A Guarantee Demands a Guarantor
Vol: 117 Issue: 13 Monday, June 13, 2011
Texas Governor Rick Perry called for his fellow governors across the country to join him in a day of prayer and fasting “on behalf of our troubled nation” in August. From the reaction to his invitation, one would think Perry had asked them to join a coven of witches to cast prosperity spells together.
One would think that Christians were some kind of dangerous, militant minority whose basic statement of faith posed a direct threat to national security. (Except that representatives of the religion that fits that description are sought-after guests at White House dinners.)
The Washington Post wondered aloud if Governor Perry’s call to prayer is Constitutional before concluding that it probably is, but ought not to be. The AP speculated that Perry’s call to prayer is nothing more than a cynical effort to raise his public stature in advance of making a presidential declaration.
Crazies across the country find some kind of violation of the First Amendment in Perry’s call for a day of prayer — because Perry is a Christian and therefore, despite the invitation being open to all faiths, Perry is advancing Christianity over other religions.
If Perry wasn’t himself a Christian, he wouldn’t be open to the charge of favoring Christianity. Following that line of reasoning, the only people qualified to lead a prayer service in America are unbelievers.
The entire argument that the Constitution mandates a separation of church and state is found not in the Constitution, but in a letter from Thomas Jefferson written to the Danbury Baptists Association in 1802. In it, he wrote:
“…I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
That quote, taken out of context, has been subjected to more analysis and interpretative flights of fancy than has the original text of the First Amendment itself, which says simply that:
“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof.”
The First Amendment, as written, calls for freedom of religion. Jefferson’s letter, as interpreted, calls for freedom from religion. So Jefferson’s single letter carries greater weight among secularists than does the actual First Amendment.
To make Jefferson’s letter authoritative, Jefferson must himself have a record of advocacy for freedom from religion. But apart from that single letter in 1802 written to address a specific question in a specific case, Jefferson’s real attitude was better expressed in an 1808 opinion in which he said:
“Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.”
There have been 136 national calls to prayer and fasting or thanksgiving by sitting Presidents of the United States since 1789. Every president since Truman has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.
(Interesting historical factoid: 33 of 44 Presidents signed National Day of Prayer proclamations. Four of those that did not — died in office.)
Since 1775 there have been some 914 state and federal calls to according to the National Day of Prayer’s website.
In any case, Rick Perry is a state governor, not the Congress. In 1983 the Supreme Court reaffirmed the rights of states to open legislative sessions with prayer.
Nonetheless, Perry’s call to prayer has drawn out all the crazies across the country who want to shut down the event – get this — in the name of tolerance. Honest.
In their eyes, tolerance is when they shut down ideas that they can’t tolerate.
The ever-reliable Barry Lynn of “Americans United for Separation of Church and State” attacked the government’s involvement in a scheduled prayer event, which Lynn compared to a “fundamentalist Christian revival service.”
The fact that Perry’s invitation was made publicly, and in that public invitation, Governor Perry invited participation by people of all faiths is irrelevant to Barry Lynn and his pals.
They have already decided what they will tolerate in the name of tolerance and what is intolerable.
“With all due respect, Gov. Perry, I must remind you that you were elected chief executive of the state of Texas – not its chief pastor. What you are proposing is not an inclusive event that welcomes all people,” wrote Lynn.
What kind of prayer service should a fundamentalist Christian attend? An Islamic prayer service? A Jewish prayer service? A Mormon prayer service? It is ridiculous. What kind of thinking demands freedom of religion on the condition it’s a religion you DON’T believe in?
This is what passes for freedom of religion in America in 2011. The only other governor that so far has dared to say he’ll attend is Sam Brownback of Kansas.
He’s a Catholic — so as long as the event isn’t Catholic, he can go.
“If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Governor Perry’s call to prayer and fasting is undoubtedly rooted in this promise given by God to the Israelites under King Solomon some three thousand years ago. But it was a conditional promise. . .
“But if ye turn away, and forsake My statutes and My commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of My land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for My Name, will I cast out of My sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.” (2 Chronicles 7:14,19-20)
I used to try and imagine what the Tribulation would look like. I’m not the only one; there have been books and movies and short stories and sermons and entire ministries all focused on the topic of the end times and the coming Tribulation Period.
I was never quite able to picture a world in which being a Christian was a bad thing or that Christians could ever find themselves facing the kind of persecution described in the pages of the Revelation.
But as we get closer to the time appointed, the shadows of what is to come loom large on the horizon. The picture is starting to come into focus.
If ever there were a time when a people called by the Lord’s Name needed to humble themselves and pray, it is this time and this people. No nation in the history of time has been more blessed by Divine Providence than the nation defined by its reliance on the Divine.
The Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, was a formal explanation to King George explaining why Congress had voted in favor of declaring independence from Great Britain.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Look closely at our most basic rights. Note that they are all under attack from our own government. The “right to life” has become a political slogan used to distinguish them from pro-abortion forces masquerading as protecting the “right to choose” – provided the choice is abortion.
One of the biggest grudges Liberal America has with Sarah Palin was that she refused to abort her youngest baby when they learned he would be born with Down’s Syndrome. Because she chose to not to kill her baby, one of the criticisms regularly thrown her way was “Palin Refused to Choose.”
In their view, Trig Palin’s right to life is secondary to a woman’s right to choose.
Governor Rick Perry’s liberty to call other governors to join him in a day of prayer is under attack as “intolerant” of other religions — despite his invitation for other religions to attend.
The counter argument is that other religions won’t feel free to attend — because Christians are intolerant and so therefore Christians should be excluded.
The liberty of the majority is thus curtailed by the will of the vocal minority.
The “pursuit of happiness” was always understood as the unfettered pursuit of financial independence and is the basis of American capitalism.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it helps, as the saying goes. It has been my experience that people with homes, jobs and bank accounts are generally happier than homeless people looking for work and eating from dumpsters.
According to the White House, your right to the pursuit of happiness (wealth) is limited by your social responsibility to those, who the government determines are “less fortunate” – equating hard work with dumb luck.
Hence, there comes a time when “you’ve earned enough money” and it becomes the government’s job to take it from you in the name of social justice.
In 1798, John Adams wrote to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Massachusetts Militia:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”
While not all the founding fathers were evangelical or born again Christians, they acknowledged the truthfulness of the Bible and the authority of the Creator over His creation. They applied these concepts to the legislative process, the judicial system, and standards for life.
Now look back up to the Declaration. Those individual rights, all of which are under direct government attack, are supposedly guaranteed. But the guarantee is only as good as one’s faith in the Guarantor.
It’s a fairly straightforward understanding that seems to elude almost everyone today except guys like Barry Lynn, who understand the equation as perfectly today as did John Adams back in 1798.
If God isn’t real, then neither is your independence.