where religion and politics meet

Everybody has a worldview. A worldview is what you believe 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.

Nations have worldviews too, a prevailing way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Politics is the outworking of that worldview in public life.

Our country’s worldview used to be Christianity. Now we are told it is and has always been secularism, which is practical atheism. This issue divides our country, but those who disagree are divided as well on how to respond.

Our country could not have been founded as a secular nation, because a secular country could not guarantee freedom of religion. Secular values would be higher than religious ones, and they would supersede them when there was a conflict. Secularism sees religion only as your personal preferences, like your taste in food, music, or movies. It does not see religion, any religion, as being true.

But God, prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments were always important parts of our public life, including our public schools, until 1963, when the court called supreme ruled them unconstitutional, almost 200 years after our nation’s founding.

Our country also did not envision a multitude of different religions co-existing in one place, because the people, and the government, would then be divided on the basic questions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Our Constitution, which we fought a war to be able to enact, states, among other things, that our government exists for us to form a more perfect union, ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. It could not do this unless it had a clear vision of what it considers to be true, a vision shared with the vast majority of the people in this country.

I want 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.

Because religion deals with things like God, much of its contents is not subject to the scientific method, though the reasons why one chooses to believe in God or a particular religion certainly demand serious investigation, critical thinking, and a hunger for what is true.

Science and education used to be valuable tools in the search for truth, but science has chosen to answer the foundational questions of life without accepting the possibility of any supernatural causes, and education no longer considers the search to be necessary, possible, 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. Many of the newer articles are shorter responses to partiular problems.

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.

Larry Craig

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What Religious Freedom Really Means in America

Did you know that when our Founders were writing our Constitution, they debated whether they should add a list of rights to it? 

They were afraid that if they listed these rights, the government might think that these were the only rights that the people were entitled to.  They also thought that the government might think that government was the one who gave them these rights.  And some thought also that there’s no point in saying that we have a right to something if there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the government the power to restrict that right.  

They used the example of freedom of the press.  They asked why they should have to say that the press is free if there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the government any right to restrict that freedom.   By saying that the press has a right to be free might suggest to some that the government has power to restrict the press in some way if they wanted to.

Eventually they decided to list some of these rights, and so the first ten amendments to our Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. 

Among the first rights to be named is that “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion].”  The statement is absolute, no law shall be made, and the exercise of religion shall be free.  And since this is part of the First Amendment, it is as if to say that this right is at the foundation of who we are as a people.

But this statement, this right, only makes sense under certain conditions.  For our country to recognize the importance of free exercise of religion among the first rights listed in guiding our country says a lot about our country that needs to be heard and discussed today.  

I submit that this one statement in the First Amendment defines our nation in at least three ways.

Some people today will want you to think that what the Founders of our nation intended is not important today.  They will say that our Founders could not foresee the many ways that our nation would change over the years, and therefore we have to change our understanding of the Constitution and our country to adapt to new circumstances.

On the contrary, to change the intended or original nature of our country to conform to modern thinking is, frankly, a form of treason.  When nations fight wars, the primary goal is not to kill people.  They only kill people in order to achieve that goal.  The goal is essentially to change the government of the nation they are fighting against. 

One side wins, the other side loses, and the winner imposes its will on the loser.  Maybe it takes control of some land or absorbs that nation into itself.  If it can be done peacefully, all the better.  We may talk about things like conquest or retaliation with regard to war, but what it boils down to is changing the government of another nation, whether changing its leaders or changing its policies,

When people in our own country try to change our government, our country, from what it was intended to be to something else, then they are doing the same thing as if another country had attacked us and imposed its will on ours.  It isn’t any less insidious or treacherous if it is done slowly over generations than if it is done quickly through a coup or a war. 

So what our Founders intended for our country is essential in deciding everything we do as a country.  Politicians and courts and Presidents can act as if what the Founders intended for our country isn’t important, and there is nobody to compel them to try to keep or restore our country to its original settings, but people need to learn what our country is supposed to be like and keep talking about it and keep judging the things that are happening in our country as to whether they are right or wrong based on that information.

So what exactly does the right to free exercise of religion mean for our country?
1)         It means that religion, as understood by the Founders, was consonant with the highest values of our country.  Countries have values just like people do.  If our country was founded to be a secular country, as we are constantly being told, then there would be a value system higher than that of religion or religious values, and free exercise of religion could not be promised.

But free exercise of religion is a right, so government has no authority to restrict it.  So the Founders assumed a religious nature for our nation.  John Adams famously said that “our Constitution is made for a religious and moral people.  It is wholly unsuited for any other.”

We are being told today that religious people must restrict their rights or conform their actions to public demands because it is necessary for the rights of other people.  Our Founders saw no conflicts between religion and other people’s rights. 

Notice that the rights affirmed in the Bill of Rights are all things that people are free to do without the intrusion of government or things that the government cannot do to its people.  There is nothing that compels anybody to do anything for or to somebody else.  Now we are told that people have rights to things that require other people to do things for them, whether by their actions or by the government taking their money and using it to give things to people that they now have a right to have.

The very idea of a secular nation is shown to be wrong by the mere fact that these rights were considered to be given to us by God.  Atheists and secularists don’t like anything about religion and God influencing public policies, but the whole idea of human rights as found in the Constitution is based on God and a particular understanding of that God. 

So, yes, it was religion that influenced the very idea of a free nation, our nation.  This fact alone should prove that the idea of the separation of church and state is wrong as it is currently understood.  The Founders’ views of God showed them that independence was the right course of action.

2)         The right to free exercise of religion means that the Founders had a particular religion in mind.  The Founders weren’t philosophers who hypothesized: what about this religion, or that religion?  They knew that there were all kinds of religions in the world and that they have competing ideas of truth. 

Religions all have very different practices on what is normal or moral behavior.  In India, they used to burn alive the widows of their newly deceased husbands in one huge bonfire.  It was the English who governed the country and who reintroduced Christianity back into India who were responsible for ending that practice.

Religion isn’t just about doctrines, what you believe about a God who is out there somewhere.  Religion is a whole encompassing worldview that defines your views of truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil, good and bad, worthy and unworthy. 

Laws are based on these kinds of values.  You can’t promise on the one hand that religious exercise is free, and then, based on an entirely secular worldview of moral relativism and cultural equivalency, make laws that limit what religious people can do. 

That may sound like religious people are given a blank check to do all manner of things in the name of their religion.  But the moral code of Christians was well known, to the Founders and to the public.  

The moral code for our country was basically summarized by the Ten Commandments, which we used to display in our schools, court houses, and in the public squares, plus the general command to love your neighbor.  Our nation felt quite safe allowing and even promoting this free exercise of religion.

Our First Congress had Bibles printed to be used in all the public schools.  I am reading now the basic reading books used in our public schools during the 1800s.  They are very explicitly Christian in their content.  Much of it could be used just the way they are in Sunday School, the teaching arm of the Christian Church. 

Christian morality gave us love thy neighbor, compassion, helping people in need, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, giving, self-sacrifice, honesty, integrity, hard work, responsibility, respect, courage, self-control, discipline, humility, trust, honesty, loyalty, faithfulness, patience, promoting marriage, saving yourself for marriage, having children only in a marriage, and working through hard marriages rather than breaking up a family.

I’m not saying that these virtues are not found anywhere else, but Christianity was the value system which embraced all of these virtues, and they were equally embraced by our country.   No, not everybody lived by these virtues, but these were all considered to be virtues and the right way to live. 

So when the Founders said that the free exercise of religion is a fundamental human right, they had Christianity in mind. 

But if free exercise of religion is a fundamental human right, then it must apply to all religions and not just to Christianity.

So this leads to the third meaning of religious freedom in our country.

3)         The right to free exercise of religion in our country would also mean that our Founders were not expecting or planning to create a diverse nation where everybody under the sun would or could come here and “do their own thing.”  There are religions that have practiced human sacrifice, the burning alive of widows, honor killings, and female genital mutilation.  So, no, I do not believe that they were dreaming of an America where everybody could come here and freely practice their religion from back home.  They were thinking of those people who already constituted this new nation.

A few years after the Constitution was ratified, the United States went to war with four Muslim nations on the northern coast of Africa.  They were hijacking our ships and taking our sailors captive.  Our leaders couldn’t understand why they were doing this, so in talks with them, the Muslim leaders showed them from the Koran that it was their duty as Muslims to wage war against the infidels.  That’s what Muslims do.

So while our leaders believed that freedom of religious exercise is a human right, I don’t believe for a minute that they expected, wanted, or would have allowed massive migration of Muslims into our country, knowing that there would inevitably be a clash of cultures at some point. 

If you read the early writings, you know that there were some Muslims in our country.  But you also know that our Founders fully expected that differing ideas would be fully debated, and the truth would win out.  They did not understand religions as personal preferences like one’s taste in music or food.  Religion was about truth.

Christian exercise was not muted so as not to offend those of other religions.  The country took a stand as a Christian nation as evidenced by the use of the Bible in its public schools.

As for the idea of diversity and the mass migration of differing cultures into our country, if you read the Preamble to the Constitution, you will see that our government was founded to form a more perfect Union
[how can diversity create union?],
establish Justice,
which would mean the securing of our rights, like having free exercise of religion,
insure domestic Tranquility
[how can you have tranquility when everyone disagrees on what is right and wrong, good and bad],
provide for the common defense,
which would mean keeping our government and our country from changing into something they were not intended to be,
promote the general Welfare,
which means to promote what is best for the citizens of our country before that of the rest of the world,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
which means to see that we don’t ruin the future for our children because of something that we want to do today. 

We shouldn't do things that endanger our nation’s future, like accumulating massive debt that can’t be paid down or bringing in masses of people whose values are very different from our own.  Immigration is forever.  Hundreds become thousands become millions. 

Government exists for the happiness and security of its own people.  Happiness is their word.  In modern political speech, you could use a slogan like America First.

Conservative Christians and lawmakers keep trying to pass laws to protect religious freedom.  I believe that is a mistake.  By trying to pass these laws, they are saying that the First Amendment didn’t really address these issues, and we are trying to get something that wasn’t a part of the original plan. 

On the contrary, they need to reassert all that the First Amendment promises, that the First Amendment is enough to guarantee them these right.  They should be challenging the assumption that our Founders intended our nation to be a secular nation and that religion, specifically Christianity, has no place in our public policy. 

It is often noted that John Adams and our Congress stated once that our country was not founded on the Christian religion.  But this statement was made in 1797 in dialogue with the Muslim pirates before we went to war with them.  We had been paying them tribute, buying them off, to keep them from attacking our ships.  

When you see the context of their statement, you understand better the point of the statement.  They were trying to avoid giving them any further reason for hostile action. 

Muslim countries are run by the Koran.  That is their highest law and forms their legal system.  Christianity does not form our legal system or spell out the form of our government.  So what they said was factually true, but perhaps a little incomplete. 

Christianity is not related to our government like the Koran is related to the government in Muslim countries.  But Christianity did form the basis of our moral values as evidenced by the Declaration of Independence and the high place the Bible had in our public schools.

Christians are concerned today over the increasing government restrictions on religious freedom.  They would do better if they focused on what kind of nation we were founded to be. 

Even if we were founded as a Christian nation, should or can we still insist on that since we have become a very diverse nation since then? 

The choice is either being a Christian nation or a secular nation.  If we choose to be a secular nation, then we are no longer the nation that was started in 1776.  We should change our name so as to not confuse the two nations with each other. 

We will become increasingly diverse with very little to bind us together.  We can expect to have continual strife as major cultures, value systems, and truth systems clash, with nobody willing to compromise.  Frankly, that is a dim prospect for the future of our nation. 

As a secular nation, we have no choice but to bring in as many different cultures and religions as possible.  Diversity is our strength, so we are told.  But expect then to have a society continually at war with itself, with every group fighting for its own truth, validation, and piece of a shrinking pie.

Apart from a major religious revival, as in Christian revival, it is getting harder and harder for many to make the case for returning to our Christian roots, because there are so many people here now who have brought their other worldviews, i.e. religions, here.  Since 1965, our leaders have focused on diversity in our immigration policies, so any kind of national consensus keeps getting harder to attain.

But Christianity lost its foothold in America, not because it proved unworthy or because Christians became indifferent to their religion, but because the court called supreme ruled its exclusion from public life, and lawsuits, court rulings, and a few generations of children growing up under the new rules made it seem passé or at least marginalized in modern America. 

The Christian Church needs a religious revival in America, and it often tells us that our hope is not found in politics.  But if we don’t challenge the assumptions about our nation’s history and founding, that revival will do very little to change our country, because our schools, our government, and our courts will still be doing things based on secularism, because they believe that is how our country is supposed to be.  And they will still be restricting the way that the Church can interact with society and what the Church can say publicly.

The Church needs to challenge the thinking that it is forbidden for it to talk politically and to be involved politically.  Our country is a representative country, and Christians must insist on being represented as well.  It’s not humility to let the heathen, the atheists, and the secularists run the country, the schools, the media, and then mourn that our country is going to hell.  The Church needs to challenge the idea that schools and public life must be devoid of anything having to do with God. 

All those lawsuits about crosses in public places and Christian organizations in public schools need to be challenged and thrown out.  Christians need to become more vocal.  This is their country too, and the country that their children will grow up in.  This is the country that used to be the leader of the free world, a light to the nations, an example of what freedom and religious freedom can do for a nation.

There may well have to be acts of civil disobedience where people defy a government edict, law, or regulation, and the Church needs to be ready to stand with these people when this happens and force the government to back down.

Jesus said that if someone strikes you on the cheek, you should turn the other one to him.  If someone strikes me on the cheek, I will try to do that.  But if someone starts striking my wife or my kids, I will try to stop them.  And that it takes force, I will use it. 


If Christians think it virtuous to let the heathen, the secularists, and the atheists take over their country, that’s one thing.  But for the sake of your children and grandchildren, you need to fight to get back the country that our forefathers left to us, what some famous people from our past called “the last best hope of earth.”