By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings
Our Independence Day has come and gone; children waving sparklers in their front yards with parents standing close by to supervise the use of pyrotechnics, bottle rockets and firecrackers going off randomly while dogs and cats scurry to find safe shelter from the onslaught and the aroma of spent gunpowder drifting lazily through the darkened canopy of tree lined neighborhoods. A reminder of bombs bursting in air as recorded by Francis Scott Key in his poem which eventually became our National Anthem…as I pray silently to myself, Oh! Thus be it ever…
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!
There’s a segment of our society which seems to grow from year to year, a group of folks who would prefer there be no reference to God, at least as His having anything at all to do with the establishment of our country or individual liberties. Personally I’d have to say these folks were showing their ingratitude to our Creator; but that is their choice. We are permitted our individual agency to either obey God’s laws or come out in open rebellion to His commandments. The consequences for such behavior falls into an eternal order of things rather than a court of law unless such failures to comply happen to be criminal or civil laws established by the consent of the people.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, we have a list of stated beliefs we call the Articles of Faith. These were written down by Joseph Smith in a letter to a fellow named Wentworth who’d asked what we believe in order that he might have a better understanding. A more concise explanation would be difficult and so that original list stands to this day; a means of explaining our basic tenants.
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. 11th Article of Faith – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Among our ‘standard scriptures’ we include the Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and The Doctrine and Covenants. Along with the 11th Article of Faith is a companion found in Doctrine and Covenants 134:4.
“We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.”
The Church adopted and approved that section on August 17, 1835; but in ancient days, as recorded in the Book of Mormon there was a similar law of the land. It should be noted that the land referred to in the Book of Mormon is the same land upon which the United States of America was established.
“Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.” Alma30:7
That verse was recorded somewhere between 76-74 BC if you’re looking to find consistency in the manner in which the Lord works with His children. The Lord has provided a means whereby non-believers might engage equally in society even when that society has been established by the Lord.
Stephen D. Foster Jr. wrote a piece, 35 Founding Father Quotes Conservative Christians Will Hate, in which he lists excerpts from letters written which tend to back up his opening statement.
“The separation of church and state is one of the cornerstones of America’s foundation. Conservative Christian fundamentalists have sought to crush this cornerstone in the hopes of establishing Christianity as the state religion, an action that would threaten the rest of the foundation that makes up the Constitution. These conservatives contend that the Founding Fathers dreamed of making America a Christian state at the expense of those who practice other religions or none at all.”
Within the quotes which Foster claims conservative Christians will hate, there was one that jumped off the page, a line from Thomas Jefferson when he addressed Virginia Baptists in 1808. I had to ask myself, do I hate this particular quote or does it restate something which I approve of. You should recognize this one:
“Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”
Thomas Jefferson pointed out State Churches, a specific reference to the Church of England which was tied directly to the government from which we had gained independence. The Church of England received support through taxation and redistribution of wealth from all subjects of the state regardless of their personal beliefs or acceptance of the teachings of the Church of England. Jefferson’s remarks warned of having a specific sect as the official church of the land as it would control power and wealth through legislative action; exactly the situation which brought about our separation.
This is not a denial of God’s hand in government; only a means of acknowledging the need to keep church government and civil government separated in order to facilitate a free society, one in which believers and non-believers have equal footing.
Hummm… sounds like Jefferson might have been inspired much as the Prophet Alma over two thousand years earlier; but Jefferson expressed this thought long before the Book of Mormon had been translated, much less published.
In keeping with the idea that there is a separation of church and state, as applied to governance of the people; it should also be observed that the separation did not remove consequences of individual action from laws which were directly associated with God’s basic commandments, laws which in present day are based upon the Ten Commandments. Theft, assault, murder and all other established incidents are covered by criminal and civil laws which just happen to be tied to eternal laws which have existed since before the earth was created.
The Bible recorded that the Israelites were a stiff necked people slow to obey God’s words, that Moses deliver the Ten Commandments unto them. But; as we’ve found throughout all of history, His laws having been etched in stone haven’t forced individuals to obey; only reminded them of their wayward path.
Robert Beaudine wrote an article, Cultural Marxism: The Doom of Language, which explains much of what is essential to this discussion.
“Our founders envisioned a commonwealth of freedom extending from coast to coast. Commonwealths, by definition, are established for the “common good,” which our founders defined as freedom from tyranny and the protection of unalienable rights – bestowed by God – those of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This meant there were natural limits because of natural law. The pursuit of the fruits of labor was limited when it infringed upon other’s unalienable rights.”
“Multiculturalism requires a new definition of “common good,” one for a godless society where rights are granted by governments. The left think tank, Center for American Progress, claims that government is essential when people pursue their dreams. They redefined the common good as governmental policies that benefit everyone while balancing self-interest with the needs of the entire society. Perhaps that explains why Texas removed “the common good” from their public education’s textbooks. The common good has become a progressive term that refers to entitlements for the disadvantaged, but also includes big bailouts for our megacorporations.”
There has always been a segment of society which would prefer to do away with mankind’s relationship and dependence on God. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about folks who walked on this land before Christ made himself manifest in flesh at the meridian of times or in our present day; some folks refuse to acknowledge the Author of Liberty. Beyond that, these same folks have it in their agenda to destroy the faith of anyone they come across, as if by doing so their faulty line of thought is some how strengthened; how sad.
As a Christian I am continually amazed at the wisdom and patience God has shown in His dealings with mankind. It should be a source of gratitude for anyone living in these United States of America, a land specifically set aside as a place where individuals could live in full compliance with God’s laws without oppression from despots or tyrants as found in the established governments from which our ancestors fled.
Some have insisted that we, here in America, recognize Sharia Law and incorporate this form of society within our constitutional republic. Not wishing to get into the complexities of such requests, or demands as they seem to be; let it be stated that Sharia Law is not compatible with our constitutional republic. By its very definition, Shiria Law imposes radical beliefs and actions on others regardless of the beliefs or desires of those being imposed upon. This is in direct opposition to anything reasonable or sound and most definitely against any process set forth by our founders.
It is reassuring that our founders recognized the dangers of having a state supported religion and made it a point to separate the functions of government from any one religion. This acknowledgement in no way diminishes the historical fact that our founders were deeply spiritual men who were committed to establishing our nation on sound principles which just happen to be in accordance with Christian doctrine and under divine guidance of His Holy Spirit.