Politics and the Church – Reversing Course…Avoiding the Shoal Waters [Part 11]

Politics interfering with the church did not end as I left off last week. A decade after the Pilgrims settles at Plymouth, 20,000 Puritans also fled England after many received life sentences…or had their noses slit, ears cut off, or a brand placed of their foreheads…for not adhering to State-mandated Anglican teachings.  All of this with State-church leadership approval or participation.  Others coming to America included Jews facing the inquisition in Portugal (1654); Quakers fleeing England after some 10,000 had been imprisoned or tortured (1680); Anabaptists (Mennonites, Moravians, Dunkers, etc.) persecuted in Germany (1683); 400,000 Bible-believing Huguenots persecuted in France (1685); 20,000 Lutherans expelled from Austria (1731); etc.

Just as the Pilgrims had come to America advocating the separation  of the State from the Chu! rch, other Bible-centered ministers and colonists coming from Europe did the same.  Among them were Rev. Roger Williams (1603-1683) [The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed, Underhill, London: 1848…originally printed in 1644, pgs. 1-2, 171]; Rev. John Wise (1652-1725) [A Vindication of the Government of New England, Boyles, Boston, 1772, Chap. II, p.3]; Rev. William Penn (1614-1718) [The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America, Thorpe, Washington Government Printing Office, 1909, Vol. V, pgs. 3052-3063]; and many more.  Early American Methodist Bishop Charles Galloway summarized what the Bible-believing ministers had concluded and what God had established as a standard, declaring;

The miter and the crown should never encircle the same brow.  The crozier  and scepter should never be welded by the same hand. [Christianity and the American Commonwealth, Nashville, Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1898, p. 144]

The miter was the headgear worn by the high priest in Jewish times {Exodus 28:3-4, 35-37}, and later by popes, cardinals, and bishops; and the crozier was the shepherd’s crook carried by church officials during special ceremonies.  Pertaining to the State, the crown was the symbol of authority placed upon the heads of kings ! and the scepter was held in their hand as an emblem of their extensive power {Esther 4:11}.  Bishop Galloway’s phrase referred to a specific historical incident when Roman Emperor Otto II (980-1002) constructed his king’s crown to fit atop the miter worn by Church officials …thus commanding the State and the Church at the same time [“The Legitimization of Authority”, Shelton Hall University, 2012]

The entire history of the separation doctrine had been to prevent the State from meddling with, interfering against, or controlling the Church’s beliefs and religious expressions. Consequently, the separation doctrine was never used to secularize the public square but quite the contrary: it existed to protect rather than remove voluntary public religious practices.  Quaker leader Will Wood affirmed: The separation of Church and State does not mean the exclusion of God, righteousness, morality, from the State. [Will C. Wood, Five Problems of State and Religion, Boston, 1877, p.92].

Bishop Galloway concurred: The separation of the Church from the Sate did not mean the severance of the State from God. or of the nation from Christianity [Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth, Nashville, 1898, p. 143].

This philosophy of keeping the State limited from exerting control over public re! ligious practices and expressions was planted deeply into American thinking and eventually enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which states;

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the Free Exercise thereof.

     The first part of this amendment is called the “Establishment Clause” while the latter part is called the “Free Exercise Clause”.  Both clauses were pointed solely at the State, not at the Church.  Both clauses are prohibitions only on the power of Congress (the government), not on religious individuals or organizations.  This was the meaning of “separation of Church and State” with which Thomas Jefferson was intimately familiar, and it was this interpretation that he repeatedly reaffirmed in his writings and practices, not the modern version that has been twisted and perverted.  The so-called “modern version” represents a chart that will get the “ship of state” into further shoal waters possibly making recovery to open waters an impossibility.  We have only to look around to see that society…the crew…is in mass confusion, continually modifying “the course” and having not the slightest idea why.  A “state” that has no foundation for its laws is a state that will eventually fail!

Next week we will start to take a look at wise course changes we can make as a nation.  They all start with repentance and prayer as a society.  God! will not always tolerate our “stiffneckness”.

– Bob Munsey

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