The Pledge Of Allegiance

John Leland in appealing to the Father of our Constitution, James Madison, for religious freedom wrote:

“There is no Bill of Rights. Whenever a number of men enter int a state of society, a number of individual rights must be given up to society, but there should be a memorial of those not surrendered, otherwise, every natural and domestic right becomes alienable, which raises tyranny at once, and this is as necessary in one form or government as in another.” Now, there is a thought! Note, “a number of rights must be given up to society.”

Acting in response to Leland’s appeal Madison acted when the First Congress convened in January 1789. Early in the session Madison presented the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution, called the Bill of Rights. In part the first of these stated: “Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Parenthetically, neither should the courts.

This Bill of Rights was intended to do two things. One, was to forbid the establishment of a state sponsored denomination as was common in Europe. Second, it restricts laws being made “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This simply leveled the playing field for all denominations and removed road blocks to the practice of religion.

The proponents of the First Amendment wanted to insure freedom OF religion not freedom FROM religion.

To pledge allegiance or not to pledge? Somebody’s right have to be given up. If we have freedom of speech, if we have freedom of religion, if we have a pledge approved by Congress in 1952, and practiced by millions ever since —- let’s pledge.

Why should the rights of the vast majority have to be given up to appease a religious minority?

Atheism is a form of religious belief about God.

Why do atheist want the Pledge of Allegiance removed from schools? Are they trying to convert Christians to their belief in no God?

A glimpse of what Congress intended is found in this Congressional Decree of 1782:
“It being the indispensable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God, the giver of all good, for his gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general…”

It continued and concluded:
“…they do further recommend to all ranks and testify their gratitude of God for his goodness, by cheerful obedience to his laws, and by protecting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.”

In these turbulent times of terrorism we need to consider well these words of Benjamin Franklin: “We need God to be our friend, not our adversary.”

Let’s pledge!

Pete Rose And Forgiveness

Pete Rose, the great ex-Cardinal baseball layer, has confessed to what he denied for 14 years. He bet on baseball weekly.

The title of his new book reveals what a person who is living a lie goes through. It is entitled “My Prison Without Bars.” He has been living a lie.

Now some sports writes are trying to put society on a guilt trip regarding whether Rose should be forgiven and allowed entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Forgiveness is a guilt trip on which many travel.

Occasionally a minister will commit a sin that stains his image and injures his entire congregation. When caught there is repentance. If it is genuine should he be forgiven? Absolutely.

Here is where complexity sets in. A fault line of controversy develops over should he be restored? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Everyone who can should aid his restoration, but to what? To spiritually restore a person means to help restore their broken relationship with the Lord. A problem arise when some interpret restoration to mean to return the person to their former position. Not so!

Upon repentance the sin is forgiven but there is a natural consequence. Moses killed an Egyptian and repented. He was forgiven and his relationship restored with the Lord but there was a consequence. He was not allowed to enter the land of promise. David committed adultery, repented, was forgiven and his spiritual state restored. The consequence was he was not permitted to build the Temple. King Saul disobeyed God by not carrying out His battle plan against King Agag. Saul’s response when caught was basically, “OK, you got me, now let’s forget the whole thing and carry on.” A modern English street language response of God was, “Not so fast. You are fired as king.” There was a natural consequence.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has a standard which Rose does not meet. In 1927 a “permanent” ban against admission to the Hall of Fame was established to apply to persons having done what Rose did. He now admits it but the fact remains he disqualified himself by his own actions. The ban states it is “permanent.”

Simply admitting guilt does not absolve a person and mean all is right with the world. Contrition, confession, and spiritual cleansing means everything is right with the Lord. The repentant person then has the wonderful asset of God’s grace in dealing with the consequence.

Peace On Earth

Are these words written by Henry Longfellow appropriate for today?

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet their words repeat of peace on earth good will to men.

“And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,’ I said, “for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.'”

September 11, made a mockery of those words. In addition to the events of that day being an attack on every American they were an affront to the one the ancient prophets said would be “The Prince of Peace.” Where is the peace spoke of by angels at the birth of Jesus Christ? Their words of “Peace on earth good will to men” reverberate with unfulfilled hope.

As with all movements disciples of the master often disgrace their master. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Pope looking the other way when Hitler and Mussolini were at work with his knowledge are examples.

The Prince of Peace promised a special blessing on the peacemaker. That is a worthy aspiration.

This season gives occasion for inspiring words of songs such as these to be heard:
“Sleep in heavenly peace…”

“Praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth.”

“All glory be to God on high, and to the earth be peace.”

“Pray for peace people everywhere…”

That angelic presaging of peace on earth has been misunderstood to be a prophecy of peace. It is not a prophecy of peace but a prescription for peace found in a person, the “Prince of Peace.” It is sung of in the thrilling carol, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:” “Peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.”

It was as though by divine revelation Longfellow continued to write his verse:

“Then peals the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor does He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”

This peace is not contingent on an external status but an internal condition. It is a peace that passes understanding. It is based on an awareness that all things might not be OK but that you are alright. It belongs to those who have established a gratifying lifestyle and settled the issue of their eternal destiny by coming to terms with the Prince of Peace. They live in a win – win condition.

There is a dynamic spiritual thread running through all this. Many don’t think it is PC to be spiritual. Since September 11 people have become more aware of the frailty of life and finality of death. PC is brushed aside and raw reality faced. It is summed up in the expression, “I am mortal and need to consider my immortal state in time and for eternity.” Once settled then the peace that passes understanding is experienced. Peace!

Pacifism vs. War

“War is hell!” General Sherman said it well. War is abhorrent and should be avoided by all means. However, when the means run out war breaks out.

The most hellish part of war is innocent civilian casualties. When you hear them reported don’t forget to count the first 3,000 innocent civilians here in America who were given no opportunity to prepare in advance. Every one counts and no life should be considered cheap.

Various means were used to try to avoid the current conflict. Those in the know considered all means to have been exhausted. All that was left was war.

In Germany in the late 1930s Rhinehold Niebuhr was a German pastor, a pacifist. He did not like the political climate developing in his beloved Germany so he left and came to America as a devout pacifist. Soon he heard of the atrocities being committed by the Nazi’s against innocent people. He returned to Germany as a pastor. This was almost a certain death sentence. He wrote much about peace, war, and pacifism. He strongly favored pacifism. It is an admirable ideal. However, in light of what he saw and heard was happening he wrote also of evil. Truly, what was happening in Germany at the time was pure raw evil unbridled. He concluded that when evil becomes so malignant and aggressive war is the only alternative to stopping it. Reaching this conclusion led him to endorse war as a means of preventing even more death and destruction perpetuated by evil. That is exactly what America and the world is facing. Any philosophy or pseudo religion that takes 3,000 lives and costs many a livelihood is evil. A war against such evil is a preservative of life and a restorer of peace.

There are two essentials to win a war. One is a superior military strategy and weaponry. The second is the strong will of the populace to stay the course and finish the task. There is no doubt we have the former. It is up to us to consistently show we have the latter. Every time our will wavers we should envision those twin towers coming down burying nearly 7,000 innocent civilians. We should also project what the result will be if we falter and fail.

The only thing of larger caliber than our weapons must be our people.

We will win this war. In the process we likely will lose some battles. Some of those losses may be on our soil and of significant proportions. It is then the public must show its will to stay the course in order to avoid additional casualties. Keep in mind this war is being fought to save the lives of civilians like those in the towers, on the plane forced down in Pennsylvania, and in the Pentagon.

History is replete with accounts of the effectiveness of prayer in all of life. We dare not neglect it in this one phase of our national life. Pray for wisdom on behalf of the United States and its allies and for the Lord to blind the eyes of the evil ones.

News vs. Our Need To Know

Does the chief of police have to explain what he might have do to prevented it every time there is a murder?

Does a highway patrolman have to tell what action he or she might have taken to prevent a person from violating a speed limit?

When a military officer is confronted with a type of warfare never known does he have to explain what he might have done to avoid it?

When a president is faced with a terrorist plot never conceived of by healthy moral minds does he have to explain what he might have done to prevent it? Had he known he would have done anything within his power to prevent it.

What President Bush was confronted with on 9/11 had never been experienced or envisioned. How could he have done anything to prevent it when he nor any one else knew what it was in advance?

Is the President alone supposed to make ours a perfect world? Some persons are treating him as though he, not Osama, is responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Towers.

We are subjecting our president to unprecedented demands to know what he knew. There are times and things heads of state need to keep confidences. Consider the response to the following had the press of the time had the same attitude as today.

At a critical moment during World War II our allied forces broke the German secret code. This major breakthrough enabled our forces to decode and read all the enemies’ secretly coded messages regarding troop deployment, defense placement, and other information vital to our planned invasion of Europe. This gave us tremendous advantages.

One message received chilled British intelligence and was relayed to Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. It told of plans to bomb the beautiful British city of Coventry. This lovely old city was one of England’s crown jewels.

The Prime Minister knew that with the insight gained they could evacuate the city and prepare air defenses to give it greater protection. He also knew that if he did so the Germans would know their secret code had been broken. In order not to reveal knowledge of the secret code in hopes to interpret further messages and have greater advantages in preparing for the invasion, the Prime Minister left Coventry unwarned and unprotected.

On the night of November 24, 1940, nearly 500 German bombers bombed the historical English city of Coventry. Over 600 tons of explosives and thousands of incendiaries were dropped. Over 70,000 homes were ruined and 400 people killed. The centerpiece of the city, their magnificent 14th Century cathedral was destroyed.

What did the Prime Minister know and what might he have done to prevent it? Having to answer would have resulted in an even greater disaster on D-Day. Like Churchill our President is entitled to certain respect and confidences.