People are waging a war of words concerning the role of religion in a democracy and whether the Christian faith should have any role in America’s future. An organization titled Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has sent out a plea for donations to fight what they call “Christian Nationalism.” They maintain that the government cannot support Christian values. With that goal in mind, they are engaged in several lawsuits against prayers at public gatherings and government support of schools with religious connections.
The opposing view comes from groups like theAssociation of Mature American Citizens, publishers of AMAC Magazine. They maintain that a “moral society flows from a focus on freely held faith” (James Madison). They also quote John Adams: “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.” AMAC also heavily quotes Jefferson and Washington in the view that America was founded by men who saw Christianity as the basis of human rights. What is the role of religion in a democracy?
There is a difference between maintaining that faith has no role in determining the rights of people and believing that there is only one faith that calls for certain moral rules to be law. Jesus made it clear that there is a separation between what we give to the government and what we give to the work of God. Matthew 22:21 says clearly, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Thomas Jefferson said, “Neither Pagan nor Muslim nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion.” That teaching is biblically sound, but the government must have a moral standard to govern by. In Romans 13:1-6, Paul tells Christians to support those who govern, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad” (verse 3). The question is, “How does a government decide what is right and what is wrong?”
There are experts like Peter Singer, the DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, who maintain that the government should put to death anyone who is mentally ill, of great age, or in the late stages of a terminal disease. This flies in the face of Christian teachings, but some states are already implementing it in various ways, such as government support for the destruction of human life. If a politician holds to a religion that teaches that those who reach the age of 50 should be killed, how will that influence the practice of the government?
Madison talks about a “moral society,” and Adams speaks of the Constitution being made for a “moral and religious people.” So, what is the role of religion in a democracy? Christians support the separation of church and state, but the moral teachings of what is right and wrong cannot come from scholars, politicians, or some religions. The future of our children and grandchildren depends on getting people to understand that right and wrong do exist, and not all religions and political belief systems understand that.
When people are sworn into public office, they commonly place their hand on a Bible and promise to faithfully execute the duties of that office. Courts used the same book for swearing in witnesses. Recently, some have substituted other books for the Bible. In Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on December 4, 2023, Karen Smith, the new school board president, took the oath of office with her hand placed on top of six books frequently challenged or banned from school libraries. What book do you swear by?
Deciding what books are appropriate for school libraries is a nation-wide issue. If school libraries are open to all students, is there an age level where a book is inappropriate? For example, the book Beyond Magenta promotes transgender lifestyle for teens and is one of the books Smith used for her swearing-in. Another is The Bluest Eye, with graphic depictions of a nine-year-old girl being sexually abused by her father. The book Night by Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel accurately depicts his experience in a concentration camp, but is it appropriate reading for a second grader?
What book do you swear by? The fact that people are replacing the Bible with other religious books or books promoting atheism and alternate lifestyles is a reflection of American culture today. As society vilifies Christianity and religious belief, the choices of public officials become more secular. Churches, religious colleges, and universities are being forced to close their doors or give up their moral teachings. Public school restrooms must be open to all sexual orientations. As a retired public school high school teacher, I can only imagine the problems schools will face with the new standards.
As the U.S.A. sinks deeper into becoming the atheist state of America, we see continued political oppression of Christians. An example of this is in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Government officials there told city employees to refrain from displaying any religious symbols. That means even red and green decorations are prohibited on any public building. City officials say those colors are “associated with Christmas.” Workers for the city must use blue, green, and purple lights to recall the colors of aurora borealis (the northern lights) and to use only “snowflakes, snow people, and other nonreligious symbols.”
Elsewhere, school children and government workers are restricted from wearing anything that refers to Christianity. With the war in Gaza in the news, it is interesting that Muslim headwear and Jewish skull caps have not been banned, but atheists and secularists are working on that.
It seems obvious to any thinking person that Christianity played an essential role in the history of America. Trying to stamp out all Christian symbols and displays, especially during Christmas and Easter, while allowing symbols of other faiths to be displayed at any time of the year is an inconsistent government policy. The atheist state of America is not just a Christian issue; it is an American issue. It’s an issue of religious freedom. The founders of this country would be astounded by what is happening today.
If you read news reports other than the mainstream media, you have to be disturbed by recent stories about government attacks on people of faith.
One article told the story of an August 11, 2023, police raid on a private newspaper in Marion, Kansas. This small-town newspaper had written stories about government abuse of religious freedom and the immoral actions of public officials. The justification for the police raid was that they were seeking the names of sources of information leaked to the newspaper.
A group called “Reporters Without Borders” has written several reports of violence or intimidation of news reporters who wrote articles on government actions that violated the rights of private citizens. One such story was the case of Joe Kennedy, a coach in Bremerton, Washington, who knelt at the 50-yard line and prayed silently for 10 seconds after a high school football game. Kennedy was fired because the school system had banned any prayer on school property.
Joe Kennedy did not encourage his players to participate in the prayer, and he prayed after the game was over. He sued the school system. His case went to the Supreme Court in 2022, and the court agreed with Kennedy. The fact that the school system tried to stop prayer of any kind indicates where America is headed.
Students of American democracy and the intent of the founding fathers will recognize the abuse of government attacks on people of faith. Such attacks are not limited to the government. We have had phone calls from people threatening us for what we publish on this website. Freedom of the press and religion are enshrined in the First Amendment, and as America turns away from God and freedom, Christians face attacks on their faith.
A question of concern to Americans who believe in God is whether someone specializing in artistic creativity can be forced to create artwork that they find offensive. Recent cases involve artistic freedom and personal beliefs. The question becomes, can the government force custom art creators to create and display artwork that violates their personal religious beliefs?
Recent examples involve: 1- Cake artists forced to create a cake that celebrates a relationship that goes against the artist’s sincerely held religious beliefs. 2- Flourists required to create floral arrangements celebrating an event they find religiously offensive. 3- Website designers forced to create a website promoting something religiously offensive to the designer. 4- Wedding photographers required to photograph weddings that violate their religious beliefs. 5- Printers of custom T-shirts required to produce religiously offensive shirts. (We have mentioned these in previous posts.)
In the past, the government has not punished artists who refused to produce art that the artist found offensive. However, recently that has changed. When the government forces an artist to create something that violates the artist’s personal beliefs, we have a real test of freedom of speech and religious freedom. Using our talents to express our beliefs is a fundamental right. Being forced by the government to use our gifts to express something that violates our beliefs and religious convictions violates freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In Acts 4:16-20, we see political leaders threatening harm to Peter and John if they spoke anything in support of Christ. They responded, “Whether it be right to listen to you or to God, you decide, for we can not give up speaking about the things we have seen and heard.” Historically, authorities have tried to force Christians to deny their faith. America is at a crossroads in the area of artistic freedom and personal beliefs. We should not be forced to deny our faith or express something contrary to our religious beliefs.
One of the consequences of the rejection of God and Christianity in the United States has been the success of the Satanic Temple. This group, active worldwide, is headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, and growing in influence in the United States. They have launched a nationwide campaign to bring After School Satan Clubs to elementary schools.
The Satanic Temple claims 700,000 members and has had several successes in opposing Christianity. Recently they gave the invocation at the San Marcos City Council, conducted a Los Angeles Satanic Mass, and administered “un-baptisms” in Boston. In addition, local Satanic Temples have engaged in Bible burning, drinking a blood-like fluid from a cup, and celebrating the sacrifice of goats.
The After School Satan Clubs offer a coloring book published by the Satanic Temple, which engages children in satanic rituals and constructing a pentagram, the official symbol of the Church of Satan. Clubs. The Washington Post commented, “The Satanic Temple is determined to give young students a choice: Jesus or Satan.”
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that elementary schools could not stop the evangelical “Good News Club” from hosting after school club meetings. The Satanic Temple is using that decision to justify having clubs that promote Satanic beliefs. After School Satan Clubs have reportedly been started in Utah, California, Ohio, Washington, Illinois, and Oregon elementary schools.
The message of the Satanic Temple ridicules Christianity, belief in God, and the Bible’s moral teachings. It seems this group would qualify as a “hate group” which could be legally challenged, but that will probably never happen. Nevertheless, Christians must be aware of this threat. Parents and local church leaders need to educate themselves on what is being taught in the schools and be ready to oppose satanic teaching if it comes to their communities.
The Bible makes it very clear that God created male and female as two separate sexes. God told Adam, and likewise, future males, that they would provide by “the sweat of your face (Genesis 3:19). Through Eve, God told females that they would be able to fill the roles that males could not accomplish on their own, especially giving birth to children. Yet, today, the government punishes those with biblical views.
The word translated “help meet” in the old English of the King James translation (Genesis 2:20) is “ezer” in the original Hebrew, and it means “help.” It comes from a root that means “surround, protect, or aid” (according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). Modern translations say something like “suitable helper.” The Contemporary English Version from the American Bible Society translates it as “the right kind of partner.” It does not indicate that one sex is superior or inferior. The fact that they would have different roles is clearly stated and is repeated numerous times in the New Testament. (For example, see 1 Corinthians 7:1-16 and Ephesians 5:22-33.)
Society today has decided that respecting the difference between men and women violates the rights of various groups, and we must deny those differences. So the government punishes those with biblical views. We see this in Christian educational and religious organizations and even secular high schools and colleges nationwide. The government has decided that having separate restrooms for men and women violates the rights of men who want to use women’s facilities.
In Christian colleges, we see that the government punishes those with biblical views. Christian colleges with separate dormitories for men and women are receiving crippling fines and threats of closure. College of the Ozarks went to court, maintaining that women should not be forced to have male roommates. The broader question is whether the government can strip a private, faith-based institution of its constitutionally protected freedom because someone disagrees with their views about marriage and sexuality.
Another significant issue is whether a biological male who claims to be a female has the right to compete in women’s sports. The ACLU challenged a West Virginia law passed in 2021 to protect female athletes from having to compete with men. Federal Judge Joseph R. Goodwin ruled in favor of the law, stating it was constitutional. He wisely wrote, “While some females may be able to outperform some males, it is generally accepted that, on average, males outperform females athletically because of inherent physical differences between the sexes.”
Christianity espouses moral conduct found in God’s Word, but the government punishes those with biblical views and forces them to act against their moral beliefs. We must pray for America and those affected by the government’s actions in their distorted attempt to expand human rights. Churches may be endangered if they teach that men and women have different roles or even if they believe there are two sexes that are physically different.
Of all the secular holidays that Americans celebrate, Thanksgiving is the one that has the greatest Christian syzygy. Syzygy is an astronomical term referring to an alignment of astronomical bodies, and Thanksgiving aligns uniquely with the teachings of Christ. Thanksgiving has no mysticism as Halloween does and does not involve special objects like Easter bunnies or eggs. It does not have the commercialism of Christmas. Instead, the family time of Thanksgiving encourages us to count our blessings.
In my 41 years of public school teaching, I saw kids whose parents did not appreciate them. Those kids were a problem for the school and society in general. In addition, I have observed marriages ending in divorce. In most cases, the collapse of the marriage was rooted in the partners not telling each other they were appreciated.
In the Old Testament, God commanded the nation of Israel to observe feasts and festivals of Thanksgiving. In the New Testament, communion is a time for Christians to pause every Sunday and be thankful for Christ’s sacrifice and the forgiveness it offers. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 that Christians should “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.” Romans 1:21 identifies those alienated from God as people who “knew about God but neither glorified Him nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
We give thanks not because God has an ego problem that He needs us to fill. We thank God because humans need to be thankful for the blessings we have. Focusing on what we don’t have or comparing ourselves to others is a short road to depression and unfortunate behavior.
Christians should be thankful 24/7/365, and Thanksgiving encourages us to count our blessings. For our own mental and spiritual health, we need to be grateful. Be thankful for the creation, family, friends, life and health, freedom, food and water, the Church, and salvation. May this Thanksgiving Day remind us of all our blessings. Focusing on what we don’t have and anguishing over our losses will not bring the joy and security God intends for us to have.
The Netherlands has been a trailblazer in legalizing abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia. For many years, that country has had a euthanasia law that allows doctors to actively kill a patient with an injection of drugs. It is supposed to be done only under strict conditions, but some cases have resulted in criminal actions. Now a group has filed a suit to force the Dutch government into legalizing assisted suicide.
The group called Cooperative Last Will, which claims 30,000 members, brought the suit. They want to legalize assisted dying, in which patients are provided with a lethal substance they take themselves. Lawyers have presented their arguments both for and against assisted dying, and the Hague District Court will render a decision on December 14.
From a purely secular standpoint, there are obvious problems with this issue. There are times in life when you hit rock bottom, and dying can look pretty good. Taking your life might make sense if you believe you are an animal with no more value than any other animal. However, people thinking of taking their own life are not considering what their death does to those who love them, to material possessions, or their obligations to society.
The Christian view of life and the physical body is explained in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. It tells us that the body is the temple of the Spirit and expresses God’s displeasure with anyone destroying it. I have been with several Christians when they died. Their expressions of love, forgiveness, sharing, and caring have impacted the lives of their family and friends. In some cases, the actions or words of one who was dying have changed the lives of others.
Assisted dying is a selfish, cowardly, atheistic choice by someone who may be influenced by any number of destructive agents. We need to work toward ending our lives in a positive way that expresses our love and the care that we have for others. Doctors need to work on relieving pain, not finding ways to terminate a life. Legalizing assisted suicide to allow distressed individuals to end their lives is filled with problems.
In 2016, when Mike Pence was governor, the state of Indiana passed a law requiring “the burial or cremation of any fetus.” The question at hand is should we treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person? Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally, in 2019, the court ruled that Indiana law had a legitimate interest in disposing of fetal remains.
In 2020, a group of women who had abortions in Indiana, along with abortion providers and an abortion clinic, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. They said that the requirements caused abortion and miscarriage patients “shame, stigma, anguish, and anger” because they “send the unmistakable message that someone who has had an abortion or miscarriage is responsible for the death of a person.”
In September of 2022, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young ruled that the law violated the U.S. Constitution because it infringes upon the religious and free speech rights of people who don’t believe that aborted fetuses have any rights.
Whether we should treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person highlights the real issue in the abortion question. That is, whether or not a baby is a human before birth. Those who argue for abortion do not have scientific support for their position. The unborn child is not “an extension of the mother’s body.” Every medical attempt to define when a baby is a human fails because of the criteria used. Using brain waves, the ability to live outside the womb, the heartbeat, or when the fetus responds to outside stimuli are all arbitrary and change as technology advances.
In today’s world, having an abortion is safer than natural childbirth. The number of women who die in childbirth worldwide is vast, and even in the United States, there is a risk in giving birth. When you look at the arguments for abortion, consider how they can be applied to euthanasia for a person with age or mental issues. Some people want to use similar arguments to eliminate the cost and personal inconvenience of people at the other end of life’s journey. Ethics proponents like Dr. Peter Singer use them to justify euthanizing the mentally ill and the severely physically disabled.
Should we treat an aborted fetus as a deceased person? As our civilization embraces atheism, naturalism, and humanism, will it embrace a 100% materialistic view of human value? The recent ruling in Indiana seems to indicate that is the case.