"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalms 9:17).
Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of fifth graders at a public school in a nearby town. One of the teachers had asked me to discuss the value of friendship, character and integrity with these children.
Due to the political climate of our day, one is not allowed to quote from the Bible in the public schools, because it might offend some atheist. On June 19, 1963, the United States Supreme Court decided to ban the reading of the Bible in public schools. Trying to develop a lecture on integrity and character without quoting from God's word is no easy task. My frame of reference is the Bible without it, one is like a ship at sea without a compass.
Since I could not refer to the Bible, I decided to quote from our founding fathers, the men who helped shape this nation. To my dismay, I soon found out that this would not be possible. You see, our founding fathers are not "politically correct." It seems as though these men could not speak or write without invoking the name of God. Though some of these men had a strange concept of the nature of God, they were aware of His ever abiding presence.
In 1620, before setting foot on what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts the 102 settlers on board the Mayflower signed a covenant. This covenant, known as The Mayflower Compact, enabled them to elect officers, pass laws and admit new voting members. It was signed by every head of a family, every adult bachelor, and most of the hired manservants aboard the Mayflower.
The first paragraph sets forth their reason was wanting to settle in the new land: "In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honour of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, doe, by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politick."
Can you believe it? The pilgrims wanted the "advancement of the Christian faith." Obviously the American Civil Liberties Union would not be pleased with such a flagrant attempt by these people at imposing their morals on others.
William Penn, the founder of the city of Philadelphia wrote, "If we will not be governed by God, then we will be ruled be tyrants."
Most Americans are familiar with Patrick Henry's famous line, "Give me liberty or give me death!" However, the earlier part of his oration is often forgotten. In a fiery speech on March 23, 1775, delivered to the Second Virginia Convention, he begged for the colonies to band together and throw off the yoke of British oppression. "Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us." Henry must have read what the prophet Daniel told King Nebuchnezzar: "the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses" (Daniel 4:25).
Maybe I could quote from the Declaration of Independence. Well, this would not work either. John Hancock and the other signers wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Didn't they know how offensive they sounded to the atheists and agnostics when they referred to our Creator? Didn't they know that using the words "right" and "life" might be confused with "Right to life"? I can almost feel the ground shaking as the herd from the National Organization of (liberal) Women approaches.
The Articles of Confederation were agreed to by Congress in 1777 and in force after its ratification by Maryland in 1781. These men actually had the nerve to pay homage to God and give Him thanks for their liberty. They wrote, "And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union."
Article Seven of the United States Constitution ends with these words: "Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven" How insensitive! Didn't these men know they would be perceived as a group of anti-Semites? The Jews do not believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.
On September 19, 1796, George Washington gave his famous Farewell Address as he prepared to leave office. His view of religion and its role in politics is worth considering. "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
With the end of the Civil War in sight, Abraham Lincoln gave his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865. Lincoln explained the fallout from the war was not anticipated by either the North or the South. "Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purpose."
In 1917 Theodore Roosevelt wrote on article titled, "Going To Church." The article was published in Ladies' Home Journal. I do not have the room here to reprint the entire article, but will note his first paragraph. "In this actual world a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid downgrade. It is perfectly true that occasional individuals or families may have nothing to do with church or with religious practices and observances and yet maintain the highest standard of spirituality and of ethical obligation. But this does not affect the case in the world as it now is, any more than that exceptional men and women under exceptional conditions have disregarded the marriage tie without moral harm to themselves interferes with the larger fact that such disregard if at all common means the complete moral disintegration of the body politic." The entire article can be found in Bill Bennett's masterpiece, The Book of Virtues.
Those at the forefront of the "political correctness" movement have to be careful in quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his famous Letter from Birmingham City Jail, he likened his plight to that of Old Testament prophets. "But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their 'thus saith the Lord' far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid." Some elementary school textbooks even fail to mention that Dr. King was a preacher.
This article is not intended to be a political statement. I simply long for the day when our courts no longer consider Jehovah to be unconstitutional.
As we see the wicked flourishing in our society we are reminded of the words of Jehovah in the long ago to His people Israel: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14). Our land needs healing not of the body but of the soul.
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).