Returning to the Historical Foundation

By Danielle Parker 07
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Professors Sonny Branham (far left) and Dr. Paul Vickery (far right), along with junior David Snuffer, senior Allison Carter and junior Ben Stiger (a 2009-10 Whole Person Scholar), were this month's special guests at the OAC Luncheon.

Professors Sonny Branham (far left) and Dr. Paul Vickery (far right), along with junior David Snuffer, senior Allison Carter and junior Ben Stiger (a 2009-10 Whole Person Scholar), were this month's special guests at the OAC Luncheon.

Is history being rewritten? The question may seem peculiar, but according to ORU history, humanities and government professors Dr. Paul Vickery and Sonny Branham -- guest speakers at the January ORU Alumni Connection Luncheon -- it very well may be.

Vickery quoted historian David McCullough to say, "'A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia.' Our country and our world are a product of their historical past."

Although America has strayed from the very principles on which it was founded, Vickery believes the very first form of government in this country was Christian-based.

"I believe our nation's basic presupposition, worldview and legal structure was based on Judeo-Christian values," he said. "I am not saying everyone was a Christian, but they would have agreed that the Scriptures were the foundation of legal and moral actions."

Yet, despite the rich legacy of this country, pieces of the past are being eliminated, and as Vickery explained, these omissions are replacing rationale and truth with ideology.

"If we look at the textbooks not only in America, but also around the world, we are seeing the revision of history," he said. "If we look at things that are being stricken from our books, you see that a lot of references to our early national heritage -- our Christian heritage -- are being removed. We have a whole generation that is being raised without that as a part of their history."

It is for this reason, that American Government is a required general ed course at ORU, according to Branham.

"So many times we neglect to differentiate the government and politics," he said. "We use those terms interchangeably. God gave government; government is authority. Politics is the vehicle that puts people in positions of authority in government. We want our students to know about the whole of our history, which they may not hear anywhere else."

With this understanding, Vickery said it is imperative that the Christian community not accept society's worldview, but stay true to America's original biblical principles.

"We as parents need to speak out; students need to go forth and make a difference and get involved. Teachers, we need to teach the truth and press for the standards [on] which this nation was founded," he said. "If we are not active and proactive, we will have to be reactive, which is certainly much harder."

A Political Experience

Branham and Vickery also shared how ORU is preparing its students for the particular "world" they will enter post-graduation.

"Those of us that teach at ORU consider ourselves to be among the most fortunate of professors, when you see the quality of students that we have and have had," Vickery said.

And those in attendance were able to see for themselves the product of the history, humanities, and government department, as three students were present to showcase the opportunities which have been afforded them.

David Snuffer, a junior majoring in international relations, was one of several students who traveled to El Salvador last year to monitor the country's historic presidential election.

"The department has really given me a lot of hands-on experience," he said. "Whatever I do after graduation, I know, because of my experience at ORU, I will be very well prepared for what is in store for me."

History, humanities, and government students can choose to participate in the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature, Model UN, study abroad trips, and political campaigns, among a growing list of service projects available through their area of study.

"We stress the significance of students being involved in government and the political process," Branham said. "We want our students outside the classroom. Yes, they can listen to lectures, but we want them to be activists. And I believe our students are gaining much information from what they have been involved in."

And these out-of-classroom experiences have given students, like senior international relations major Allison Carter, confidence that they have gained the skills needed to be successful and whole graduates.

"The opportunities that I have had at ORU have been remarkable," Carter said. "I have traveled to six different countries because of my connections with the university. My time here is a fundamental part of who I am and who I will be."