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FIRST-PERSON: Almost right . . . and totally wrong

KENNER, La. (BP)–“The Constitution gives us the right to worship (or speak) as we please without fear.”

In the last couple of years, I know I’ve heard that at least a half dozen times. In paying tribute to the wonderful document that forms the basis of this country’s government, the speakers overstate the case. The Constitution gives us no rights. It merely secures those rights. As the Declaration of Independence puts it, our rights are God-given and therefore inalienable, i.e., “not transferable to another.”

— “Let’s not judge him. After all, a man is innocent until he’s proven guilty.”

I’ve even read that line from the editors of newspapers. Common sense says it’s not logical. You shoot a man and are arrested, but you are innocent because you have not been found guilty in a court of law? So, why did they put you in jail? In fact, the courts and only the courts are required to treat you as innocent until you are found guilty. It’s called a “presumption of innocence,” meaning you do not have to prove you are innocent, but the state has to prove you are guilty. It’s a good safeguard against false imprisonment from a tyrannical government.

— “All religion is the same. We’re trying to get to the same place and it doesn’t matter which road you take.”

If you believe this is true, let me suggest you try the same logic in other areas.

“All medicine is the same, so it does not matter what you take.”

“Everyone calling himself a healer is good, so it does not matter who treats your child.”

“Every daycare is the same, so drop your child off at the nearest one.” “All nursing homes are alike, so mama will be equally happy anywhere.” “All airlines are the same, so put your family on Trans-Bayou Airways and don’t give it another thought.”

“All policemen are good guys.” “All firefighters are heroes.”

“All preachers are men of God.” Yeah, and I have some swampland I’d like to sell you.

Why do we believe truth is narrow in every area except religion? Only here do people declare that what you believe does not matter, only that you believe something.

Down in New Orleans’ French Quarter at historic Jackson Square, the tarot card readers take their place alongside artists and mimes and musicians. In the Times-Picayune recently, a painter complained that they have to claim their locations on the Square by 3 a.m., otherwise these scam fortunetellers crowd them out. She said, “We have to sit there beside them all day long, listening to their same claptrap, saying the same things over and over to these gullible souls.”

The great heresy of this 21st century is that there is no absolute truth, that one person’s idea of truth is no less or more reliable than any other. “If Christianity works for you, fine. But I find the Golden Mandates of Oprah to be my truth.” The primitive who worships a rag on a stick and the minister who preaches the Sermon on the Mount have equal claims to truth.

At the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis, one of our pastors created a stir when he said that Muhammad had multiple wives including one who was — I think this is right — nine years old. He suggested that the founder of Islam could be considered a pedophile. The talk shows jumped all over that. In this, the Age of Political Correctness, to tell the unpleasant truth about a religious founder is perceived by his followers as persecution. How dare we suggest that one religion is better — or worse — than another.

Norris Vest was a faithful church layman and dentist in the Mississippi town I served some years ago. Each summer he journeyed into the remote areas of Mexico with a team bringing dental care and the gospel to an Indian community. Their guide and translator was the only member of that tribe to leave for the outside world and to become a Christian. One day he told his American visitors, “Critics say you should leave my people alone, that they have their own religion. It is true they have a religion. But my people are miserable. They live in fear and torment. Thank you for coming to bring us the love of God and the light of Jesus Christ.”

This is a free country and you have the right to believe in the horoscope or tarot or the Marx Brothers or Star Trek. But you cannot do it and call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ. He has not left that option open to us. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” That’s John 14:6 and it is the absolute truth.
McKeever is pastor of First Baptist Church, Kenner, La.

    About the Author

  • Joe McKeever