Thanksgiving

What comes to mind when someone mentions Thanksgiving? I imagine that you would get a different answer from every person that you asked. More recently, we’ve seen the replacement of “Happy Thanksgiving” with “Happy Turkey Day”. It doesn’t make sense to me. Is the thought of giving thanks so very offensive? Upon reflection though, I begin to see why it might be offensive to some. Giving thanks implies that you are grateful to Someone, namely, that you are grateful to God. In today’s America, God is not recognized as the Sovereign that He is. But that was not always the case…

“By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.”

You’ve just read the first American Thanksgiving Proclamation, signed by President George Washington. I’d read it before, but reading it again last week I notice a few things in particular.

First, I pondered the time period in which it was written. The states had very recently gone through a difficult war for daring to declare their independence from England. On top of that, they were faced with creating an entirely new kind of government. Their first attempt had problems that the founders attempted to solve with the writing of the Constitution. It was a long and arduous process to write the document and even that was not the end! They next had to convince all of the states to ratify the new document. From the Declaration of Independence to the ratification of the Constitution was a process that literally took years. It had been a difficult time for Americans, yet they still recognized the great blessings that God had bestowed upon them. The suffering they had endured did not in any way diminish their faith.

The next thing that I took note of was the humility evident. Not only was this to be a day of thanksgiving to God, but also a day of repentance for personal and national sins. It’s easy enough to give thanks, but much harder to admit and repent of our sin. But President Washington, Congress and many of the people recognized the necessity of it.

Lastly, I was struck by the reference to God as “the great Lord and Ruler of Nations”. The very men who were charged with creating and leading the government of this new nation were mindful of the fact that they themselves were accountable to God above all others. They recognized Him as the Ruler of all nations! I think the truth of this is often lost today, even among Christian and libertarian circles. The truth is that God does rule over all nations, whether we acknowledge Him or not. The scriptures tell us in Psalm 86:9 that “All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord; and shall glorify your name.” Every nation is accountable to Him. That is why there was a call to repent of not only of our personal sin, but our national sin as well.

Perhaps this Thanksgiving, we will think of more than just Pilgrims and turkeys. Perhaps we will remember to Whom we owe our thanksgiving. Perhaps we will all spend time in prayer and repentance. Such a thing truly would bring change to America.

Papers! Show Me Your Papers!

Do we the people have a right to travel, unrestricted, between states? That’s a good question. Opponents of this concept are quick to point out that the Constitution does not specifically mention anything about free travel within the United States of America. Does that mean that the TSA and various other government agencies are allowed to do whatever they please to travelers because traveling is a privilege and NOT a right? That’s exactly what the TSA has been claiming lately. They need to re-read the Constitution. Particularly, the ninth and tenth amendments:

Ninth Amendment – Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Tenth Amendment – Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

These amendments make two things very clear. First, that if the federal government is not granted authority over something by the Constitution, they have no authority in that situation. Second, that all rights are not specifically named within the Constitution; lack of mention alone is not grounds for denial of a particular right. We can reasonably conclude that since the government has not been granted the authority to interfere with or restrict the travel of private individuals between states that they cannot. The TSA has neither right nor authority to exist, let alone accost people choosing to travel. Remember, we are talking about checkpoints and searches relating to travel within the states themselves.

Let’s take it a step further and look now at the fourth amendment:

Fourth Amendment – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Aha! The government is quite emphatically restricted from searching or seizing (arresting or detaining) anyone or their possessions without a proper warrant. A proper warrant must specifically list the place being searched. Let’s say that Jane Brown is flying from Boston to Atlanta to visit family. When the TSA agents presume to search her luggage and her person, do they have a warrant with her name on it stating exactly what they are looking for? No? I didn’t think so. Their invasive luggage searches, full body scanners and humiliating “pat-downs” are quite obviously prohibited by the Constitution!

The TSA is involved in more than just the airports now. They are also ramping up “security” measures at bus stations and train stations. There is no form of mass transportation that is free of their criminal interference.

The government claims that all forms of transportation are a privilege, including travel by car. Traveling in your own private automobile isn’t free from their meddling! Don’t forget the “Border Patrol” checkpoints miles away from the United States border. Shouldn’t Border Patrol checkpoints be at the border? Nevertheless, they will stop you, ask you all sorts of questions, demand to see ID, search your car and your person and maybe even scan your vehicle using potentially dangerous backscatter x-ray or gamma ray scanners. Where is their authority? You’re not crossing the national border. They don’t have a warrant to search your car or to detain you.

Clearly, we do have a right to freely travel among the states without interference by the government or their agents. Even the courts acknowledge that. “The right to travel is a well-established common right that does not owe its existence to the federal government. It is recognized by the courts as a natural right.” Schactman v. Dulles 96 App DC 287, 225 F2d 938, at 941.

So, are we being unreasonable when we assert that the TSA “security measures” are outrageous and violate our rights? No, we should have been asserting this the moment the TSA came into existence! The first time a bag was searched, the first time a traveler had to submit to the pat-downs and the first checkpoint in the middle of the state should have all been treated as the criminal intrusions that they are. Long before this we should have demanded that they cease and desist and made sure not to re-elect those complicit in the creation of these agencies and policies.

I’m reminded of a scene from the movie “The Hunt for Red October”. This movie is about the officers of a Russian sub who are defecting to America. At one point the Captain and his First Officer are talking about what they want to do when they get to America. The First Officer was astonished to discover that the people were allowed to freely travel between the states whenever they liked. “No papers?” was his exclamation. The Captain assured him, “No papers.”

Doing the Research

Election season is upon us!

I’ve been getting the usual pre-recorded phone calls and mailers pretty consistently over the past couple of months. They start out telling me why I should vote for a certain candidate. I’m OK with these. There is usually a website or contact information that allows me to do some research of my own. But then, it gets close to Election Day. Their strategy changes… for the worse.

Suddenly, I’m getting direct mailers from various parties telling me why I shouldn’t vote for the other “bad” guy. Instead of telling me how awful the other candidates are, tell me why I should vote for your candidate! If these personal attacks are any indication of your candidate’s methods, then I’m not interested. Both of the major parties are guilty of this in the current election, so I’m not taking sides here, or accusing any one party. Some argue that the other side started it. Fine. That doesn’t mean that you have to be childish enough to continue it! Just once, I’d like to see someone take the high road. Better yet, I’d like to see a candidate publicly renounce the use of such tactics by their own party. Sure, they complain about the use of those “smear campaigns” by the other side, but they don’t say boo when their own party does it.

Statesmen used to have honest debates. They did not stoop to personal attacks or petty name-calling as modern day politicians and parties do. They chose to make their case and win based solely on the merits of their argument, and not because they made the opposition look bad. Of course, that means that you have to know your subject. You have to have real, concrete beliefs that you can specifically define when asked. It is much easier just to make the other side look bad, I’ll admit. But all that does is weaken your own position. It gives the impression that your position is indefensible.

Truthfully, it takes very little time and effort for us to do some cursory research of our own, rather than relying on the ads and mailers. Most candidates now have websites, and the local candidates who do not, are usually more than willing to talk to you by phone or in person. In about fifteen minutes I can look over a candidate’s website and usually figure out whether or not they are qualified. It’s even easier in person.

Two questions will give you a world of information. What is the purpose of government? Where do rights come from? It sound simplistic, I know, but think about it for a moment. The purpose of government is to protect our rights. Our rights come from our Creator, God. If a candidate can answer these two questions correctly, then they will likely stay within the boundaries of both God’s law and the Constitution during their term of service in civil government.

I’ve only rarely seen these two questions addressed on a candidate’s website. But just a bit of reading on their goals and plans if elected will show whether they intend to stay within the boundaries of authority laid out for civil government first in the Scriptures, and secondarily in the federal and state Constitutions. If their plans include things outside of their limited scope of authority, then I know that they are not worth electing. If their plans fall within those boundaries, then I know that it’s worth looking deeper.

Does this make it hard to find a worthy candidate? Most assuredly! There are times when there is no one qualified running for a particular office, and it that case, I abstain from voting for any of the candidates. Some would say that in that case we have to just choose the lesser of two evils, but I’d remind them that Charles Spurgeon said, “Of two evils, choose neither.”

There are two points that I hope I’ve made with this post.

First, to the politicians and political organizations, stop throwing the mud at your opponents. You cannot make yourself look better by making them look worse. It only casts a shadow on your own moral character. I’ll be very blunt here, if you can only get elected by making your opponent look bad, then you are a pretty poor option yourself.

Second, to the people, take a little time and do some research. Visit websites and make some phone calls. Don’t be afraid to vote for a third party or write-in candidate if you have to. Don’t be afraid to refrain from voting for any of them if necessary. We cannot expect Godly government if we do not elect Godly men.

1776

I read this to my children this morning and I could think of nothing more fitting to post today:

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:

Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:

Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:

William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:

Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:

William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:

Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Acts of God

Some people have suggested that the BP oil spill is judgment from God because America “doesn’t support Israel”. The same has been alleged of some of the more recent natural disasters. While it is certainly true that natural disasters can be God’s judgment on a nation, the oil spill isn’t exactly a natural disaster, so I’d be a bit more hesitant to suggest that it is a sign of judgment. Still, there have been plenty of natural disasters in the past few years. Could any of those be judgment from God for America’s wickedness? Certainly. However, the idea that it’s because of our “lack of support” for Israel would not be my immediate conclusion. We are guilty of FAR WORSE.

I submit that America has done a much greater evil, and is still engaged in that sin today. We murder over three thousand children every day. Three thousand of our own children. Every day. It astounds me that it would not occur to us that this could be the reason for God’s judgment upon us.

Take a look at Leviticus 20:1-3 “The LORD said to Moses, Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him. I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people; for by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name.” Giving children over to Molech was child sacrifice. It was murder, plain and simple. Abortion is murder. Have we any reason to think that God would look any more kindly on abortion than he did child sacrifice? He commanded that anyone, Israelite or alien, who took part in such an evil practice, was to be punished. God condemned those who would murder their own children. Should we expect any less from Him when we do the same?

Now look at verse 4 & 5 of that same chapter in Leviticus “If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech and they fail to put him to death, I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech.” Clearly, those who allowed the practice to continue were guilty as well. Yet, what have we done? We have closed our eyes to the millions upon millions of babies that have been murdered in America in just a few short decades. By not putting a stop to it, we have participated in the equivalent of child sacrifice. Babies sacrificed upon the altar of convenience. What sort of horrific evil is this? What sort of people would allow it?

So, what should we do about this? What can we do? Obviously, a change needs to take place in the courts of America. The legal aspects of abortion seem to receive the most attention. I suggest adding something that is rarely discussed—education. We must educate our children about the value of life. They need to have a Biblical worldview on this topic. Look up some statistics on abortion. I did, and I was shocked by how many women who choose abortion are professing Christians and attend church. Where did they get the idea that killing their own baby was OK? Has the church been too silent on this issue? Have we done our job and taught our children well by God’s standards? We have to commit ourselves to changing the hearts of the people on this issue, and perhaps the best place to start is with our own children.

William Wilberforce is best known for his commitment to ending slavery and the slave trade in England. He was wise enough to realize that there were two things that needed to change: the laws, and the hearts of the English people. He knew that changing the prevailing mindset was just as important as changing the law. It can be very easy to get caught up in the politics of a moral issue and forget that the political and legal aspects are only part of the problem. Our goal should be to change the mindset of a culture that readily accepts evil.

The next time we hear about an act of God in the news, maybe it will remind us to remain ever diligent about teaching our children His Word. If we do, that could very well change the hearts of an entire nation.

When… Not For

I love “The Star Spangled Banner”. Francis Scott Key wrote a truly wonderful poem! I’ve always enjoyed the story of how he was inspired to write it. The song has remained one of my favorites from the time I was young. I’ve always had something of an interest in the early history of our nation. Of course, I also memorized the Preamble to the Constitution when I was about 7 years old, simply because I found it inspiring!

I admit to being more than a little amused by the debate that periodically comes up about whether we should change our national anthem to something different. Particularly funny are the people who argue that we should keep “The Star Spangled Banner” because God is not mentioned in the song. May I present the fourth verse:

“Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

The fourth verse is my personal favorite. I am, however, totally dismayed by the current trend I hear whenever this final verse is sung. The lyrics are changed from “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just…” to “Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just…” It may seem insignificant to change just one word. But read carefully, changing “when” to “for” dramatically alters the meaning of the phrase! The original makes it clear that we will only take up arms for a just cause. Whilst the second implies that we must continually go to war because our “cause is just”. This begs the question, “What is this cause of ours?”

I am almost a pacifist. I believe truly that any Christian should be. War is perhaps one of the greatest evils we must endure while we live in a fallen world. Still, there are occasions when wars must be fought in order to defend ourselves. They should never be entered into lightly; the debate preceding the American War for Independence was long and heated. Men had to weigh their liberty against the horrors of a war fought in their very backyards. I do not envy them the choices they were forced to make. Ultimately, they decided that the oppression and tyranny was so unbearable, that they had no other choice but to take action and declare their independence from England. They knew very well that the consequences of this would be a war. One that they would probably lose. It was a difficult decision to make, but they made it. They paid a terrible price, but their sacrifice brought the reward of liberty to themselves and their children. Their cause was just, and it’s obvious that God blessed their endeavor.

It’s likely evident to you by now that I take great pride in the founding of our nation. It’s easy to do, because it was founded on Scriptural principles. After all, our rights do come from God, and their writings make it clear that they acknowledged that.

I take NO pride in any of our modern wars. I am deeply grieved by the picture I see of what our nation has become. We are a conquering empire, reminiscent of the one we sought independence from over two hundred years ago. The “cause” we claim? Spreading democracy throughout the world. A most unjust cause to be sure. The concept of democracy has only gained popularity in the last century. We were certainly never founded as one! Consider the following excerpt written by Westbrook Pegler and published in the “New York Journal American” in January of 1951.

“Did I say ‘republic?’ By God, yes, I said ‘republic!’ Long live the glorious republic of the United States of America. Damn democracy. It is a fraudulent term used, often by ignorant persons but no less often by intellectual fakers, to describe an infamous mixture of socialism, graft, confiscation of property and denial of personal rights to individuals whose virtuous principles make them offensive.”

Strong words, but it does illustrate to us that the concept of democracy in America had taken firm root by this point in our history. It also tells us that there were still people making a stand against it. Sadly, it has now become one of the rallying cries used to incite unjust wars.

Why do we find ourselves in this current situation? Hopelessly entangled in long, bloody wars on foreign soil, while the once-great nation crumbles from the inside back at home? The answer is surprisingly simple: we’ve forgotten the next line of the song, “And this be our motto, ‘In God is our trust.'” How many generations has it been since that could honestly be said of America? It is true what the Scriptures say, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…” Psalm 33:12. Now consider as well the words of the prophets Isaiah and Micah, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people…” I think that perhaps we shall find ourselves among the rebuked.

How Long Can Justice Sleep?

Once again, I find myself tackling a major political issue. One that has weighed heavily on me for several years. It’s the issue of torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners by the United States.

Under the Patriot Act, anyone suspected of terrorist involvement can be arrested and imprisoned without the bother of due process. They can be held indefinitely, and no charges need ever be filed, no trial conducted. They can simply be locked away for the rest of their lives, with no chance of appeal, because they have not actually been charged with a crime. That violates in so many ways the judicial process carefully laid out in our Constitution.

And if that was not bad enough, we now face the issue of Americans torturing people classified as “enemy combatants”. Individuals classified as such may be tortured, mistreated, and even murdered without any regard to their rights.

The justification I hear for this is, “Well, it’s better to torture and kill a few of them if it will save American lives.” Really? It’s OK to abandon our principles if we think it might win a war?

Consider the words of George Washington with regard to the treatment of prisoners during the Revolutionary War:

“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injur[e] any [of them]… I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause.” Any officer who failed to heed this direction, he said, would bring “shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”

Trust me, the Americans captured by the British received NO such consideration. Yet, we still chose the moral high road, realizing that inhumane treatment of prisoners would only foster more enmity.

Quite honestly, information gained through torture has been historically proven to be unreliable at best. Pushed to the breaking point, most of us would say anything that our captors wanted us to. Clearly, this is not the way to gain accurate information.

There are plenty of solid reasons why torture should never be allowed, but the last one I’ll mention is the most important of all.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

That line is from our Declaration of Independence. Note that it does not read, “Americans are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” but makes it clear that all men are recipients of these rights. Exactly where do our rights come from? Our founders believed that the answer to that was self-evident. Our rights come from God. We are all made in His image, and as such, we are all equally entitled to certain rights. If we claim “human rights” for ourselves, how can we deny them to others? Who are we to decide who is deserving of basic God-given rights?

One of the foundational principles of real Christianity is an inherent respect for all human life. Sadly, this has been ignored and twisted throughout history to allow for the justification of wars and atrocities. But one thing has remained constant; those who truly follow Christ must surely feel horrified and sickened by the mistreatment and murder of other humans. Is it really possible for Christians to ever condone the torture of another human? How does God judge our actions in this matter?

I’ll leave you with one final quote from Thomas Jefferson, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

 

I Pledge.

There is a four minute video that will be shown in schools across America tomorrow. Take a moment to watch it here. Some of it sounds rather nice, some rather dubious, and some downright evil. At the end we are all encouraged to make a pledge of some sort. I reflected on this, and decided to adopt the slogan from Michael Peroutka’s 2004 Presidential Campaign as my pledge.

“I pledge to honor God, defend the family and restore the republic.”

Sounds like a simple little pledge, but let us stop to ponder for a moment all that is contained in those twelve words. That is the essence of what it means to be an American and a patriot.

Our nation was built upon a foundation of honoring God, and giving thanks to Him for our innumerable blessings. We thrived and prospered, because we honored Him as a nation. What should we expect now? Now that we no longer honor God. We should certainly expect His judgment, and like Thomas Jefferson, I fear for my country when I realize that God’s justice will not sleep forever.

How does one go about defending the family? That is a tall order in today’s society. Political activism is not enough. We must not only look to the defense of the family in general, but also to ours in particular. One way that I choose to go about protecting my family, is by teaching my children myself. It is my God-given responsibility to teach my children according to the Scriptures. I trust no one else with this sacred duty.

Restoring the republic is partially becoming politically active. We must elect only men who above all, fear God and seek to do His will. We must also ensure that they are statesmen, rather than politicians, and that they truly understand where our rights come from, and the proper role of government in protecting those rights from infringement. But that is only part of the picture, for the republic will never be restored until the hearts and minds of the people are changed.

William Wilberforce sought to make the slave trade illegal, but he realized that his work must be twofold. The laws must be changed, and the hearts of the people must be changed. They are synonymous.

I challenge the American people to read. Read the Bible, study it, and search it. You will be changed. Also, read the great classics that the early Americans read, and the ones that many of them wrote. Read the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Read your state Constitution. Read The Law by Frederic Bastiat. It is a short pamphlet and the text can be read freely here. I’ll quote Jefferson one more time, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

I was rather appalled by the people in the video pledging to serve the de facto president of the United States as if he were a great king. In response to that, I’ll borrow another slogan, this one from Rev. Jonas Clarke from during the time of the American Revolution, “We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus.”

God and Government: Inseparable in a free society


“It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religion profession of sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship….”

Massachusetts Bill of Rights, Part the First, 1780

Interesting considering that Massachusetts now has the reputation of being one of the most Godless and wicked States in America. Yet it is merely a sign of the time, just as this section of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights was indicative of the general beliefs of the time. The inscription on the Liberty Bell is from Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” The basis of liberty is Scripture. After all, our rights are God-given, they come from God. How can any society that values liberty, not honor the One who gave it to them? This is something that was understood by early Americans. They realized that they would only prosper and endure as a nation so long as they acknowledged God and gave Him the honor and loyalty that was due Him. Psalm 33:12 reminds us, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” How many times has God destroyed a nation, or allowed it to be destroyed for failure to follow Him?

Our founders counted on the American people continuing in their faith and following the God of the Scriptures. John Adams observed, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Look at what James Madison had to say, “We’ve staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart. We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity… to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” This quote is very telling, and easily explains the decline of America in recent generations. The further we distance ourselves from the faith of our forefathers, the lower we are doomed to sink. I quoted Thomas Jefferson in a previous post, but he bears repeating, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Scripture makes it very clear that God will judge nations. America certainly has much to answer for.

Obviously, the American people have turned from God. As a consequence, our leaders have become evil, godless men and women, ruled by their own ambitions and their love of money and power. Those are the prevailing attitudes in America today; why should we be surprised when they are reflected in leadership? Still, how could this have happened in a nation where the majority claims to be Christian? Certainly there must be enough Godly people to bring about change. The answer is simpler than you might think. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, had two things to say that might help clear this up. Firstly, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Sadly, we cannot claim to have followed this advice at any point in recent history. His second observation is even more important for us to understand, “Whether our religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration than it seems yet to have generally received either from the clergy or the laity. It appears to me that what the prophet said to Jehoshaphat about his attachment to Ahab [‘Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?’ 2 Chronicles 19:2] affords a salutary lesson.” The implications of this are weighty to say the least. Can anyone who truly follows Christ elect anyone but a God-fearing man who claims loyalty to God first, even above country? When was the last time that you voted for such a man? Have you ever?

To be honest, we have the nation and government that we deserve. We have exactly what we have asked for. If the actions of our leaders are not in accordance with God’s laws, then why do we continue to elect them? The “lesser of two evils” argument can’t hold water. It implies that even though you are choosing the lesser of two evils, you are still choosing evil. Would God truly have us ever choose evil in any form? The argument that there are no Godly men running for office is a rather transparent lie. There have been plenty of Godly statesmen, willing to serve at every level of government, but the “Christians” refuse to support them because they are not “electable”. In light of all of this, I feel completely vindicated in saying that we have got what we asked for. We knew exactly the kind of men and women we elected in the past. Their thin veneer of spirituality was never truly enough to deceive anyone who did not want to be deceived. We all know that the politicians are adept at playing the “religion card”, so why are we such fools as to keep falling for it? The truth is, we aren’t. But we are comfortable. Why would we want liberty, when security is so much more comfortable? Why would we want to fight for our children’s future, when we can borrow against it to make ourselves appear prosperous for a day?

Patrick Henry’s parents were part of the spiritual revival that preceded the American Revolution. A fact that is largely ignored by believers and unbelievers alike, but I digress. Young Patrick grew up in an atmosphere of true Christianity, a movement devoted to following Christ regardless of the consequences, and believe me, the people involved in this movement faced great consequences! He later said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!” That is why America was free, that is why we valued people and liberty. That is why we flourished for so long. That is why we prosper no more. We have forsaken God; worse still, we outright oppose Him—we mock Him. How do we dare even utter the phrase, “God bless America”?

Make no mistake, God is love—but He is also righteous and just. Our rights, our laws, everything good about America comes from God. Is it any wonder that there is little good left in America anymore?

Recall the words of John Witherspoon, “There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage.” Remember, as we allow our rights to be chipped away one by one, worse, as we freely offer them up, we will eventually lose our freedom to worship God. At that point the American people will be so subjugated and disarmed that we won’t even have the will or the means to fight. God is just; Israel learned this many times in the Old Testament, now it’s our turn.

The Dreaded “D” Word

It’s a nine-letter word. It starts with the letter “D”. People mistakenly believe it is synonymous with liberty. Any guesses?????

Answer: DEMOCRACY

The 1928 Army Field Manual defined democracy as: “a government of the masses. Authority derived through mass meetings or any other form of direct expression. Results in mobocracy. Attitude towards property is communistic-negative property rights. Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it is based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. It results in demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.”

That doesn’t sound very much like liberty, does it? In fact, it sounds pretty unattractive. In 1952, that Army Field Manual was changed, and the previous definition omitted.

Personally, I much prefer a Constitutional Representative Republic, or republic for short. What’s the difference? I thought you’d never ask!

A republic is based on the rule of law. We are governed by a Constitution whose purpose is to assure that our rights are not infringed upon by the government. In fact, said document severely curtails the power allowed the government. The people are sovereign in a republic, not the politicians. The people are to elect statesmen to represent them in carrying out the limited functions of government and to see that the people’s rights are not infringed upon. Very little legislation and regulation is required in a true republic. A republic tends to foster a nation of innovation, personal responsibility, creativity, self-sufficiency, generosity, peace, justice, education, and general well-being. Why is this? Perhaps because people are free to pursue their ideas and dreams without unnecessary interference. As long as you do not infringe upon the rights of others, you are free to live your life as your conscience directs. What a novel idea!

Speaking of rights, another common misconception is that our rights come from the Constitution. No one can grant to another that which is not his to give. Our rights are God-given. Handed to us by our Creator. Every person is entitled to the same rights because they were given to us by He who is the God of all. No man can ever take those rights from you. They may oppress you, they may stifle your rights, but they can NEVER take them from you, because they are from God alone! The Constitution was a document written by men in an attempt to ensure that the new American government would not infringe upon the God-given rights of the people, as every other government on Earth had. It was an imperfect, but nonetheless, brilliant document. Sadly, we did not heed the advice of Thomas Jefferson, and bind down the government with the chains of the Constitution. Instead we gave them free-reign to trample the rights of any whom they chose, so long as we were not terribly inconvenienced ourselves.

It has been said that in a democracy, 51% of the people trample the rights of the other 49%. An accurate assessment. Thomas Jefferson said, “The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.” Jefferson was not a fan of democracy, but a champion of liberty. John Adams noted, “Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” His son, John Quincy Adams admonished us, “Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” How could we explain our current state to him? Benjamin Franklin had an amusing analogy for democracy: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!” By now you get the point I am trying to make. The early American patriots and founders loathed democracy and championed liberty. That is why they established a republic.

However, republics are hard to maintain. History has given us examples of this. Traditionally, a nation regresses from republic, to democracy, to imperialism, to dictatorship. That is why when asked what kind of government we had been given Benjamin Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Prophetic words indeed. In fact I would argue that we are firmly in the imperialism phase of government. The Great American Empire has been established, but it will surely fall. Make no mistake. Empires always fall in the end. As Thomas Jefferson noted, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Words more true now than ever.

The tyranny that we face in America today is more than tenfold the tyranny that sparked the American Revolution. The reasons cited in the Declaration of Independence for breaking with England, can be cited in reference to our own government today. Samuel Adams said, “If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” That time has come. Thomas Paine noted, “It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.” From the Declaration of Independence we read, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it….” It is our right, even our DUTY to set things to right. Or, shall we choose to leave it to our children? I’ll quote Thomas Paine again in response, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”

Mark Twain observed, “In times of change, the Patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a Patriot.” Men and women with the character to be patriots are sorely lacking today. We are far too comfortable in our apathy. After all, they haven’t come for us, why get involved? Make no mistake, if you attempt to hold on to even a shred of liberty, they WILL come for you. By then, there may be no one left to defend you, because you did not choose to defend those who would have come to your aid. To once again quote Mr. Franklin, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

 

Stay tuned for the next post in the series addressing God in government.