I guess I should not be surprised when I see e-mails such as the one you can read below. They come often enough. In fact I’m not really surprised anymore, but I am always disturbed.
Diatribes about not being able to pray in school fly in the face of all the active Christian student clubs and organizations thriving along side similar organizations representing other religions. What is not permitted under the Constitution is for the state to endorse and promote a particular religion as it commonly did when I was in grade school. There were mandatory prayers each morning, often followed by a reading from scripture. It was all very generic Protestantism and ignored the presence of Christians from other traditions, Jews and non-believers. In reality there could have been no greater flaunting of the Constitution than that. Besides, it was all just mindless babble and no one ever paid any attention.
Likewise the Ten Commandments. All this outcry about removing them from court houses and city halls where sometimes there were plaques with the Roman numerals I through X, or possibly a foreshortened version of the text itself. No one ever read them and they did not guide anyone. The Ten Commandments need to be etched in the hearts and minds of each Christian and taught in every church. That’s where they belong. That’s when Christians might actually start living as though they loved God with all their being and were willing to live with holy integrity with all their neighbors without prejudice or partiality.
Throughout much of American history there was a sort of innocuous civil religion loosely connected to Protestantism. It was simply assumed that one was Protestant, Catholic or Jewish, with Catholics and Jews as minorities to be constantly held in check and always suspect. Myths about the Christian origins of America filtered out the influences of Deism, Unitarianism, and Utilitarianism that were instrumental in forming the structure of our nation. Of course Christianity was a vital and driving force as well, but it was not united in its efforts. Congregational New England, Anglican South, Lutheran, Quaker and Baptist middle colonies had a hard time getting along, and more than a few had “state religions” that required membership in the state church in order to be a citizen. The first and second “Great Awakenings” energized a whole new population of Evangelical denominations that divided and subdivided like out of control amoebae. Each made its own claim on some aspect of Godly truth that fenced them in and ruled out everyone else.
Fear mongering was rife. Blacks, Italians, Irish, Jews, Chinese, Japanese and American Indians were in turn and together banned, burned, jailed, hung, driven out, and oppressed in every way, all in the name of preserving a White, Protestant, Northern European America. The fires were lit by hysterical cries that civilization as we know it, meaning our own rights and privileges, would be destroyed if we let these people get their way.
Our nation is changing again. We may not like it but Spanish has become, and will remain, an important second language in America. Islam is, in fact, one of the fastest growing religions in America. Not radical, fundamentalist Islam but just plain ordinary every day vanilla Islam.
Right now the radical fundamentalists carrying the hottest branding irons and threatening the worst violence against our cherished American traditions and the Constitution are not Muslims, but a particular segment of far right-wing fundamentalist Evangelicals, and they do it with the self-righteousness of someone who honestly believes that they are protecting the very thing they are destroying. Moreover, they regularly conflate militaristic patriotism and their own brand of Christianity with such pugilistic fervor that it can be downright dangerous to argue about it.
It’s time for the mindless hysteria to stop, and for Christians to return to doing what they are commanded by God in Christ to do. Love God with all their hearts, minds and souls. Love their neighbors as themselves. See that the hungry are fed, the homeless housed, the naked clothed and the sick made well. Proclaim with boldness the love of God in Christ Jesus that is the light of the world.
Now and then I’ve taught some bible and church history classes that included these matters, and I’ve noticed that there has always been a small group unwilling to give up their hardened and fear driven beliefs. They either ignore the witness of history and scripture, or challenge its truthfulness, preferring their own well secured myths instead. I’ve often wondered. It seems to me a very brittle sort of Christian faith. Not very strong. Not very trusting in God’s eternal Lordship. It seems the sort of brittle faith that if one thing breaks the whole thing will collapse like a poorly built shack. I think they kind of know that deep down and are scared to death that it might happen at any moment. How very sad.
Now, here is the e-mail that set me off.
On Oct 29, 2008, at 4:33 PM, JMurray wrote:
I was very dismayed when, recently, a member of my Church said to me with great resignation that she was afraid Obama will take the presidency. These words came from someone that in the past has been a great prayer warrior.
What is happening was my question!! Why are we Christians settling for the loss of our Christian heritage, not issuing a battle cry and falling to our knees and taking our country back?
We allow ourselves to be stripped of the right to pray at school functions and in school, we have the Ten Commandments removed from government places and are told we cannot pray publicly or proclaim Christian principles, all the while providing public prayer places for Muslims. We allow Muslim mosques to operate in America funded by Saudi Arabia, and proclaim anti-American, anti-Christian threats and terrorism.
What in the world is going on and why are we being so apathetic? Why aren't we praying? Our God is an Almighty God who is waiting patiently for us to raise our voices to heaven to stop the tide of the anti-Christian actions in our world today.
There has never been a time in 2000 years that we can do nothing, never a time that we must sit back and allow the evil in men's and women's hearts to take over our world! We should be afraid, very afraid because our apathy is leading us to perdition. It is time for all Christian Americans to raise the battle cry and take our nation back!
Maybe McCain on his own cannot defeat Obama, but our God can and He will if we take to our knees in prayer and raise a mighty cry to the heavens. We have the power to change the course of this election and to keep a man as suspect as Barack Obama from leading our country to who knows where with his message of 'change'; a change which I fear will be away from our Christian ideals, and away from Christ, and further away from one nation under God to one nation under Allah.
We can bring our country back to its Christian roots and stop the undermining of our country by Muslims. We can stop our country from being 'under Allah' but we must begin to pray; to pray as our country and our lives depended on it because they do. We can stop all these atrocities against God's commandments that have taken root in our country through something as simple as sincere prayer, a call to God to deliver us, to protect us from the evil that is upon us.
OK, prayer warriors, here is your challenge... Start those prayer chains. Get the spiritual power working on our behalf and stop Barack Obama the proper way, by calling on our God to save us from the deception that charismatic preaching is using to lead us on the wrong path. Stop those who would take God out of our country and our government. Raise up good men to lead us and protect us. But we should not rest on our laurels and allow ourselves to be taken further off the path of Christianity and to have God removed from our presence in our schools, courts, government and businesses.
Invite God into the fray. Ask that His power rest upon us and give us the victory. Ask him to raise up a mighty army to defend us and to protect our country as he did in days of old. Let us be victorious beginning NOW. The battle is His but we must call on Him without ceasing and unite our voices and hearts in prayer and fasting.
Please pass this around to all people of prayer that you know and maybe, just maybe, we'll bring a victory for us and ultimately for Him. Once again live in a country that wants to bring Glory to God! AMEN