My ability to predict how long it is going to take to write this series is still way off, but here is Part II as promised.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
A very simple statement that has been twisted and misconstrued into something it is not. Mostly by progressives on the left, but also by the fringe Libertarian movement on the far right. Within its original intent it means that the US Congress cannot make a law that establishes a State religion or prohibits the free exercise of a religion. Nothing more. But as I have written on many occasions, progressives have turned the US Congress into anyone, and a law establishing a religion into the mere mentioning of Jesus’ name outside of a Church building. And unfortunately there are Christians who are supporting this agenda. If they realize it or not. Hopefully if you are one of those Christians you will change who you vote for and who you support after reading this post. By the end I think you will understand.
First, the basics. We are talking about separation of Church and State. Pretty much everyone believes in it in some form or fashion. But as I alluded to above, the disparity of the form or fashion is quite large. Conservative thought (Republican leaning) believes in freedom OF religion as defined by the founding fathers original intent. Progressive thought (Democrat leaning) believes in freedom FROM religion. A definition that activist courts created in the mid 1940’s. Here are a few resources that illustrate this point.
Read those and you will understand how the progressives that support the Democratic Party have used revisionist history to distort the meaning of the First Amendment. You will learn how Thomas Jefferson was taken out of context and how Madison had originally proposed the word denomination instead of religion (as in Christian denomination). Its good stuff. I have more references if you want or need them. Just let me know.
Doesn’t really matter to some though. Despite all this historical evidence, many still choose to hide behind the establishment clause. It usually manifests into a position such as this:
“As a Christian I personally believe in (name your poison), but I don’t think it is right to push my beliefs on others”
Or some variation thereof. But what if that clause was not there to hide behind. What if we were starting anew? A founding father for instance. What does the Bible actually say about the relationship between religion and government? And how has this administrations actions stacked up to the standard. Lets dive in and find out.
Religion and Government According to the Bible
Answers up front. The Bible lays out a relationship that aligns very closely to the conservative viewpoint of the First Amendment. Some things belong to the State; some things belong to the Church, but religious beliefs are still allowed to influence the State and how it governs. Obama’s scorecard…not so hot.
Back in the day Israel (God’s chosen people) lived essentially in a theocracy. They were under God’s law in its entirety. Moral, civic, and religious. Jesus and the New Covenant changed all of that. While Christians today are still under the moral law in the Bible, the civic and religious laws specific to the nation of Israel no longer apply. There was now a new relationship between God’s people, God, and government as explained by Jesus in Matthew 22
And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:20-22)
What was meant to be a trap by the Pharisees Jesus turned into a lesson. The lesson was the validation of the principle of separation of Church and State. The things of God belong to the Church while the things of governance belong to the State. But does that mean that the two should be completely isolated from one another? To answer that question we must look at the Bible’s teaching on government as a whole and not take the passage in Matthew 22 out of context. It starts with the fundamental teaching from the first topic I covered. The purpose of civil government is to promote good and to punish evil (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14). We are also commanded to obey civil authority except when it contradicts God’s law (Acts 5:29). So the question becomes pretty absurd: Can we follow these Biblical teachings on government without using Biblical principles of the Christian religion? Without the moral absolutes in the Bible that determine what good and evil are in the first place? Of course not. There must be Christian influence in government to achieve this. And there are many examples in the Bible to further support this.
The Prophet Daniel gave guidance to King Nebuchadnezzar in 600 BC:
Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” (Daniel 4:27)
John the Baptist rebuked Herod the tetrarch (Governor) for his evil leadership:
So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison. (Luke 3:18-20)
Paul reasoned with the Roman Governor Felix:
And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” (Acts 24:25)
These were not Christian nations with Christian leaders, but Christians were still imploring these governments and their leaders to follow the Bible’s teaching. The same holds true today. We are not a theocracy, but we still have the responsibility to pursue governance in line with the moral law found in the Bible. The reason is simple. All government is ultimately accountable to God. The Old Testament is full of prophets who rebuked foreign nations and warned of judgments to come because of their evil. It did not matter that they were not “Christian” nations. The examples are numerous…they span many chapters in many books so here are some links.
We have an even more unique situation here in the United States. We are a nation that is governed by the people. We vote for representatives who make laws. We vote for judges that interpret the laws or in some cases vote for those who appoint them. And we vote for a President whose executive branch is responsible to enforce the laws. Because of this, “we the people”, have a much larger responsibility in the role of government in this country. And just like the pagan countries of old, failing to accept this responsibility will not make us any less accountable to God. The final piece is freedom of religion. Does the Bible support this or does it support government compelling religion? The answer is very clear throughout the New Testament. True faith cannot be forced. It begins in Matthew 22. The doctrine of the Church is separate from the laws of the State which simply means that the State should not create laws that tell people what or how to worship. This concept is reinforced by Paul in Acts 5 when he refuses to stop preaching the gospel:
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:27-29)
Paul had actually already refused a chapter before in Acts 4. In Matthew 26 Jesus tells Peter to put away his sword because Christianity would not be spread in that way.
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servantof the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:51-52)
In John 6, Jesus lets many of his followers leave freely. If Jesus himself did not compel man to worship him or join his church if you will, then the State certainly has no authority to do so.
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:60-66)
In Luke 9, a Samaritan village refused to accept Jesus into their town. The disciples response to this event was a desire for vengeance. They wanted to bring down fire from heaven to consume them. Their thought was this would compel others to join the faith. Jesus instead rebuked his disciples. Unlike the false religion of Islam (which would pop up some 600 years later), Christianity would not be spread in this way. Once again Jesus makes the point that true faith cannot be compelled.
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:51-55)
So just like I said in the beginning, the Bible supports the conservative thought of separation of Church and State. It supports freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Which is common sense when you really think about it. As Christians we believe that God has authority over everything. So would he really ordain something such as civil government and not want it influenced by his Holy Word. Of course not. At this point, if you are a Christian, the progressive argument of hiding behind the establishment clause should look really thin. If you voted for Obama, how exactly has your vote manifested itself in his administration.
Democrats’ History and Obama’s Record
The Democratic Party has a history of removing religion from the public arena, specifically Christianity. They have mostly accomplished this through the executive and judicial branch, not the legislative. Here are a few highlights.
In what I would consider one of the most detrimental court cases in United States history, Justice Hugo Black wrote an opinion that re-defined the definition of the first amendment into the one that progressives in the Democratic Party use to this day. One that contradicts the Biblical definition. In his opinion, he took a single phrase from an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson out of context to support his new definition. This decision has been used to ban Christian teaching from schools. For example, Justice Black used this decision to ban public school prayer in Engel v. Vitale (1962). He was appointed by Democratic President FDR.
A second example of progressives exerting their power in the court system to remove Christian influence is found in this case. This case has been used to prevent it not only in schools, but also on any public property. I have written a post specific to this case, but if you really want to learn more about these cases and look at a much more complete list of court cases that have slowly removed Christian influence from government then check out the book, Original Intent, that I linked to earlier. Quite enlightening.
But that is history. What is the Democratic Party’s stance today? It is pretty much the same, although their statements on the topic are very vague to hide their intentions. For example, in the 2008 Democratic Party Platform, this is the only hint:
“We will ensure that public funds are not used to proselytize or discriminate.”
While that statement reveals a little insight into their view of separation of Church and State, it is much more accurate to look at the actions of the party, its affiliated organizations, and at the Obama administration itself. From his anti-religion speech I quoted in Part 1, you get an idea of Obama’s hostile attitude toward religion. His record supports his speech.
Rated 100% by Americans United or Separation of Church and State
While a Senator in the US Congress Barack Obama was rated 100% by the AU, indicating support of church-state separation. But by what definition? The AU lists itself as a non-partisan watchdog, but that is about as far from the truth as one can possibly get. Their mission is to remove all religious influence from the public sector, specifically Christianity. One of their issue pages is titled, “Fighting the Religious Right”. Check out their “Victories” Page and you should understand immediately how dangerous this organization is to our religious liberty as Christians and how they contradict the Bible’s teaching on the issue of separation of Church and State. And this is an organization that gave Obama a 100% rating.
AU Involvement in Faith Based Initiatives
Would it then surprise you to learn that Barry Lynn, director of Americans United, was involved with Obama’s faith based initiatives. After his speech, it really should not. Mr. Lynn’s name is actually not on the list of current members of Obama’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Advisory Council, but his name is on the report that gave recommendations for reform. It should worry you as a Christian that someone who wants the eradication of faith based programs was appointed by the President to give reform recommendations. There was a recent announcement that these recommendations would be implemented. Once again it should come as no surprise that they want to ensure the gospel is separate from the actions of these faith based organizations.
Obama reversed Bush’s decision to provide conscience protection for health workers that would allow them to opt out of procedures such as abortions that they object to based upon religious grounds. Falls into a couple of other categories as well such as Obama’s position on legalizing abortion.
For a speech at Georgetown University, the administration covered up a monogram symbolizing Jesus’ name.
Discontinued practice done since Reagan. Not much explanation needed.
On numerous occasions Obama has omitted the word creator when quoting the Declaration of Independence. Things such as this are done on purpose and for a reason. It is first a part of a pattern to remove religious ideas from the public arena. But progressives in general also leave this out because it contradicts one of the founding principles of their ideology. I wrote about that here. It is also why Supreme Court Nominee Kagan refused to answer a question from Senator Coburn on the unalienable rights given to us by our creator.
Article gives the details
These are pretty well known, but here is a good report on how Obamacare provisions ignore the religious liberty of Christians.
Another example of preventing public religious display
In this case, teachers at a Christian school
There is more, but I think the point has been made. In fact there is a whole set of examples that come specifically from the military…and considering my military background, I do plan on listing those out, but not today. I just wanted to give a small sample of things that have gone on over the last few years that demonstrate that President Obama has not been exactly friendly to the Biblical definition of separation of Church and State. One of these items by itself may not mean much, but when you look at his record as a whole…they start to add up to something that is not pretty. And the pattern continues when we start to look at his specific policy positions. Whether it is a case of true animosity toward Christianity or a case of putting politics ahead of faith really does not matter. The fact remains that Obama falls in line with a history of Democratic leaders who have slowly removed Christianity from the public sphere, both by word and action. And these Democrats have been aided by numerous progressive organizations who have the same objective. There is no doubt these organizations are influencing not only Obama, but the progressives working for him. The infamous appointments that I will get to soon enough.
The bottom line is, as a nation, we need a leader that will promote Christian ideals in government, not try to remove them or mask them in some way to appease the secular world. This idea should influence people’s decision on who to vote for more than political affiliation or race. The question remains…does it? More specifically does it for you? If the Republican candidates start to push the same agenda, will you notice?