Rarely does a week go by in the spiritually darkening West when the Bible as moral authority does not sustain another body blow. In the last week of April, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case in which a California school board policy says that posting the Ten Commandments at a baseball field “would be disruptive to the educational purposes of the school.” What the California school board is saying, in effect, is that character development would be disruptive to the school’s raison d’être. The Bible’s words have no place in modern education – even at a baseball field.
Meanwhile, that same week, a Christian student group at Tufts University has been banned from using campus facilities and stripped of university funding after it refused to consider one its lesbian members for a leadership position. The group is called the “Tufts Christian Fellowship.” To some members of the group, the idea of being a “Christian lesbian” would already be an oxymoron. A “Christian lesbian leader” would be an oxymoronic anomaly. What the University is saying to this group is, it’s all right to call yourselves “Christian” as long as you don’t actually practice it.
While all this was going on, a Federal Appeals Court in Ohio sided with the American Civil Liberties Union in saying that the state’s motto, “In God, all things are possible” violates the constitutional separation of church and state. A report in the LA Times (April 26, 2000) said, “…the state will have to pry the bronze placard from the sidewalk at Capitol Square Plaza in Columbus, delete the phrase from the secretary of state’s stationary and print God-less tax forms.”
We live in a culture whose Judicial Establishment seems bound and determined to expunge the influence of the Bible and the Christian religion from all levels of American life. Had the Founding Fathers seen how the Constitution is being interpreted in our time, they would undoubtedly have been appalled. Writes historian Paul Johnson, “The Founding Fathers saw education and religion going hand in hand. That is why they wrote, in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787: ‘Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.’”
Johnson then asserts, “It is against this background that we should place the opening sentence of the First Amendment, ‘Congress shall pass no law respecting the establishment of a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’”
In Johnson’s view, “This guarantee has been widely, almost willfully, misunderstood in recent years, and interpreted as meaning that the federal government is forbidden by the Constitution to countenance or subsidize even indirectly the practice of religion. That would have astonished and angered the Founding Fathers.”
That the First Amendment is being interpreted the cavalier way that it is today ought to anger and astonish every American. The purpose of the Amendment was to prevent the creation of an American State religion such as Britain’s Church of England, not to expunge the Christian faith from American public life.
Continues Johnson, “The second half of the guarantee means that Congress may not interfere with the practice of any religion, and it could be argued that recent interpretations of the First Amendment run directly contrary to the plain and obvious meaning of this guarantee, and that for a court to forbid people to hold prayers in public schools is a flagrant breach of the Constitution.”
To underscore his point, Johnson reminds us that the day after Congress passed the First Amendment (Sept. 24, 1789), it also passed by a two-to-one majority, a resolution calling for a day of national prayer and thanksgiving!
The misguided judicial leaders of this nation would be well advised to remember the words of the prophet Daniel who wrote, “…the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Daniel 4:32).
The words of the apostle Paul to the Romans also come to mind, “…there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God…” (Romans 13:1).
Whether modern liberals, atheists, hedonists, humanists and scientific materialists like to acknowledge it or not, this is “One Nation Under God,” and if we don’t begin again to recognize and trust in that God, we could lose it all. One of the great lessons of Biblical history is that when a people rejects God in favor of anything other than God, God gives them what they choose for themselves (study I Samuel 8:1 – 12:17; Romans 1:22-28 and Proverbs 29:18).
The Founding Fathers, unlike today’s courts, did not seek to establish a Godless nation, but a nation under God.
Benjamin Franklin once rebuked Tom Paine for dismissing religion as needless. He wrote to him, “He who spits in the wind spits in his own face…if men are wicked with religion, what would they be without it?” At the rate this nation is rejecting all things Christian or Biblical, it looks like we won’t have to wait long to find out.