

For an unusual view of the Bible read Aussie John’s “sticking his neck out”, and a funny ‘pretend conversation’ by Paul Burleson see:
&postID=1932481548957703680&isPopup=true said...


All our Presidents had flaws, including Wilson. I find the US political and military emphasis on the Bible from a century ago interesting. :)

Christiane said...

I don't think 'religion' became politicized until the advent of the Christian far right . . . sometime around the CR and the coming to the fore of Pat Robertson and his kind.

Prior to that, there was some dust-up over people like Madalyn Murray O'Hare, but I cannot recall heavy-duty manipulation of religious voters by political entities before that time.

In a way, the coming of the political far-right has lowered the American tolerance for the involvement of ANY kind of 'religion' in public life . . . the public senses the manipulation and responds accordingly, or at times 'over-reacts' but as for responsibility for the intitiation of the culture wars, I think we have to look at Pat Robertson and his kind . . . working together with the coming of extreme right-wing media.

Prior to that time, there was respect for the Bible as literature in the public schools of our country.

The current revulsion to manipulation is centered on the mainstream Americans rejection of the 'Personhood Act' with its ties to eliminating all access to 'the pill' and other reported 'abortifacient' birth control devices. The voting public is rejecting this as 'extreme', even in the red states.

Roy Shriver said...

Wade - what if information like this was taught in our history classes. Powerful stuff that is still applicable in 2012. Thank you for sharing.

KJ said...

This is a semi-accurate telling of U.S history worthy of David Barton or RJ Rushdoony:

1)The books weren’t Bibles, but New Testaments.
2)The Bible printing and distribution effort had been initiated by state Bible Societies and was continued by other Christian charities like YMCA and the Pocket Testament League
3)To say “President Wilson instructed that Bibles be given to every American soldier” implies that this might have been an Executive Order funded by taxpayer dollars. This was a grassroots, voluntary effort that Wilson exploited for political gain.
4)The President “instructed” the doughboys to read the Testament with the words “I beg that you will read it.” He signed his message simply, “Woodrow Wilson.” Clearly not an order from the Commander- in -Chief.
5. Many of The Bibles were distributed before Wilson's message was affixed.
he Commander in Chief.

>>In December 1917, the popular magazine Ladies Home Journal published a full-page article about The Pocket Testament League. This article included a request to support the League’s efforts to supply New Testaments to the troops overseas.<<