Preserving Our Religious Values
Wednesday - October 19, 2005
Just about every day I get an e-mail about how dreadful it is that the ACLU is trying to remove God from our public schools and every other government arena. I, too, lament this downward spiral away from the legacy of our founding fathers, clearly God-fearing men seeking Divine guidance in their extreme challenge.
But whose fault is it?
In their historic creation of a new and democratic nation, the stamp of Judeo/Christian values was imprinted on practically every emblem and oral tradition that would represent it: the opening of Congress and the courts, the currency, the seal, slogans and mottos. In the early days, God’s name and Biblical scripture was invoked time and again and even carved into walls in the halls of our most sacred government buildings from the Capitol rotunda to the Supreme Court, and remain today.
It’s historical record that our U.S. Constitution was founded on Biblical principles. Of the 55 people who worked on it, 52 were Christians. In the book, The Christian and American Law, H. Wayne House cites an exhaustive study of political writings from 1760 to 1805 by political science professors, Donald Lutz and Charles Hyneman. It includes a review of around 15,000 pamphlets, newspapers articles, and other political writings to identify from what sources the founding fathers “derived their ideas.” Of 3,154 references, 34 percent of all quotes were from the Bible and 60 percent came from men who used the Bible to form their conclusions, meaning that 94 percent of all quotes by the founding fathers were based on the Bible.
Government’s religious symbols and traditions are under constant attack by those who want no mention of God, asserting that they violate “Separation of Church and State, which many mistakenly believe is explicit in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Rather, the ‘Establishment clause’ says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…’”
The anti-God-in-government folks base their argument on a letter written by Thomas Jefferson on Jan. 1, 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, which was alarmed by a rumor that another denomination (the Congregationalists) was to become the national religion. Jefferson wrote: “I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”
The words “wall” and “separation” referenced the writings of Baptist preacher Roger Williams, who had written of “a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the Church and the wilderness of the world” and how “God hath ever broke down the wall itself.” The “wall” Williams feared was one that wouldn’t protect the church from the state - not the state from the church!
In cases last June, the U.S. Supreme Court in a close vote upheld the continuation of certain religious symbols, specifically a statue of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas Capitol, is based on their historic rather than religious basis. The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist said, “Of course, the Ten Commandments are religious. The Ten Commandments have an undeniable historical meaning” adding that “simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause.”
Arguments, pro and con, rage on.
But instead of asking, “Why is America taking God out of our government?” the question should be,
“Why did Americans take God out of homes and communities?”
After Hurricane Katrina and the floods of New Orleans, it became clear that government, cumbersome and bloated (and sometimes corrupt), can’t be our rescuer, physically or spiritually. Nor should it be. Real Katrina rescuers were individuals, people from churches large and small and Christian-based organizations across the South, like the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse. And, it’s my belief, God.
I don’t think the ACLU is right. I just think we Christians are wrong. Supreme Court rulings aren’t the answer to America’s problems, we are. I didn’t learn about God by saying, “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Or by reading “In God We Trust” on a coin. I learned by sitting at our dining table with my family, head bowed and hands folded, giving God thanks. And I learned at Sunday school, the worship service and church camp.
It is far more important that we bring our country back to the values our founding fathers by working from within families, churches and communities instead of counting on public schools and government establishments.
Join a church, read Biblical stories instead of Disney tales to children, rent DVDs that focus on good family values, and take children to church. It’s a far better use of energy than ranting over the ACLU’s next move.
The founding fathers paid a heavy price for our freedom to worship. Now let’s do it.
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