I attended the worship service at our church on Ash Wednesday. It was wonderful to have a church full on this festival, with the atmosphere so much different than the drama and problems of the old church. But that’s part of an old blog.
As we prepare for Holy Week, Lent gives us an excellent opportunity to take an honest assessment of our lives (impossible without the guidance of the Holy Spirit), of the length and width and depth of our sinful natures, and of our inability to do any thing which will decrease the distance between ourselves and our Loving Creator. To realize that Christ came as a lowly baby to experience our humanity and then submitted to a most horrific death, truly humbles me and resonates to the very core of my soul. Then to travel from the depths of despair to the highest high on Easter Day is too wonderful for words. It’s something amazing to experience.
“One nation, under God.” Although the original Pledge of Allegience (written in 1892) didn’t include this phrase, it was added in 1954 under President Eisenhower’s administration. The reason it was added was to identify that America was remarkable because she was blessed and empowered by her Creator, and not by any man made effort. And as such, having overcome a Great Depression and a World War, she indeed stood as a shining beacon on a hill, just like President Reagan said many years later.
“This nation, under God.” President Lincoln was present at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, PA in 1863. By that fall, there had been over 250,000 casualities from the Civil War, and the Battle of Gettysburg itself had 7500 deaths, over three times the number of residents in the prosperous town. Although the romance and popularity of the war was waning, President Lincoln brought forth the idea that the war was more than about maintaining a unified country, but about defending the very freedoms, of ALL men, that were guaranteed by the founding fathers.
So it all goes back to the men who established and shaped our government. Did they INTEND for America to be a nation, UNDER GOD? What did these men say? (Please read Michael Medved’s article at http://townhall.com/columnists/MichaelMedved/2007/10/03/the_founders_intended_a_christian,_not_secular,_society?page=full&comments=true for the complete picture; it’s not too long and very well written.)
- President George Washington: “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle…Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
- President John Adams: “Statesmen may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. A patriot must be a religious man.”
- President Thomas Jefferson: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?”
- President James Madison: “religion is the basis and Foundation of Government,” and later wrote that “the belief in a God All Powerful, wise and good…. is essential to the moral order of the World and the happiness of men.”
- Chief Justice John Marshall: “The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it.”
- Justice Samuel Chase: “Religion is of general and public concern, and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people. By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion, and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing, and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.”
And now we’ve arrived at a time where Christianity is increasingly becoming marginalized in American life and government. Much like the environment found in the French Revolution, we are now experiencing the American “Age of Reason,” where the accomplishments and excesses of man are celebrated. Christianity, along with Christian morals and values, are being pushed aside in favor of an enlightened and tolerant stand (commonly called political correctness). Sadly enough, this insidious movement is occuring even in the religious establishment as more churches seek to be “open” and a place where the focus is about “me and my worship experience.” But that is another blog, as well.
What concerns me at this moment is the division occuring between Christianity and our government. I believe that President Obama and the current administration are making serious attempts to make the separation even larger. I do not believe that Obama can even be called “Christian” as his prolonged allegience to Rev. Wright’s black liberation theology is not at all Christian, nor even Biblical. He has already changed (in the quiet darkness of a Friday afternoon without press) essentially Christian mandates: he has opened American coffers to pay for abortions over-seas, and he has rolled back the conscience rule. Although Obama says that determining when life begins is “above his paygrade,” he obviously believes that the “right to choose” only belongs to those who wish to end life, and not to those health care providers who do not want to participate in ending life. We’ve got a chief of staff who frequently, and apparently casually, throws out the f-bomb in public. And we have told China that human rights take a back seat to buying our national debt. Any moral rock that America has stood on for these last 2 and 1/2 centuries is now being jack-hammered away by people who want to be seen as “smart,” “progressive,” and “popular.”
Not only did we have to endure an inaugural speech and prayer that attempted to mollify believers of all kinds (and also non-believers), the present administration is going all of the way: prayers where Jesus isn’t mentioned (for fear of offending people – “throwing gasoline on a fire”) and requesting prayer transcripts 24 hours ahead of time for vetting purposes. What needs to be vetted? If anything, that in itself is a violation of the freedom of religion and the separation between church and state. It IS ok to have a prayer at a political event, but it is NOT ok to tell the person giving the prayer what they can or cannot say. It will be interesting to watch this as we get deeper into this presidency.
Let me end with two quotes:
From Rush Limbaugh: “All politicians, including President Obama, are temporary stewards of this nation. It is not their task to remake the founding of this country. It is not their task to tear it apart and rebuild it in their image.”
From Thomas Paine: “Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.”
I agree with the founding fathers. Let’s go back to the original game plan.
Until next time…