There are few things I remember from my elementary school days in the 1970s. One was that one of my classmates, Laura, had the longest ponytails, and I would often get in trouble because I couldn’t resist yanking one or both of them from time to time. I also remember reciting the pledge of allegiance at the start of each school day. And praying. We prayed at the start of the school day. We prayed before we ate. We prayed at the whim of our teacher. As a child you didn’t think anything was wrong or right about praying in school. It was simply what we did. I also remember learning about how this great nation of ours was started. It had something to do with religious freedom. It seems as I recall, that America’s earliest settlers wanted the freedom to practice their religion. It just so happened that their religion was Christianity.
Now many years later, the question remains: Did the settlers come to America so that Christianity could be freely practiced, or religion itself. Many Christian leaders today believe that America was founded as a Christian nation only, not as a nation for the free practice of any religion. Also there appears to be some confusion about the first amendment to the constitution and Third Article of the Bill of Rights, which reads in full: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
In drafting a constitution, the framers had an opportunity to name Christianity directly. But they chose not to. Why? Had they intended that all religions have an opportunity to be practiced freely? Or were early leaders like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington who although raised as Christians, a little wary of organized religion, and had purposely ensured that no particular religion be named explicitly for the very reason that ALL religions be given equal footing? Also, why would the framers insist on, by including it in the constitution, that no federal office holder or employee be required to adhere to any religious standard, or that there be a clear separation between church and state? Man, is that some fat to chew on.
There are some Christian leaders today who insist that there is a war on religion. But I don’t believe that’s really what they fear. I don’t believe these leaders care about a war on Buddhism, or Wicca, or Islam, or any religion other than Christianity. Just as I don’t believe these leaders have a clear understanding about the constitution’s mandate on the separation of church and state. Or else why would they require every candidate who runs for office to make a show of bowing down to a Christian preacher at some point in time, lest he be deemed unworthy to hold office? Some Democrats have found that even that is not enough as the party’s platform (which includes support for pro-choice, same-sex, gender-neutral policies to name a few) automatically have some Evangelical Christians questioning their Christian bonafides. What’s troubling in this respect, at least to me, (full disclosure: I’m a God-fearing believer in Yahweh) is the apparent cherry-picking of sins to hate. Case in point: Reverend Franklin Graham, son of the revered Billy Graham, has said, “America is increasingly hostile and intolerant of its Christian and Biblical foundation, and with President Barack Obama leading the fight to promote ungodly sexual behavior over the last eight years, there is now an all out war on religious liberty in the United States. Former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann added, “If you look at the numbers of people who vote and who lives in the country and who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to bring in to the country, this is the last election when we even have a chance to vote for somebody who will stand up for godly moral principles. This is it.” Bachmann, who supports Donald Trump, the rich, thrice-married businessman, and Graham who also supports Trump, paint a picture of an America that God will destroy because our political leaders are allowing its people the free agency to conduct their lives as they see fit.
In my viewpoint, God hates sin, all sin. No sin is greater than another in God’s eyes. In that vein, we all fall short. So if one considers homosexuality a sin per the Bible, then one would also have to consider adultery a sin as well, and divorce. From what we’ve been able to see, Barack Obama is neither an adulterer, or divorcee. Neither is he gay, or performed an abortion. He has stated he’s a Christian. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has admitted to adultery, and is two-times divorced. He rarely attends church. He’s bombastic, loud, and loves money (the Bible states that the love of money is the root of all evil), yet for some reason to some religious leaders Donald Trump is not seen as a threat to the moral fiber of the country. Bachmann went so far as to say God chose Trump as the Republican nominee. Using that logic, wouldn’t it also stand to reason that since Obama actually won the presidency–twice, that God also chose him?
I agree with Ted Cruz that when it comes to this election and any election for that matter, one should vote their conscience. I believe in free agency. I don’t believe any country or church should put any rules in place in an effort to make a man, or woman do what the country, or church feels is morally right. The church should not try to be the government. The government should allow the church to operate freely. The church should never compromise its morals. If the church believes homosexuality and abortion are wrong, then the church has every obligation to say that and fight against both. But the church has no right to forcibly impose its will on anyone. People should have free agency to do as they please as long as it doesn’t impinge on the rights and privileges of others. And yes I am aware of the unborn fetus. To that I say, the church should continue to fight for the unborn and pray for the pregnant mother who’s faced with such a difficult decision. But we Americans are no closer to the moral destruction of our country then we were when we enslaved, raped, beat, and demoralized a whole race of people. The sins of our forebears, be they, homosexuality, abortion, adultery, idolatry, have long preceded us, and we’re still standing. To the churches I say, preach God’s word and pray for your fellowman, but for the love of God, please stay out of politics.