OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–As a rather even-tempered person, it takes a lot to get me worked up to the point that I confess, “This makes me angry.” On the same day I heard the news and read the report about the 30-foot-high cross arbitrarily being removed from the state fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, I learned the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn a three-judge panel’s ruling against the Pledge of Allegiance because it contains the phrase “under God.” I became indignant, angry and offended.
What has happened to us?
Our nation is on the brink of war with an enemy known for its terrorism and biological/chemical weapons. There is evidence of collusion implicating Iraqi leaders with those who attacked our nation, killing thousands of our citizens. We as a nation need to be on our knees before the Living God, crying out for mercy and protection.
And what are we doing? We’ve whipped out our cutting torch and cut down a symbol of this state’s historical faith. We’ve experienced the result of a legal system that has gone insane with an agenda that would ban 9.6 million children in the western U.S. from reciting the pledge because “under God” is part of the wording.
If you are a strict separationist, or historical reconstuctionist, allow me to apologize in advance. You probably will not like what I’m about to say. Why? Because I believe this nation, this American culture, was founded on biblical principles by a majority of men who possessed deep faith in the Lord Jesus. Our forefathers established our nation’s Constitution and Bill of Rights based on biblical principles that give people maximum freedom to do what is good for one another.
Am I a minority, or do most Americans join me in thinking we’ve abandoned the original intent of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights? There are people who tell us about the First Amendment’s wall of separation. Many of the values we cherish today in evangelical churches are the result of the First Amendment that was originally intended to protect colonists from sectarianism. All you have to do is read the founding fathers’ writings to discover that the majority of our nation’s original leaders opposed a state church. Baptists then and now are first in line to say, “Amen.” Many of these men dreamed of a nation with responsible God-fearing people who exercise their rights as an act of obedience to their God.
Have we separated too far? Has our nation used the First Amendment not merely to separate church and state but also to divorce our nation from its heritage of faith in the God we know through Jesus Christ?
Where does the First Amendment warrant removal of a symbol of our state’s historical religious roots? Cannot the state accommodate the faith of the people, or must we bow down to the religion of secularism? If we are to remove every vestige of religion from our public square, then other religions should be on the judicial chopping block, too. Are we not the state of Oklahoma that proudly hosts Native American religious symbols and a cross on our flag to symbolize how people of faith played a key role in the development of our community? Must our state’s flag be desecrated by the courts because our state’s religious heritage is no longer politically correct?
Some of our community leaders, elected, hired and appointed, suffer from intimidation by the “offended” and by advocacy jurisprudence. On the sociological scene, the courts have become “rulers” instead of judges. They have made their “positions” the law rather than being interpreters of the law’s intent. Consequently, two complainers about a cross and one person with a vendetta toward a religion that is not his own can create a judicial crisis via lawsuit or threat of lawsuit. Why? They were “offended” by public religious expressions.
Well, friend, I’m offended every time I hear someone use “Jesus Christ” as an expletive. I’m offended that my governor and his staff on the tax payroll are pushing an immoral activity (lottery) on the citizenry of Oklahoma. I’m offended that evolutionary theories are given as the only assumed answer to life origins in our government parks and natural museums. I’m offended when teachers I love and respect are hamstrung by politically correct curriculums and policies. I’m offended when I see a veteran’s sweat, tears and blood mocked by someone abusing the symbols of our nation’s heritage. I’m offended that a Christian is asked by public officials not to pray in Jesus’ name.
As Christians, we are to be kind, gracious, tolerant and respectful. When people are offended, it is our nature in Christ to look for peaceable solutions. However, in the sphere of public policy, believers have given ground and now right before our eyes, our freedoms are eroding and our symbols are being removed from public display.
Somewhere we must draw the line and say “No more.” We will no longer surrender our history and its symbols. We will not be locked inside the privacy of our churches. We will not be intimidated in the marketplace of ideas. We will take our faith with an attitude of convictional compassion to the streets, to the capital buildings and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
John Yeats is editor of the Baptist Messenger.