Politics and the Church – A Detour Down an Estuary [Part 1]

For the past several weeks…months…we have been looking at the many numerous situations that have put our ‘ship of state’ in perilous waters even after our founders with great wisdom gave us a safe course to follow after leaving ‘port’.  Our leaders…the captain and navigation crew…let the ‘helmsman’ get us off course without, or with just a few, ‘helmsman mind you helm’.  We got into ‘shoal waters’ and once we realized it, relied not on sage advice but upon advice and opinion of every member of the crew…citizens…whether they had expertise on the subject or even cared about the danger we were heading for.  This week we will take a detour from “Extrication from the Shoal Waters” and maneuver up an estuary that represents the danger that we are in.  It is almost as though our ‘bridge crew’ has given up or just doesn’t care.  Let’s get started.

Why are the nations in an uproar

     And the peoples devising a vain thing?

     The kings of the earth take their stand

     And the rulers take counsel together

     Against the Lord and against His

     Anointed, saying

     “Let us tear their fetters apart

     And cast away their cords from us!”

     He who sits in the heavens laughs,

     The Lord scoffs at them.

Psalm 2:1-4

This has happened in the past to nation Israel, and yet this passage also speaks prophetically about a time in the future when this will be true of Jesus Christ.  It’s hard to imagine that at some point all the nations of the world will knowingly be aligned together against God; the heathen will rage!  A cursory review of some of today’s intolerance for public Christian expression makes you wonder if the stage isn’t being set for that very thing:

  •    A state employee in Minnesota was barred from parking his car in the state parking lot because he had a religious sticker on his bumper. [Conrad deFiebre, “Suit Claims Man’s Religious Freedom Is Being Thwarted; a Revenue Employee Says He’s Not Allowed to Display Signs on His Car or Cubicle”, Star Tribune, July 2, 2004]
  •    A kindergarten student in Saratoga Springs, New York, was forbidden to say a prayer over her lunch and was scolded by a teacher for doing so. [Broadus v. Saratoga Springs City School District, 02-cv-0136 (N.D.N.Y. 2002)]
  •    A military honor guardsman was removed from his position for saying “God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America” while presenting a folded flag to a family during a military funeral…a statement the family requested be made at the funeral. [Diane  Lynne, “Petition posted to defend ‘God bless America!'”, World Net Daily, January 31, 2003]
  •    Senior citizens meeting at a community senior center in Balch Springs, Texas, were prohibited from praying over their meals. [J.B. Barton, et al. v. City of Balch Springs, et al., No. 3:03-CV-2258-G (N.D. Tex. 2004)]
  •    A library employee in Russellville, Kentucky, was barred from wearing her necklace because it had a small cross on it. [Draper v. Logan County Public Library, 403 F. Supp. 2d 608 (W.D. Ky. Aug. 29, 2003)]
  •    College students serving as residential assistants in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, were prohibited from holding Bible studies in their own private dorm rooms. [Steiger v. Lord-Larson, No. 05-C-0700-S (W.D. Wis. Mar. 2006)]
  •    A third-grader in Orono, Maine, who wore a T-shirt containing the words ‘Jesus Christ’ was required to turn the shirt inside out so the words could not be seen, [Susan Jones, “‘Jesus Christ’ Sweatshirt Ends Up Offending Everyone”, Cybercast News Service, March 6, 2001]
  •    A school official in Saint Louis, Missouri, caught an elementary student praying over his lunch; he lifted the student from his seat, reprimanded him in front of other students, and took him to the principal, who ordered him to stop praying. ( a personal comment: do you figure that this is the kind of student that required schools to bring in armed ‘resource officers’?) [Laurie Goodstein, “Discipling of Student is Defended; Gingrich Said Prayer Brought Punishment”, The Washington Post, December 6, 1994]
  •    In Memphis, Tennessee, a library offered shelves for displaying community advertisements.  When a local church placed a notification of its upcoming Christmas program and a small nativity scene on the shelf, the library required the removal of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, and the wise men from the scene, leaving only the farm animals. [“No room at the inn: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, wise men barred from Memphis library display”, Alliance Defense Fund, December 5, 2005]

Enforced exclusion of Christian faith from the public square in America is now so aggressive that;

  •    In Orange County, California, a pastor was arrested for quietly playing Christian music at his picnic table in a public park. [Allie Martin, California Pastor’s Rights Violated by County”, Christianity.com, 2006]
  •    Two Gideons were arrested in Florida for standing on a sidewalk and giving Bibles to those who wanted them. [Doug Huntington, “Bible Distributors File Lawsuit After Arrest, Police Bullying”, Christian Post, April 24, 2007]
  •    Four Christian evangelists at a public festival near Detroit were arrested for answering questions they had been asked about their own Christian faith.  [Lawrence Jones, “4 Christian Evangelists Arrested at Arab Festival”, Christian Post, June 21, 2010]
  •    A Christian father was arrested in Lexington, Massachusetts, for objecting to the public school teaching his kindergarten son about homosexuality and gay marriage. [Laura Crimaldi, “Lexington school calls cops on dad irate over gay book”, Boston Herald, April 28, 2005]
  •    A sixty-seven-year-old man in Georgia was arrested for passing out Christian tracts on a public street. [“Giving out Gospel tracts becomes a federal case.  67-year-old man jailed two days for violating ‘parade’ ordinance”, World Net Daily, August 24, 2007]
  •    In Philadelphia, eleven Christians were arrested for holding up signs with Bible verses during a “Gay Pride” parade down the city’s streets.  [“‘Philly 11’ win round against ‘gay’ group; Judge refuses to release homosexual organization from Christians’ lawsuit”, World Net Daily, May 28, 2006]
  •    In Wichita, Kansas, a pastor was arrested for standing on a public sidewalk and giving out Gospel tracts and the Gospel of John. [Jack Minor, Kansas Pastor Arrested for Gospel Tracts at Mosque”, Greeley Gazette, November 30, 2010]
  •    In Hemet, California, a Christian pastor was arrested for reading a Bible out loud on a public sidewalk.  [Lori Sanada, “Christian Arrested for Reading the Bible in Public”, Christian News Wire, April 26, 2011]
  •    In Sacramento, California, a Christian youth pastor was arrested after he struck up a casual conversation about faith with fellow shoppers at a mall.  [Bob Unruh, “Shopping mall’s speech restrictions torpedoed; Appeals court affirms right to ‘engage in casual conversations'”, World Net Daily, August 13, 2010]

Modern hostility toward Christianity in America is unprecedented, but in general is not new.  Next week we will look at the anti-Christian ramblings of a prominent foundation era writer and our Founding Fathers’ responses.

– Bob Munsey

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