Thanksgiving in America 101, Part 1

Thanksgiving in America Through the Years

The mercies which, notwithstanding our great Unworthiness, we are constantly receiving at the Hands of Almighty God, ought ever to remind us of our obligations to him; and it becomes our especial duty at the Close of a year, to unite together in rendering thanks to the Divine Dispenser of all good for the bounties of his providence conferred on us in the course thereof.
—The Council and Assembly of the State of New Hampshire on November 19th, 1778, as they began their “Proclamation of a Public Thanksgiving”—

Days of thanksgiving and prayer in North America typically are considered to have their genesis in what often is called the “First Thanksgiving”—a three-day feast held by the Pilgrims with their Native American friends in 1621 after they’d been blessed with a bountiful harvest. Edward Winslow, who participated in the event, wrote,

[O]ur harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

The previous winter had not been kind to the Pilgrims; half of their number had died, leaving but fifty of the original party that had traveled across the Atlantic on the Mayflower. Secular attempts to remove the religious element from the historical record have fostered a great many misconceptions about the Pilgrims. The true story of their arrival in the New World and their efforts to settle and prosper in New England is both interesting and inspiring. It’s also instructive for 21st century Americans.

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The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930).

The Pilgrims essentially planted the seeds from which would spring the United States of America. Often recalling the Pilgrims, their community, and their struggles in the New World, Thanksgiving proclamations in the United States have a rich history. Even before the Colonies emerged victorious from the Revolutionary War, proclamations recommending prayer and thanksgiving were issued. Moreover, from America’s earliest days as a nation, the leaders of the United States, including the Continental Congress and George Washington, designated specific days and encouraged the people to offer prayers and thanks to God. Such declarations came not just from the national government, but from the states as well.

An Annual Observance Gains Traction

sarah_hale_portraitHow did Thanksgiving become a national holiday in America? The idea gained traction during the Civil War. It was championed by Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), a writer and an editor of ladies’ magazines for many years. Encouraged in part by several editorials Hale had penned as well as a personal letter Hale wrote to him, President Abraham Lincoln issued the first of what would become an unbroken line of annual presidential Thanksgiving proclamations. The tradition has lasted for more than 150 years, even to the present day.


You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.
—Sarah Josepha Hale, in a letter to President Abraham Lincoln dated September 28, 1863—


The proclamations truly are remarkable. Yet, as we might expect in our modern day as secularism has strengthened its grip on the culture, some more recent proclamations point less to God and more to community, diversity, and multiculturalism. Even so, with a holiday rooted so deeply in tradition and in America’s Christian heritage, it has been nearly impossible for our leaders to depart totally from acknowledging God and His care. On this page, you’ll find some excerpts from these documents—a few from America’s earliest days and at least one from each president since Abraham Lincoln. Reading them, you’ll be encouraged, moved, and inspired.

A Federal Holiday Is Set

Of course, a presidential proclamation alone does not officially establish a federal holiday. Thanksgiving became an official national holiday in 1941, after three years of confusion and chaos. Confusion? Really? Over Thanksgiving? No kidding!

In 1789, President George Washington’s Proclamation for a Day of National Thanksgiving called for the observance to be held on November 26, the final Thursday in the month. With the first annual Thanksgiving Day recognized by President Lincoln in 1863 and with nearly all those that followed through 1938,Thanksgiving day was observed, again, on the last Thursday in November. Andrew Johnson’s proclamation in 1865 and Ulysses S. Grant’s proclamation in 1869 represent the only departures.

FRooseveltIn 1933, the same year that Franklin Roosevelt took office, November had five Thursdays. Placing Thanksgiving on the traditional final Thursday of the month would make for a short Christmas shopping season, and merchants feared this would translate into smaller profits. They asked the new president to designate November 23 as Thanksgiving Day to lengthen the gift-buying period—and hopefully to increase their income. Remember that at that time America was in the throes of the Great Depression. Roosevelt stuck with tradition that year and the next (see also here), but in 1939, the calendar was a carbon copy of the one for the year in which FDR had been inaugurated. That year he departed from tradition and designated “Thursday, the twenty-third of November, 1939, as a day of general thanksgiving.”

An uproar ensued. Some businessmen were happy with the change, but many merchants who owned smaller shops worried customers might flock to the larger stores. Lengthening the Christmas shopping season, moreover, meant shortening the season for purchasing fall clothes, and this could have a potential negative effect for retailers as well. Calendars, which had been printed far in advance, no longer were accurate. And what about the football games that already had been scheduled? That issue, too, was a big deal!

Some states resisted the change while others went along with it, creating a situation for some extended families in which relatives wanting to get together lived in states observing the holiday a week apart (see here, here, and here). If you were fortunate enough to live in Texas or Colorado, you might could enjoy both the 23rd and the 30th as Thanksgiving Days, if your employer went along. These two states recognized both days!

jack_benny_1933_publicity_photoDue to the confusion and upheaval, FDR’s chosen date for the holiday was given a special name: Franksgiving! The writers of the Jack Benny radio program had great fun with the idea of two Thanksgivings. (This is a picture of Jack in 1933.) Hear Jack’s sidekick, Mary Livingstone, read a special poem about it on this page.

The president departed from tradition in1940 and 1941 as well. In 1940, even though November had just four Thursdays, Roosevelt proclaimed Thursday, November 21—the third Thursday—as Thanksgiving (also go here). In 1941 he did it again, declaring November 20 as the official day.

President Roosevelt issued his 1941 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation on November 8. Yet, even before then, Congress had taken the initiative to settle the confusion and frustration FDR’s departure from tradition had caused. The lawmakers’ efforts, however, would not take effect until 1942. On October 6, 1941, the US House of Representatives passed a joint resolution that officially established Thanksgiving as an annual holiday on the final Thursday of each November.

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A few weeks later, in December, the Senate passed an amendment naming the fourth Thursday as the official day.

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The House agreed, and the president signed the bill on December 26, 1941.

The fourth Thursday in November typically is the last Thursday of the month, but in two instances it is not—when it falls on the 22nd, and when it falls on the 23rd. This represented a small, but acceptable, departure from tradition. At last the issue had been settled. Accordingly, in 1942, President Roosevelt invited “the attention of the people to the joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day,” and he added, “and I request that both Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1942, and New Year’s Day, January 1, 1943, be observed in prayer, publicly and privately.”

Revelations from the Proclamations

While the Thanksgiving Proclamations of yesteryear are windows that allow us to learn about America’s godly heritage, we must not miss lessons they have for us today, in 2016. The proclamations don’t just reveal, they also issue an appeal.


America’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamations don’t just reveal truth about our country, they also issue an appeal.


I conclude this week’s post by focusing on the first of these elements; next week we will highlight a presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamation from the past and discuss how it issues a strong appeal to us in modern America.

What do presidential Thanksgiving proclamations reveal about us as a country, and about our leaders? In an article titled “Thanksgiving Through the Years,” the Heritage Foundation’s Lee Edwards examines trends in American presidents’ Thanksgiving proclamations and notes that “with the election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the coming of secular progressivism, God was given an increasingly secondary role while the ‘civic spirit’ of America was extolled.” Ronald Reagan, Lee affirms, was an exception to this trend.

Lee’s article is well worth reading, as it offers a window into America’s spiritual and cultural drift during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Here’s an example. In 2013, one conservative news outlet highlighted just how remarkable it was that President Obama had mentioned God in his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation that year.

Also worth reading is an excellent piece published last year in The Federalist titled “What Our Presidents’ Thanksgiving Proclamations Tell Us About America.” Freelance writer Samantha Strayer contends,

Just as the status of a check-engine light speaks to the soundness of a vehicle, there are indicators throughout society that speak to the soundness of a nation. In a land as vast and populated as ours, with technological advancements once the sole province of science-fiction, it is nearly impossible to count such indicators.

But there is one—simple, short, and easy to read—that clearly reflects the spiritual health of the country: the annual Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.

Strayer goes on to contrast George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation to President Barak Obama’s 2015 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in relation to three elements—

  • Service of God Versus Service to Others
  • Executive Versus Legislative Dominance, and
  • Reflection Versus a Jacked-Up Historical Account

I conclude here by commending Strayer’s article to you, and by encouraging you on this sacred holiday, not only to offer heartfelt thanks to God for His manifold blessings to our nation, but also to offer prayers on America’s behalf, that we might repent of our sins, both individual and corporate, and recover a sense of accountability to “the great Lord and Ruler of Nations.”

May it be so.

 

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

top image: The Landing of the Pilgrims by Henry A. Bacon

 

 

An Argument Every Homosexual Rights Activist Ought to Understand and Acknowledge as Valid

Our government is supposed to protect our First Amendment rights—freedom of religion and expression. But the government is telling me I can only be a faithful Christian within the four walls of my church. That’s impossible and it’s unjust. What would Rob and Curt say if the government told them they could only be who they are in their own homes? [emphasis added]
Barronelle Stutzman, in an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post on May 13, 1915, naming the men who wanted her to create floral arrangements for their same-sex wedding and defending her right to decline the opportunity because doing so would have violated her deeply held religious beliefs—

Previously at Word Foundations we have discussed how a typical homosexual activist looks at and assesses even polite refusals from Christian business owners to participate in same-sex weddings. Based on his or her deeply held religious beliefs, a baker, florist, photographer, or other professional might say, “I’m sorry, I don’t do gay weddings. I can recommend some other vendors to you, but because I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, I must decline your request for my services.” Even though such a refusal is based, not on hate, but on deeply held religious convictions about marriage, the homosexual has difficulty seeing this. Here’s why.

[O]ne hundred years ago, people viewed homosexuality as a behavior. (By the way, this is exactly the way Scripture sees it and treats it.) Fifty years ago, society viewed it as a condition. Our culture today sees it as an identity. This is [a big] reason gays and lesbians have difficulty understanding Christians’ claim to “love the sinner but hate the sin.” A gay man believes, “If you hate homosexuality, you must hate me, because that’s who I am.”

I call this the identity argument. For many years we’ve heard it from homosexual activists and others demanding same-sex for marriage: I can’t violate who I am!

It’s bad enough that the cultural narrative says homosexuality is fine, but it does more. It fuses homosexuality and identity together. For this and numerous other reasons, gays and lesbians cannot separate their sexual orientation from themselves as people. To them, it’s personal.


The identity argument says, “This is who I am, and I have to live that out and express it.”


Here I won’t try to analyze the identity argument on the part of homosexuals or try to explain its weaknesses. You can read more about my perspective on homosexuality in the article that carries the above quote. For now, my point is that even if we believe homosexuals are misapplying the identity argument, we need to realize its power, including how this perspective sets the stage emotional wounding when gays and lesbians hear concerns raised about the destructive nature of homosexual behavior. Moreover, we need to consistently respect them as people as well as their right to hold to their views.

That said, let’s now turn our attention to the convictions of Christian vendors who feel compelled to refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. Barronelle Stutzman is one such vendor. She’s a florist in Richland, Washington. Rob Ingersoll had been Barronelle’s customer and friend for many years, and never once had his sexual orientation been an issue in their friendship. Then same-sex marriage became legal in Washington state. Rob was planning to “marry” his partner, Curt Freed, and he asked Barronelle to arrange flowers for the wedding. Despite their longstanding friendship, Barronelle felt she had no choice but to decline. She became the target of a lawsuit. Here’s her story.

Barronelle Stutzman’s case has made it all the way to the Washington state Supreme Court. Oral arguments were presented to the court this week, on Tuesday, November 15. Go here, here, and here for reports.

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On Saturday, November 12, three days prior to her appearance in court, Barronelle offered her perspective on her case through the Spokesman-Review, a Spokane newspaper. Here is a portion of what she wrote.

Since I never hid my faith, I always figured Rob understood that my beliefs shape not only how I look at the world, but how I envision and create my art—the art he appreciated for so long. So it wasn’t that I wouldn’t create something to celebrate his same-sex wedding—I couldn’t. This wasn’t about selling him flowers, or celebrating a birthday. This involved what, to me, is an event of unique spiritual significance—a sacred covenant. Art, like faith, comes from the heart, from who I am. I couldn’t deny my faith—even for so dear a friend—without damaging the very creativity he was asking for.

If you’re not a person of faith, that may sound odd. But Rob said he understood, and I took him at his word. He may not have shared my beliefs, but he knew I genuinely cared about him. I still do, and I miss him coming into the shop. But the state is trying to use his case to force me to create artistic expressions that violate my deepest beliefs. It’s moving to dissolve my most precious freedom, erode my life’s work and savings and take away the financial security of those who work with me.

If you didn’t read the above statements carefully you might have missed it. Note that Barronelle writes, “it wasn’t that I wouldn’t create something special for his same-sex wedding—I couldn’t.…Art, like faith, comes from the heart, from who I am. I couldn’t deny my faith—even for so dear a friend—without damaging the very creativity he was asking for.”

Here, Barronelle, rightly, I believe, has made the identity argument. It isn’t just that she holds to Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality; she is a Christian, and that identity drives her thinking, actions, and affections—all she is and does. Hers is an argument that, of all people, homosexual activists should understand and acknowledge as valid.


Barronelle Stutzman has made the identity argument. Even though homosexual activists will disagree with her conclusions, they still should respect her argument and acknowledge it as valid. After all, they themselves make a parallel case in defense of their position.


Clearly, Barronelle respects Rob’s and Curt’s convictions about who they are, for, as we noted at the top, she has said, “What would Rob and Curt say if the government told them they could only be who they are in their own homes?”

Yet the Richland florist also is right on target when she says, “If you’re not a person of faith, that [what I have written about my perspective] may sound odd.” Even if does sound odd, a Christian’s identity argument should be respected in the marketplace of ideas, just as is a similar argument from gays and lesbians.

Otherwise, it will be impossible to preserve genuine liberty and freedom in the United States of America.

 

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Five Takeaways from the 2016 Presidential Election

A century and two score years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the propositions that all people are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator—not government—with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We who are here and committed to the ideals of our Founders must be dedicated to the task remaining before us. We must highly resolve that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
—adapted from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863—

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With malice toward none; with charity for all—
—Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865

 

As the above adaptation from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address indicates, I really do believe we are engaged in a great civil war for the soul of America (go here, here, and here). If we as people of faith and as American patriots don’t realize this, we never will win. At the same time, my perspective as an evangelical Christian compels me to strive constantly to speak out and write “with malice toward none [and] with charity for all.” This post is no exception.

The 2016 presidential election offers many lessons. Here I’d like to highlight five important takeaways.

First, at least half of the American people do not want the nation they live in to be governed according to “progressive” principles and ideas. The outcome of the election proves this. People have been hungry for a leader who will speak forthrightly and demonstrate a willingness to genuinely oppose the leftist agenda. In the past, they’ve elected Republicans who talked about opposing it when they campaigned but surrendered after they were elected. The people are fed up with this approach.

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, conventional wisdom failed to see this. We were constantly offered rhetoric and propaganda stating that racism and other forms of hatred motivate Trump supporters. Here’s an example from an article titled “Trump and His Angry White Base Want Revenge Against America.”

The kind of people who love Donald Trump most are angry they are not the center of, or control, all American life and culture; it drives the current “make America great again” movement that began when Americans elected an African American man as President. These “so-called Americans” see the nation with a Black President and more diverse population as an abomination to “their white Christian” America and it drives their heartfelt embrace of Trump’s mantra that “it’s payback time.”

Trump’s supporters in particular, and the conservative movement in general, include the kind of people who believe they have been assaulted by the Civil Rights movement, feminists, minorities, women’s movement, and the LGBT community they are convinced robbed them of “their America.” They also firmly believe the rest of the population owes them due deference for being the only “real Americans” instead of being mocked for what they really are; bible-thumping racist knuckle-draggers stuck in pre-Civil War America.

Not so fast! While there is truth to the notion that many of Trump’s supporters believe that religion, morality, and liberty are inseparable and that we must return to the morality and ethics that were upheld and enshrined in our nation’s founding, it is not true that we are a bunch of white, bigoted hatemongers and racists who believe we are superior to everyone else. On the whole, America is not a racist country. In fact, despite many obvious differences, Trump supporters have a host of shared concerns—and they’re all legitimate.

Donald Trump’s supporters are a diverse coalition that includes women, blacks, Latinos, and Asians. Even some Muslims supported Trump.

One African American posted this on this page on Yahoo News:

I am a black American male and I will tell you; a lot of black Americans were not sold on Clinton. She pandered for our vote, but was too obvious about what she was doing. A lot of pundits would be surprised about the fact that black Americans are not quite liberal. If you look at carefully, especially amongst middle class and upper class black areas, we are more conservative than liberal. Look at Savannah, GA. It is a mostly black and heavily Democractic city, yet have elected a white Republican mayor. The pundits and political think tank are going to say the black Americans did not come out to vote. But we did; we just did not vote for Clinton.

In the end, I believe these results are because one issue: and that is Affordable Health Care Act (AHC, aka ObamaCare). It was a bad piece of legislation. Over the last two years, every and Novemeber we have seen our health insurance premiums sky rocket; drug costs are out of control; and many people, while signed on the ObamaCare market place, cannot find an insurance carrier. In an around-a-bout way the law also restricts the number of hours a person can work. (Any person working more than 32 hours a week must be provided with coverage). So what has happen is while people are finding jobs, most of them are finding parts jobs or having to work two jobs and still have no coverage.

On the same page, Giovanni wrote,

I’m an Arab American and I wasn’t alone in supporting Trump as the media is trying to portray it. Look at Michigan, the biggest Arab community voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Same thing in Nashville, where you have the second largest Arab Americans, again overwhelmingly for Trump. What’s really funny is that when people here in San Francisco know that I voted for Trump, they assume I’m white even though I look very middle eastern. That is because the media told them that no minorities voted for Trump… how can they, eh?

Latinos don’t fit into the image the left offers of them, either.

On his radio show on Wednesday, November 9, Rush Limbaugh expressed it well. He declared that the left’s

policies, their agenda was told to take a hike last night by all kinds of people.  The average black construction worker in Michigan, the legal Mexican mechanic in Texas, has a lot more in common with the average white American laborer than, say, some elitist Obama family of Martha’s Vineyard vacationers.  This was a coalition of all colors and stripes and backgrounds that came together last night to send this policy regime packing!


The average black construction worker in Michigan, the legal Mexican mechanic in Texas, has a lot more in common with the average white American laborer than, say, some elitist Obama family of Martha’s Vineyard vacationers. 
Rush Limbaugh


Of course, none of these facts negates the egregious nature of any racist act taking place since the election. A CNS News article cites some of these, but it also points out that incidents of hatred aren’t exclusively dressed up as pro-Trump; many are anti-Trump, as well.

Second, progressives will continue to use racist and sexist tactics to divide America, grow government, and increase its own power. For more than a century, Democrats have done this. We saw this on display both during the campaign and after the election, and we can expect it to continue. On election night, for example, Van Jones called Donald Trump’s victory a whitelash. He apparently believes there is widespread racism against blacks in America, but even that conviction, I believe, is evidence of Democrats’ success in dividing America by class and race. Rush Limbaugh’s response to Mr. Jones is worth reading. In addition, watch this presentation to black voters by Rev. William Owens, a black pastor and head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (also go here and here).

Again, Donald Trump’s victory wasn’t about race, but policy! Erick Erickson, a Never-Trumper, was amazed at Trump’s support. As he regrouped and sought to make sense of the election, he, wrote,

Democrats overplayed their hand on cultural issues. They had a Supreme Court impose gay marriage on the country and then tried to force men into women’s bathrooms. On top of that, they ruined healthcare for many Americans and drove up premiums.…I have never seen anything like this election. The disdain for Hillary Clinton is obvious, but the real struggles and hurt of many voters went unregistered.

The results of the election leave these realities in the open for anyone willing to see.

Third, the leftist media will continue to abandon its job of reporting the truth, and they will work to advance a “progressive” agenda. Nothing could stand more contrary to the ideal of journalistic integrity. Edward R. Murrow, a reporter and anchor for CBS News during and after World War 2, once said, “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.”

Being truthful, however, doesn’t seem to even have been on the list of goals for many reporters covering the election this year. Here’s a sterling example.

These clips also showcase the agenda-driven mentality of many broadcast journalists, as well as their willingness to throw all objectivity out the window to get Hillary Clinton elected president. Of course, biases are reflected by in numerous ways, including in what is covered and for how long, in how opposing views are treated, and in what items are given little or no attention at all.

When it became apparent that Trump would win, media personnel went ballistic. Reflecting on the defeat, in a rare moment of journalistic introspection, Will Rahn of CBS News wrote,

We diagnose them as racists in the way Dark Age clerics confused medical problems with demonic possession. Journalists, at our worst, see ourselves as a priestly caste. We believe we not only have access to the indisputable facts, but also a greater truth, a system of beliefs divined from an advanced understanding of justice.

You’d think that Trump’s victory—the one we all discounted too far in advance – would lead to a certain newfound humility in the political press. But of course that’s not how it works. To us, speaking broadly, our diagnosis was still basically correct. The demons were just stronger than we realized.…

We have to fix this, and the broken reasoning behind it. There’s a fleeting fun to gang-ups and groupthink. But it’s not worth what we are losing in the process.

The Media Research Center, a media watchdog group, took note of Rahn’s article. As we indicated, reflections of this type are all too rare; so unfortunately, it is unlikely anything will change. Viewers already are becoming wiser and more discerning. Distrust has hit an all-time high.

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Media Research Center Headquarters Building, Reston, Virginia

Fourth, prayer works, and we need to pray for our country now more than ever. Many concerned citizens prayed for this election. Dinesh D’Souza, executive producer of the films Obama’s America and Hillary’s America, said, “The country dodged the bullet on Tuesday in a way that I don’t even think most Americans realize.”

David Kupelian, author of The Marketing of Evil, How Evil Works, and The Snapping of the American Mind, agrees. The following statements are excerpted from an article titled “Why Hillary is too evil for voters to comprehend.”

Could it be, Kupelian wondered aloud, that Bill and Hillary Clinton are so sociopathic that the average American can’t even comprehend their dark motivations, since they don’t harbor such impulses or feelings within themselves?

“I don’t think people get criminality,” said Kupelian….Most voters…size up candidates according to their politics and worldview. “We are so used to thinking about liberal/conservative, big government/small government, you’re against gay rights/you’re for gay rights or gay marriage, and so forth. We get that—and then we vote accordingly.”

But truly sociopathic or criminal thinking is foreign and opaque to the average voter’s thinking, he said.


The Clintons are so dark—they are in the grip of such dark forces and the kinds of thoughts and feelings that most people don’t even have at their darkest times, their most angry times—that we give them a pass because we can’t—we don’t see it inside ourselves, so we can’t project it out when we see it in them,” the author [David Kupelian] explained. “So…we believe the crap: ‘Oh, well, she’s always been for women and children.’ It’s unbelievable.”
—article: “Why Hillary is too evil for voters to comprehend” —


The point we’re making here is that, given the depth of Clintons’ corruption, it wasn’t just a great campaign on Donald Trump’s part that spared America a Hillary Clinton presidency and all its negative results—it was God! Just ask David Kubal, the President and CEO of Intercessors for America. In a post-election article titled “Did God Answer Our Election Prayers?” Kubal listed four specific requests Christians repeatedly made in their prayers in the months prior to the election and how God answered each one. One of these was that the media would report the truth and that voters would respond to it. I would add this to Mr. Kubal’s analysis of that element. While, as we have noted, the media did a dismal job of telling the truth, it is apparent that not enough viewers were deceived to sway the election Hillary Clinton’s way.

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Kubal’s conclusion.

  • [W]e we have witnessed a mighty move of God! No one would have predicted that Clinton would win the popular vote and Trump the electoral vote. This is simply unbelievable! Isn’t it just like God to surprise us in a way that we could not foresee? There have been many prophetic words in the prayer community about Trump winning, Trump being a “Cyrus,” etc., but who saw the end results this way?
  • I can tell you that more unified prayer went into this election than any in our nation’s history. I can say this simply because of the use of technology to mobilize prayer. Social media, webcasts, conference calls, and prayer resources were all used in great measure to bring people together to pray the promises of Scripture. There have been nationwide fasts and prayer desperately calling out for God’s hand to move in America across many prayer networks. It is incredible to join God in shaping history through prayer and fasting!
  • Finally, now is the important time to continue to pray.

Franklin Graham also would affirm that prayer made a difference in the election. In the months leading up to November 8, he held prayer rallies at all 50 state capitals. The first occurred on Tuesday, January 5 in Des Moines, Iowa, and the last on Thursday, October 13, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Here is a list of the dates for all the rallies in the Decision America Tour. You may remember my reporting on the rally in Nashville on Monday, May 2, just 3 days prior to the 2016 National Day of Prayer.

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At the rallies Graham encouraged concerned citizens to sign this pledge. As of November 12, 2016, 117,423 had done so!

You’ll note that the Decision America Tour Pledge doesn’t just encourage prayer—but action. This is the fifth takeaway from the 2016 presidential election: Become informed. Vote. Inform others. Stay engaged.

In 1996, Billy Graham said,

After World War II…we had the opportunity to rule the world.…Something has happened since those days and there is much about America that is no longer good…the list is almost endless.…We have confused liberty with license—and we are paying the awful price. We are a society poised on the brink of self-destruction.


Bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote.
—Billy Graham—


Graham also has declared, “Bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote.” Fortunately, in this election, evangelical Christians and other people concerned about values did vote. In fact, SAGE (Spiritually Active Government Engaged) conservatives came out and supported Trump in greater numbers than they have any president since Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump the support of 94 percent of this group.

religious-freedomA great many factors came together to draw this level of support, including the Republican Platform; Trump’s strong pro-life stand, especially during the third presidential debate; his stand for religious liberty; and his commitment to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Of course, all of this bodes well for the issues committed Christians care about most—including life, religious liberty, and marriage. By the way, even though same-sex marriage has been legal in every state in the United States for a year and a half, the percentage who say marriage still should be defined as a union between one man and one woman remains virtually unchanged—at 53 percent. Marriage, too, may well have been a concern that helped pull off Trump’s victory.

Christian pollster George Barna declared, “Mr. Trump did not win because of superior political strategy or performance. God produced a miracle in response to the prayers and fasting of His people.…The challenge is now for the body of Christ to be agents of reconciliation and unity, and to now lead the country toward policies and behaviors that will honor God and His life principles.” Tony Perkins agrees. He put it this way.

If the media had questions about the influence of the Religious Right, they were answered early Wednesday morning by the greatest coalescence around a Republican nominee in two decades. It turns out the press had about as much success writing the obituary of the evangelical movement as it had predicting this election.

Anyone who traveled the country these last few months saw how values voters were drawn to Donald Trump, not because of shared values, but because of shared concerns over the damage a Clinton Supreme Court would do to our freedoms. Recognizing that national security hung in the balance, they saw this as an opportunity, after eight years of President Obama’s repressive policies, to make freedom mean something again.

At the same time, Perkins also understands, and he stressed, that the 2016

election is just the starting gun. Donald Trump may open the door to America’s solutions, but he was never meant to be the solution. The true transformation of a society starts in the hearts and minds of men. And under an administration with no interest in continuing the eight-year war on the First Amendment, we may finally see what the Church is capable of.

Thus, the election has called the church to action. Individual Christians and the church must never abandon or minimize their primary call to bring the world to Christ. Yet, flowing from this primary responsibility are a host of other vital duties, including upholding God’s truth and righteousness.

Are you ready? We must promote racial unity, pray, and stay informed, active, and engaged! Indeed, it will be extremely exciting to be a part of a movement against which the gates of hell will not be able to prevail.

 

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

for further reading: from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, After the Election: 5 Biblical Reminders

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Aimlessly Adrift!

From “In God We Trust” to “Anything Goes”
Twelve Principles on Drifting that Show How America Has Slipped Far Away From Her Starting Point

Crumbling is not an instant’s Act
A fundamental pause
Dilapidation’s processes
Are organized Decays.

’Tis first a Cobweb on the Soul
A Cuticle of Dust
A Borer in the Axis
An Elemental Rust—

Ruin is formal—Devil’s work
Consecutive and slow—
Fail in an instant, no man did
Slipping—is Crash’s law.

Emily Dickinson

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.”
Robert Robinson

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
—Jesus to the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:5

 

John Philpot Curran, an Irish politician who lived from 1750 until 1817, wisely observed,

The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.

Shortened variations of this statement, such as “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” have been widely quoted in speeches and books throughout American history by numerous American statesmen.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

Unfortunately, in recent decades America has not been careful to preserve the affections it once held or its allegiance to virtue and integrity. While the abandonment of virtue and integrity is both a symptom and a cause of societal decay, one of the direct causes has been kicking God out of public life.

Historical Markers Show Us Where We Once Were—And How Far We’ve Fallen

A culture does not unravel overnight, but over time. Only when we see where we once were can we begin to understand how far we’ve fallen. Today I’d like to invite you to unlock several time capsules with me.

  1. first prayerFirst, read this, the First Prayer in Congress, offered by Reverend Jacob Duché, Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 7, 1774.
  2. Next, visit this page to explore “Some of ‘the principles upon which our nation was built.’” The page showcases a small sampling of quotes from several of America’s Founders and subsequent leaders. These insights place a bright light on the secret to America’s greatness.
  3. Read this prologue to a Gideon’s New Testament and Book of Psalms. Written by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and dated January 25, 1941, it commended “the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States.” Indeed, in numerous instances throughout America’s history, presidents and other leaders have encouraged the reading of the Scriptures, not just among military personnel but also among the citizens. Even so, the military has banned special editions of the Scriptures published specifically for personnel in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps (also go here and here).
  4. Listen to the prayer offered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the occasion of the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, on D-Day—June 6, 1944. Tellingly, President Obama opposed including this prayer at the World War 2 Memorial at the nation’s capital.
  5. Listen to this special D-Day radio broadcast. In it, NBC reported on the “Cross Country Reaction to D-Day.” The broadcast could be subtitled “A Nation at Prayer.”
  6. Listen to the prayer offered by Dwight D. Eisenhower on the occasion of his inauguration as president, January 20, 1953.
  7. Appreciate our national motto, “In God We Trust,” and learn the story behind it. On July 30, 1956, President Eisenhower signed into law a directive that the words “In God We Trust” appear on all US currency and coins. Many US coins had born this inscription since the latter half of the 19th century, but now paper money would showcase it as well. (The postage stamp shown at the top demonstrates the motto has appeared in other places too.) In the bill that passed in the House of Representatives, Florida Representative Charles Edward Bennett, a Democrat, made reference to the Cold War. He declared, “In these days when imperialistic and materialistic communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, we should continually look for ways to strengthen the foundations of our freedom”
  8. Listen to this special, long distance Christmas Eve broadcast from 1968. As the three-man crew of Apollo 8 orbited the moon, they gave the world a very special Christmas present.

ap8-ksc-68pc-329

Apollo 8 Launch, Saturday, December 21, 1968, 7:51 a.m. EST

Twelve Principles Show How We Abandoned Our Heritage

No nation is problem-free, even if—and when—it faithfully acknowledges God and seeks to honor Him. Yet, as America has drifted, its citizens have seen their national problems multiply exponentially—and their freedom and liberty curtailed. The fact that these have taken place simultaneously is not coincidental. How did we move so far away from the solid ground on which we started? Rather than cite specific events in our history that indicated movement away from God, morality, and truth, let’s examine several principles and trends. They tell the story quite well.

  1. It is natural to drift away from a secure place. The drift involves letting go of moral virtue and ethical disciplines and moving along with the pull of the current downstream.
  2. It’s always easier to drift and to follow the current than it is to fight against it to stay anchored in a safe place. Remaining where we are requires discipline.
  3. military_compass_of_j-_lindsay_broughThe drift becomes almost imperceptible when we have no absolute standard by which to judge our movement, or when we ignore points of reference indicating where we once were. Yet we hear from experts (here, here, and here) that to prevent getting lost, one has to focus on fixed points of reference and adjust one’s course accordingly.
  4. The drift becomes imperceptible when we listen to the popular culture—those surrounding us and moving with us—over the sage wisdom of the ages.
  5. The drift becomes almost imperceptible when we act on our emotions rather than our intellect, when we follow our hearts rather than our heads.
  6. The drift inevitably involves choosing to please ourselves over God. In other words, it involves developing patterns of sin—departing from God’s absolute standard of righteousness.
  7. Sin is pleasurable, but not forever (see Heb. 11:24-25). Still, the immediate pleasure it brings keeps people traveling down its road.
  8. Sin is subject to the law of diminishing returns. In other words, when we develop a pattern of sinning, we typically have to go even further the next time to get the same “rush” we got the last time. This increases the speed of our downward spiral.
  9. People have a tendency to ignore or deny sin’s inevitable consequences because facing them is neither fun nor pleasant.
  10. When an individual or a culture is drifting, it is difficult to see clearly looking forward. We look toward the future with short-term rather than long-term vision. This makes it harder to break free of our downward spiral.
  11. We have a problem seeing clearly as we look back. Over time, during the drift, we develop a habit of denying the realities of where we’ve arrived and how far we’ve traveled. Put another way, we can say that when we’ve been sick for a long time, we forget what it was like to be well.
  12. We have a problem understanding just where we are in the present. A decaying culture is a one of darkness rather than light. Darkness hides the truth about the nature of the place to which we’ve come and its inevitable consequences. (See John 3:19-20.)

Where We Are Now

Rather than cite several examples of where we are as a culture, let’s highlight two.

cc2014-mainlogo

In a BreakPoint commentary, John Stonestreet of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview reports that recently, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IV) “informed employees that they were expected to align with traditional Christian teaching on marriage and human sexuality. If they couldn’t they were asked to come forward.” A Christian ministry that upholds Biblical teaching has every right to make sure everyone on its staff adheres to biblical teaching in every area of life, especially major areas like marriage and sexuality. Some, however, don’t see it that way.

TIME magazine reported on the event:

Staffers are not being required to sign a document agreeing with the group’s position, and supervisors are not proactively asking employees to verbally affirm it. Instead, staffers are being asked to come forward voluntarily if they disagree with the theological position. When they inform their supervisor of their disagreement, a two-week period is triggered, concluding in their last day. InterVarsity has offered to cover outplacement service costs for one month after employment ends to help dismissed staff with their résumés and job-search strategies.

The article went on to effectively pounce on IV by calling the move a “theological purge.” Certain church and ministry leaders expressed disapproval as well; a group of progressive leaders in what Stonestreet refers to as the “post-evangelical” community wrote a letter to IV stating,

[W]e strongly believe that disagreements over the role of gender and sexual minorities in the church should not be treated as primary, creedal issues that determine the legitimacy of one’s Christian faith.…This decision will cause profound pain, suffering, and trauma for countless LGBTQ Christians. It will tarnish the image of Christianity on college campuses, and it will hinder InterVarsity’s work to provide supportive Christian communities for students seeking to follow Christ.

Yet nothing IV did was arbitrary or abrupt. The organization had studied the matter in light of biblical teaching over a four-year period and had written a 20-page position paper, which it shared with its staff months—not days—ago. No one serving on IV staff should have been surprised, nor should anyone familiar with IV’s work and ministry.

It’s becoming increasingly evident that when Christians, churches, and Christian organizations remain true to their faith as taught in the Bible, they will be maligned. Just ask Watermark Church in Dallas, Texas. John Stonestreet reported on the attacks against this church in a BreakPoint commentary a mere nine days after letting his listeners know what was happening with InterVarsity. Watermark Church removed from its membership rolls a man who was involved in an ongoing same-sex relationship and who had no willingness or desire to change his behavior.

Take note: This wasn’t an arbitrary decision either. The decision was reached after meeting with the man on numerous occasions and seeking to help him understand that a commitment to Christ and a decision to remain in a same-sex relationship are incompatible. Watermark’s actions may seem harsh, especially to the outside world. Yet it wouldn’t seem as harsh if church discipline weren’t practiced so rarely in the body of Christ.

Stonestreet notes that

John_Stonestreet_photo

any firm stand for Christian morality, even within the walls of the church, is hard these days. Those who violate church discipline—especially when it has to do with sexual freedom—will be hailed as the good guys of the story.

Which makes the faithful the bad guys. As George Orwell once wrote, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” It’s not hard to imagine that lawsuits will likely accompany the bad press in the near future.


The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.
George Orwell


Thus, these two events shed a great deal of light on the place where our culture has arrived. American society once revered God and upheld ethics and morality; yet today it has drifted so far from its starting point that it condemns those few Christians and churches who still do these very things. Remember as well the overall ministries of organizations like InterVarsity and churches like Watermark. IV’s position paper and Watermark’s decision to hold a straying member accountable must be seen against the backdrop everything they do, not judged in isolation from it.

Make no mistake. Whoever becomes president, faithful believers will continue to swim upstream against the culture. Yet we must do this even though we will be misunderstood and hated. Why? Because our first priority isn’t to be loved, but to faithfully represent Jesus Christ in the world. He who was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) also was misunderstood.


Since we’re going to be misunderstood, let’s make sure we are misunderstood because we lovingly stood for the truth, not because we avoided doing so.


In this culture, we as Christians will be misunderstood. Let’s make sure we are misunderstood because we lovingly stood for the truth, not because we avoided doing so.

 

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.