Last week I started the story of Rep. Barbara Norton and her bizarre rant about our Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence. There’s more to the story. Louisiana state lawmakers had been asked to consider a bill authored by Republican Rep. Valarie Hodges that would have required children in grades four, five, and six to recite portions of the Declaration of Independence. She wanted students to understand that the Declaration of Independence is the cornerstone of our republic…and what gives us liberty. Further, she wanted them to not just memorize it, but to understand what that document did…it changed the course of history. (Strange, but it seems as though we may be reinventing the ‘wheel’ here. I had those requirements on me when I was in those grades back in the mid 50’s.) Her proposal was certainly a noble cause…to teach young Americans that they live in a most exceptional nation. She believes that it is important that we ‘fight’ for these values; the future of our republic depends on the next generation, whether or not they are prepared for citizenship. As is demonstrated weekly on the Fox program “Waters’ World”, our public school system right up to the university level is doing a sub-par job of teaching this nation’s future generation what it means to be an American.
And brings us back to Rep. Norton’s railing about the Declaration. She states,”When I think back to 1776 July Fourth, African Americans were slaves, and for one to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think it’s a little bit unfair to us to ask those children to recite something that’s not the truth.” [Susan Berry,”State Representatives Attack Declaration of Independence on Louisiana House Floor”, Breitbart, May 27, 2016]. Louisiana state house Speaker pro tempore Walt Leger III (a liberal) took issue with the “all men are created equal” portion of the Declaration and said it needed to be taught with historic context. “Men and women were not seen as equals at that time, nor were blacks considered to be men that were equal to others.” he said during a committee hearing. [Todd Starnes,”Do Louisiana Lawmakers Really Think the Declaration of Independence is Racist and Sexist?”, FoxNews.com, May 31,2016].
Rep. Hodges was dumbfounded by the hostility. She said,”I feel sadness that that level of hatred was displayed against the Founding Fathers and the documents that give us the ability as women and black people and Caucasians to run for office. The lack of understanding to me is saddening and frightening.” [Rep. Hodges in communication with Todd Starnes in May 2016]. Rep Hodges ended up pulling her bill under pressure from lawmakers and a mountain of amendments. What she was really dealing with were lawmakers who were the products of the public school system and either missed the details that went into achieving the Declaration of Independence or chose to ignore them so as to fit their agenda. So there…we have people in public office who don’t believe we should teach young Americans “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” They sure don’t want them to pursue happiness. That is what we call a self-evident truth. Should churches consider teaching the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in Sunday school? It may be the only opportunity young Christians have to learn about our founding documents.
While many of his Christian contemporaries are hunkered down, Franklin Graham is one of those lone voices crying in the wilderness. Graham writes,”I believe that we are perilously close to the moral tipping point for the survival of the United States of America. I refuse to be silent and watch the future of our children and grandchildren be offered up on pagan altars of personal pleasure and immorality.” [“Franklin Graham: Calling the Nation to Repentance”, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Decision Magazine, December 23, 2015]. Instead of ignoring the rotting of America’s culture, the president and CEO of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association decided to do something about it. In 2016 he launched the “Decision America Tour”, a series of prayer rallies at the capital buildings of all fifty states. Graham stated,”The only hope for America is not the Democratic Party, and it’s not the Republican Party. The only hope for America is God”. If politicians showed up to a rally, they were not recognized nor allowed to speak. The “Decision America Tour” was not about politics. It was trying to lead the nation in prayer, confessing the sins of our country, asking for God’s forgiveness, and encouraging Christians to get engaged in the political process. Graham did what many young pastors refuse to do…address issues that some might consider politically incorrect. While a number of older pastors understand the gravity of the situation, many younger pastors do not. As Graham stated,”The younger pastors, so many are caught up in the pop culture, and the pastor in a church is more about being cool. We’re beginning to put theology in the backseat, and I’m concerned about the church.” [Franklin Graham in communication with Todd Starnes, January 2016]. Graham went on to say,”To be honest with you, the problems we have in America today are a failure of the church.” [Ibid]. The government has taken on many responsibilities that were once in the hands of the local church. “The churches have allowed the government to take away their responsibility, and so the government is feeding the people, the government is clothing the people, the government is now in charge of health care.” [Ibid]. As my add-on…the government has now made it profitable to have children out of wedlock. Parents of such children are not held accountable. Graham’s message is quite clear: it’s time for Christians to reengage the culture. The ‘divorce’ of politics and the church must come to an end.
Next week we will look at our mandate as Christian citizens in the kingdom of ‘Earth”.
– Bob Munsey