Because of the page I created at www.squidoo.com/save-the-steubenville-logo, the American Patriot Council asked me to speak at their August meeting. Here’s the text of my thoughts . . .
I am not very politically active, but occasionally something happens to cause me to come out of my own little world and take a stand. I’ve boycotted companies who sponsor indecent commercials and TV shows, and I’ve written more than a few letters to politicians and government officials to express my views. I usually stay in the background, but am not afraid to share my opinion.
Because of that I believe I shoulder some of the blame behind the reason America is in the shape she’s in. There are too many people like me stay too quiet. We’re too passive, and as the saying goes, “the noisy wheel gets the oil.” Yep, I’m usually pretty quiet on the political front, but the recent attack on the Steubenville Logo seemed to stir something deep within me.
The first thing that plunged me into action was the television interview with City Law Director, Gary Repella. When he used the phrase, “violates the separation of church and state,” I began to boil. It blew my mind that someone with a law degree would legitimize that phrase by making it sound like a law. I’m pretty sure this group is aware more than any other that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the constitution or the Bill of Rights. It is impossible to “violate” it, because it is not a law. It is a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson in a short letter to the Danbury Baptist association that contains blessings from the “father and creator of man.” I was irate that Mr. Repella would know so little about the law that he would actually give credence to this make-believe statute.
With that fire lit under me, the fact that an organization from another state sent a threat to our city put me over the edge. I feel as though the Freedom from Religion Foundation is nothing but a group of bullies. To send a letter with a threat of a lawsuit and a list of a handful of other cases they’ve won is nothing less. The longer that I’ve contemplated that threat, I’ve come to the conclusion that the FFRF is actually attempting to have the government violate the first amendment they so vehemently pretend to protect.
The Freedom from Religion folks would like us to believe they want no government religion. However, the online dictionary I use says that religion is a set of beliefs, or a “body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.” Using that definition and the actions of the FFRF, I conclude that atheism is a religion. They have a set of beliefs that they adhere to. Their belief system says they should not worship anyone or anything. They don’t BELIEVE in anything they can’t see, and their goal is to make atheism the government religion.
The first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The fourteenth amendment which extends the first amendment to the states (but not cities or municipalities) says that “No state shall make or enforce a law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens.”
Neither of these amendments say anything about art, logos or the like. Neither have anything to do with the Ten Commandments hanging on a wall or even a Nativity scene on a courthouse lawn. They don’t mention for a moment that government can’t support religion. The first and fourteenth amendments tell us that government cannot MAKE A LAW about religion. The only folks asking the government to make a law about religion are the atheists. Every law we have about religion protects and establishes the religion of atheism.
Because an atheist imposed her religion on the people of America, my daughter is not allowed to pray with her students at school. Even for a Christian, that law isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I didn’t want Buddhists or Muslims praying with my kids when they went to school. However, a law stating that teacher led prayer is not allowed in school is a law that establishes a government approved religion, atheism.
The logo issue for me has become more than just taking the cross out of the logo. It’s bigger than the FFRF attacking Franciscan University or Christianity. For me the logo case has become an issue of atheism trying to make advances to one day be the official government religion under the guise of upholding the first amendment and convincing the American people there really is a law about the separation of church and state.
The second thing the logo issue has shown me is why I am so adverse to politics. I support everything the tea party and most conservatives stand for, but I tend to stay hidden in the background. I prefer to print your signs, write letters and sign petitions. I’ll pray for the issue, but allow me to stay invisible.
In the two weeks since the logo became an issue, I’ve discovered the reason I avoid politics is the bullying. The members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation are bullies. They make threats if they don’t get their way. They don’t even consider a sit down and talk meeting, they start the conversation with a threat. That’s what a bully does.
And I wish it was a one-way street, but it’s not. In fact, I hesitated to create the webpage to support the logo, and the thing that caused me hesitation was the chance that those on my side would send the harassment back the other way.
I’m told that a Steubenville resident called in the FFRF. Some people are angry that the person has not identified him or herself. They’ve called the person a coward. However, I’m confident that should the person come forward, he or she would be bullied personally by the conservative right even more than the city has been by the FFRF, and I’m also pretty sure that there aren’t enough folks on our side willing to stand with that person against the bullying to make it stop.
It’s the bullying that keeps me from becoming politically active. The thought of potential confrontation makes my insides churn, it causes me anxiety and will eventually send me into depression. So I avoid it.
Sad to say, I also can’t see politics making much of a difference these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad there are conservatives fighting to keep America’s moral compass headed in the right direction, but there’s one major problem with the battle that conservatives are trying to fight in the 21st Century. I have discovered that the problem with a fight for legislated morality is that morality cannot be legislated.
I’m a Christian, a student of the Bible. For the past 20+ years I’ve read the Bible all the way through nearly every year, and the more I read it, the more I agree with Edmund Burke, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
As conservatives attempting to keep Biblical values as a part of the fabric of American life, I assume that the majority of you are Christians. I don’t care whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Lutheran or Baptist, if you are part of the Judeo-Christian faith, then you share with me a history found in the Old Testament of the Bible.
If you believe that the Ten Commandments were sent by God because He knew that those guidelines would mold a better society, then you should also know that for centuries the people chosen personally by God to represent Him in the World could not keep those simple rules. Sometimes I wonder if God gave Moses the Law simply to prove that it is impossible to legislate morality.
Only a handful of people were able to keep those commandments. Even with more than 700 clarifications and explanations created by the leaders of the Jewish people to help them obey the commandments better, the majority of the people couldn’t keep even one or two. King David, the man after God’s own heart, committed adultery, deception and murder all in the same month and didn’t even realize it was wrong until Nathan pointed it out. The same man only managed to raise one son with enough morality to lead the nation to follow God.
The Old Testament is proof that you cannot reform a nation without first reforming the people. Laws and statutes, even ones given firsthand from God himself could not reform the people who called themselves Israel.
To remedy the situation, God sent Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection opened a door for us to have the Spirit of God live within us and transform us. I’m reading a book right now by John Ortberg called “Who is this Man.” Mr. Ortberg says that Jesus is the only person in history to have gained a mass following AFTER his death. When He walked on the earth He was only known by a few within Israel, but now He’s known throughout the world. He has changed lives and has created in men things that they never thought they could be. And his is the only movement to continue to create momentum for hundreds and now thousands of years after He lived.
Two important facts that we can learn from the Old Testament are “Morality cannot be legislated” and “you cannot reform a nation without first reforming the people.” My friends, it doesn’t matter how hard we try, we cannot impose Christian values on people who refuse to follow Christ. It just will not work, but for the most part, that is what conservatism is attempting to do.
I don’t want you to stop your endeavors to bring morality back to America; however, for those of you who call yourselves Christian, I want to remind you that your primary job as a follower of Jesus Christ is not to impose Christian values on a people, but to make people disciples of Jesus Christ who desire to have Christian values. It’s not up to us to teach people to be moral. It’s up to us to help them find Christ, and HE will lead them to be moral.
I think that’s why I tend to disassociate myself from politics. Too many well-meaning conservatives have crippled my endeavors to bring people to Christ because they’ve bullied in His name.
Let me give you some examples:
I am against abortion, but a girl seeking an abortion needs hope, not bullying. You can’t convince me that any girl chooses an abortion on a whim. She chooses it as a last resort, because she feels like there’s no other alternative. Protestors outside an abortion clinic don’t represent Christ, they represent legalized morality, and those girls need a Savior, not a moral compass. If those girls don’t know Christ and don’t meet Him, they will still be destined for eternal damnation whether they have the abortion or not.
Likewise I believe that gay marriage is against scripture, but I also know that convincing a homosexual to come out of the lifestyle without helping him develop a relationship with Jesus won’t get him any closer to heaven than when he lived in what we label as sin. I also know that calling him names, telling him he is a sinner and forgetting that Jesus always loved the sinner and hated the sin won’t win him to Christ. In fact, I’m 100% positive that the folks from Westboro Baptist are doing more damage for the Kingdom than good.
To combat the bullying without condoning the actions of those I’m trying to win to Christ, I’ve come up with this new catch phrase, “I don’t have to agree with you to love you.” The more people we can help to understand that Jesus Christ loves us enough to not leave us in our sin, the less need there will be to legislate morality and reform our nation.
With this logo issue as with every other issue that threatens to take away our rights, I think those of us who are concerned with bringing Biblical Christian values back to the core of our country need to remember that we are first and foremost followers of Jesus Christ. That means every issue needs to be bathed in prayer. It also means our status as a Christian trumps our status as American, and although as long as we reside in this body, we can be proud that we are citizens of this “one Nation Under God,” it’s vital we remember this land is not our home, we are really aliens and strangers on this earth left here to be ambassadors of our true homeland, that place where Jesus will be King eternally and freedom really does reign.