Separation Of Church And State

The courageous founders of our country knew full well the likely result of their bold declaration of independence. Often persons say, “Let’s hang together” to encourage friends to stick together on an issue. This challenge to cohesiveness is said almost flippantly. When first uttered by one of the signers of our Declaration of Independence it referred to being executed for what they were signing and continued: “Let us hang together or we will hang separately.”

They were not lacking in resolve nor naive regarding the result. At great cost they gave us our liberty.

These immortal words by Thomas Jefferson are inscribed in the Jefferson Memorial in our Nation’s Capitol: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure if we have removed from the hearts of the people belief that those liberties are the gift of God?”

In our rush to purge our institutions of public reference to deity we have removed from the hearts of many any belief in God from the hearts of many people. A statement intended to insure God a place in our nation’s life has been used to remove Him. It is that infamous banality “separation of church and state.” Few know its origin. Many think it is an extraction from our Constitution.

Many of the colonists came to America from Europe where England had an official religion, the Church of England, Germany had an official state religion, Lutheran, Spain and Italy, Catholicism.

The Baptists in Banbury, Connecticut were fearful a particular denomination would be made the official religion of theirs and other states. At the time the policy was so entrenched that John Adams said, “You might as well expect a change in the solar system as to expect us to give up our established churches.” The Baptists wrote President Thomas Jefferson soliciting his aid in insuring that no one denomination would be made the state church.

Few dare read all of Jefferson’s letter in response dated January 1, 1802. Therein he assures the Baptist Christian and moral teachings as found in the Bible would never be separated from government. In asserting the state could do nothing to restrict religion he assured them there was a “Great wall of separation.” Meaning the principle of the First Amendment prohibited the state from “restricting the free exercise thereof.” The limitation was on the state not the church. Up until 1947 there were many Supreme Court rulings that interpreted the Amendment in that light.

Two days later President Jefferson went to church. The service was held in the House of Representatives with the Speaker’s desk serving as the pulpit. The music was by the Marine Corps Band. Church was also held in the Supreme Court Building and the Treasury Building. That is a clue as to what the First Amendment was intended to mean.

To have a freedom and not use it is little better than not having it. Let’s use our freedom of worship constructively.

Scouts And Homosexuality

Persons of all faiths empathize with Catholic friends over the incomprehensible, irresponsible, and reprehensible conduct of a few of their priests regarding their pedophiliac actions. Many lives have been permanently stained by the actions of a few who have betrayed the trust of their faith. The actions of this minority have cast a shadow of mistrust on the legion of loyalist who have live true to their commitments. There are many priests who have served faithfully in obscure roles that have changed lives for the good. Many have consistently served their constituents with compassion and uncompromising character. They deserve not to be stereotyped.

Some church leaders have understandably been criticized for not removing known perpetrators of pedophiliac conduct from roles involving children. Further criticism has been expressed for the guilty not being subjected to civil law before now.

The strong impulse of those so inclined was dramatized by a pedophile who is being considered for parole in an interview on national television. He said, “I can’t say what I will do if released. Along might come some child and I will say, “Hum, I wonder!’.”

Now consider another side of this crime against children. A little consistency doesn’t hurt. While at the same time demands are being made to remove guilty priests demands are being made for the Boy Scouts to involve persons of the same moral persuasion in leadership roles. Duh!

The United States Supreme Court has upheld the right of the Scouts not to allow such persons in leadership roles. Nevertheless, an anti-Scout campaign prospers across America. The Los Angeles City Council, the New York City School Board, in San Francisco anti-Scout movements flourish. Minneapolis, Dade County Florida, Santa Barbara, California, and Farmington, Massachusetts have banned all Scout recruitment and prohibited distribution of Scout materials in schools. Various charities have stopped their support and many public facilities now have prohibitions against use by Scouts.

Isn’t the much demanded tolerance applicable to Scouts?

In many public schools some versions of sex education, under the heading of “family health,” advocate conduct such as practiced by the guilty priests. Curricula materials have been written with the advice of a group called Gay Men’s Health Crisis. This effort to encourage tolerance for those whose lifestyle is different from that of many families of the children has resulted in a number of crimes against children. Little wonder in that part of the instruction is on the safe way to have oral sex.

This is written with awareness that it might not be PC in some circles. It is written as an appeal for consistency. If an act is wrong for a priest it is wrong for everyone. If a priest who engages in pedophiliac conduct should not be allowed to work around children should such a person be allowed to work with Boy Scouts?

Saint Patrick’s Day

They called Patrick a saint long before there was any such formal title applied. Legend is so tightly woven with history that at times it is challenging to discern what is which.

He was born an Anglo Saxon in southwestern Britain under Roman rule in 389 A.D. In 405 A.D., while working on his father’s farm he was captured by Irish raiders and sold as a slave. As a young swine herdsman in Ulster he experienced extreme hardship and loneliness. He witnessed and experienced the cruel pagan Irish way of life that characterized the era. The trauma of hearing the screams of a young prince being roasted alive impacted his life dramatically. His harsh years in Ireland brought him to a deep personal faith in Christ.

In 411 A.D., while praying, his understanding was illumined as to how to escape. At age 22 he escaped by ship to France and back to be reunited with his family in Britain. One year later he returned to France and studied with Germanus at Auxerre. Though by no means a scholar he was a devotee to His Lord. He was self-conscious of his lack of academic ability and did little writing until late in life.

In 432 A.D. he turned aside the appeal of his parent not to return to Ireland where he served as a Christian missionary until 462 A.D. It is said he “found Ireland all heathen and left it all Christian.” He established over 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000. His rustic simplicity and spiritual sincerity prevailed.

An elemental understanding of the culture in which he achieved this makes it all the more remarkable. The Ireland to which he returned practiced a religion of animistic polytheism which entailed worshiping the sun, moon, and numerous objects. They had a preoccupation with demons, fairies, and elves. The white robed druid priests practiced divination, counseled kings, formulated laws, and sacrificed first born children on open air altars.

He disregarded all obstacles, his fears, and hesitations to serve the people who had persecuted him as a slave in his youth. Upon hearing of his return his former slave master, Millucc, out of fear committed suicide. He is characterized by courage and persistent devotion. He prayed for and ministered to King Loegaire (pronounced Leery) who ultimately converted to Christianity and thus opened the national door to the gospel.

Though not a scholar he hit upon one of the simplest and most brilliant ways of illustrating the complex doctrine of the Trinity. He likened it to a shamrock. Having three petals it is yet one shamrock, three-in-one.

That application has helped persons understand the concept of three-in-one, the Tri-unity. Similarly, H2O in liquid form is water, in a solid form is ice, and in the form of a gas is a vapor. Yet it is one and the same.

In 1845, his birth day, March 17, began to be celebrated as a festive holiday known as Saint Patrick’s Day. It has since become known as “a great day for the Irish.”

Disregard the snake story. He dealt with and defeated a greater dragon.

“Saint Patrick’s Prayer” also known as “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate” stated in part:
“I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall with me be ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”

Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator

America just celebrated two great acts of liberation.

The 60th Anniversary of D-Day marked the beginning of the final military assault that eventuated in the liberation of western Europe. Over 300,000 military personnel on approximately 70,000 differing boats and ships assaulted the beaches of Normandy in acts of uncommon valor. That initial day over 10,000 allied forces died and world of millions in western Europe were dramatically changed. We all needed a reminder of that great sacrifice in interpreting the events of today.

The second celebration was actually occasioned by a death and funeral. In the death of the lionized President Ronald Reagan note needs to be made of him being the human instrument responsible for the liberation of as many people in eastern Europe.

His incomparable charge issued in Berlin, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear this wall down,” caused the iron curtain of Communism to waver and eventually fall all around the suppressed people of eastern Europe. His strong will is seen in his daring to use that phrase against the advice of his councilors who even in the limo on the way to give the speech urged him not to use it. That emancipation, however, freed almost as many people as the invasion of Europe under President Roosevelt.

Today western Europe responds to us in a manner indicating they have forgotten what price the citizens of America paid for them. In eastern Europe the situation being more current is different. Leaders of these emerging countries are emulating President Reagan in many regards. Also, their support of our current policies comes from an awareness of what it means to be liberated.

Like him or not, and I did, Mr. Reagan changed the world like no other figure in recent years. His amiable nature, winsome smile, wit, and the ability to encapsulate a world of meaning in simple phrases is missed. His integrity showed itself in that he had such respect for the office of president he refused to take off his coat at any time in the Oval Office. Contrasted with a man who obviously delighted to take off his pants at any time and his dignity is all the more admirable.

He was not flawless nor were all of his policies perfect but in summary he was a leader among leaders. Many of his detractors had such contempt for his policies they have spent years trying to destroy his legacy. Perhaps in death it will yet enjoy the embellishment deserved.

Just before his TV debate with President Carter, which he won, he asked for a few minutes alone with “the Man upstairs.” His near death experience enriched his personal spiritual life and doubtless helped equip him for his long goodby veiled in Alzheimer’s disease. Now he can spend eternity upstairs with the Lord for whom he had ever increasing love.

These two great feats of emancipation stand as evidences of this truth spoken by President Reagan, “The nature of freedom is that it is fragile. It must be protected, watched over, sometimes fought over.”

Thank you Mr. Reagan for reminding us this generation must fulfill its role as the one you lead and “the Greatest Generation” did theirs. Lest we forget let’s make good use of it.

Religious Freedom

James Madison, known as the “Father of our Constitution” met with a Baptist preacher named John Leland under a tree at the corner of what in now Madison and Leland Avenues in Richmond. They were to run for office against each other. However, Leland, a five to one favorite, didn’t want to run.

In that meeting Leland persuaded Madison an amendment to the Constitution was needed that would provide religious freedom and give every denomination equal footing. People had fled Europe because of various state churches. England had the Church of England, German the Lutheran Church, Spain and Italy the Catholic Church. These were funded by the state to the exclusion of other denominations.

There was strong growing sentiment in America for there to be no official denomination. Madison agreed to propose such an amendment and Leland withdrew. Thus, the First Amendment came to be to guarantee all denominations freedom. It is a prohibition on the government not the church.

Read it: “Congress shall make no laws….”

In Banberry, Connecticut a group of Baptist wrote Thomas Jefferson about their concerns related to there being no official denomination established by the government. Jefferson had no part in drafting our Constitution and wasn’t even at the convention. He was a respected public figure. In Jefferson’s response he assured the group there would be no official denomination because there was a great wall separating church and state. A reading of his full letter makes it apparent what he meant. He was assuring them there would be no official state church. That is, no one denomination would be the official denomination.

The “wall” isn’t mentioned in the Constitution. The First Amendment was intended to assure the people all denominations would be treated equal and was intended restrict government not the church.

That is the way law was interpreted until 1947 when Justice Black in effect made a new law on behalf of the court by applying the statement to virtually exclude the church from public life. For over 150 years the intent of the restriction being on government was understood. Only recently did courts reverse the intent. For years the issue was a one way street restricting government. Then courts reversed the traffic and made it a one way street going the other way and restricting the church.

This is one of the principle reasons some persons don’t want judges appointed who believe in the “laws of nature and natures God.” The expression referred to laws revealed through nature and the latter to the laws of God revealed through Scripture.

Constitutional law is based on the intent of those who established our Constitution. In modern times as evolution gained popularity the thought of evolving law emerged in the Harvard Law School. A move away from interpreting law based on the content and intent of the Constitution began to emerge based on what is known as a “living Constitution” or “dynamic Constitution.” Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes espousing this position said, “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.”

Our forefathers wanted to let freedom ring —- religious freedom.