Making the First Thanksgiving Real to Your Kids

For years, many public schools have left God out of Thanksgiving,
teaching instead that the Pilgrims gave a party to thank the Native
Americans or Mother Earth.  Even more current are claims that the first
Thanksgiving was a copy of European harvest festivals or a stolen
Native American custom, or just a repeat of thanksgivings by other

But the Pilgrims’ own writings, and the historical events leading to
the first Thanksgiving show the traditional accounts (available in
pre-1960 books and encyclopedias) to be authentic.  Thanksgiving was
not as an isolated event, or an imitation, but a uniquely inspired
Christian celebration – the culmination of a long journey of faith in
which the Pilgrims had relied on God and trusted him through many

  This narrative covers the Wapanoag indians and Squanto being captured by Captain Thomas Hunt. 

No votes yet

God SHOULD be left out of public schools. Theology has no place in public education or in any other governmental function.
If you want to worship, do it at home and privately.

gave thanks to G_D ? Is that better ? I left the O out .
Hey , it's historical fact .
And God isn't like asbestos that needs to be removed and banned from every public place.

I'd really like to hear you and Nate Chan talk about the food that should be served at Thanksgiving... I'd even pay to listen to you two... for a couple of minutes anyway.

are two different people. You can't compare them.

It's tough to leave God out of the Thanksgiving story, since the Mayflower carried a separatist sect of Puritans who were fleeing religious persecution.

Since they were particularlt pious, prayer to God was a regular part of their day, both at sea, and when they settled...

I was educated in a public grade school and parochial high school and neither truly covered the role of religion in history--and it should have. It wasn't until I was in college that I learned the truth about religious persecution throughout history, and that religion is often the instigator in war...we all need to know these truths.

Maybe they were fleeing persecution. But they were also themselves particularly prone to religious persecution of other sects. They didn't tolerate any creed other than their own. The Puritans were also responsible for the Salem Witch Trials.

And the only reason the Pilgrims were even able to establish themselves on indian land was because of the decimation of the local tribe by smallpox, a fact that one member of the Pilgrims noted with great satisfaction and for which he praised God.
"The men in this first group ashore feared a possible confrontation with unfriendly Indians, but soon they discovered the local Indians were all dead of smallpox. They took this as divine providence and assumed God had cleared their way by killing off the natives."

"Religious tolerance was an important but often misunderstood contribution of the colonial era. Tolerance developed only after time. Groups such as the Pilgrims and Puritans who left Europe to escape religious persecution often were intolerant of religious diversity themselves once they established themselves in the New World."

The Thanksgiving story is another one of those American myths that won't go away anytime soon.

I'm not trying to argue or anything Pete. I'm actually quite indifferent to this thread but it does concern me because I am affected.

If I have someone working for me at my job and they try to "convert" others to their religion I cannot tell them to stop or move them away from the people they talk to. Doing so I'd be infringing on their religious rights because their religion tells them they have to do that very thing.

My only question is where do you see the line of being drawn as. If we totally eliminate talk of God or religion from our schools how are we not infringing on their religion?



Here's what a court had to say about religion in the workplace, Mikey:
"Daniel Berry was an evangelical fundamentalist Christian whose job was to assist unemployed clients transition out of welfare, and this involved frequent client interviews in his cubicle.

Berry's public employer denied Berry's wishes to be allowed to (1) share his religious views with clients in his cubicle, (2) use a conference room for voluntary prayer meetings, and (3) display religious objects (a Bible and a religious sign) in his cubicle.

The 9th Circuit said this did not violate Berry's rights under the religion clause of the 1st amendment or his rights under Title VII. Berry v. Dept of Social Services (9th Cir 05/01/2006).
Employment Law Memo notified its readers about this case on 05/02/2006.

1st amendment: The court used the Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 US 563 (1968) balancing test. The employer's interest in avoiding violations of the establishment clause and in having the conference room be a non-public forum outweighed Berry's free exercise of his religion at work.

Title VII: The employer was not required to accommodate Berry's religious practices because doing so would create a danger of violating the establishment clause, and thus be an undue hardship.
This guy was denied the ability to proselytize his clients. I don't know what the court would have said if it was just his fellow workers he was trying to convert. I don't think anyone objects to having staunch Christians in the workplace, but openly and aggressively trying to convert others is another matter. My guess is that if it disrupts the workplace then the employer could forbid him from doing that. And it would make good business sense. You don't want your employees to be disgruntled and disrupt your business.

From the History Channel:
History of Thanksgiving

Fact: The first feast wasn't repeated, so it wasn't the beginning of a tradition. In fact, the colonists didn't even call the day Thanksgiving. To them, a thanksgiving was a religious holiday in which they would go to church and thank God for a specific event, such as the winning of a battle. On such a religious day, the types of recreational activities that the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians participated in during the 1621 harvest feast--dancing, singing secular songs, playing games--wouldn't have been allowed. The feast was a secular celebration, so it never would have been considered a thanksgiving in the pilgrims minds.

The Pilgrims may have been religious, and gave thanks to God, but this wasn't a religious celebration at all, not a true Christian "thanksgiving" .

One could argue that it would be just as appropriate to spend time learning American Indian gods and religion in class, then, as they participated as well.

On a side note, in some strange way, this reminds me of Footloose, with Kevin Bacon playing the role of Squanto.

an annual tradition. That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, 8 reaped a bountiful harvest. 9 As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are far from want.” 10 The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends 11 – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November. However, while the Pilgrims enjoyed times of prosperity for which they thanked God, they also suffered extreme hardships. In fact, in 1623 they experienced an extended and prolonged drought. Knowing that without a change in the weather there would be no harvest and the winter would be filled with death and starvation, Governor Bradford called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after that time of prayer – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky and a gentle and steady rain began to fall. As Governor Bradford explained: It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. 12 The drought had been broken; the fall therefore produced an abundant harvest; there was cause for another thanksgiving. The Pilgrim practice of designating an official time of Thanksgiving spread into neighboring colonies and became an annual tradition. 13 And just as those neighboring colonies followed the Pilgrims’ example of calling for days of thanksgiving, so, too, did they adopt their practice of calling for a time of prayer and fasting. The New England Colonies therefore developed a practice of calling for a day of prayer and fasting in the spring, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the fall. The Thanksgiving celebrations so common throughout New England did not begin to spread southward until the American Revolution, when Congress issued eight separate national Thanksgiving Proclamations. (Congress also issued seven separate proclamations for times of fasting and prayer, for a total of 15 official prayer proclamations during the American Revolution. 14) America’s first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789 with the commencement of the federal government. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, the first act after the Framers completed the framing of the Bill of Rights was that: Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution: Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .

This is almost laughable, Cogitate. You should really look at the sources this tract is based on. You are quoting "authorities" who wrote BEFORE the Civil War -and two hundred years AFTER the Mayflower. These are the very stories that begin the American Myth of Thanksgiving. The sources of your story are NOT credible. Go back and look at them. Nary a real historian among them... a bunch of pre-Civil War unionist advocates with a lot of axes to grind.

to the event time. A historian , ask History Mike, which version is closer to the truth.
And is it or is it not a good idea to look to God , and for Congress to request that the people set aside a day to do that ?
David Barton of Wallbuilders is credible as long as I have read him.
Ok , he disagrees with your sources , but you or I weren't there.

When you refer to "which version is closer to the truth," which versions are you referring to?

The federal government already does provide for a day for Christians to have off work to celebrate and give thanks, by the way, by having Christmas Day a federal holiday. There is no other reason to have Christmas Day off than for Christian religious reasons (and I'm saying that not as a complaint of it, i'm thankful for that fact). And if Easter fell on M-F, it, too, would be a national holiday, I'd wager. This is very significant - no other religion has an American federal holiday, period. And to me it's on the edge of what I'm comfortable with Congress doing in the name of a religion officially in America. And I speak here as a Christian, mind you.

I am not sure why you are pushing to make Thanksgiving a Christian religious holiday? Can't it be enough that we, as a nation, of a hodge-podge of beliefs, can come together to celebrate, in our own ways, the many gifts we have been given? We can celebrate in ways that are personally meaningful to each of us? Because I may celebrate and give thanks as a Christian doesn't take away from the experience of my neighbors, who celebrate as moderate Jews, and vice versa. The idea of Thanksgiving isn't Christian (the whole concept of harvest feasts has oooooolllllddddd roots), it happens that the first ones we acknowledge as precedents for ours were be held by Christians (and non-Christians, right, if Native Americans were present).

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.