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A House Divided

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Abraham Lincoln faced a divided nation when He addressed the Illinois Republican Convention in 1858. He was embroiled in a race for the U.S. Senate with Stephen Douglas at the time, and many thought the speech he was to make was too radical for his election. Quoting Jesus, he said “a house divided cannot stand,” believing that the United States would not remain divided; ultimately, we would be all slave or all free. Interestingly, he had never won an election before, and he lost this one, but his stand for unmoderated truth gave him victory in the only election that he ever won, President of the United States.

That message resounds today. Will the United States choose to become a socialistic, atheistic society that controls every aspect of our lives by promising to take care of us, or will she return to her founding principles of liberty and the rule of law, one nation under God? Will our politicians have the courage to stand on the principles that made our country what it is or will they compromise, thinking that will appeal to moderate voters? I believe that we have a chance in the next few months to return to the principles that made us America. Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin was a sign that we’re waking up.

On election night in Wisconsin, one young man was on all the cable channels crying, “Democracy died!”, but I say the republic inhaled a breath of life. Can someone explain to me how allowing an individual worker the choice not to have union dues deducted from his salary is the death knell of democracy? Sounds like individual liberty to me. I understand that without the dues of the workers who opted out of the union, the union bosses in the state have about half as much money to elect politicians to do their bidding. Certainly their political power and that of the politicians they’re controlling has been diminished, but the freedom of the individual worker as well as the economic health of the state has been resurrected.

Why did that recall even come about? Was there corruption, scandal, malfeasance of office? No, Scott Walker was doing what he promised to do in his campaign, what the majority of voters elected him to do. Once the votes are counted in a democratic republic, the candidate chosen by the will of the people governs until the next election. Isn’t that democracy? Since the vote wasn’t close enough for law suits, the opposition chose to force a recall at a cost to the taxpayers of millions of dollars. We used to call that being a “sore loser” on the playground, but, it seems like a much greater threat to democracy to me.

Are we so used to politicians telling us what we want to hear, and then doing just the opposite, that we don’t expect someone to have the courage of convictions? I pray that our presidential candidates this year will stand on one side or the other. If you believe socialism is best for America, say that. If you believe that a free people must be responsible for their own lives and be given the liberty to accomplish their dreams without government intrusion, say that. I really am tired of luke-warm, focus group tested rhetoric from Madison Avenue politicians. Take a clue from Scott Walker and Abraham Lincoln. Americans want our leaders to lead. We can no longer compromise principle; our republic depends on it.

The Tipping Point

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We find ourselves at a tipping point in this country. Almost half the population is receiving government assistance to live, while the rest is working twice as hard for half as much. Increasing oil prices have inflated the cost of food, clothes, and any other goods that are petroleum based or that must be grown or transported. Unless something is done before the beginning of 2013, the increased tax burden from expiring tax rates will take most of the rest of our earnings.

Once that happens, where will the money come from? When I can make more money not working than working, why should I continue to pay my own way. One of the tenets of economics is that you get more of what you subsidize, and less of what you tax. I don’t need my masters degree in mathematics to figure out that at some point no one will be working and everyone will be poor and needy.

So what happens at that point? The same thing that has happened every time communistic or fascist societies have been formed in the past. After a period of anarchy, much like what is going on in Greece right now, someone will take control and everyone will be forced to work for that individual or the state. Napoleon rose to power in France, betraying the French Revolution; Hitler’s Nazi Party took control from the Weimar Republic in Germany; Stalin emerged following the Russian Revolution. In 1945, George Orwell wrote an allegory, Animal Farm, (www.george-orwell.org/Animal_Farm/8.html) that illustrates the process. My favorite line from that book is, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” We will all be equal, except for those in control, but at what cost?

The only revolution that didn’t result in a totalitarian government was the American Revolution. The reason? Our founders fought for liberty, not equality, and the government was founded by Christians on Biblical principles. In the United States, we live under the rule of law, not privilege, which provides an even playing field for anyone who is willing to participate. Liberty gives us equality of opportunity. Americans are free to take risks that may be rewarded with success or result in failure, while those who wish to play it safe are free to do that as well.

We must remind ourselves what liberty is, and return whole-heartedly to those principles now. If not, we will have completed the cycle, returning as a nation to what our forefathers left behind when they risked it all for freedom in the new world.

Our New Worldview

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Secular humanism, the antithesis of Judeo-Christian thought, is nothing new, but until the latter years of the twentieth century, it was not the prevailing worldview in the United States. The Age of Enlightenment in Western Europe, following the Dark Ages, was the intellectual response to suppression of free thought by the power of the “church.” The emerging free thinkers claimed that human beings were capable of organizing themselves and solving world problems with science and reason, not needing the wisdom or power of God. He was merely the figment of peasants who needed superstition and mysticism to deal with life, because they were not intelligent enough to understand science, and reason things out for themselves.

For almost a century humanists have targeted our nation’s children, teaching them that scientific theories are fact, but God is imaginery, that believers in God are uninformed, illiterate and angry. In 1930, Charles F. Potter wrote “Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism. What can a theistic Sunday school’s meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children do to stem the tide of the five-day program of humanistic teaching?” (Charles F. Potter, “Humanism: A New Religion”, 1930) It’s no wonder that our schools were attacked in the early sixties, the generation after these ideas began to infiltrate our society.

Today, many adults believe the fabrications they were taught as children. Skepticism abounds, while morality has all but disappeared. Politicians can easily manipulate the public with a biased media or with passionate speeches filled with distortion and untruth, because very few people think for themselves any more.

Before We the People continue any farther down the path we’re on, we should examine which worldview produces the more satisfying, industrious, productive, free society. We must compare the fruit of the Judeo-Christian principles in our country pre-1962 with the fruit of secular humanism since. That’s what a free thinker should do. Right?

Therefore, as a free thinking individual, I have a choice to make. I can either believe that God exists, He first created a well-ordered universe, and then, life to inhabit it. He involves Himself in my life because He loves me and wants the best for me. Or, I can believe that I am my own god and don’t need anything bigger than myself. This physical world is all that exists, and it, and all life on it, evolved from nothing. Though humanists totally discount faith, to me, it takes much more “faith” to believe the latter. What about you?

Times They Are A’Changin’

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Everyone has a worldview, a set of beliefs that guides his or her understanding of the realities of the world.  As I have researched, read, processed, and most importantly, prayed about our country in the last few weeks, the thing that has crystallized in my thinking is that the changes in America are a direct result of a changing worldview.

Judeo-Christian principles prevailed from man’s arrival on the shores of this new land until my adulthood. This excerpt from Benjamin Franklin’s address to the Constitutional Conventional states it eloquently, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth–that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

The convention gave us a government that is subservient to We the People, the rule of law that superintends the individual, and, as a result, a nation of individuals free to pursue life in any way they choose as long as they do not violate the rights of others. Stipulating that there have been failures along the way, especially in the area of civil rights, these beliefs led to what is known as American ingenuity and the American Dream. Individuals free to compete, fail, take risks, suffer injury and succeed have made us who we are as Americans, and people from all over the world have flocked to our shores to get a chance to become Americans, too.

In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled in Engels v. Vitale that corporate prayer in school was unconsititutional. The following year in the infamous Madalyn Murray O’Hair case, Abington v. Schempp, the court added Bible-reading to the list of no-no’s. These two cases prevented school children from being allowed to practice their religion freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Not only were prayer and the Bible-reading removed from schools, but it was necessary to rewrite the history of our country and demonize American heroes to cleanse our culture of the influences of Christianity.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said, “What one generation tolerates, the next generation embraces.” My generation dropped the ball. Why? I don’t know. We were involved in life, not realizing the changes that were occurring in our children’s schools, expecting that they were learning the same things that we had learned. We didn’t want to be accused of being “war mongers’, “racists”, and now “homophobes.” We were tolerant of others because that’s what our faith teaches.  We knew that it was impossible to force our faith on someone else, because faith is a matter of the heart, between an individual and his God.

Now, right is viewed as wrong, and wrong, right. The lie has become the truth. Christians today are accused of being mean-spirited hate-mongers. Amazingly, if you really listen carefully, most of the accusations seem to come from mean-spirited hate-mongers.

Is it too late? I believe the answer is a resounding “No!” We have a chance to turn things around because some of us Baby Boomers remain who have experienced both sides of things.  But, if we are to save the American Dream for succeeding generations, we must fearlessly pick up the ball now.

Liberty or Death

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Many today have been taught that the American Revolution was about “taxation without representation,” but that’s only the seventeenth of thirty grievances that the Declaration of Independence listed against the King of Great Britain. No, money alone would not have been a good enough reason for a rag tag group of unorganized militias to take on a major world power.  The American Revolution was fought for one thing,– liberty. Maybe Patrick Henry said it most eloquently, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Their liberty was worth the risk. It was that important to them, and it should be to us.

An army of Red Coats and the most powerful navy in the world were visible foes. We are now facing an unseen foe that is in some ways, much more dangerous. Benjamin Franklin warned us that any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security would deserve neither and lose both.  Thomas Jefferson added, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” These warnings have been proven true throughout history every time they’ve been tried, before or since. We must wake up before it’s too late.

Liberty

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Liberty is the essence of America, one of the three God-given, unalienable rights demanded in the Declaration of Independence. The Liberty Bell tells us to “Proclaim liberty throughout the land.” [Lev 25:10], while the Statue of Liberty tells the world, “Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Liberty provides the opportunity for individuals to become whom God made them to be. Paul wrote in his letter to the chuch in Galatia, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” [Gal 5:1]

Do we confuse liberty with licentiousness, thinking that liberty means we’re free to act selfishly, at the expense of others? I was taught that my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ends where yours begins. Liberty means that we’re governed internally by the laws of God written on our hearts, rather than by an external, controlling force. Only in this state are we truly free.

In this nation, we once lived in the freedom that safe limits provide. The laws of God establish boundaries for our neighbors and ourselves. Wouldn’t you rather live in a society where you can leave your house unlocked, knowing that your neighbor wouldn’t steal from you or that your children can play outside safely from dawn to dusk? Wouldn’t it be better if Americans didn’t lie, steal, murder or rape each other? Those things will not disappear from life completely until evil is defeated once for all time, but a government of responsible, self-controlled citizens is much more free than the one we are devolving into now.

A society must be organized by some form of government to function. Anarchy, communism, monarchy, oligarchy are options.  Are any of these better than the one we have under the U.S. Constitution?

Separation of Church and State

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The term “separation of church and state” is bandied about today as if it were a vital part of the U. S. Constitution. Not only is it nowhere to be found in that document, but the phrase has come to mean the exact opposite of its original intent. “Separation of church and state” has been used to systematically dismantle our  Constitutional rights granted by the First Amendment.

Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler’s Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda, said, “If you tell a lie long enough, people will eventually start to believe it.” He also stated, “The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape it.” I’m afraid that has happened in this case.

So what is in the Constitution?  The First Amendment states:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Therefore, Congress is prohibited from establishing a state-controlled religion or denomination like the one the Pilgrims fled in coming to America. In England the king was head of the church, as well as the government, so he could punish those who violated the religious edicts he imposed. Our founders envisioned a country where Christians could practice their religion freely as long as they respected the rights of others to freely practice theirs.

The phrase “separation of church and state” was penned by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut. In 1801, the Baptists, concerned that the First Amendment would not go far enough to protect their religious liberty, wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson. He replied that the First Amendment “created a wall of separation between the church and state” so the federal government would not be able to infringe on their rights to practice their religious beliefs.  View the letters here.

Two days after he wrote the reply, President Jefferson rode his horse down Pennsylvania Avenue to church, as was his usual practice.   By the way, the church he attended was held in the United States Capitol Building. Obviously, the framers of this republic saw no problem with Christian worship in a government building.

Although Thomas Jefferson may have been one of the least religious among our founding fathers, he knew the importance of a moral, educated society in the proper functioning of the government he had been instrumental in forming. He knew that Christianity provided the self-control that is necessary in a free society.  He had seen God’s Providence in the birthing of this nation, one founded on Christian principles.

I don’t think he would’ve been very happy about the use of his words today.