"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Important Question: "Who Shall Lead Us?"

Todd Lamb, Senate Majority Leader for the Oklahoma Senate, has been a long time friend. Senator Lamb, a former Secret Service agent and the former chief of staff for both Governor Keating and U.S. Senator Don Nickles, is an up and coming political leader in Oklahoma. Senator Lamb and Senator Patrick Anderson, a member of Emmanuel and 6th grade boys Sunday School teacher, are two of the finest Christian men I have the privilege of knowing. This past Monday, at Senator Lamb's request, I opened an abbreviated Senate session with a devotion and prayer, printed in full below:


"Richard Dawkins, the biologist, Oxford professor and outspoken atheist who wrote The God Delusion, was recently invited to speak at Oklahoma University in celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. My good friend, Dr. John Blanchard, a resident of London, England and author of the award winning book Does God Believe in Atheists? has publicly debated Dr. Dawkins on several occasions.

One particular radio debate between Dr. Blanchard and the atheist Dr. Dawkins was titled Believer vs. Unbeliever. John Blanchard began the debate by challenging the title of the program, saying, “There is no such thing as an unbeliever in this world; everyone has a belief system.” When Dr. Dawkins insisted that no, he truly was an unbeliever in God, my friend John Blanchard then brilliantly challenged Dr. Dawkins to give to the radio listeners five reasons for his belief in the non-existence of God, which Dr. Dawkins managed to do in record time.

The issue we face as citizens of the great state of Oklahoma and the United States of America is not whether or not people should be granted the freedom to believe, speak or write according to the dictates of their conscience. Those freedoms are guaranteed by our Constitution, upheld by our courts, and cherished by all freedom loving citizens. The issue we face is far more serious and complex. Who shall lead us? That question throughout history has been posed and answered by politicians with either the word Federalist, or Whig, or Democrat, or Republican. May I suggest that the true answer to the question "Who shall lead us?" transcends all political parties, all government ideologies and all denominational loyalties?

Only those with a belief in the Creator God, the moral ruler of this universe, from whom all life springs and all life will return have the proper moral foundation and ability to lead citizens of this great state and our United States of America. Others, those with secular or atheistic belief systems are free to seek election, but it is incumbent upon freedom loving people to elect those of you who live by the principles which spring forth from a fountain of faith in God. Let the secular humanists lead the socialists, let the atheists lead the totalitarian governmental regimes, but may only believers in God lead our democracy.

My brief prayer this morning is from the closing paragraph of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, believed by many to be the greatest political speech delivered in this modern age. I offer this prayer with my eyes open, directed at you our beloved Oklahoma Senators, with an encouragement to unashamedly live out your faith as you lead us:

'With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds . . . to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all peoples. Amen.'"

124 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wade:

Great opportunity and you used it well.

I am glad that God gave you this platform, and I am glad that you said something so worthy.

Good job!!

Louis

Thy Peace said...

Amen.

I have some difficulty with this text:

Let the secular humanists lead the socialists, let the atheists lead the totalitarian governmental regimes, but may only believers in God lead our democracy.

Since the emphasis is on Let and lead, it might be ok. But from real life and looking at history (my perspective), if we separate the text as {secular humanists, atheists, believers} and {socialists, totalitarian govt. regimes, democracy} as two distinct sets, we find that any one of them can choose any of the other set. There is nothing that is specific to believers to propel them to a democracy. Just from reading some of the debates on this blog, leads me sometimes to think some believers might choose totalitarian govt. regimes as has happened in the past.

This is not a criticism, but just an observation.

I am coming to the conclusion, that the only characteristic of believers that would be worthwhile in public service would be humility. And this only comes about by believing in God and by being transformed by God, from inside out. For public service, this is one characteristic that is a must. But in real life, I notice, that believers are not guaranteed humility, and I notice humility in the secular humanists and atheists sometimes.

But if we read the text as hope and prayer, maybe it's ok. But I would not wish the secular humanists or atheists to self-destruct. I would hope and pray for them to seek God. Or that God would seek and save them.

Wade Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

I think my emphasis was on the fact that true freedom is enjoined by only those who are led by men and women who acknowledge there is a God to whom we all must give an account for our actions, but I see your point.

Thanks!

Blessings,

Wade

Anonymous said...

It is within all men to seek answers about 'God'.

For some the answers come quickly and easily. For others, the search is longer and more difficult, but still they search for Him.
There are some who say they believe in Him, but . . . .
There are some who say they don't believe in Him, but . . . .

We ask "Who is it that you don't believe in?"

Comes the atheist's answer:
'God'

Even in the denial, there is a kind of acceptance.

Thy Peace said...

"... true freedom is enjoined by only those who are led by men and women who acknowledge there is a God to whom we all must give an account for our actions ..."

Amen. I am beginning to appreciate and understand this freedom in Christ. As long as one is secure in their faith with Our Lord Jesus Christ, and turn their face to Our Lord, then there is much freedom. And this freedom is very broad. It appears paradoxical.

Anonymous said...

Too many voters have been 'had' by so-called 'good Christians' who used the faith of those people to get elected.

Then, terrible things were done by these corrupt politicians.

Voters can't 'count on' the politicians who wear their faith on their sleeves and their campaign slogans anymore.

Is there that in a man which says, 'let right be done'?

Is there that in a man whose integrity is known from his dealings with his fellow man?

Is there that in a man which is known to grant dignity to those who are the weakest and neediest?

Let the 'evidence' of this man's life speak for itself.

The 'I have Christian values, vote for me' line has taken too many people for too long.

Examine the man, not his words.

If his life has been lived in accordance with Judeo-Christian values, he will have no need to trumpet his faith out loud in the search of cheap votes.
His faith shows in who he is;
not what he says he believes.

Christ Himself warns of those who lead people astray. We shoud pay attention.

Anonymous said...

Brother Wade,

Thank You.

Darrell Treat

Only By His Grace said...

Wade,

Permit me to play the Devil's Advocate for a moment.

I am afraid that believers as leaders in the political world have a sordid history of leading while many unbelievers were stalwart leaders in Democracy: Thomas Paine was an out and out atheist; Benjamin Franklin was a deist at best, but he was most likely an agnostic while Abraham Lincoln did not turn to God until after he was elected President. We know about Thomas Jefferson with the Jeffersonian Bible which demythologized Holy Scriptures to his interpretation by taking all the miracles from the Bible. In Jefferson's Bible, Jesus never raised the dead, healed the sick, walked on water or rose from the dead no matter what Barton tells us.

Let's see: Thomas Paine was the pamphleteer spokesman for Washington at his darkest hour in the Revolutionary War with Common Sense and "now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country," and "the sunshine patriot;" Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and Franklin wrote the great majority of the Constitution while he was a womanizer even at eighty years old.

Personally, I would never want to live in Puritan England; or live in Calvin's Geneva that burned at the stake anyone who disagreed with them; or in Luther's Germany where he persecuted the Jews with as much zest as Holy Church Spain; and we know what a failure was Cromwell's England.

I will take America with its strong wall of separation; thanks to such men as Roger Williams and his wonderful Rhode Island Charter which gave freedom to all including Christian and Jew, Mohammedan and atheist, and to both man and woman if he had his way. He did this while he was a Baptist while believing in an absolute separation of Religion and Government.

I am afraid that the "belief in God" does not get us very far with the Lord because any belief that does not recognize Jesus Christ as Lord is pure idolatry: "You believe that there is one God; you do well; the demons also believe and tremble."

Phil in Norman.

Chris Ryan said...

Phil,

I have to agree with you. Thank God for the most biblical (and Baptistic) doctrine of Separation of Church and State.

Let the Athiests and Secular Humanists run the world. Let God run the church and let us see at the end of the day who has placed their trust correctly. If I must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's, then I will give to the world the worldly things that bear the world's image. But I will save myself for the God who has placed His image upon me.


Wade,

Generally, you and I see very eye to eye. Here, we are going to have to practice principled dissent. I take issue with several of your statements. As Phil has pointed out, several great leaders in American history have not been believers (much less evangelical Christians).

Secondly, I question the inference that God works only in democracy. Yet the early church rose despite authoritarian dictators. The Reformation arose under monarchs. Many of the fastest growing churches today are in communist countries. God has, imho, very little concern for the political processes of a nation when He chooses to break His kingdom into a country.

You also speak of the freedom that is protected by the constitution, but then seek to undermine the very foundations of the constitution by making the state, not free, but a theocracy. I realize that there is a great deal of freedom in Christ, but that is hardly the point. It was Baptists who fought so hard to get the first ammendment statements on religion into the constitution and it is scary to see Baptists turning so far against that part of our heritage (at the risk of sounding BI).

And fourthly, by saying that secular humanists and athiests should stick to their own kinds, you are refusing them a place at the table. My question to you is, having been refused a seat so often are you truly so ready to refuse someone a seat when their future is as much at stake as your own?

That said: God bless every country where His name is spoken, even if it is only whispered.

G. Casey said...

Some of my best pastors originally came from Oklahoma!! Frank Phillips had a great legacy of leadership there as well.

Anonymous said...

What Love Does. Let all alleged leaders make that their only practice daily.

Love: to pursue always and unconditionally, despite all costs to myself, the total well-being of another simply for the prize that one has become to me (emphasis: "well-being," "total," and "another"--which can mean saying "No" and even providing pain, though never abuse; cf. Hebrews 12).

Each of us has been so treated, by God (John 3:16); with His help, each of us who knows Him can practice the same (Galatians 5:22; the requirement of it: Matthew 22:37-40). Leadership will prove itself thereby, and not otherwise--even if the supposed possession of it somehow manages to build great buildings or to solve huge fiscal catastrophes (management is not leadership--it is a function of administration, as is leadership; all rises or falls on administration; you cannot be my administrator/leader/manager if you cannot cause a rational me both to like and to trust you--you otherwise simply are "out for a walk," as others have suggested).


David

Wade Burleson said...

Chris,

I, too, believe in the separation of church and state. Freedom of religion is very important, but freedom from religion is a myth. Every person has a belief system.

And, in a culture that is growing in the number of professing and activist atheists, I shall vote for that man or that woman who professes a belief in the Creator God to whom every man will one day give an account of his or her life. That one belief, at least in my mind, transcends politics.

But, that's just my opinion!

:)

Stephen said...

Wade,

I'll take the easy way out and simply say that Phil in Norman and Chris Ryan expressed my sentiments. Like them, I respectfully dissent. I have the utmost respect for you and support your efforts within the SBC. I love you man!!!

Stephen

Wade Burleson said...

Phil,

Thanks for the comment! I think you and Chris are pretty much saying the same thing - see my comment above.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Stephen!

You too!!

:)

Lin said...

"And, in a culture that is growing in the number of professing and activist atheists, I shall vote for that man or that woman who professes a belief in the Creator God to whom every man will one day give an account of his or her life. That one belief, at least in my mind, transcends politics."

The President we have now professes a belief in the Creator God.

Wade Burleson said...

Agreed.

Tim Marsh said...

Pastor Wade,

Without repeating what has already been said, but taking Chris Ryan's comments a little further regarding the role of the church, I believe that it is time that the church stop worrying so much about the ends of American politics and concentrate more on the ends of God in the arena of creating a counter-culture within our faith communities that offers an alternative to the world.

Being a little younger, I was not raised in an era in which churches depended on the government to legislate the church's morality. Too, on issues such as segregation, that Southern Baptists grossly erred upon, I do not believe that the government ever legislated a true Christian society. Furthermore, I have countless examples of state-church failures in history to support this claim, most notably the Roman Empire itself.

I have my suspicions when a prominant politician, conservative or liberal, professes the existence of "God." The Creater God of American politics is a little watered down in comparison with the Triune God of Scripture. Furthermore, I have my suspicions when those same politicians want to base morality on such a Creator God. It seems that the supported morality is a lot less than the moral vision of the New Testament.

Regardless of where one falls on Church-State relations, Christianity is in the United States is moving into a day and age in which the church can no longer expect the state to legislate a culture that supports our values.

Furthermore, I am excited about this day and age. It is now the church's opportunity to be the church before the world and offer an alternative culture to that which we have been presented. When we who lead our churches can embrace that vision as an opportunity, as opposed to the bemoaning of many of our parishioners who suggest that the USA is going to hell in a handbag, then the church can see the kind of faithful disciples shaped in the USA that are shaped in the countries that actively oppose Christianity.

I, like you, vote for "Christians." However, what poses for Christianity in the public sphere has always fallen short of the vision of morality in scripture. Sometimes I feel that a vote for a Christian must be a "write-in."

Pastor Wade, I do not see this in your writings, but sometimes I hear the following in others who are saying the same thing. The acknowledgement of God will in turn merit God's blessing and protection of the USA. That is the gist behing the 2 Chron. 7:14 and Psalm 33:12 folks who apply "nation" to mean our nation rather than to mean God's people. It is the church that God blesses, and not nation-states.

Chris Ryan,

Thanks for your thoughtful insights. Luke 12:1 - 13:9 has been on my heart for three or more years now, and I think that Jesus, in these words, would agree with your initial comments. God bless!

Loren Hutchinson said...

Wade:

I'm sorry to see that you advocate a religious test for public office, which article six of the constitution prohibits.

Let's elect the man or woman who best exhibits the skills and values necessary to govern. That is not a qualification reserved exclusively to believers.

Loren

Alan Paul said...

Hi Wade-

Question for you... how does the time-honored Baptist principle of separation of church and state work with what you have written here?

-Alan

Wade Burleson said...

Alan Paul,

Lincoln said, "'With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds"

Baptists believe in separation of church and state - as do I. Baptists have never advocated separation of government from God.

God, divine attributes, one's obligation to live according to moral laws, etc . . . are throughout our governing documents - as they should be.

Blessings,

Wade

Chris Ryan said...

Tim,

You wrote what I didn't have the guts (or your eloquence) to write. But I think that you are dead on.

I agree that it is time to stop moaning that America is leaving behind Christian moral values and it is time to just start living those values as a subversive counter-culture. It is time to be the church despite the state. I, too, eagerly anticipate what this future holds.

Bob Cleveland said...

This isn't a Theocracy and I don't think God is going to order what happens to us based on whether our leader is a believer. I think what the president does will have its natural effect, but I think God's already got our hand dealt.

I don't know that Ike or HST were believers, but I think they were pretty good leaders. And I can also think of a couple of professing Christians who weren't.

God used the Babylonians to do some stuff with Israel; who know who all He wants to use on us. I just vote my conscience and my brain, and leave the outcome in God's hands.

Rex Ray said...

The people of Israel sinned when their king was bad and did better when their king was good. Should we learn from history?

Tim Marsh said...

Rex Ray,

Our king is Jesus (Rom. 10:9-13). We may need to just check our allegiance.

I do not advocate Christians leaving the public sphere. The vision of the church as an alternative culture sees as the outcome blessing for the world. We do not separate from the world. Rather we live that counter culture before the world in which we live the NT's moral vision regardless of legislation.

If successful, we Christians will be a blessing to the world.

Alan Paul said...

That I understand Wade (the difference between church and state and God and government), but who's God is of course the question.

You and I would say the one true God - but so would Islam and Jews. I will respond with more later when I have tim... thanks for the response.

-Alan

Only By His Grace said...

Wade,

I never stated it in my comment, but I think you realize, at least I took for granted that you do, that I have deep respect for you and mean no animosity toward you in my comment. When we all think alike all the time about every issue, some of us are not thinking.

Phil.

Wade Burleson said...

Alan Paul,

Of course, "whose" God is the question. That's why the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God whose moral law is engraved above the heads of our Supreme Court justices.

Not the god of Mohammed.

In His Grace,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Phil!

Loren Hutchinson said...

"Of course, "whose" God is the question. That's why the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God whose moral law is engraved above the heads of our Supreme Court justices.

Not the god of Mohammed."


Actually there are other "lawgivers" represented in the friezes that adorn the Supreme Court Building. The South Wall Frieze includes figures of lawgivers from the time before Jesus and includes Menes, Hammurabi, Moses, Solomon, Lycurgus, Solon, Draco, Confucius, and Augustus.

The North Wall Frieze shows lawgivers from the time after Jesus and includes representations of Justinian, Muhammad, Charlemagne, John of England, Louis IX of France, Hugo Grotius, Sir William Blackstone, John Marshall, and Napoleon.

Contrary to what some believe, the Ten Commandments do not appear anywhere on the building. Representations of the commandments (i.e. a sculpture of tablets with the numbers 1 through 10 on them) do, but the actual wording is not there.

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of the cautionary sentiments expressed here. They are worth remembering.

Even Luther said that he would rather be governed by an compentent Turk (i.e. Muslim) than an incompetent Christian.

However, I do not believe that Wade's expressed sentiments were a betrayal of those cautionary thoughts or an embrace of the excesses of those Christians in history who ruled unjustly or unwisely.

Also, I like to remember what Devlin said about the "Man on the Clapham bus", and to remember that Christian theology and our heritage has provided a lot of "borrowed capital" upon which the agnostic and atheist rely.

That's what makes the First Amendment work in this country. The government is not tied to a state church, but the policies and apparatus of the government works from a basically Judeo-Christian framework.

Louis

Alan Paul said...

Engraved words - whether on buildings, in documents or on buildings - are just political decorum indicative of the prevailing religious attitudes of the times in my opinion. Most of the time, politicians have used "God" shamelessly to get what they want.

But I could be wrong.

In your vision of government, who's allowed at the table? Just those we agree with?

Alan Paul said...

Not sure I communicated my point real well... politicians tend to spoon feed us back what we already believe as a society in order to get what they want... the prevailing religious winds of our young country in the 16-1700s was definitely Christian... therefore, we see all the religious words and symbols reflected in our country's founding documents, buildings, etc. That make sense?

Wade Burleson said...

Loren,

You are correct.

The issue for me is one of natural law - the belief that there is a Creator who is moral, just and righteous.

We are not part of a universe of random atoms evolving by accident, but are a part of an ordered universe, flowing from a Creator God to whom we shall return.

I think you will find all our Founding Fathers held to this natural law, whether Deist, Christian, Jewish, etc . . .

Blessings,

Wade

Paul Burleson said...

Just my thoughts...

I'm afraid if we're not careful we will not see the difference between "christian" and a "belief in God as American citizens." It is the latter that our founding fathers set the foundation of our American experiment upon. My vote will always be done BY a christian [that's me] but will not always be FOR a christian. But I would have to agree that my vote will always ONLY go to one who has a belief in the Creator God as revealed in natural law.

That does NOT constitute an attempt to exclude those who do NOT believe but is a conscious effort on my part to maintain some principles of a higher kind [spiritual]] because that is the source of the unique American heritage that, by it's very nature, is to spread eventually to all [All men created equal] regardless of race, gender, or religious belief if any belief at all.

Ironically, what I hold to is the only sure way [IMHO] to make certain a person is free to be an atheist if they choose to be. That is shown by these words from Hamilton Abert Long which are very wise for this discussion. I don't necessarily agree with all Long says but this is pertinent.

He said...."The traditional American philosophy teaches that belief in God is the fundamental link which unites the adherents of all religions in a spiritual brotherhood. This philosophy allows for no differentiation between them in this unifying conviction: ". . . all men are created . . . endowed by their Creator . . ." This philosophy is all inclusive as to believers in God."

"Although America was originally colonized predominantly by adherents of the Christian religion, and principally by Protestants, the Founding Fathers steadfastly conformed to this all-embracing character of the approach of the American philosophy to religion."

"This was expressly and affirmatively indicated in the proclamation of 1776 of the fundamental American philosophy, of its basic principles, in the Declaration of Independence. This was further indicated, negatively, in 1787-1788 by the Framers and Ratifiers of the Constitution as a 'blueprint' for the structure of the then proposed Federal government, with strictly limited powers, by NOT permitting it to possess any power with regard to religion."

"This implied prohibition against the Federal government was reinforced by the addition of the First Amendment expressly prohibiting it, through the Congress, from making any law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [or lack therof] . . ."the words "an establishment of religion..." being intended to mean, specifically and only, a church or religious organization which is established, supported and preferred by the government, like the Church of England establishments then existing in some of the States." H.A. Long

I don't believe in a "Christian nation" as I do not believe in "christian music" or "christian literature." Only people can become christian through repentance and faith in the Person and Work of the Christ. So the only christian nation I believe in is that one spoken of by Peter when he said we [all christians] are "an holy nation."

But I do believe that America was established on the revelation of God as known through natural law. And His principles revealed therein are worthy to be maintained by this nation's citizens at election time.
[We find Him fully revealed in Christ and in the Word of God as well which uniquely records that same God's redemptive work in Christ.]

This is why I would agree with Wade's words.... "Let the secular humanists lead the socialists, let the atheists lead the totalitarian governmental regimes, but may only believers in God lead our democracy."

I would simply change one word... that being "democracy" to "Republic." Whomever we elect democratically will be leading our Republic. [This best expressed in our pledge to our flag..."and to the Republic for which it stands."]

It is possible to be a citizen of two countries. [all christians are] So I'm a citizen in the one Eternal and the other which I believe to be the best available among men. And, while what I believe about America would NEVER get anyone into heaven, it does make for being a better American citizen.

The gospel is needed by America as surely as it is needed by China, but America is different than China politically because of our founding fathers forethought. My elected leaders would need, from my perspective, to keep it that way.

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Hutchinson said...

"We are not part of a universe of random atoms evolving by accident, but are a part of an ordered universe, flowing from a Creator God to whom we shall return.

I think you will find all our Founding Fathers held to this natural law, whether Deist, Christian, Jewish, etc . . ."


I agree.

ml said...

The Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and he sets over them anyone he wishes.

Loren Hutchinson said...

Paul Burleson quoted H.A. Long:

"the words 'an establishment of religion...' being intended to mean, specifically and only, a church or religious organization which is established, supported and preferred by the government, like the Church of England establishments then existing in some of the States.' H.A. Long"

Long errs in his interpretation of the meaning of 'an establishment of religion' in a common way. If that phrase means an established state church, then the following clause in the 1st Amendment, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" makes no sense.

The word "thereof" points back to the establishment clause. If "an establishment of religion" means "state church," then the clause that follows it states that congress shall make no laws prohibiting the free exercise of a state church.

The establishment clause means religion, not 'state church.' Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

Thus, we have a constitution that says the government must remain neutral in matters of religion, neither supporting it, or prohibiting it. This concept of government was largely a Baptist achievement through the influence of men like John Leland. The first amendment has allowed religion to flourish in the U.S. in a way not seen anywhere else in the world.

Paul Burleson said...

lOREN,

I agree with both you AND long. It isn't either/or in my book but both/and.

I think while the founding fathers may have started with the idea of no establishment of a state-church because of the state-church historical context from which the original settlers in the new nation had fled, they went far beyond that to the idea of no establishment of religion controlled by the government at all by the time of the first amendment. It is the latter that is the ultimate safe guard.

You've given good words to remind us of all of that. Thanks.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

This is not in direct response to the OP nor any comment but rather a natural flow of where my brain has taken me after reading this comment stream. I find for certain a Scriptural imperative to preach the Gospel to all nations, yet I do not find an imperative, explicit or implied, to teach, preach, or impose…nor enforce moral law on the nations (or our nation). Christ's work on the cross was for a particular people--not for the nations (the entirety of the ethnos), not for the animals, not for the arctic national wildlife refuge. Salvation will come to all nations when Christ comes back to rule and reign. The age of grace is the age of the church. We are to be salt and light, shining forth The Alternative to darkness. Not imposing our light lest we defame the Cross.

SO how does that play out in government and politics where Christians can and should serve? Are they allowed to vote their conscience? Certainly. But is it right and just for a believer to cast a vote in the attempt to enforce moral law aside from a desire to protect the rights of the innocent which is indeed the duty of government? The faith of my fathers would seem to say yes. I am not so sure. I will take the 2 big issues for example. The old adage that one's rights end where another’s begins can easily be applied to abortion and the scientific evidence is there to apply an effective NO to most if not all stages of development. Therefore I believe a believer is justified by Scripture and obligated by the Constitution to oppose most if not all forms of abortion. But what about the issue of gay marriage? We all know that in our lifetime this is coming on a worldwide scale. In fact, we can be most certain that this will be the case within the 1st or 2nd Obama administrations. I am not suggesting that popular opinion makes an issue right or wrong but that we are not called to preach against the sins of commission only to the neglect of the Gospel of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ (Rm 1:1-4). To preach the law (demanding moral law) without the truth that righteousness is found in Christ alone through Faith alone (Rm. 1:16-17) is to put to shame to effect of the Cross of Christ.

"You can't get married!"
"God hates fags!"
"Turn or burn!"

Are any of those statements biblical? Or rather do we as believers who seek a biblically regulative style of evangelism have the authority in Christ to say any of them? Was not the law given to a chosen people? Can we really expect a non-covenant people to obey the laws of our God? Does not a regulative principle of evangelism begin with a life well lived? Can we who are called to refrain from judging the lost, image forth the Word of God, whilst demanding conformity to moral law?


Paul seems to settle for preaching Christ and Him crucified. Maybe we should desire the opportunity to share Christ with those who reject moral law but are open to the Hope of Eternal Life over those who affirm moral law but reject Christ.


k

Bob Cleveland said...

Way back in the 1970's, I was a counselor at a Bill Glass Crusade in Indianapolis. They told us that, when we counseled with someone who came forward, that if they wanted help with some sin they were caught up in, not to deal with that sin. Rather, we were told to approach it from the perspective that sin dominating a believer's life (or a non-believer) spoke of their relationship with Jesus, and THAT is what needed to be set right.

The world doesn't see that; all it can see is the "church" crusading against the sins of the flesh. Sadly, they don't see us, mainly, as preaching repentance and salvation, as far as I can tell.

Kevin, I think I just agreed with you.

:)

Cap Pooser said...

Maybe reading a couple of publications by the Home Mission Board would shed light on the discussion. "Making America Christian" by Victor I, Masters, copyright 1921 and "America Must be Christian" by H.C. Goerner, copyright 1947. Cap Pooser, Major USAF, (Ret.)

Cap Pooser said...

Maybe reading a couple of publications by the Home Mission Board would shed light on the discussion. "Making America Christian" by Victor I, Masters, copyright 1921 and "America Must be Christian" by H.C. Goerner, copyright 1947. Cap Pooser, Major USAF, (Ret.)

Tom Kelley said...

Loren Hutchinson said...
Long errs in his interpretation of the meaning of 'an establishment of religion' in a common way. If that phrase means an established state church, then the following clause in the 1st Amendment, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" makes no sense.

The word "thereof" points back to the establishment clause. If "an establishment of religion" means "state church," then the clause that follows it states that congress shall make no laws prohibiting the free exercise of a state church.


Interesting comments, Loren. Some things to think about. But I don't think we can be so sure that the word "thereof" points back to the entire preceding clause -- it could point back only to the final word in the clause. It's just the nature of English grammar (and other languages, for that matter) that the antecedent of a qualifier isn't always apparent. It is just as plausible grammatically to interpret the phrase as "respecting (with regards to) establishing a state church, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion."

There's just no way to tell from the words themselves -- so unless the meaning has been explicitly defined elsewhere by the author(s), all we can do is examine the overall context (historical, philosophical, and religious) to seek to determine the authorial intent. I'm not well versed in the writings of the Founding Fathers, so I don't know much about what they had to say on the matter -- but I suspect that there were enough differences of opinion amongst them that one could find support for either interpretation.

Paul Burleson said...

Kevin.

I read your comment and would agree. I even share in the struggle of how to be a citizen and stand by my personal convictions that are not shared by all Americans.

For me as a Christian preaching moral law is not an option. For me the only proclamation I'll make is the gospel to any lost person of any nation.

For me as a citizen I will seek to elect people who recognize the moral law foundation of our Republic. [My preference is to elect a real christian who understands the two Country concept and is able to separate the two in their thinking but a God-fearer with character is better than some others] This, so ALL will have equal protection under the law.

I think there there can be laws that are immoral as, for me, abortion laws are, in their present form. I would work to elect someone who understands our being a Republic so that laws can be passed that will protect the rights of the unborn amd helpless and make our society better for all regardless of race, color, creed or whatever.

That is basically the difference between a Democracy and a Republic. While in one the majority rules with little or no protection of minority views, [Democracy] in the other the views and needs of minorities and the helpless are represented and protected. [Republic] That is America. Neither is Christian.

So, in my judgment, no one is right with God because they are an outstanding American and believes in God. My task is to announce how that has been accomplished in Christ.

If my country is guided by the principles upon which she was founded however, preaching Christ will never be "against the law." If it ever is, I will seek to elect people to change the laws OR suffer the consequences of preaching rhe gospel, whatever those consequences might be.

Far too simplistic...I know that...but it's where I fall on this.

Tom Kelley said...

Speaking of differences of interpretation that arise from grammar -- this also relates to the discussions in the previous thread. One person reads John 3:16 and emphaticaly declares that the Greek text clearly indicates universality (of the offer), and another, parsing the same words and phrases, just as dogmatically asserts that the the Greek text clearly indicates specificity (of the application).

Make your best arguments folks, delve in as deep as you wish -- and don't be deterred by those who say "This isn't important, just love Jesus" -- go ahead and love Him with all your minds. But let's always deal with each other with grace and humility, recognizing that far better minds (and more devoted souls) than our have wrestled with differences of doctrine throughout history, and we aren't likely to settle all matters on this blog.

So, in spite of our differences, and as much as our consciences will allow, let's cooperate in spreading the good news about Jesus. (Hmmmm ... I wonder who I've heard that message from before ... his name is right on the tip of my tongue ... and on the top of the front page of this blog ...)

Joe White... said...

Wade,

You wrote... "Baptists believe in separation of church and state - as do I. Baptists have never advocated separation of government from God."

This is so true. We do not have to abdicate the political process because we believe in God. In fact, just the opposite is true. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Anonymous said...

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's,
and render to God the things that are God's


Religious freedom is a firm American strength.

Don't tamper with the freedom of our people to practice their religion free of the oppression of those who would 'use' their faith to their own political purposes.

Anonymous said...

Our country just suffered through eight years of 'christian leadership'.

Enough.

Dont think we can stand much more.

Anonymous said...

ml said 'The Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and he sets over them anyone he wishes.'

Heil Hitler ?

Get ready for the Christian Nation.
I thought that swastika looked a lot like the cross. Where's my armband?

Anonymous said...

Any 'idiot' can finagle to take over a religious organization and create all kinds of trouble in the name of Christ. Just look at the SBC. The title 'Christian' didn't stop you-know-who from all those unchristian shenanigans.

If we haven't got it yet, 'religion' can be manipulated.
So can religious people be manipulated for personal and political gain.

Using religion to 'get elected' is probably one of the worst uses of religion.
His Kingdom is NOT OF THIS WORLD.

ml said...

ANON, whomever you are anon it is not I who uttered those words but God Himself. In fact, if I read the context properly in Daniel the import of that verse, which is repeated several times in Daniel, simply confirms Wade's assertion in this post. No matter who you are, your position of authority ultimately comes from God [see John 19:11] and your acknowledgement of Him may determine how long you keep your "power." And you will be judge accordingly to how you use your position. This is true for the "atheist" as well as the "believer;" for Bush, Clinton, Obama, Washington, and you and me in our positions of authority. The SBC leadership would do well to heed these words, too.

Elisabeth said...

Phil, I think you came up with the comment of the day.

"When we all think alike all the time about every issue, some of us are not thinking."

I like that. I wish everyone could see that.

B Nettles said...

Wade,
Thanks for the thought- and discussion-provoking post. Commenters, thanks for the thoughtful and respectful debate. The reading today has been more enjoyable.

I don't think this is an either/or situation, and Paul Burleson has given a good summary of my thoughts.

Here are some additional considerations that seem evident to me, and that I try to use to be an informed voter:
1) Every person who runs for office has an agenda, i.e., a vision for what they want the nation/state/city to be and do. If they get in office, they will try to implement that vision.
2) Most politicians will say what it takes to get the most voters, regardless of their agenda, without betraying their (usually hidden) agenda. Their agenda will be hidden in the most innocuous terms.
3) The politician's previous-5-year history is the best key to their agenda. Ignore political speeches.
4) A politician who says they are an atheist probably is, and you know what you're voting for. It probably is a bad agenda. There would be no appeal to an absolute morality...maybe no absolutes at all, even Constitutional. You won't be disappointed.
5) A politician who says they are a Christian might be, but have they lived like one (see #3)? You don't know what you're voting for. Maybe good, maybe bad. You might be disappointed.
6) A politician who believes in "God" might be appealed to on a moral basis, or they might be a strict moralist or fundamentalist who expects you to behave like him (oops...or her). (Obama has surrounded himself with socialist-agenda fundamentalists because ... )
7) All politicians will have to accept compromises to their core beliefs at some time in office. That's the nature of politics.
8) There is usually a candidate who will be least likely to violate your own core beliefs. Don't vote for the one who is most likely.

Don't be like the guy who wrote this article.

As long as we have a vote, vote for the possibility of appealing to good rather than the surety of bad.

Not even the good king Josiah could change the hearts of the people. God honored Josiah by forestalling the judgement during his life, not stopping it.

Anonymous said...

The old argument that this country was established as a Christian Nation has a giant hole in it.

The Founders did not establish a church tax to support this Christian Nation. They did not establish a State Church.

Without taking money from the people to support Christianity, the Founders have shown that they were not interested in 'supporting' a state church.

B Nettles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B Nettles said...

Don't know why the like won't work. Here's the URL, split over 2 lines:

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/03/
mr-president-we.html?csp=34

Anonymous said...

ml

We don't want your 'religion' running our country.

We, the people, ARE the government. This is the United States of America.
Our 'leaders' are our servants.
They work for US.
We don't 'kow-tow' to far right-wing idolships.

Tom Kelley said...

Anonymous said...
Our country just suffered through eight years of 'christian leadership'.

Enough.

Dont think we can stand much more.

Wed Apr 01, 06:00:00 PM 2009


Hmmmmm ... don't we have "Christian leadership" now, too?

Anonymous said...

The Struggle for Religious Freedom

Indeed, Baptists were among the leaders in the struggle for religious freedom, but at great cost over a long period of time. In fact, religious freedom has been, and still is, very rare. In the earliest days of the Christian movement, government officials severely persecuted Christians. Throughout the Middle Ages and the era of the Protestant Reformation, religious freedom was practically nonexistent, as both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches enlisted the aid of governments to persecute those who disagreed with their doctrines.

In England, Thomas Helwys (c.1556- 1616), credited with being the first Baptist pastor on English soil, dared to challenge the king’s claim to be authoritative in religious matters. Helwys wrote a booklet in 1612 titled The Mystery of Iniquity and sent an autographed copy to King James I with a personal inscription in which he declared, “The King is a mortal man and not God, therefore hath no power over immortal souls of his subjects to make laws and ordinances for them and to set spiritual Lords over them.”

For Helwys’ brave declaration of Baptist convictions about religious freedom, King James had him thrown in prison where he died … for the cause of religious freedom, not just for Baptists but for all people. Many others suffered for the cause. For example, John Bunyan (1628- 1688), author of Pilgrim’s Progress, suffered in an English jail for many years because as a Baptist pastor he would not accept limits on religious freedom.

In America, Roger Williams (1603-1683) was persecuted for his views on religious freedom. In January of 1636, he fled Massachusetts and took refuge with Indian friends. In the spring, he founded the colony of Rhode Island with a guarantee of liberty of conscience for all citizens. He also helped establish the first Baptist church in the western hemisphere.

However, religious freedom was a scarce commodity throughout the New World. Baptists launched efforts up and down the eastern seaboard to bring about religious liberty. Baptists were publicly flogged, imprisoned and fined by government officials and beaten and ridiculed by people unsympathetic to their cause.

Finally, through efforts by leaders such as Isaac Backus (1724-1806) in New England and John Leland (1754-1841) in Virginia, the Baptist voice, joined by others, was heeded. For example, Leland reportedly met with James Madison under an oak tree in Orange County, VA, and secured Madison’s pledge to work for an amendment to the new Constitution to provide for religious freedom. The Constitution of the United States, at first flawed by its lack of guarantee of religious freedom, was amended under Madison’s leadership to provide such a guarantee. For the first time in history, a nation provided full religious freedom for its citizens.

Anonymous said...

Core beliefs:

Limit Stem cell research.

George Bush.

anti-abortion

George Bush.

anti-gay marriage

George Bush.

no more banking regulations

George Bush.

Torture.

George Bush: Jesus's Man.



Please, enough. Enough.

Just as Anonymous said...

Core beliefs:

Promote more abortions for the purpose of harvesting stem cells

Barack Obama.

Let babies born alive after botched abortion be left alone in a closet to slowly and painfully die

Barack Obama.

Redefine the meaning of the word marriage to include homosexual unions

Barack Obama.

Give bonuses to executives of failed companies that received government bailouts

Barack Obama.

Release known terrorists into the general population

Barack Obama: Rev. Wright’s Man.


Please, too much. Way too much.

Kevin in Manila said...

Two Words: Term Limits

Anonymous said...

Right-wing religion has no place in our government.

Judeo-Christian values are honored by most of our citizens, but NOT right-wing 'religion' or politics.

Many see 'right-wing religion' as an abomination that is filled with hypocrisy and manipulation. To them, it bears no resemblance to the Christianity they know and they don't want 'right-wing' religion ruling over them.

Jim Paslay said...

The phrase "separation of church and state" cannot be found in the 1st amendment. I do find the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. The subject of both clauses is "Congress". As a strict constructionist I personally believe only Congress can violate the first amendment.

Did our founding fathers believe in the separation of church and state? Not the ACLU's definition or Barry Lynn's. We have so-called Christians who want a complete separation of God and state. That is why the Supreme Court has slowly chipped away at our religious freedoms in the name of "separation of church and state." We need to stand up and say enough is enough!

Anonymous said...

I don't want ANY religion controlling my government.
NONE.

If it ever happens, I will fight it because my ancestors and my family have fought and died to protect our country's freedoms.

Separation of church and state helps to protect both.

Theocracy is not our government.
It should NEVER BE.

Just look at the mess the fundamentalist 'leaders' in the SBC have done.
Can you imagine what they would do to our country?

Proud American

Anonymous said...

Check out the blogs.
Jim Paslay is a big fan of the B.I.


What else do you need to know about ? That says it all.

Right-wing fundie.

Anonymous said...

A government based on religious belief. Theocracies have an official state religion, and all laws are based on religious texts. Those who do not profess belief in the state religion are usually afforded no citizenship rights and are often persecuted (or even prosecuted by the government. Theocracies are often brutal and intolerant regimes. Notable theocracies have included Iran and Afghanistan. The Christian counterparts of the Islamic Fundamentalists in the United States seem to want to make the United States into a theocracy. There is a steady movement among the right-wing in America to proceed in this direction in hopes of using Christianity as a spring-board to government power.

Jim Paslay said...

Cowardly anonymous said:

"Jim Paslay is a big fan of the B.I."

Is B.I. something they give you when you go to the proctologist? Why don't you come out behind your anonymous post and identify yourself? Oh, I forgot, that would be an act of integrity, something you lack!

Thy Peace said...

Pastor Wade, I finally get what you are saying in your post. I am slow. After multiple readings of all the comments, and multiple readings of your post and on reflection, it is slowly sinking in. Thanks for the speech and post.

Chris Ryan said...

Jim Paslay,

When in doubt, attack the person not the content, right?

Jim Paslay said...

To Chris Ryan:

I would have attacked the content of cowardly anonymous's comments if there had been any content to begin with.

Let me ask you something, are you defending the cheap shots of a coward?

Chris Ryan said...

Jim,

No. I am saying that cheap shots don't have to begat cheap shots.

Therefore, I am suggesting that if you want them to act better, set the example in *word* and deed.

Loren Hutchinson said...

Jim Paslay said:

The phrase "separation of church and state" cannot be found in the 1st amendment.

Hi Jim,

Baptists found separation of church and state in the First Amendment until about 25 years ago.

Read John Leland, or read Truett's sermon from the capitol steps back in the 1920's. Anyone who can't find the separation of church and state in the first amendment doesn't want to find it.

The Danbury Baptists were very pleased with Jefferson's metaphor. It's only some Baptists of the past couple of decades who have forgotten our history and have problems with it.

Loren

Thy Peace said...

Wiki > First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the United States Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion" or that prohibit the free exercise of religion, infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to peaceably assemble, or limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Although the First Amendment only explicitly applies to the Congress, the Supreme Court has interpreted it as applying to the executive and judicial branches. Additionally, in the 20th century, the Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the limitations of the First Amendment to each state, including any local government within a state.


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Wiki > Separation of church and state
Separation of church and state is a political and legal doctrine that government and religious institutions are to be kept separate and independent from each other.[1] The term most often refers to the combination of two principles: secularity of government and freedom of religious exercise.[2]
The phrase separation of church and state is generally traced to the letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists, in which he referred to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as creating a "wall of separation" between church and state.[3] The phrase was then quoted by the United States Supreme Court first in 1878,[4] and then in a series of cases starting in 1948.[5] This led to increased popular and political discussion of the concept.
The concept has since been adopted in a number of countries, to varying degrees depending on the applicable legal structures and prevalent views toward the proper role of religion in society. A similar principle of laïcité has been applied in France and Turkey, while some socially secularized countries such as Norway have maintained constitutional recognition of an official state religion. The concept parallels various other international social and political ideas, including secularism, disestablishment, religious liberty, and religious pluralism.

Just as Anonymous said...

Left-wing irreligion has no place in our government.

Judeo-Christian values are honored by some of our citizens, but NOT left-wing 'irreligion' or politics.

Many see 'left-wing irreligion' as an abomination that is filled with hypocrisy and manipulation. To them, it bears no resemblance to the Christianity they know and they don't want 'left-wing' irreligion ruling over them.

Anonymous said...

Wade asks, 'Who Shall Lead Us?'

I think we know the answer.

Let's take a look at 'another way' to achieve it.

One person at a time.

Committed to doing what is morally and ethically right according to our Judeo-Christian values. One person at a time, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Then the family.
Then the community. Then the state, the nation. Then . . .

We cannot 'legislate' morality.
God has place the moral law in the hearts of all humanity. It is already written on our hearts.

Perhaps the journey towards the 'government' we want begins with us. Within us.
By grace and power of the Almighty, we are changed from within, in new birth, and the Holy Spirit will not depart from us until we are safe in the Presence of the Lord.

Who shall lead us?

I think we know the answer.

Tom Kelley said...

Loren Hutchinson said...
Baptists found separation of church and state in the First Amendment until about 25 years ago.

Read John Leland, or read Truett's sermon from the capitol steps back in the 1920's. Anyone who can't find the separation of church and state in the first amendment doesn't want to find it.

The Danbury Baptists were very pleased with Jefferson's metaphor. It's only some Baptists of the past couple of decades who have forgotten our history and have problems with it.


Loren,
Once again we are dealing with the interpretation of the meaning of words. The question isn't whether Baptists believed (or still believe) in separation of church and state -- that phrase has been used in various Baptist confessions for a long time. The question is what is meant by the phrase.

Many Baptists have shied away from the phrase phrase “separation of church and state” in the past two or three decades because the phrase started to be used by secularists to indicate a supposed right to "freedom from religion". As humanistic and atheistic philosophies gained traction in the public sphere, this redefined meaning of "separation of church and state" was increasingly used as a basis for limiting religious expression and religious influence in politics, public life, and society in general. Over time, the phrase was used to indicate the idea that we shouldn't mix politics and religion, and we shouldn't pass laws intended to promote certain moral values or to discourage others.

In reaction, many Baptists have sought to communicate what they believe using different phrasing that does not carry the common secular baggage. The principle that Baptists have historically upheld is not that religious people should not seek to be involved in or influence the political process, nor have Baptists traditionally taught that laws should not reflect a biblical morality. Rather, Baptist have cherished the notion that the force of government should not be used to impinge on the right of an individual or a group to practice their beliefs according to the dictates of their own conscience(s).

Chris Ryan said...

Tom Kelly,

Here is the key that is so often missed: separation is as much freedom of religion as freedom from. If we truly believe in soul competency and religious freedom then we have to affirm that the atheist is just as entitle to his be beliefs as is the Christian. The atheist may be wrong but I cannot by law compel him or her to believe differently, nor can I systematically persecute and marginalize.

Truett said, "Baptists have never been a party to oppression of conscience." That goes for the conscience of all. Sadly, Truett could not say that to an atheist or a Muslim today.

And, yes, religion should not be persecuted by the public sphere, either. But perhaps if we were more careful and compassionate in our public presentation, we would no longer need to fear. If we weren't so intent on "returning America to a Christian nation" (which is a laughable goal since one cannot return to what never was) and simply legislated rather than lectured the other sides, more could be accomplished with less discord.

Ah, to be young and naive.

Just as Anonymous said...

A government based on irreligious belief. Atheocracies have an official state irreligion, and all laws are based on irreligious texts. Those who do not profess belief in the state irreligion are usually afforded no citizenship rights and are often persecuted (or even prosecuted by the government. Atheocracies are often brutal and intolerant regimes. Notable atheocracies have included the Soviet Union and China. The atheist counterparts of the Islamic Fundamentalists in the United States seem to want to make the United States into an atheocracy. There is a steady movement among the left-wing in America to proceed in this direction in hopes of using atheism as a spring-board to government power.

Loren Hutchinson said...

Tom Kelly said:

"Many Baptists have shied away from the phrase phrase “separation of church and state” in the past two or three decades because the phrase started to be used by secularists to indicate a supposed right to "freedom from religion."

Hi Tom,

What you wrote is very good, but I would argue that the founding fathers did want to provide 'freedom from religion' if that is what a person wanted. If you read Jefferson and Madison, you can find instances where they argued that the powers of the state extend only to a person's actions and not to his thoughts. They usually couched it in terms that a citizen should be free to worship "one God, many Gods, or no God at all."

I've heard many Christians say that the secularists are out to remove religious expression from the public square. If that is true, they are failing miserably. The first 'debate' of the 2008 election took place in Rick Warren's church, and religious beliefs played a huge role in the campaign.

When I hear Christians complain that God has been taken out of school, government, city hall, etc., it almost always comes down to the fact that they are upset that their religious faith isn't promoted by the school, government, city hall, etc.

There is more religious freedom in the United States today than there has ever been in its history. And I would venture the guess that we owe that fact to the First Amendment and the blessings of God, not to the efforts of those who want to impose religious values on the culture.

Tom Kelley said...

Chris Ryn,
I think I mostly agree with you. When I indicated that "separation of church and state" is not intended to provide for "freedom from religion", I did not mean that a person should not be free to chose to have no religion. I meant that those who profess no belief should not expect that they have absolute freedom from exposure to other people's religious beliefs, nor should they demand that the political process not be shaped by others' religious views. That is, an atheist ought to have freedom to not believe in God, but he ought not expect believers to keep their beliefs out of the public sphere.

If I was ever young, it was so long ago that I forgot what it is about (or at least so my teenaged son tells me). I may well be naive, if naïveté amounts to ignorance, for I confess to plenty of that. :)

Blessings,
Tom KellEy

Anonymous said...

We HAVE elected 'Christian leaders'. So what?

What do we have to show for it?

What?

Start electing men of conscience and courage, who care about this country as patriots. Forget the 'christian fundie' who hollers about 'we gotta take this country back fur jeeesus' and then fattens his own pocket at the 'lobby' troth and forsakes his constituancy.

That game has been played and people are on to it.

Let's move on.

Tom Kelley said...

Lorn,
Again you make good points. Regarding what I meant by "freedom from religion", See my response to Chris. I agree that the complaints of many seems to arise from their deire for their own views to be adopted and promoted by the government, even to the exclusion or suppression of the views of others. But I do believe that there is a general hostility on the part of secularists toward the promotion of a biblical morality.

We shouldn't be surprised that those who claim no particular allegiance to God (or who have only a nominal faith) would be hostile toward Christian principles. But neither should dedicated Christians concede the political realm to those who do not share our views, as if we have no place at the table. While Christians have no reason to expect and no right to demand that everyone adopt our positions, in our free nation we have just as much right to particpate in the political process and to seek to promote our values as does anyone else.

Blessings,
Tom KellEy

Anonymous said...

Humans run government.
So much for perfection.

Put your faith in the Kingdom that is not of this world.

Anonymous said...

"We shouldn't be surprised that those who claim no particular allegiance to God (or who have only a nominal faith) would be hostile toward Christian principles."

Hell man. hostile to Christian principles?

Aren't you tawkin 'bout the sbc's leaders? Now, that's hositility to Christian principles.

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Hutchinson said...

Tom Kelly said:

"We shouldn't be surprised that those who claim no particular allegiance to God (or who have only a nominal faith) would be hostile toward Christian principles."

I've just begun reading "Unchristian" by David Kinnaman, President of the Barna Group. It's the results of a three-year study of attitudes toward Christianity by those he identifies as "outsiders."

From the reviews I read, I think the research is going to show that the hostility you mentioned has been brough on by the actions of Christians in the "public sphere." In other words, we're to blame for the hostility people feel toward persons of faith because of our "unchristian" behavior.

Here's a link to the book.

Jim Paslay said...

Loren said:

"Baptists found separation of church and state in the First Amendment until about 25 years ago."

Loren, I'll make a deal with you that I've challenged all of my liberal friends; I'll give you $100 if you can find the phrase "separation of church and state" in the 1st amendment. For you information, I still have my $100. As for the Danbury Baptists, they were concerned about a national denomination being established. Jefferson used the phrase "separation of church and state" in the context of their concerns. Up until 1947 when Supreme Court cited Jefferson's letter, they used the whole letter. But in 1947 they lifted 8 words and turned the 1st amendment upside down. Most people in the U.S. think the phrase is actually in the Constitution. But it is not. If we take the A.C.L.U.'s defintion, then we have no religious expression at all. They want a total secular government and state. Our founding fathers would roll over in their graves if they came back today and saw what was happening in the name of "separation of church and state." Let's get back to the 1st amendment and take it for what it says and not what secularists read into it.

Anonymous said...

It always troubles me that many Christians seem to get involved with debating atheists, while so many folks are sitting in their pews, trying to remember all that their Pastor had to say so that they could pass it along to their family, neighbors and co-workers, as the "truth" of Christianity.

My experience over the past 33+ years as a believer is that the world hungers to hear the truth, but it has to been "seen" to be motivated enough to actually hear what is being said.

You can post articles such as the debate with Richard Dawkins on every known publication and it will never convince a single soul to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord

Anonymous said...

Tom Kelley said 'From the reviews I read, I think the research is going to show that the hostility you mentioned has been brough on by the actions of Christians in the "public sphere." In other words, we're to blame for the hostility people feel toward persons of faith because of our "unchristian" behavior.'

Yes. It's the hypocracy that is so shocking: the contrast between
"we're saved" and "show me the money". Too many heathens trying to pass as Christians, but they can't pull it off. Problem is, now the 'outside world' thinks that IS Christianity and wants no part of it. Wonder what Jesus thinks of this crap.

Anonymous said...

"Why don't you come out behind your anonymous post and identify yourself? Oh, I forgot, that would be an act of integrity, something you lack!"

Preach it!! Anon punks with no class, character, or honor NEED to be talked to like this.

Listen to these followers of
Jeesus.

Loren Hutchinson said...

Jim Paslay said:

"Loren, I'll make a deal with you that I've challenged all of my liberal friends; I'll give you $100 if you can find the phrase "separation of church and state" in the 1st amendment."

Hi Jim,

Here's a question I ask all of my Fundamentalist friends who think church and state shouldn't be separate. "Just what part of your church do you want the government to run?"

(btw, i have no more an idea of whether or not you are a fundamentalist than you do regarding whether or not i'm a liberal, so let's stay on topic and leave out the name calling, ok?)

Jim Paslay said...

Loren said:

"Here's a question I ask all of my Fundamentalist friends who think church and state shouldn't be separate."

First of all, no where in my posts have I suggested that church and state shouldn't be separate. My main point is what the Constitution says and what it doesn't say. Don't read into it or tell me about Jefferson's letter or what Truett said 90 years ago. What is the text of the 1st amendment?

Secondly, you are right about the fact that you don't know me. And if you will check my last post, I didn't call you a liberal. I referred to my liberal friends that I debate this issue with. There is no name calling here. Until you responded to my original comment, I knew nothing about you and I still don't!

I will agressively contend that the phrase "separation of church and state" is a code phrase to silence and intimidate people of faith from sharing their faith and their values in the public square including schools and governmental institutions. It is not what our framers intended and I believe history is on my side!

foxofbama said...

Wade:
More than likely you are aware Bruce Prescott's church state friend and Ben Cole's Friend Aaron Weaver has taken issue with you at his blog and at www.baptistlife.com
As I have said on many occasions it is a shame you cannot take a six month sabbatical and go to Baylor and study these matters.
Randall Balmer of Columbia, like minded to Prescott--is giving three lectures at Mercer on what it means to be a Baptist in America in mid April.
As you know that is where David Gushee is.
I am glad you are addressing the Baptist Covenant regional meeting in Oklahoma.
At same time I still think serious conversations between the likes of you and David Gushee, Ginny Brant of the IMB, Anne Graham Lotz, and Balmer could bring you more substantively into a better world of Baptists in America.
Such talks could lead you to start a movement of SBC folks to begin new fellowship with the Baptist World Alliance.
Such talks could be pivotal.
Till that time I remain frustrated by much of your thought, though hopeful that you continue dialogue.
I have to believe that with an open heart you will see the sense of what Randall Balmer and the BJC is about; and could join Anne Graham Lotz with a stronger move of conscience toward the center of Baptist life.
Until that day, I have to admit I think Baps Today editor John Pierce blogged and much circulated review of your recent IMB book holds.
Take a sabbatical. Study with Gushee, Brant, Balmer and Lotz and come to some resolution on many of your loose ended and too often sophomoric assertions in Baptist matters.
Even so proud of you for participation in the Okey Covenant. Please listen some while you are there; and through Gushee absorb the thrust of Balmer's two day stay at Mercer.

Tom Kelley said...

Loren Hutchinson said...
Tom Kelly said:

"We shouldn't be surprised that those who claim no particular allegiance to God (or who have only a nominal faith) would be hostile toward Christian principles."


No, it was me, Tom Kelley, who said that. I don't know who Tom Kelly is. :)

In other words, we're to blame for the hostility people feel toward persons of faith because of our "unchristian" behavior.

I am of the opinion that each person is responsible for his own behavior and attitudes; there is no blaming somone else. But I get your point -- there have been many ungracious and unChrstlike words and actions from those who call themselves Christians, and people are naturally not going to respons positively to that.

But no matter how sweetly or winsomely we speak and behave, there is also always going to be an underlying hostility of unbelievers toward anything that is truly of God, due simply to human depravity.

Tom Kelley said...

Anonymous Thu Apr 02, 03:04:00 PM 2009 said...
Tom Kelley said 'From the reviews I read, I think the research is going to show that the hostility you mentioned has been brough on by the actions of Christians in the "public sphere." In other words, we're to blame for the hostility people feel toward persons of faith because of our "unchristian" behavior.'


No, I, Tom Kelley, didn't say that ... Loren Hutchinson did.

Anonymous said...

oops, sorry Tom Kelley, my bad.
Anon.

Anonymous said...

What a shocking "prayer." With due respect, Pastor, why do you hate America? Please remember this (from Wikipedia):

The "no religious test" clause of the United States Constitution is found in Article VI, section 3, and states that:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

This has been interpreted to mean that no federal employee, whether elected or appointed, "career" or "political," can be required to adhere to or accept any religion or belief. This clause immediately follows one requiring all federal and state officers to take an oath or affirmation of support to the Constitution. This implies that the requirement of an oath, even presumably one taken "So help me God" (not a part of the presidential oath, the only one spelled out in the Constitution, but traditionally almost always added to it), does not imply any requirement by those so sworn to accept a particular religion or a particular doctrine. Note that the option of giving an affirmation can be interpreted as not requiring any metaphysical belief.

The clause is cited by advocates of separation of church and state as an example of "original intent" of the Framers of the Constitution of avoiding any entanglement between church and state, or involving the government in any way as a determiner of religious beliefs or practices. This is important as this clause represents the words of the original Framers, even prior to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Anonymous said...

I think we all want decent people in office, HOWEVER, people who claim to be 'Christians' have gotten into office before and were anything but Christian.

So, 'saying' you are a Christian should not be a litmus test.

Also, we have many people who are Jewish in office who have extremely decent morals and ethics.
Should they be excluded?
In OUR country? Hell, no.

Most people want to live their religion without interference from government or from other religions.
We've been able to do that pretty much in this country. I vote NO to a theocratic regime. It's not the American Way of Life.

John Fariss said...

"Freedom from religion" is a well turned phrase which has been used to rally the faithful on more than one occasion. The truth be told, however, in terms of grammar and language usage, there is NO difference between that and "freedom of religion." It is a distinction without a difference, but has been used by too many demogogues.

And it seems to me that if we are talking about the meaning of the First Amendment, even for one who is a "strict constructionist," looking to how it was handled by contemporaries such as LeLand, Madison, and Jefferson is inescapable. The Constitution was meant to be a living document, able to grow and change as the country grew and changed. And like it or not, its judicial interpretation is expressly sanctioned by the Constitution itself--so even if you disagree, you cannot ignore what the courts have said.

John Fariss

Anonymous said...

Jim Paslay, I do discern this much from your posts: You seem intelligent. However, first I read "no where in my posts have I suggested that church and state shouldn't be separate," and then I read "I will agressively contend that the phrase 'separation of church and state' is a code phrase to silence and intimidate people of faith from sharing their faith and their values ..." I'm unable to follow where your logic is going. I gather you support separation of church and state as long as it's not called separation of church and state? And you attribute traits or motivations to those who use the phrase without any basis other than your preconceived bias. Did I get that right?

Darwin's Teapot said...

Mr. Burleson-

The level of ignorance and simplistic thinking in that post was palpable. You speak in vague terms and produce false dichotomies of good Christians and evil atheists. It is a simplistic world view that only sends your state and our nation further down the rabbit hole of antiquated thinking and 18th century legislation.

As Mr. Chris Ryan pointed out:

...several great leaders in American history have not been believers (much less evangelical Christians).

There have been a litany, and continue to be, leaders that non religious. Your belief that atheists are evil people that are ruining the fabric of democracy is unfortunate. It is unfortunate, yet a too unreal reality, that this unfounded belief is propagated by your faith.

Jim Paslay said...

To Anon:

Can you explain why you comment anonymously? I am hesitant to explain my logic when you hide your identity. If there is a valid reason, then I'm listening.

Jim Paslay said...

John Fariss said:

"The Constitution was meant to be a living document, able to grow and change as the country grew and changed."


Says who? You? The ACLU? I would think those first 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights would be fundamental and would form a bedrock of rights that would not be subject to every whim or fad.

As for comtemporaries like Leland, Jefferson, and Madison, I am more interested in the text of the 1st amendment than the opinions of what others say it says.

We know that Jefferson made the phrase "separation of church and state" infamous and we also know that he was in France when the Constitution was written. So we need to be careful before we put him in with the framers. Jefferson's high wall dealt with the establishment of a national denomination and not religious expression in the public square.

As for court decisions, would you agree that sometimes the courts get it wrong? Example: Dred Scott. For the most part, I believe subsequent court decisions after 1947 have got it wrong when it comes to the interpretation of the 1st amendment.

Darwin's Teapot said...

Mr. Paslay-

You say this:

Says who? You? The ACLU? I would think those first 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights would be fundamental and would form a bedrock of rights that would not be subject to every whim or fad.

You are accusing your Mr. Fariss of the very same logical fallacy that you are using. It doesn't matter what you "think" the intention of first 10 Amendments was to be a "bedrock". It would help the discussion if both of you would provide substantive evidences of your claims. To clarify, Mr. Palsay, what makes you think the judicial interpretations of constitutional law are based on "whim" and "fad".

There is a distinct legislative and judicial difference between code law and common law. The British system, as I am sure you know, is based on code law. The American system is not codified, but is a common law system. The common law system is, in fact, a system that demands interpretation by setting precedent. The practice of Constitutional Law is one of interpretation. You are arguing the constitution is a codified system when our own political history, extending back to John Jay and Marshall utilized interpretation of law, constitutional law, to make decisions. It was that, amongst many characteristics, that defined us from our British counterparts.

Anonymous said...

To Jim Paslay - I appear as Anonymous because yesterday was the first time I visited this blog. It doesn't appear to be a blog I want to track regularly, so I didn't care to register a new account to be able to comment. If it helps, my name is John and I'm a lifelong Oklahoman, born in Enid. I hope now you feel you can explain your logic.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Paslay: the day 'your' religion with its mean-spiritedness takes over my country is the day I go underground to fight for religious freedom for all people in my country. I owe that to my ancestors who died in battle defending the rights of our citizens.

We don't want the likes of you calling the shots. That's not American.

John Fariss said...

Jim, I'm not a lawyer, but as a former police detective, I have had many dealing with lawyers and the court system, and count some lawyers as friends. Consequently, I think you'll find that it isn't just my opinion, but that of many with great familiarity with the law who consider the Constitution to be a living document. And while the phrase may not be in the Constitution, I see no other way to understand the intent of the framers when they made it possible for the people directly or the legislative branch to amend the Constitution and allowed the judicial branch to interpret it.

And you are exactly right: the courts can be wrong. Dred Scott is an excellent example, as you suggest, and there are many others I suspect. But two things: first, right or wrong, judicial interpretation, especially that which goes as far as the Supreme Court, becomes part of Constitutional law be it "right" or "wrong"; and second, the fact that the Constitution is a living document allows a means for "wrong" decisions to be righted, such as Dred Scott, women's voting, slavery, etc.

Thanks though for your keen intellect. I have enjoyed your comments, brother. Blessings,

John Fariss

Jim Paslay said...

Anon said:

"Mr. Paslay: the day 'your' religion with its mean-spiritedness takes over my country is the day I go underground to fight for religious freedom for all people in my country. I owe that to my ancestors who died in battle defending the rights of our citizens."

Mean-spiritedness? Is that the definition of wanting the framers original intent of the 1st amendment and not the ACLU's version? Then, consider me guilty!

Jim Paslay said...

Anon said:

"I'm unable to follow where your logic is going. I gather you support separation of church and state as long as it's not called separation of church and state?"

I have a serious problem with the modern view and interpretation of "separation of church and state." I do not believe it was what the framers of our Constitution intended or they would have used the phrase. The word "church" was not even used in the 1st amendment. Jefferson's response to the Danbury Baptists was in relation to the rumor of a established denomination. If the modern view of "separation of church and state" was intended back in 1787, then why was the Bible a text book in most schools for many years? Why did it take a Supreme Court case in 1962 to remove prayer and then in 1963 to remove Bible readings if the framers intended to be this "high wall" from the outset?

Bottomline, I prefer we use the text of the 1st amendment when discussing religious libery issues.

Anonymous said...

My freedom of religion is not up for grabs by right-wingers who rewrite history.

I'll stay with tradional American values, not the 'theocratic' crap thats out there. It's unAmerican.

Jim Paslay said...

To the anon of 2:58 PM:

Courageous and bold words from ... I don't know. You are what I call a drive by commenter! How about putting a name behind those bold and daring words of yours. Otherwise, I don't take much stock in your unaccountable chatter!

John Fariss said...

Jim, I put my name to mine, and haven't seen you respond. I don't think you purposely ignore comments with names in order to focus on the anonmity of other commentators. . . do you?

I am a little confused about something you said. You stated, "I prefer we use the text of the 1st amendment when discussing religious libery issues." Does that mean we can only use the same language that is in the Constitution? If so, isn't that a bit too restrictive? (I think it is from a legal standpoint.) Or do you mean something else? This is a real inquiry now, not bait for something else, I'd like to know what you mean here.

You also said, "If the modern view of "separation of church and state" was intended back in 1787, then why was the Bible a text book in most schools for many years? Why did it take a Supreme Court case in 1962 to remove prayer and then in 1963 to remove Bible readings if the framers intended to be this 'high wall' from the outset." My response is that the framers also assumed slavery, and used language reflecting it in the Constitution. Many of them at the time recognized the hipocrasy for the grand language of the freedoms in that document as contrasted with the legal practice of that institution. But even so, it took nearly a hundred years for that evil to be removed, and another hundred (+/-) for the sons and daughters of slaves to receive their full civil rights. Another example is that there was an established church in Massachusetts until, I believe it was 1834. My point is that there was a great span of time between the writing of the intent of the framers and the actualization of many of their ideals. By that token, it may well have been their intent to establish this "high wall" even though it was not completed until the 1960s.

But actually, I doubt if they were that thorough-going. In 1789, there was significant uniformity in the US in terms of religion. Those who were churched were mostly Protestant, with some Catholics and a smattering of Jews. There were virtually no atheists, although there were a significant number of Deists who used the vocabulary of Christianity but a different dictionary. Church, however, had an influence (the informal kind) far beyond either what its numbers would suggest or what today's church has. In other words, neither the courts nor the population in general were sensitized to the issues you note. But because the Constitution is a living document (as I put it), and the US uses a common law system (as Darwin's Teapot points out), things could change. And those changes (1) are part and parcel of the American system and (2) become part of Constitutional law.

What do you think?

John Fariss

Anonymous said...

Paslay.
We have freedom to pray as we wish.
If it ain't broke, don't mess with it. The country will not allow the 'crazy-fundy-far-right-hypocrits' to take over the government. Not without a fight.
And not without great rebellion.

Your act just 'aint American', man.

Jim Paslay said...

John Fariss,

My apologies if I failed to respond to your comments. In a nutshell, I believe the phrase "separation of church and state" and its modern day applications is contrary to the First Amendment. I am an advocate of original intent. Evolutionary law and groups like the Americans United for Separation of Church and State really concern me.

I am an inerrantist when it comes to Scripture and I am a strict constructionist when it comes to the Constitution. The text and the meaning behind it is paramount. The changes that I see especially from 1947 to the present is very chilling. We have lost our moral compass and we are headed toward a total secular state. One of these days, the only place we will be able to pray and read Scripture is within the walls of the church.

Our religious heritage is rich with Christian people and their writings but now our kids can't read them in school because of the supposed "separation of church and state." Answer this for me, why up until 1980 was it was legal to post the 10 Commandments in school but it is not now in most states? Did the 1st amendment change? Was the wording replaced or changed? The Bill of Rights are fundamental to this country and the only one that has really seen revision as far as interpretation is the 1st. I happen to believe if something ain't broke, then don't fix it. And the 1st amendment is just fine the way it is without the phrase "separation of church and state."

Anonymous said...

Jim Paslay said, "the only one (of the Bill of Rights) that has really seen revision as far as interpretation is the 1st." I say, no, the Second also. Since originally the U.S. had no standing military, militias provided for the common defense. With our present-day military-industrial complex sucking such an enormous amount of our budget, the whole point of the Second Amendment could almost be considered moot. The Second Amendment nutcases, though, will continue to discard the wording on the well regulated militia and scream for irresponsible, totally unregulated distribution of guns through our society, heedless of the damage this causes every day. Though, admittedly, I'm veering off base from where this post started -- I just wanted to throw that in.

John Fariss said...

Thanks, Jim.

I tend to be a strict constructionist also, though not as much so as I once was. And maybe the reason is that I am more a pragmatist than an idealist--always have been. (And I am speaking here of secular matters, not sacred ones.) It is just more important to me to deal with things as they are than with things as I'd like them to be.

Still, as I have gotten older, I have come to realize that if a constitution (whether it for for as nation, a state, or an organization) can be either very specific or somewhat vague. If the former, it runs the risk of becomming obsolete, and replaced, one way or another; but if it is sufficiently vague as to allow subsequent generations to reinterpret it, it may stand the test of time while continuing its highest ideals. I am told that many state constitutions tried to go the route of being very specific, and as a consequence, have had to be completely re-written several times over. I know in my native Alabama, that was the case. And without question, many church constitutions do that, and the result is often either that (1) they are rewritten every few years, or (2) just ignored. But the US Constitution was left intentionally vague in places, and allows the flexibility to be amended and reinterpreted as necessary. The Articles of Confederation managed to last, what 10 or 15 years? And the Constitution has made it over 200, so there must be something right about it. And I think that the "evolutionary law" movement has a much longer and richer history than the ACLU or Americans United. If nothing else, we have all benefitted from the inclusion of the electronic media in the "freedom of the press" clause--a judicial extension of the Constitution--even though broadcast news and the internet have nothing to do with a printing press as the framers envisioned it. If we were rooted to original language--a strict interpretation in other words--in this area, it is entirely possible that we could have uncensored newspapers, which in this era of newspaper bankrupcies means less and less, and a government-controlled and/or censored radio/TV/internet. As I understand it, that was a judicial application of what they believed was the original intend of the framers applied to new technology what the framers had no inkling might happen--in other words, it was evolutionary law at work.

It is, of course, a two-edged sword. Miranda warnings for instance: with them, sometimes police loose the chance of a conviction; but without them, in the hands of unscruplous officials, the constitutional rights of too many suspects have been abused. As a former police officer who knew many older officers who were around in the 1940s and 50s and 60s, you can believe me when I tell you that really happened, and not just in minor, nit-picking instances. And I find nothing "socially redeeming" about most (if not all) of the pornography the Supreme Court has allowed as a matter of freedom of the press and of speech.

I'm sorry, but I just don't think that we can ever get to the point of being "allowed" to pray and read Scripture only within the walls of a church building. To me, that just sounds alarmist. Actually, I think if someone were arrested for reading a Bible, say in a city park, the ACLU would be only too glad to take their case! Wouldn't that be a hoot? And at any rate: for my personality and temperment, your scenario isn't dealing with things either as they are or as I see them becomming in the forseeable future.

I am really not able to answer your second question. I'm just not up on it enough, nor do I have the time right now to research it. I do believe though that the "separation of church and state" language is firmly a part of constitutional law whether or not it is part of the Constitution proper. Someone who is a legal scholar or at least a lawyer (like Louis) might could enlighten me there however.

Thanks!

John Fariss

Jim Paslay said...

John Fariss,

I will respond with the text of the 1st amendment dealing with the establishment clause and the free exercise clause.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

When you take a look at what is really in the Constitution, it causes you to wonder where in the world did we get the phrase "separation of church and state." It is a stretch to say the least.

Some absurd examples of the modern interpretation: a teacher in the U.S. told he cannot have a Bible on his desk during school because of separation of church and state. A Valedictorian in Nevada has her microphone cut off because she used the word Jesus in her speech. Schools during Christmas told they cannot use carols with the Jesus's name. That is just a few examples of what we become in this country because of "separation of church and state." In my opinion, it is too high a price to pay!

John Fariss said...

Jim, a couple of quick closing comments:

First, you repeatedly ignore the fact (I believe it is a fact) that constitutional law is broader than just the Constitution. You may not like that--I don't always--but it is the way things are, and no amount of dissatisfaction will change that. It is the way the American system works, as Darwin's Teapot aptly pointed out.

Second, I agree that in some instances, some school systems have gone too far, much farther than what constitutional law requires. I find that oftentimes, that is not because they are adhering to the law, but rather have built their own "hedge" around the law. Were I to speculate as to why, I would guess that sometimes it is because the local school board is composed of people who are very liberal, or antichristian, or aethist, or all of the above; and sometimes it is because the school board is so afraid of being sued that they go much farther than the law allows. Those are the instances where Christians should be willing to stand up and protest very loudly, even at the risk of their jobs.

John

Loren Hutchinson said...

Jim Paslay said:

"When you take a look at what is really in the Constitution, it causes you to wonder where in the world did we get the phrase "separation of church and state." It is a stretch to say the least."

Uh... that would be Thomas Jefferson.

"I contemplate with sovereign 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 & State."

--Jefferson, Letter to Danbury Baptist Association, Jan. 1, 1802

Jim Paslay said...

Loren Hutchinson said:

"I contemplate with sovereign 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 & State."

--Jefferson, Letter to Danbury Baptist Association, Jan. 1, 1802

I concur with you, Loren, the phrase come from Jefferson. But it is not in the Constitution. Jefferson's "wall" and use of "church and state" have been the mantra of the left who would like this country to be totally secular. Also, the word "religion" in earlier drafts was not there. I believe the words "religious denomination" was used to give us some idea what the framers were thinking. "Congress" is also the subject of the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. In the framers' minds, only Congress could violate the First Amendment. It has been subsequent Supreme Court decisions that have been far reaching and have completely distorted what the framers intended.

If this country wants a high wall of separation between church and state, then let's go through the amendment process. That was the remedy the framers had in mind. But instead a rogue Supreme Court over several years has legislated from the bench instead of interpreting the text of the 1st amendment!

Brian Westley said...

Why did it take a Supreme Court case in 1962 to remove prayer and then in 1963 to remove Bible readings if the framers intended to be this "high wall" from the outset?Because until the 14th amendment and later incorporation rulings, the 1st amendment only restricted what the federal government could do; individual states could still have official government religions, as Massachusetts did until 1833. Since public schools are run by states, the first amendment didn't apply until well after the civil war.

Now, of course, it's unlawful for school bureaucrats to write prayers for other people's children to recite every day, or to decide what religious texts will be read to them every day, and it's a good thing, too. State governments have no legitimate interest in doing either of these.