where religion and politics meet

Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is what one believes about life: what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what are the rules, are there any rules, what is the meaning of life, what is important, what is not.

If a worldview includes a god/God, it is called a religion. If a bunch of people have the same religion, they give it a name.

Countries also have a worldview, a way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Ours used to be Christianity. Now it is secularism, which is practical atheism.

Some of us are trying to engage the government, the culture, and the people who live here to see life again from a Christian perspective and to show how secularism is both inadequate and just plain wrong.

A religion is not a culture, though it creates one. It is not what you prefer, like your taste in music or your favorite movie. It is what you believe to be true. Because it deals with things like God, much of its contents is not subject to the scientific method, but the reasons why one chooses to believe in God or a particular religion certainly demand serious investigation and critical thinking.

Every human being has the duty to search for and learn the truth about life. Education and science used to be valuable tools in this search, but science has chosen to answer the foundational questions without accepting the possibility of any supernatural causes, and education no longer considers the search to be necessary or worthwhile.

poligion: 1) the proper synthesis of religion and politics 2) the realization, belief, or position that politics and religion cannot be separated or compartmentalized, that a person’s religion invariably affects one’s political decisions and that political decisions invariably stem from one’s worldview, which is what a religion is.

If you are new to this site, I would encourage you to browse through the older articles. They deal with a lot of the more basic issues,

For now I want to focus my writing now articles specifically addressed to Christians. So most of my new posts will be on my other website listed below. I will continue to write and post short responses to newspaper columns and letters and even other articles as the inspiration hits me.

Visit my other websites theimportanceofhealing blogspot.com where I talk about healing and my book of the same name and LarrysBibleStudies.blogspot.com where I am posting all my other Bible studies. Follow this link to my videos on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb-RztuRKdCEQzgbhp52dCw

If you want to contact me, email is best: lacraig1@sbcglobal.net

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What Does It Mean to be an American?

What Does It Mean to be an American?  

We have heard a lot about people entering our country for the sole purpose of having their children born here so that they become citizens of our country.  And we call our citizens Americans.  But what is America, and what is an American? Is it just a person born here?  And is America (I know: the United States of America) just the name of a geographical territory in the Western Hemisphere?

To say simply that an American is whoever is born here or who has taken an oath of citizenship is like saying that the Bible or a contract is just ink markings on paper.  It is true that a Bible is ink markings on paper, but it is not just that.  And if America is just the sum total of those people we call citizens, then we have deconstructed or dumbed-down our ideals to make them irrelevant, undesirable, or even inappropriate. 

If we don’t have an idea of what we are supposed to be like as a nation (if anything), then we have no way to evaluate how we are doing.  You can’t fix something if you have no way of knowing if it is broken or what is broke.  You can’t have a garden without knowing what are the weeds and what are the plants that you intentionally want to cultivate.

And you don’t create a new nation, like ours was created, without having a clear idea of what you want it to be.  If we don’t know what we want to be as a nation, it’s like we are sitting in a rowboat without oars, going wherever the current and the waves push us.  Like a ship without a rudder.  It has no destination or goal.  As long as it doesn’t sink, everything is alright.

Some people focus on the idea that we are a nation of immigrants, that America is not based on a particular ethnicity.  When you say you have to be Japanese to be Japanese, you are not making a tautological statement.  But you can be Japanese and still be an American.

We used to call it the melting pot, where all these different nationalities combine to form a new nationality, an American.  But now we talk of the salad bowl, where each individual part of the mix retains its individual identity.  There is no longer considered to be a distinctly American culture, certainly not one to be retained.  Every culture is equally good, but if there is no actual American culture, then we become a mixture of all the other nations.

Is that so bad?  If that’s so good, they could have stayed where they were, and we could have stayed the way we were.  If the way we were was so bad, they wouldn’t have come here.  If we become like the countries they came from, then we are not as great as we used to be. 

If we don’t know why we are great or how we got that way, we will not know when we are losing that greatness, why, and how we can get it back.

Wait.  Why do I keep referring to our country as great?  In this context, the most relevant fact is that no other country in the world has so many people who want to come here, and no other country in the world allows so many other people to do so.  I am not talking about the millions of people who just want to leave their own countries because of war, famine, corruption, or persecution, though many of them do see America as the place to go to.  But if this country changes to become like all the countries these people have come from, then we lose what was so distinct, or great, that they wanted to come here in the first place.

And two of those distinctions are freedom and prosperity, and we will look shortly how we are in jeopardy of losing both.

If you are making a generic salad, you can add a lot of different ingredients to add to the flavor.  But this doesn’t work for everything.  If you are making a milk shake, and everybody adds any ingredient they like, maybe one person adds hot sauce, another vegetable juice, you don’t end up with a milk shake.  You end up with something that no one wants to drink.  Recipes exist for a reason.  Only certain ingredients in certain proportions make the best tasting dishes.

When our country was founded, it was peopled from six different European nations: England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Holland, and Germany.  Eventually as people from other nations wanted to come here, immigration laws aimed to retain the existing ethnic composition of our country.

In 1965, at least partially as a result of the new civil rights laws, immigration was opened to all nations.  While this may sound noble at first, it forces the question: what is an American?  Is it just whoever happens to live here legally or permanently?  What do we teach our children or the new immigrants about what America is? 

We talk about American ideals: freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  But many of these new residents don’t believe in these.  And many of the old ones are starting to not believe in them either.

Freedom of speech involves the exchange of ideas, the right to disagree with each other, and the right to express that disagreement.  But we now have political correctness and hate speech laws which seek to, heck, it doesn’t seek to, it stifles all speech that disagrees with the current mantra. 

Where the old command was to love your neighbor, the new rule is to not offend your neighbor.  And you can never be too sure what will do it.  You can otherwise ignore him, but just don’t offend him.  Don’t say anything or do anything that he might not like. 


What Does It Mean to be an American?  Part 2

America is changing.  Our President promised when he ran for office that he would change America.  And this is at least one promise that he has kept. 

Things constantly change, and when they do, most of the time people react when they realize the change as being either good or bad, better or worse.  When they do that, they are responding to an inner sense of how things should be.

When changes happen in America, this is the question that is needed to be asked.  Is there some ideal to which we should be aiming for, or should we govern by poll numbers?  Whenever 51% of the people think something, we should change the rules to match the prevailing sentiments in the country.

Or to put it another way, we have millions of people coming to America from all over the world.  Is there a distinctly American culture that we should retain and teach to the newcomers, or is American culture just the combination of all the different people who come here?

Many of the characteristics America has been known for exist elsewhere in the world, but what has made us unique was the number of them that combined together to form a distinct country that prospered like no other country in history.

And looking at them as a whole, they all seem to have one thing in common: they are attributable to Christianity.  I have followed the debate on whether the United States is, ever has been, or ever was intended to be a Christian nation.  As noted in a previous article, this could be considered either as de jure or de facto, by law or in fact. 

But there is another way to look at it.  A religion is generally defined as a system of worship or teachings about God.  But that is far too narrow of a definition and misses the whole point of it.  A religion is a worldview.  That means that it is a description of how things are, everything.  And since God is a part of life, what He is like and how humans relate to Him is also part of it. 

But it also describes what human beings are like, the meaning of life, the rules of conduct.  And so while not every single person in the United States was personally committed to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Christianity informed the minds, demeanor, culture, and government of the United States

But wait.  Wasn’t that the case of Europe at the time?  Weren’t those nations all Christian?  Yes, but they all had state churches.  That is like saying that everybody has to shop at Walmart.  What we call competition in the market place is also valuable in the area of religion.  We see it in churches here as well as individual churches are started, grow, and often die, and new ones are continually being started. 

Beliefs aren’t necessarily changing, but organizations can grow stale and lose their vibrancy; and so churches that are less effective in ministering to the people dwindle and eventually disappear and others take their place.

So what was so Christian about our country?  We start with the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.—
There never would have been a United States of America if our Founders did not have a belief in God.  To say as people often say today that our government was intended to be neutral on the subject of religion or unable to even acknowledge God is to have another agenda in mind than that of following the truth.

Our nation was based on a view of life that acknowledged God, and it became quite clear later on that they just didn’t mean God in the abstract, but the God of the Bible.  They spoke of self-evident truths, clearly recognized by the people of the incipient nation: men are created equal. 

Emphasis is put today on the equal part, but we need to emphasize the created part first.  When we say that humans are created, and in the Biblical context, they are created in the image of God.  This establishes a dignity and value to human life that is clearly absent when we define human life as a cosmic accident that evolved from lower forms of life.

In the one view, life, human life, is of great value.  In the humanist secular view, life is nice, but clearly disposable in view of a greater good, as when secular, godless Russia and China saw fit to eliminate millions of their own people because they didn’t fit their plans for their nation.  Or when we abort millions of our unborn children, because they are inconvenient. 

Children were valued as gifts from God, and being able to raise the next generation as one’s highest calling.  Families were large, because they were valued.  Other cultures in the past had ways of limiting family size, but they would have been unthinkable in America

These children were taught the Bible, both at home and in the public schools.  Our leaders knew, as John Adams, our second President, said in 1798:  "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

What Does It Mean to be an American?  Part 3

What is freedom?  If a driver can be content to stay within an 8 ft lane of pavement, he can drive across the country at 60 mph.  But if he feels inhibited by these arbitrary, authoritarian, traditional restrictions, he could leave the highway for the beautiful forest and get stuck in a ditch within the first 20 ft.

Freedom is not just the right or ability to do whatever you want.  You would just end up with chaos.  Freedom, as understood in the United States, assumed a common point of reference, everybody pretty much on the same page as to what is good and what is right.

We have been saying in the first two parts of this article that the United States attained a level of prosperity and achievement (and not just economically) far greater than any other country in the world very quickly and remained so for most of its existence because it was a Christian nation.  This is not to say that everybody was a true Christian or even a believer in God, though the vast majority was, but that Christianity can also be seen as a worldview, i.e. a description of how things are and how things should be.

We started by looking at the Declaration of Independence last time.  “We are endowed by our Creator.” 

Believing in a Creator is a foundational belief for the United States of America.  And beliefs matter.  People live out of what they believe. 

There are at least three core values that come out of that belief in a Creator, specifically the Christian God.

This God is a personal God.  He is not just a force that moves, but He has intelligence and personality.  And just like anything that you buy comes with an instructional manual from the manufacturer, so God, our Manufacturer, our Inventor, gave to humans the instructional manual, telling us how all this works and is supposed to work. 

This is the Bible, which was taught in public schools from the colonies’ first foundings in the 1600s to the middle of the 2000s (over 400 years) before it was suddenly found to be unconstitutional to do so.

A part of this instruction was the Ten Commandments, the display of which was also suddenly found to be unconstitutional in most public, as in governmental, venues.  We will look at the Ten Commandments more later to show how this shaped our American culture, but for now the point is that the Bible was fundamental to America.  The Bible shaped the values and conduct of the American people.  This notion that our country, our government, cannot favor the Bible over other books of religious content is decidedly un-American.

The second core value was accountability.  If you were an atheist, you could never go into politics.  You couldn’t even serve on a jury.  Why?  Nobody would trust you.  People who believe in a personal God believe that they will give an account of their life to Him after they die.  If there is no God, there is nobody to answer to, so to speak.  There is no inescapable Presence who sees all and knows all.  The Bible lays down the rules, and it is expected that the rules will be followed, or at least attempted.  Anyone who rejected that would never be elected or even trusted. 

Someone may ask: but doesn’t the Constitution forbid a religious test as a qualification for any public office?  First let me note that my point here is that an unbeliever would not be elected anyway.  The voting public would not accept such a candidate.  But, secondly, there is evidence from that time that requiring a candidate to affirm a belief in God was not considered a religious test.  Nowadays when everything is being questioned and reexamined, words are evaluated in modern contexts with modern issues in mind.  Just as establishment of religion meant a national church then and not an acknowledgement of God as today, so a religious test was not a question of theism or atheism but one of sectarian doctrines.

The third core value is just that, a valuing, a valuing of human life.  We touched on this in the last article in how this affected family life, where children were valued and not inconveniences.  This valuing also extended to one’s neighbors, the other people in society.  The modern ideal is that of tolerance.  Tolerance originally meant an enduring of something unpleasant.  You put up with something.  Now it means to just leave alone. 

The Christian rule was to love your neighbor.  Now you need just ignore him.  In the past, people would look out for each other.  Children would take care of their parents.  Now there are fewer and fewer children to do that.  People would help their neighbors.

But now that God has been ruled unconstitutional, government has stepped in to fill that role.  Now government is the caregiver and provider of the nation.  When America believed in God, government was small.  It was not needed for such things.  But now that America has turned its back on God, people have turned their backs on their neighbors.  It’s now the government’s job to take care of the needy. 

Is that un-American?  Yes.  Because it is based on an atheistic (secular) worldview but also because it destroys the prosperity our country was noted for.  Taxes (federal, state, local, property, sales, Social Security, fees, etc.) consume about half of an average person’s income.  Yet governments across the country are in deep debt, and the debts are paid, if at all, through borrowed money, inflation, and zero interest policies, which are all forms of hidden taxes. 

A secular United States is not the United States that we were given.  It is not the United States that became the greatest nation in the world.  And it is not the United States that will be able to continue in the future to be that world leader.


What Does It Mean to be an American?  Part 4

So should the United States just keep blending all the cultures of all the people coming here to continually form an evolving idea of what it means to be an American?  Or were there qualities unique to our country that made it the most prosperous (not just economically) than all the other nations? 

It will be pointed out that the United States no longer is the world leader in many indicators.  All the more reason that we need to urgently answer this question.  I contend that the reason is that we have lost (are losing) those unique characteristics that made our country great in the first place, characteristics that we need to identify as our own and teach to our children and all those people coming into our country.

In one word, that identity is Christianity. 

We can identify many individual factors that contributed in making our country great, but when we look at them together, we find that in one way or another they can (almost all?) be traced back to Christianity. 

In other words, a Christian worldview, Biblical principles, when taught and lived, whether by individuals or nations, promoted the general welfare better than all the government programs and government spending that is now thought necessary.  So even though not all the people in the United States were ever individually Christians, there was a general agreement on how to approach life and what to value.

Consider briefly the Ten Commandments, now considered to be unconstitutional to post anywhere on public property, particularly schools.

The first commandment is to have no other gods before God, the God.  Whatever else this might mean, it instilled a sense that there is a God to whom we are accountable.  Our form of government assumes a considerable amount of trust in our elected leaders, and if they don’t have the fear of God in them, well, things can look like they do today: incredible self-serving, abuse of the public trust, massive debt incurred to seek public favor, just plain corruption. 

Corruption, of course, isn’t new in politics.  Elections were able to clean house regularly.  Such is no longer the case, as politicians have been able to play the rules, make the rules, and bend the rules to ensure that they can stay in power as long as possible.  And staying in power is a much more apt description than public service.  The politician generally benefits far more than his constituents.

The private sector has its own temptations, of course, from exploitation to outright abuse, but the competition of a free market system keeps the public service part out in front.  A customer can easily shop elsewhere if they are not getting the best value from a company or business. 

Apart from a police state with constant surveillance, there is no more effective way to achieve a peaceful, law-abiding populace than having a God-fearing one.

There is a command about taking the Lord’s name in vain.  This may seem to some as just a prohibition on a few particular swear words or phrases, but it transferred to the whole matter of civility.  People wouldn’t talk a certain way around women and children.  People said, “Yes, sir,” and “No, ma’am.”  Foul talk was considered, well, foul. 

There is a command about keeping the Sabbath.   The country used to come to a halt on Sundays.  People would go to church.  And if you didn’t, you had a day of rest anyway to spend time with your family.  Now, more and more, there is no difference between the days.  And even if you wanted to go to church, many times now you can’t, because you have to work on Sundays.  Church and religion were valued then, but they are marginalized today.

Children were commanded and taught to honor their fathers and mothers.  Marriage was highly valued in our country.  Families had fathers and mothers.  It was shameful to have a child out of wedlock.  And when an unmarried woman was with child, even with the shame, most women kept the child.  Sure, some women had back alley abortions, but they were the exception, because life was valued. 

In 1900, there was less than 1 divorce for every 10 marriages.  Now it’s about 1 divorce for every 2 marriages.

Most women were homemakers.  Now we teach our daughters that a career is more important than having a family.  As a result, so-called civilized nations now have to import workers from other countries, usually from what we would call less civilized nations, because we are now not reproducing enough children to maintain our populations. 

Where we used to seek immigrants from nations that shared our worldview, now that is not even a consideration.  As more diverse cultures flood our nation and we lose sight of what our original culture was and why it was valued, our culture constantly changes and we are taught that this is good.  The culture that produced the most prosperous nation in history is now viewed as inferior to one that is a mixture of all of them, even those when individually dominating a culture kept those nations backward and primitive in our eyes.

I have heard it described that conservatives want to keep their women barefoot and pregnant.  That’s funny, but even though I am not a woman, I feel comfortable saying that for most women having and raising children is the most important experience of their lives.  Much of that experience is diluted because of the felt and often real need for the women to bring home a paycheck.  Speaking as a parent whose wife was home for the first ten of those years, the obvious joy and satisfaction was far greater than any experienced on a job, and I know the kids would have preferred mom being home the rest of the time as well. 



What Does It Mean to be an American?  Part 5

In a conversation with a new, very young, unwed mother, I found myself telling her that having a child is not like having a puppy.  A lot more is needed than just housebreaking, feeding, and walking the thing twice a day.

Children must be taught by word and example, and it’s a long time before they are considered adults, fully responsible for all of their actions and hopefully know enough to make the right choices.

We send our kids to public schools for 20 hours a week, and if what is taught there does not correspond with what they are taught in the home, the child is faced with difficult choices.

Throughout history, it has been Christians who believed and taught and promoted education for everyone.  They also knew the importance of moral and religious instruction in schools, because a child needs regular, consistent, and constant training in moral training to produce an adult of integrity and character.

But it will be pointed out that we don’t have a religious consensus in our country (any more). Our nation is composed of people from all the nations (and religions) of the world.  So our schools must be essentially devoid of all moral and religious instruction.  And, frankly, it shows. 

American schools used to be number one in the world at all levels, and now they are just average.  Is there a connection here? 

For most of our history as a nation, we limited immigration essentially to those nations that were essentially Christian, if not Christian in the hearts of every individual, at least Christian in worldview so that religious (Christian) instruction was not strange or unwelcome.   When the Bible and prayer were suddenly found to be unconstitutional in our schools, immigration was soon opened to all the nations of the world. 

This sounds noble and charitable on the surface, yet it causes us to lose the moral consensus in our country.  When all values are equal, no values are important.  When we stopped teaching Christian values, we ended up teaching no values.  Or perhaps we should say, we teach the lowest common denominator values, which currently are tolerance and equality.

So loving our neighbor was replaced with tolerating our neighbor, which is just another word for ignoring our neighbor.  The government had to become the nation’s caregiver, because the people no longer assumed that responsibility.

We have been looking at those qualities about American life that made American culture unique and uniquely prosperous among all the nations of the world, and how in (possibly) every case, the value was a Christian value.  And when we lost these Christian values, we lost those ideals that made us great as a nation and now more like all the other nations.

We have been looking at the Ten Commandments, foundational rules about life that Christians (and Jews) believe were given to us by God Himself. 

There is a commandment prohibiting killing, or murder.  Capital punishment was instituted by God, so this original command did not extend to every taking of another’s life. 

Our leaders today want to avoid capital punishment, because all too often it has been found that people have been convicted wrongly.  Yet I have never heard of any punishment today given for those who intentionally gave false testimony or withheld evidence in a capital case.  That too was another one of these Ten Commandments.  I believe the penalty for providing false evidence in a capital crime was also a capital crime.  There is also a commandment about not giving false testimony.  We commonly call that lying, but it also speaks to honesty and truthfulness in civil and criminal suits.

There is a commandment about stealing.  To older people, this is a given.  Ask your grandparents if they ever used to leave the doors of their houses and cars unlocked, because they felt safe.  People don’t steal, because they are poor and feel victimized.  They steal, because they don’t have a fear of God or were not taught that stealing is just plain wrong. 

The last two commandments deal with adultery and coveting.  Coveting is wanting something that belongs to someone else, though it can include this resentment of another’s success and prosperity, where even though you are not able to acquire this other person’s goods for yourself, you are happy to see that person’s assets diminished so that they are more equal to your own.

Adultery can involve coveting something that belongs to someone else (their spouse), but it also involves a breakdown in personal integrity and trustworthiness, because it involves a person breaking a vow made to the one person thought worthy enough of making a vow to.

Recently I found myself driving through a very wealthy area with magnificent homes and stunning landscapes.  I could describe my feelings as only joy as I beheld the beauty that surrounded me.  I did not envy these people or begrudge their success.  I felt supreme happiness for them that they have been able to do so well for themselves.  After all, this is a big part of the American dream.  Yes, freedom of religion was a driving factor for many of the earliest settlers to our country, but many people came here just to do better for themselves and their families.

There is a lot of political talk today about income equality, and this is nothing more that coveting another’s wealth, wanting someone (the government) to take more of that person’s wealth and share it with me. 

That same spirit of covetousness has driven our government (our country) into massive, crippling debt, because everyone wants to get more and more for themselves at the expense of someone else.

For those with eyes to see, our country is in serious decline, economically and morally.  The economic devastation will hit first.  Moral outcomes can be explained away, but economics is simple math. 






It is not coincidental that the rise of women’s “equality” and women’s “rights” became an issue as our country more and more rejected Biblical values.  They don’t even call them Biblical values anymore, but traditional values.  Easier to reject them as being old-fashioned.














What is equality?  Originally the world had been used to the idea that certain people aristocrat



wants and plans to change America.  But change what?  What is so bad that it needs changing?  If we don’t know what we are supposed to be as a nation, then we won’t know if a change is good or bad?  Some people will question whether we are supposed to be anything.  Consequently, they see almost any change as good, and ‘the ways things used to be’ as bad.

The fact is that the United States has become the most prosperous nation in history in a very short time, as history goes.  And it is the nation that more people want to come to than all the other nations put together.  But instead on focusing on those things that made us what we are, our country has been trying to become like all the other nations.



Freedom of speech also involves the right to criticize what we disagree with, to express our disapproval and to dissent.   A lot of people living here now don’t believe in that anymore.  If you criticize their religion, for example, you risk being killed.  Even in this great free country of ours. 

And freedom of speech is gone.  It won’t disappear overnight.  It happens little by little.  You get used to each small new rule.  Each new generation grows up with less freedom.  They don’t remember or know how it used to be.  They don’t know how far things have come. 

Freedom of religion means not only the right to express or live out your religion in everyday life, including where you work, even in public schools or public office, but it inherently means the right to change your religion as your ideas and beliefs change.  But many people now living here don’t believe in that.  If you try to change your religion, again, you risk the strong possibility that you will be killed.  This also in this great free country of ours.

Our country is built on capitalism, the free market.  But capitalism is based on self-interest and profits.  Without a common and prevalent morality, it leads to greed and exploitation.

Coupled with this, for the first 175 years or so, our country had a small government.  By keeping most of their own money and being free, our people achieved unsurpassed levels of prosperity.  Even today, the poor among us live better than 95 % of the rest of the world. 

I contend that a large government is un-American.  Large government takes large amounts of money from the people in order to function, money that diminishes the prosperity of the people.  People who work for the government don’t have their prosperity diminished, because their wages are not based on what a business can afford or based on any normal laws of economics.  They are paid generously, because the money source is considered unlimited.

All this is paid for by ever higher taxes and debt.  This was always avoided, because we used to understand that debt will bring down a country.  Any country. 


But smaller government also presumed a religious people, a people who took care of others, a people who were self-reliant, who shunned government assistance.

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