Jamestown: One Nation under God

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JAMESTOWN - This year marks the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, America's first permanent English colony.

The historic settlement finds itself in the spotlight and also facing questions about how it covers a key part of history... its Christian heritage.

Tourists are flocking to Jamestown to see the birthplace of America. One of the highlights is Jamestown Settlement, which includes this re-creation of James Fort.

Walk inside the wooden walls and you'll find buildings like those that existed four centuries ago.

You will also learn what it was like to live back then. But according to some, you might not hear about the settlers' Christian heritage.

The largest building in the fort is this replica of a 17th century Anglican church. What guides say inside the church is at the center of the controversy.

Some press reports and e-mails across the Internet charge that the guides here were told to keep religious information quiet.

The Jamestown tour guide asks us, "O.K., any questions about the church before we move on?"

Critics say the guides were told to keep their answers general about key elements such as the plaques at the front of the church -- to only call them "religious" instead of pointing out their importance and the meaning behind them.

So with camcorder in hand, I took the tour to find out if a guide "gag order" was really in effect.

Our guide actually went into detail about how often the Jamestown colonists were required to attend church and why:

"…to hear the Word of God preached, hear the martial laws read, check on people."

And later the guide said, "So while we've been here in the church for a few minutes, I've reeled you through some things that had to do with not only the Lord, but the law as well."

The church part of the tour ended shortly after those comments, with no reference to the plaques. So, as our tour guide was leaving the church, like any good tourist, I spoke up:

CBN News: I have a quick question for you: What about the plaques here on the wall?

Guide: These are what are called the Tablets of the Law, which was a part of the Anglican worship, and these were put on the east wall, with the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer.

She did not shy away from specific references.

The guide continued, "Then very quickly, they built a church. It was one of the first buildings constructed."

A few days later, cbn News asked the settlement's educational program manager about the accusations.

CBN News: Is there a policy that prevents them from talking about Christianity?

Anne Price-Hardister: Not at all. There's absolutely no restriction on our guides about talking about religion in the 17th century -- and in fact, we train all of our guides about the role of the Church of England here in Virginia and how it affected the lives of the people here.

At nearby Historic Jamestown, the actual site where the settlers built Fort James in 1607 -- Administrator Ann Berry says that the Christian heritage also is not excluded.

She said, "That Christian presence is very much a part of our interpretation at Historic Jamestown…It's very much a part of the 17th Century mindset, and we cover all aspects of the events that occurred here at Jamestown."

So, as you make plans for the 400th anniversary celebration, rest assured that you'll see and hear evidence of the deep Christian roots planted at Jamestown.

At the end of this video, hear Pat explain about the covenant that the English settlers made with God at Jamestown, and how it  can be reclaimed by us today.

For more information about reclaiming the covenant, see our special Reclaiming the Covenant resource section.


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CBN News
Mark Martin

Mark Martin

CBN News Reporter

Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.