Practical Christianity: Strangers and Pilgrims on this Earth



Note: On this coming Tuesday, December 5, 2017, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case about which I have written extensively at Word Foundations. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Jack Phillips, owner and operator of Masterpiece Cakeshop, in this case. Like the Pilgrims, Jack is risking everything for religious liberty and rights of conscience. The ruling will have profound implications for the First Amendment rights of every American. You can learn more about Jack’s journey and his convictions here and here. Please be in prayer for this case and its outcome. A ruling is expected in the late spring of next year.



The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Believers Who Worked Out Their Salvation with Fear and Trembling
Part 2

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Hebrews 11:13

 The Pilgrims made up a single local church who, with their pastor, determined to move the church from England to Holland to America. Thus, you could say that America began as a church relocation project.
—D. James Kennedy1

 

Key point: Because they remained true to their God and took necessary steps to honor Him with their resources and their lives, the Pilgrims influenced, and continue to influence, the entire world. Our circumstances aren’t the same as theirs, but like them, we have manifold opportunities to die to self and to use our resources for God’s glory. God can use us, just as He used them!

 

In this two-part series, we’re exploring how the Pilgrims, together, “worked out their salvation with fear and trembling” (see Phil. 2:12) until the time they decided to leave Holland for the New World. This working-out process certainly would continue, and perhaps at some point we can explore how it played out on their voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and in North America. For now, there is a great deal to learn from the experiences they shared up until the time they left Holland in 1620.

In part 1 we examined some of the challenges this Separatist congregation faced in Scrooby in England as they sought to live out their faith in a hostile environment. Weary of being harassed and persecuted and longing for freedom in their religious practices, the group fled England for Holland in 1608. They first resided in Amsterdam, then moved to Leyden a short time later.

17th-century houses still standing in Leyden

The Holland Years

In Holland, the little group of believers enjoyed the freedom that had eluded them in their native land. They lived there for over a decade but in the end were compelled to leave. In addition to the increasing possibility that war would erupt between Holland and Spain, two other factors motivated the congregation to take serious steps to depart for North America—

  • the moral well-being of their children and
  • their desire to spread share the good news of Jesus Christ in distant lands.

The Separatists’ concern for their children was related to the economic pressures they faced in their adopted land. In relocating as they had already, they had exhausted their financial resources. Also, typically, immigrants could not find work that paid well, and a family’s poverty invariably put pressures on both parents and children, who essentially had to mature faster than they would under more ideal circumstances. Some children were being heavily influenced by loose moral values in the culture. According to William Bradford, who later would serve as the governor of Plymouth Colony,

[O]f all sorrows most heavy to be borne, was that many of the children, influenced by these conditions, and the great licentiousness of the young people of the country, and the many temptations of the city, were led by evil example into dangerous courses, getting the reins off their necks and leaving their parents. Some became soldiers, others embarked upon voyages by sea and others upon worse courses tending to dissoluteness and the danger of their souls, to the great grief of the parents and the dishonour of God. So they saw their posterity would be in danger to degenerate and become corrupt.2

Bradford continues,

[T]hey [also] cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least of making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.3

Keep the phrase stepping stones in mind, because we will return to it shortly.


The Christians who had fled England for religious freedom and had spent over a decade in Holland now felt compelled to leave Holland for the New World. Chief among their concerns were the moral well-being of their Children and their desire to take the good news of Jesus Christ to, in William Bradford’s words, “the remote parts of the world.”


A Bittersweet Departure

The painting at the top of this page is titled The Embarkation of the Pilgrims. Created by artist Robert Weir, it was commissioned by the United States Congress in 1837 and placed in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in late 1843. The portrait depicts the Separatist congregation’s last service aboard the Speedwell in Delft Haven, Holland, just before the departure of those who were sailing for the New World. More about the painting is available here, but let’s focus in on one of the painting’s central figures for a moment.

The congregation’s pastor, John Robinson, who would remain in Leyden, is kneeling in the foreground with his face turned heavenward. Here is a record of his farewell address to those of his congregation who were about to leave. Robinson also would write this farewell letter to those departing. He hoped he and other members of the congregation soon would be able to join them in North America.


The Pilgrims weren’t simply a group of individual Christians, but a congregation that together drew on God’s strength to live out their faith in the world in which the Lord had placed them.


The point here is that these believers weren’t simply a group of individual Christians, but a congregation that together drew on God’s strength to live out their faith in the world in which the Lord had placed them. They also drew strength from one another, but now the realities of life dictated that some of them separate from others in the group. Their good-byes were bittersweet—difficult, yet encouraging for both those leaving and those who felt they needed, at least for now, to remain. We cannot discount the underlying, yet real, influence of the ones remaining on those departing. Because they were a part of this congregation that had endured so much together, the ones staying in Leyden left their mark on the New World as well. God would be with and would guide both groups in the years ahead.

Let’s return now to William Bradford’s account. Having stated the primary reasons the group felt they must leave, Bradford went on to add,

These, and some other similar reasons, moved them to resolve upon their removal, which they afterwards prosecuted in the face of great difficulties, as will appear. The place they fixed their thoughts upon was somewhere in those vast and unpeopled countries of America….4

A Working-Out Process

Their difficulties in Leyden and the struggles they would have in preparing for and making their transatlantic journey notwithstanding, the time the Pilgrims spent in Holland would prove to be extremely beneficial for them and for future generations of North Americans. Robert A. Peterson writes,

[P]erhaps… [the] greatest contribution [the Dutch people made] to America was the 11 years of freedom they gave the Pilgrims—crucial years that helped America’s founding fathers work out their philosophy of freedom and prepare for self-government in the New World.

Free men. For the Pilgrims, this was a new idea. Just what did it mean to be free? With the external pressure of persecution lifted, would the Pilgrims remain true to their original calling? Or would they turn liberty into license and lose their distinctive identity? Time would show that the Pilgrims took seriously their responsibilities of self-government. Indeed, the Dutch experience would prove to be an excellent half-way house to the freedom the Pilgrims would find in the New World. For the next 11 years, the Pilgrims took advantage of all the opportunities that Dutch society offered.…

The 11 years the Pilgrims spent in Holland saw them grow in responsibility, adaptability, and self- government. As Bradford Smith put it in his biography of William Bradford, “The libertarian tradition at Plymouth, with its profound influence on American life, is not primarily English. It is Dutch. Simple justice demands that we acknowledge this…. Thus, during their Leyden years, were the Pilgrims perfecting themselves for the undreamed of work of founding a new nation. In religion, they grew milder and more tolerant. In business and craftsmanship they learned a great deal from the thrifty, ambitious and highly capable Hollanders. Too, the Dutch flair for efficient government and record keeping, the spirit of republicanism and civic responsibility were to bear unsuspected fruit in a distant land.”5

Working out one’s salvation with fear and trembling (see Phil. 2:12) has implications for every area of life. We see this so clearly in the Pilgrims’ journey. Most noteworthy, these believers consistently took the long view, just as did the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. They made the most of their opportunities in the present, even as they were mindful of how they might influence the future for God’s glory. Both of the factors that compelled the Separatist congregation to push forward to travel to the New World were centered, not in the present, but in the future.

Investing in Future Generations—and Eternity

We see the Pilgrims’ passion for evangelism later reflected in the text of the Mayflower Compact, which speaks of the signers’ having come to America “for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country….” You can read the entire text of the Mayflower Compact here, and you can read about the document here and here.

Accordingly, Bradford, as we already have noted, wrote that his party wanted to carry the good news of Christ to “the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.”6

Lightstock

Our children, it has been said, are our links to the future. Moreover, the spread of the gospel is not primarily about building a better world here and now, even though that is a side benefit. It is about eternity!

The Pilgrims would, in their efforts to secure religious freedom for themselves, to spread the gospel to “remote parts of the world,” and to guide their children to live lives of purity and integrity before God, change the course of history and sew the seeds that eventually would become the United States of America.

Their contributions to the betterment of civilized life continue in America to this day. This isn’t just in the ideals they upheld, but in people. The descendants of those who came over on the Mayflower number in the tens of millions! It’s readily understood that not all of these are Christians; in fact, a great many are not. But others are.

Daniel Brewster and his family

I am honored to have in my circle of friends one Daniel Brewster, a direct, thirteenth-generation descendant of the Plymouth Colony’s Elder William Brewster, through his son Jonathan Brewster. Dan is a devout believer who is active in his church, often operating the sound system for its services and special events. When he lived in Ohio, Dan was involved in vocational ministry through Child Evangelism Fellowship. Currently he works in ministry at the distribution center of LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the world’s largest providers of Bible study materials and Christian services.

Do not misunderstand. A believer does not have to be involved in vocational ministry to serve God through his or her work; he or she can honor Him in any reputable job—and reputable jobs are available in all kinds of work. I’m simply relating ways Dan Brewster has served the Lord through his career.

Dan and his wife Tammi have four sons, and they are effectively passing the baton of their Christian faith on to them, just as the Pilgrims sought faithfully to pass along their faith to their own children.

Building a Heritage and Leaving a Legacy

You may not have a Christian family heritage stretching back through the years. If you don’t have such a heritage, start one! The past is the past. It is done—but from this point forward, you can build a Christ-centered legacy to bequeath to future generations. If you already have this kind of heritage, make sure you are faithful to keep it alive and healthy on the watch the Lord has entrusted to you.

The lessons the Pilgrims offer 21st century believers truly are manifold. Of course, the Pilgrims were imperfect people who did not get everything right. Even so, they got enough right and were willing, with God’s help, to lay everything on the line for treasures of eternal worth.

They even were ready to become “stepping stones” to further God’s work.

May we, relying on divine help as well, also do the same!

 

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

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.

top image: The Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Weir, 1837

Notes:

1Jerry Newcombe, compiler, The Wit and Wisdom of D. James Kennedy, (Fort Lauderdale, FL: Truth in Action Ministries, 2013), 150.

2William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Harold Padget, ed., (Kindle Locations 588-593). Portcullis Books. Kindle Edition. Original print release, 1920; Kindle edition, 2016.

3William Bradford, Kindle Locations 593-595.

4William Bradford, Kindle Locations 595-598.

5Bradford Smith, Bradford of Plymauth, (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1951), 78, 93.

6William Bradford, Kindle Locations 594-595.

 

 

Practical Christianity: A Holy Nation

The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Believers Who Worked Out Their Salvation with Fear and Trembling
Part 1

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9

The Pilgrims comprised one of the most remarkable congregations that has ever existed on the face of this earth.
—D. James Kennedy1

Key point: Members of the Separatist congregation in Scrooby, England in the 1600s — believers who later became known as “Pilgrims” — serve as examples not only of how to “do Christianity,” but also of how to “do church.”

Last time we explored the importance of taking salvation seriously, of “working out one’s salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). It’s fascinating to note both individual and corporate manifestations of this process. Not only must individual Christians work out their own salvation, churches and other Christian groups frequently must do the same. In the Pilgrims—believers who fled England for Holland, then Holland for the New World during the early 1600s and established the Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts—we see evidence of the “working out process” at a congregational level. In this two-part series, I’d like to consider how this process was manifested in the Pilgrims’ decisions and actions up until the time they resolved to leave Holland for North America.

The Church in England

King Henry VIII

The Protestant Reformation is considered to have officially begun in 1517 when Martin Luther, a German monk, released his 95 Theses, a document in which he pointed out and objected to numerous abuses by and within the Roman Catholic Church. The Reformation soon became a movement that spread throughout Europe, wielding its influence in numerous countries beyond Germany.

King Henry VIII, who ruled in England from 1509 to 1547, officially pulled his country away from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534. In that year he declared himself sovereign over a new national church, which, not surprisingly, he called the Church of England. His actions weren’t theologically motivated, but we can’t fully consider that part of the story at this point. Suffice it to say that the move was a very big deal. King Henry, and eventually his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled from 1558 to 1603, instituted a number of changes that made England’s new national church distinct from the Church headquartered in Rome. Even so, some of Henry’s subjects didn’t believe enough had been changed. These Christians wanted to see and experience forms of worship that were simpler and less elaborate. Appealing to the Book of Acts, they called for a return to the worship practices of the early Christians. These men and women became known as Puritans, because they advocated purifying the church in this way.

William Bradford, years after he was involved in the Separatist congregation in Scrooby

Another group of believers went further. Seeing the Church of England as beyond reforming, they sought to break away from the national church and form congregations of their own. In a day when church and state were intertwined, departure from the national church would be deemed treasonous. Thus, these men and women were risking a great deal, both individually and as a group of believers.

William Brewster, an imaginary likeness

In the town of Scrooby in Nottinghamshire, England, between 1586 and 1605, a Separatist congregation was formed that included William Brewster (1568-1644) and a young man by the name of William Bradford, who had been born around 1590. Brewster previously had served as a diplomatic assistant to the Netherlands. Because of the congregation’s convictions about the need to separate from the national church, the group faced ridicule, harassment, and in some cases, arrest and imprisonment.

Costly Convictions

William Bradford later would describe the situation by saying members of the congregation

were hunted and persecuted on every side, until their former afflictions were but as flea-bitings in comparison. Some were clapped into prison; others had their houses watched night and day, and escaped with difficulty; and most were obliged to fly, and leave their homes and means of livelihood. Yet these and many other even severer trials which afterwards befell them, being only what they expected, they were able to bear by the assistance of God’s grace and spirit. However, being thus molested, and seeing that there was no hope of their remaining there, they resolved by consent to go into the Low Countries, where they heard there was freedom of religion for all; and it was said that many from London and other parts of the country, who had been exiled and persecuted for the same cause, had gone to live at Amsterdam and elsewhere in the Netherlands. So after about a year, having kept their meeting for the worship of God every Sabbath in one place or another, notwithstanding the diligence and malice of their adversaries, seeing that they could no longer continue under such circumstances, they resolved to get over to Holland as soon as they could….2

Weary of the persecution and longing for freedom in their religious practices, the group fled England for Holland in 1608. They first resided in Amsterdam, then moved to Leyden a short time later.

Lessons from Godly Ancestors

The Separatist congregation stayed in Holland for over 10 years. We’ll consider those years next time, but for now, let’s reflect on the Pilgrims’ journey up until the time they made their decision to leave England. Several observations are in order.

First, these believers knew what it was like to face ridicule and persecution because of their faith, yet they refused to compromise. Their consciences were beholden to their God. Today, we need more believers like that. Persecution was just one aspect of the price they paid.


The Pilgrims’ consciences were beholden to their God.


Second, the Pilgrims apparently didn’t expect their Christianity to bring them ease and comfort. I list this as a separate item because the hardships they endured strengthened rather than derailed them. It’s never fun to endure persecution, but when we expect resistance from the world, we do not become disillusioned. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Third, they took their relationship with God so seriously that they even were willing to relocate to another country in order to worship Him as they believed they should. How precious to you is your relationship with the Lord? How important to you is your worship of Him?

Fourth, they acted, not individually, but as a church. This not only served to encourage them as individuals and families; it also increased the impact of their strategic actions. In Acts, we do not see an emphasis on accepting Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior to the extent we hear that emphasis today. Certainly accepting Christ into one’s life is legitimate; in fact, it is absolutely necessary. Yet in Acts, there was a corporate element that we seem to have lost.


Believers today need to rediscover the importance of corporate Christianity.


Jesus was and is Lord of the church. This theme permeated Charles Colson’s classic book, The Body. The Body later was revised, updated, and retitled Being the BodyWe need to rediscover and reapply the corporate Christianity the Pilgrims practiced and Colson upheld. This is biblical Christianity. The Pilgrims knew God had called them out as “a holy nation” (see 1 Pet. 2:9). They lived out the principle set forth in 1 Peter 1:22: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.” Wouldn’t this perspective, if it fully were applied in our churches today, bring God’s people together in ways that profoundly would change both the church and the world? 

The Pilgrims would continue to desperately need their God and one another. Holland would offer them the religious freedom they sought, but also a variety of daunting challenges.

Next time, we’ll explore some of those challenges and how the Pilgrims responded. Their example will inspire and encourage. I promise.

 

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

top image: birthplace of William Bradford in Austerfield, South Yorkshire, England

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.

Notes:

1Jerry Newcombe, compiler, The Wit and Wisdom of D. James Kennedy, (Fort Lauderdale, FL: Truth in Action Ministries, 2013), 150.

2William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Harold Padget, ed., (Kindle Locations 425-432). Portcullis Books. Kindle Edition. Original print release, 1920; Kindle edition, 2016.

Echoes of the Reformation

We must realize that the Reformation world view leads in the direction of government freedom. But the humanist world view with inevitable certainty leads in the direction of statism. This is so because humanists, having no god, must put something at the center, and it is inevitably society, government, or the state.
Francis Schaeffer

Key point: As in Martin Luther’s day, if one’s conscience is held captive to God’s Word, then to go against it is neither right nor safe.

 

Martin Luther is believed by many to have posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517. Even if he didn’t nail them there, his list of concerns about Catholic Church practices originally was written in Latin, but it was translated into German and disseminated throughout Luther’s home country within a scant two weeks. The printing press, which had been invented less than 100 years earlier, made this possible. By the end of 1517, all of Europe had access to the 95 Theses in pamphlet form.

The disenchantment and frustration with the church over its abuses grew even more intense as a growing number of people learned of Dr. Luther’s objections. Within a few years, the Protestant Reformation had become a widespread movement.

Frederick the Wise of Saxony

On June 15, 1520, Pope Leo X issued a papal bull, or edict, refuting Luther’s teachings and demanding that he renounce them. The Wittenberg professor refused, and a few months later, on December 10, publicly burned a copy of the Pope’s declaration. On January 3, 1521, Luther was excommunicated in Rome.

Luther had a ally in his powerful sovereign, Elector of Saxony Frederick the Wise. Frederick demanded a hearing for Luther. An assembly, called a “Diet,” was scheduled for April 17  in the town of Worms (pronounced “Verms”), Germany.

Two Searing Questions

Martin Luther was a controversial figure—loved my many, yet hated by many others. On the first day of the Diet, Luther was asked two questions.

  • Were the books and other writings on display before the assembly his? He admitted they were.
  • Would he or would he not recant? The renegade professor asked for a day to consider the matter, and his request was granted.
John Huss at the Council of Constance

Luther knew his life was at stake in these proceedings, even though he had been granted safe passage (transport) by Emperor Charles V. One hundred years before, John Huss had attempted to address similar concerns in the church and had been burned at the stake. What would happen to Luther if he, like Huss, were to refuse to renounce his views? Huss, too, had been guaranteed safe passage to the Council of Constance, where he was tried, found to be a heretic, and condemned to die. Obviously, Huss’s guarantee of safety was withdrawn.

Emperor Charles V

The next day Luther again stood before Charles V. Would he now recant? Luther explained that his books and other writings could not be placed in a single category. Even his critics, Luther said, welcomed some of them, and he would not retract what he’d said in those. A second category of works addressed abuses that were occurring within the Church. Luther contended he could not change his mind about these without risking a continuation of the very abuses he had opposed. Finally, other writings, he said, were about certain people. Although he expressed regret for the harsh tone of some of these, he did not retract any of the teachings they contained.

Here I Stand

Challenged at this point to give a direct positive or negative answer to the question of whether or not he would recant, Luther is said to have declared,

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well-known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. God help me. Amen. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.

Even if Martin Luther didn’t utter these words exactly, they represent the substance of his response. Disorder erupted, and the Emperor brought the Diet’s proceedings for that day to an end. Officials were divided about what steps to take next, but on May 26, they issued an edict that branded Luther a heretic and banned his writings. Now he was an outlaw, and it generally was understood that he soon would be arrested and punished. Execution, of course, was a real possibility.

Luther, however, had gone into hiding before the Edict of Worms could be drawn up and published. Frederick the Wise of Saxony had arranged for the Wittenberg professor to be “kidnapped” and hidden at Wartburg Castle. It was there that Luther began translating the Greek New Testament into German. This volume would fan the flames of the Reformation as would no other book.

Luther’s Bible, 1534

Our Consciences Are Captive to God’s Word

The entire story is fascinating, and I urge you to learn more about the Protestant Reformation. For now, let’s reflect on Martin Luther’s refusal to recant at the Diet of Worms. Read again his declaration.

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well-known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. God help me. Amen. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.

This is the kind of conviction we need to see in 21st America today. Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Pastor Emeritus of Moody Church in Chicago, said as much on the morning of October 8, 2017 at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, in this presentation. Here is an audio clip of his words.

I have good news for Dr. Lutzer, although I must hasten to qualify it.

  • The qualifier, of course, is that we do not have enough people like these! We need many more—and we need many more Christians who comprehend and appreciate the stands these Christian statesmen are taking. Also, we need many more who will stand with them.

Just as the Word of God guided Martin Luther to a clear understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so too has Scripture guided these men and women to a clear understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it relates to, among other things, the true meaning of marriage. You see, marriage is all about the gospel!

“But wait!” someone will object. These people and their convictions are controversial! Yes, they are. Martin Luther was controversial too, and so was Jesus!

Controversy is not the issue, but adherence to the truth of God’s Word.


I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. God help me. Amen. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.
—Martin Luther—


Remember—especially if it is held captive by the Bible, it is neither right nor safe to go against one’s conscience.

If we as believers will stand together on the Word of God, speaking the truth lovingly and with conviction but refusing to renounce any of our core beliefs, we just might have another Reformation on our hands!

 

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

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.

Igniting Reform—Then and Now

Tormented by the fear that he never would be able to please God and be admitted into heaven, Augustinian monk Martin Luther immersed himself in a host of spiritual disciplines, including prayer, fasting, and the ascetic practices of flogging himself, denying himself sleep, and staying out in frigid temperatures without a blanket or other adequate cover. Luther said, “If anyone could have earned heaven by the life of a monk, it was I.”

Martin Luther, in a portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Initially, Luther’s study of Scripture only reinforced the terror he felt at the thought of standing before a holy God. Romans 1:17 later would bring him relief, assurance, and hope. The passage declares, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,  just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Martin didn’t yet see that faith comes before righteousness. Focusing on the last portion of the verse — “the righteous will live by faith,” — Luther felt condemned. He knew he wasn’t righteous. How, then, could he live by faith?


For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,  just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
—The apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians, in what we now know as Romans 1:17—


Luther became a professor at the University of Wittenberg. In 1513 and 1514 he presented lectures on the Book of Psalms. He also continued studying Paul’s letter to the Romans—and then the truth of Paul’s words dawned on him. Luther later would testify,

Day and night I was pondering this question: What about this gift of righteousness given in response to faith? When I began to see that there is a righteousness you receive by sheer faith, and I receive that righteousness, it was as if I walked through the gates of Paradise.


When I began to see that there is a righteousness you receive by sheer faith, and I receive that righteousness, it was as if I walked through the gates of Paradise.
—Martin Luther—


Faith in Christ, Luther learned, comes first, and then righteousness—a righteousness from God appropriated by faith—follows. It was a liberating insight, the first of many. Martin Luther would share his insights in his role of priest for Wittenberg’s Castle Church, which he assumed in 1514. People flocked to hear him.

Portrait of Leo X by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino

We should remember that at that time there was only one Church—the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. Leo X was the Pope. Martin Luther began to see clearly a host of ways the Church had been abusing its power and authority. He came to understand that God, not the Church, had the authority to dispense salvation and forgiveness. Yet through the sale of “indulgences” the Church was raising money for various building projects. Buy an indulgence for yourself or a loved one, the Church claimed throughout its spokesman-salesman Johann Tetzel, and you will have brought forgiveness to yourself or to another. The purchase of an indulgence, Tetzel declared, even could free a departed loved one from purgatory!

Luther could not reconcile these teachings with Scripture, and he drew up a list of 95 statements that refuted the Church’s teachings and practices and presented the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Three other doctrines that would arise from the Reformation are Scripture alone, Christ alone, and to the glory of God alone. These are called the “five solas,” since sola in Latin means “alone.”

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on what essentially was the University’s bulletin board—the door of the Wittenberg Church.

A Printing Press, depicted in a 1568 woodcut

The printing press, which had been invented during the previous century, made it possible for news to spread quickly and reliably—and Luther’s 95 Theses went viral. It was the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation, a movement of which you and I are direct beneficiaries even today, 500 years later (also go here).

This coming Tuesday, October 31, 2017, is indeed the 500th anniversary of Luther’s act of posting his 95 statements challenging the Church with regard to its abuses and its departures from Scriptural truth and practice.

I encourage you to learn more about Martin Luther, other Reformers, and the Protestant Reformation as a whole. Here are a few resources you might find helpful.

Now, fast forward 500 years. Yes, we still are benefiting from the Protestant Reformation, but it is becoming increasingly evident that the evangelical church in the 21st century needs a reformation of its own. The abuses and problems aren’t the same as those Martin Luther challenged 500 years ago, but problems are present that must be addressed.


The evangelical church in the 21st century needs a reformation of its own.


I do not pretend to be a second Martin Luther, but a variety of beliefs and practices within evangelicalism need to be challenged. The 500th anniversary of Luther’s action is a fitting occasion for me to express my concerns.

Therefore, on Tuesday, October 31, I will post my own 95 Theses for the Protestant Evangelical Church in the 21st Century.

Look for it here, at www.wordfoundations.com.

 

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

95 Theses for the Protestant Evangelical Church in the 21st Century

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture passages are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

top image: Hot off the press! The first two pages of Luther’s 95 Theses as a pamphlet

Thanksgiving in America 101, Part 2

 Thanksgiving and Religious Liberty

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort…. Conscience is the most sacred of all property.1

A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.2

—Founding Father James Madison—

James Madison played a vital role in the founding of the United States, serving the new nation in a variety of important position during its earliest years. He was

  • influential in drafting the Virginia constitution,
  • a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1776-1777; 1784-1786),
  • a member of the Continental Congress (1780-1783; 1786-1788),
  • a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, representing Virginia,
  • a member of the US House of Representatives from the 5th district of Virginia (1789-1793)
  • a member of the US House of Representatives from the 15th district of Virginia (1793-1797),
  • Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), and
  • the 4th President of the United States (1809-1817).

Significantly, Madison has been called the Father of the US Constitution and the Father of the Bill of Rights (also go here). His work in getting the Constitution ratified was vital on many levels, including his role in addressing the states’ demand that the Constitution include a bill of rights.

Running against James Monroe for one of Virginia’s seats in the newly created House of Representatives, Madison promised to work diligently to add a bill of rights (also go here). He was elected and kept his promise. In the 12 articles that made up the proposed bill of rights sent to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789, “several of Madison’s concepts, if not his exact wording,” appeared. On December 15, 1791, 10 of the 12 were ratified by the required three-fourths of state legislatures, and they have stood through the years as America’s official Bill of Rights.3 These amendments wisely were enacted to restrain the federal government from encroaching on the liberties of America’s citizens—and again, James Madison had no small part in the process. Author and historian William J. Bennett writes that “no figure of antiquity—no Greek like Pericles or Solon, no Roman like Cicero or Cincinnatus—can claim an equal standing with Madison as lawgiver and champion of liberty.”

bill_of_rights_pg1of1_ac

Understanding Madison’s contribution to American liberty will help us appreciate the importance of a special part of his proclamation for a day of prayer and thanksgiving. On July 23, 1813, President Madison issued a proclamation setting aside Thursday, September 9 of that same year for prayer, and to render unto God “thanks for the many blessings He has bestowed on the people of the United States.”

At the time, the United States was involved in the War of 1812, a conflict that had begun the previous year and that would not end until 1815. James “Madison had not seriously prepared for war and lacked a strategy or good generals. The war began poorly, as Americans suffered defeat after defeat by smaller forces.”

battle_of_queenston_heights_artist_unknown

In October of 1812, US Forces were defeated at the Battle of Queenston Heights in Canada.

October of 1813, however, witnessed a turning point for America, and by the war’s end in 1815, a renewed spirit of patriotism spread throughout the nation. Let us not overlook the fact that the president called the nation to prayer just weeks before the tide began to turn for the United States.


Let us not overlook the fact that the president called the nation to prayer just weeks before the tide began to turn for the United States.


In his proclamation, which you can read here, America’s chief executive highlighted several examples of God’s favor on America, including the fact

that He has blessed the United States with a political Constitution rounded on the will and authority of the whole people and guaranteeing to each individual security, not only of his person and his property, but of those sacred rights of conscience so essential to his present happiness and so dear to his future hopes.

This clause reflects some of Madison’s priorities as he worked on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He, as much or more than all the other men who deliberated over the details of both, keenly understood that to maintain a free society, religious liberty and rights of conscience had to be protected.


Only when religious liberty and rights of conscience are protected can the people of a nation remain free.


In his proclamation, Madison also referred directly to the war that was at hand and the challenges it had brought upon the young nation. Accordingly, he underscored the need for calling out to God. The needs were great, so the occasion would be a serious one. September 9 was to be “a day of public humiliation and prayer.”

Having issued the call and set forth the rationale for observing the special day, President James Madison went out of his way to emphasize that no one would be forced to participate. Hear these words from the past and realize their import for the present.

If the public homage of a people can ever be worthy the favorable regard of the Holy and Omniscient Being to whom it is addressed, it must be that in which those who join in it are guided only by their free choice, by the impulse of their hearts and the dictates of their consciences; and such a spectacle must be interesting to all Christian nations as proving that religion, that gift of Heaven for the good of man, freed from all coercive edicts, from that unhallowed connection with the powers of this world which corrupts religion into an instrument or an usurper of the policy of the state, and making no appeal but to reason, to the heart, and to the conscience, can spread its benign influence everywhere and can attract to the divine altar those freewill offerings of humble supplication, thanksgiving, and praise which alone can be acceptable to Him whom no hypocrisy can deceive and no forced sacrifices propitiate.

Last week we observed Thanksgiving and highlighted the history of the holiday in America, even before it became an annual observance.

Freedom_from_Want

Two weeks ago, we considered florist Barronelle Stutzman’s appearance before the Supreme Court in Washington state. Refusing to violate her conscience, Mrs. Stutzman turned down the opportunity to arrange flowers for the same-sex wedding of a longtime friend. She subsequently was sued, and she may lose everything for taking this stand.

barronelle-stuzman-courtsey-adf

It is against this backdrop that we consider President Madison’s centuries-old proclamation, one of the early calls for prayer and thanksgiving issued in America. Recognizing both Madison’s roles in the founding of our nation as well as the fact the 1813 prayer observance occurred within a few years of the ratification of the Constitution, we need to make sure we take to heart our fourth president’s clear statements about religious liberty.

If under the Constitution no one could be forced to violate his or her conscience to participate in a solemn day of thanksgiving and prayer, then, under the same Constitution, neither can anyone ever be required to violate his or her conscience regarding the definition of marriage. James Madison is in a position to speak authoritatively on the matter, and while he didn’t specifically address Barronelle’s situation, he’s told us enough to eliminate every doubt about where he would stand—and where the Constitution stands. It’s crystal clear where James Madison would stand on same-sex marriage, but even apart from that, it’s also abundantly evident that he would say the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, upholds Barronelle Stutzman’s rights of conscience.

Read carefully again, if you have not already, the two quotes from James Madison at the top of this post. Significantly, our 4th president also said, “Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.”


Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.
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James Madison’s insights could not be more relevant for America today, 203 years later, near the close of 2016. Let us fight to preserve the principles for which he labored tirelessly more than two centuries ago.

 

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

Notes:

1http://www.heritage.org/initiatives/first-principles/primary-sources/madison-on-property

2https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jamesmadis398100.html

3The special program “We Hold These Truths” by Norman Corwin commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1941.

 

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.

pilgrims

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.

joint-res-xl

 

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

amendment-l

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

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

The Importance of Getting History Right, Part 10

Launching Ad Hominem Attacks and Stoking Racial Tensions

When liberals rant, it’s called free speech; when conservatives rant, it is hate speech.
John Dietrich

If the facts are not on your side, argue the law. If the law is not on your side, argue the facts. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, call your opponent names.
old legal adage

Six years ago, Human Events, a conservative publication, ran an article titled “The Democrat Plantation.” The article began by recalling slavery during the days before the Civil War. At that time, enslaved blacks, many of whom would become the ancestors of black Americans today, lived their lives strictly as directed by their masters. Absolute compliance to guidelines and protocol was expected, and anyone deviating from the requirements faced harsh consequences. Slaves were powerless to change their situations, so many of them became resigned to their fate. Their perspective has been called a “plantation mentality.” It quashed any initiative to move outside the established boundaries for thinking and behavior.

Fast forward a hundred sixty years. An “overwhelming majority of black Americans” today, the article contends, still have a plantation mentality. Expectations regarding one’s political views and how he or she should vote are crystal clear in the black community. Uniformity is required, and anyone who dares to question expectations or to think or act independently is severely punished. The “slave-owner” in the 21st century is none other than the Democrat Party—the party that claims to be blacks’ advocate and defender!


The spotlight of history exposes much about racism in America today.


The spotlight of history exposes much about racism in America today. We’ve seen this over the last nine weeks in our series of posts upholding the importance of historical accuracy. With only a few exceptions, Democrats have not been champions of blacks or of the principle of true American equality among the races. Instead, Democrats have oppressed blacks through a variety of means, including; Jim Crow laws; segregation; and Ku Klux Klan violence, intimidation, and even murder.

Despite this history, Democrats have enjoyed near monolithic support of blacks for the last fifty-plus years. Several modern myths have contributed to this allegiance. Learn about them here.

Despite the perceptions that teach otherwise, the Democrat Party still is the party holding blacks down. In fact, Democrats continue to buy blacks’ votes to enhance their own power. Beyond this, anyone who speaks against this dependency is accused of racism and called all sorts of names. Such an accusation is racist in and of itself—but black conservatives are especially vilified.1 An excellent example of one such conservative is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Thurgood Marshall’s Successor on the Supreme Court

1024px-thurgood-marshall-2At a press conference held on June 28, 1991, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the only black justice to have served on the court, announced that he would retire. On July 1, President George H. W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to be Marshall’s replacement. At the time, Thomas was serving as the Judge of the Unites States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Court.

Wikipedia states, “Civil rights and feminist organizations opposed the appointment based partially on Thomas’s criticism of affirmative action and suspicions that Thomas might not be a supporter of Roe v. Wade.” The conservative website conservapedia.com offers this description of the response of Thomas’ opponents (citations and links have been removed).

In a flagrant violation of the rules of the Senate, staff members for a sitting Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee leaked a routine confidential FBI background report to Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio (NPR) which contained a vicious defamatory smear intended to mar Thomas for life. The accusation was known to be false, and was concocted to publicly intimidate an African-American Republican from accepting an appointment to the nation’s High Court, and derail his nomination. None of the allegations could be substantiated. The deliberate falsehoods did however persuade former Ku Klux Klan Democratic Senator Robert to change his vote from “yes” for confirmation to “no”.

From May 6, 1982 to March 12, 1990, Thomas had served as the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and before that at the Department of Education. A black lawyer by the name of Anita Hill had worked for Thomas in both settings. Testifying at Thomas’ hearings, Hill accused Thomas of sexual harassment. He forcefully denied her claims, declaring,

ThomaseeocThis is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It’s a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.

In the end, Thomas was confirmed narrowly by the Senate on October 15, 1991. The vote was of 52-48. The breakdown was as follows. Of 43 Republicans, 41 voted for confirmation and 2 voted against; and of 57 Democrats, 11 voted for confirmation and 46 voted against.

Democrats claim to be champions of diversity, but here’s the truth. They want racial diversity only if it doesn’t upset their own liberal, ideological, and often unconstitutional agenda. Conservative blacks are a particular threat to that agenda. Indeed, when their policies are opposed, Democrats are all too willing to resort to ad hominem attacks and racism to get their way. Here’s an example. In early 2014, after America had elected and reelected its first black president, President Barak Obama blamed a downward trend in his approval rating on—you guessed it—racism! It should be no surprise, therefore, that as a black conservative sitting on the US Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas is a prime target of progressives’ wrath.


Progressives want racial diversity only if it doesn’t upset their own liberal, ideological, and often unconstitutional agenda. Conservative blacks are a particular threat to that agenda. Indeed, when their policies are opposed, Democrats are all too willing to resort to ad hominem attacks and racism to get their way. 


Clarence Thomas: A Principled Conservative

In June of 2013, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas. Reporter Robby Soave writes thatthe Court vacated and remanded a lower court ruling because Texas had failed to demonstrate that affirmative action was necessary to achieve a diverse student body—a requirement of the Grutter v. Bollinger decision in 2003. It was a win for foes of affirmative action—albeit one that won’t actually end the practice.”

Clarence Thomas concurred with the decision but went on to blast affirmative action in the first place. Among other things, he made the case it hurts minorities, the very people it purports to help. Thomas wrote,

  • The University admits minorities who otherwise would have attended less selective colleges where they would have been more evenly matched. But, as a result of the mismatching, many blacks and Hispanics who likely would have excelled at less elite schools are placed in a position where under-performance is all but inevitable because they are less academically prepared than the white and Asian students with whom they must compete.
  • Setting aside the damage wreaked upon the self-confidence of these over-matched students, there is no evidence that they learn more at the University than they would have learned at other schools for which they were better prepared. Indeed, they may learn less.

For additional statements from Thomas’ opinion, go here.

Thomas’ opinion in a similar case the following year was entirely consistent with all he wrote in Fisher v. University of Texas. A case named Schuette v. BAMN asked the court to answer this question: “Could Michigan voters have violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by amending their own constitution to prohibit race-based preferences?” Voters passed the ballot initiative (Proposition 2) on November 7, 2006, 58 percent to 42 percent. In their decision, which was released on April 22, 2014, the court upheld the law; a majority of justices effectively said no, Michigan voters hadn’t violated the 14th Amendment. Justice Elana Kagan had recused herself. Of the remaining 8 justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented. That left Breyer, Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Scaila, and Thomas. Ken Klukowski reported on the decision for Breitbart News:

The Supreme Court in Schuette upheld this provision today. There was no majority opinion for the Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the lead opinion for the plurality, which will be the one carrying the force of law for the nation. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.…

Justice Antonin Scalia filed an opinion concurring in the Court’s judgment upholding Proposition 2, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Scalia and Thomas, however, would have gone further than Kennedy, Roberts, and Alito. Justice Stephen Breyer, who consistently votes left of center, voted in this instance to uphold the provision, but his reasoning was different from that of the other justices.

440px-Supreme_Court_US_2010

Attacking Thomas Rather than Arguing Against His Ideas

Of course, liberals didn’t like the decision. Revealingly, they unleashed their fiercest wrath against Clarence Thomas. Here are examples of some of their tweets. A favorite epithet of the left in situations like this is “Uncle Tom.”

  • Since Clarence Thomas is against affirmative action, he should give up the black seat on the Court. He’s only there bc T Marshall was before
  • SCOTUS decision today shows it’s 5/9ths racist. And yes, Clarence Thomas hates his own race
  • Clarence Thomas is, for lack of a better word, a tom. No, actually, that’s the perfect word.
  • Clarence Thomas really is the universe’s equal and opposite reaction to MLK
  • Clearance Thomas is so bad. Calling some one his name is the same as calling someone an Uncle Tom.
  • Clarence Thomas please retire from the Supreme Court. You are the worst negro in history.

Truthrevolt.org described the situation this way: “Within a few hours, Twitter erupted with the usual slurs directed at black conservatives who don’t follow the left’s prescribed agenda.” (Note the word “usual” in the previous sentence; it indicates that with this kind of scenario, we can expect a bombardment of slurs from the liberals.)

As students of history, we need to realize that standing among the “black conservatives who don’t follow the left’s prescribed agenda” would have been slave-turned-statesman Frederick Douglass. He once wrote, “No class or color should be the exclusive rulers of the country. If there is such a ruling class there must of course be a subject class, and when this condition is once established this government by the people, of the people, and for the people will have already perished from the earth.” Both Frederick Douglass and Clarence Thomas are in great company!


No class or color should be the exclusive rulers of the country. If there is such a ruling class there must of course be a subject class, and when this condition is once established this government by the people, of the people, and for the people will have already perished from the earth.
Frederick Douglass

1024px-unidentified_artist_-_frederick_douglass_-_google_art_project-restore


Clearly it isn’t just black conservatives who earn the wrath of the left, but all conservatives—especially articulate ones. Quite often, though, black conservatives are extremely eloquent, and this may be part of the reason they irritate liberals so thoroughly.


In part because black conservatives often are extremely eloquent, they irritate liberals thoroughly.


As Ben Shapiro has said,

The Left paints everybody who disagrees with them as a vicious racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, bad people. We are all bad people. That’s why you see, for example, in the last election cycle, Mitt Romney sort of made the case about Barack Obama, that Barack Obama was a good guy and a decent fellow who was not very good at being President, and Barack Obama basically made the case about Romney that he was scum of the earth. And that’s how the left wins elections, because they can’t win on their own competence. What they do win on is by claiming that anybody who opposes them is just a bad person on a fundamental level.

Along these lines, consider Hillary Clinton’s recent “basket of deplorables” remark about “half” of Donald Trump’s supporters. Clinton described them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” She found herself having to backtrack, but her having said what she said in the first place vividly illustrates our point. Moreover, an apology does not erase the impact of the message on Hillary’s intended audience.

Mrs. Clinton’s remarks do not represent an isolated case. Conservapedia.com has compiled a list of examples of liberal hate speech (also go here and here). Especially when this kind of rhetoric is used against blacks, it’s racist. Can you imagine the reaction of the leftist media and their cohorts if Republicans were to talk about liberal personalities in this manner?

The following video is very instructive regarding the hatred liberals throw at black conservatives, as well as the courage these freedom-loving Americans demonstrate as they swim upstream against today’s politically correct culture.

“Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste”

Meanwhile, in America’s cities, racial tension and violence continue to mount. As I type these words on Friday, September 23, 2016, Charlotte, North Carolina has seen rioting and violence for several days. Keith Lamont Scott, an armed black man, was shot and killed by a black police officer. The Police Chief in Charlotte, Kerr Putney—who also is black—described the incident: “Scott exited his vehicle armed with a handgun as officers continued to yell at him to drop it. He stepped out, posing a threat to the officers.” The protests started out as peaceful, but they didn’t remain that way. Evidence indicates that individuals from outside the city arrived and incited greater anger, causing behavior to turn violent. These instigators apparently have ties to the protests occurring in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. On a video posted on Facebook, a woman claiming that Scott was her father said he wasn’t holding a gun, but a book. If it’s a book, it sure looks like a gun! You can see a photo of it on this page.

loretta_lynch_official_portraitAs usual, the Obama administration is all too anxious to intervene in a local matter. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told the rioters, “We hear your voices and we feel your pain.” Also, Vanita Gupta, who oversees the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, “has said that the real reason for riots lies in slavery and Jim Crow.” Is it any wonder that racial tensions have increased under America’s first black president? One is tempted to suspect that President Obama wants to stir things up, and that he and members of his administration will keep pouring gasoline on the fire. A student of Saul Alinsky, the president is following Alinsky’s teaching to never let a serious crisis go to waste.

Tellingly, a black Dallas police officer filed a lawsuit on September 16 against Black Lives Matter. The lawsuit “alleges the group is inciting a race war.” Included in the list of defendants are Black Lives Matter, Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, George Soros, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan.

Know History and Share It, and Rally Behind Black Conservatives!

Against the disturbing backdrop of violence in our cities, we need to be reminded that history is important—and we need to share the truth about race in America with members of the next generation. Moreover, we need desperately to pray for, support, and encourage the black conservatives among us (also go here).

Thank God for them, their courage, and their leadership! Truly they are modern heroes of today’s American Revolutionary cause—returning the United States of America to its founding principles!

Resources for Digging Deeper:

 

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

related article: “Clarence Thomas Is Conspicuously Absent in New Black History Smithsonian

Note:

1In our posts for last week and this week—the final two posts in our series on history—we are discussing two important tools the Democrats use to push their agenda. We devoted our discussion last week to Democrats’ powerful appeal to people’s emotions, especially the emotion of compassion. This week we expose the left’s penchant to personally attack their opponents. We should be aware that progressives have far more tools up their sleeves than these two items. These two, however, are especially powerful.

Top image: Blacks picking cotton on a Southern plantation, 1913

Websites are cited for information purposes only. No citation should be construed as an endorsement.

 

The Importance of Getting History Right, Part 9

An Opportunity Seized by Progressives—
and a Turning Point for America

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
Thomas Jefferson

Part 8 is available here.

For the last eight weeks, we’ve been discussing several significant events in America’s history and the importance of understanding them in the historical contexts in which they occurred. Was America founded on racist principles? Was the original Constitution of 1787 racist? If not, then why did slavery continue in America for decades beyond the Constitution’s ratification?

exterior_view_of_independence_hall_circa_1770s

Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in the 1770s

These have been some of the questions we have considered and endeavored to answer. Our journey has taken us from the Constitutional Convention of 1787, to the Civil War, to Reconstruction and beyond—all the way into the 20th and 21st centuries.

As we examined history, we saw that the Constitution was not racist.  Yet we did discover that one political party has promoted racism. Before, during, and after the Civil War, Democrats, generally speaking, were indeed racists and sought to implement racist policies. Today the prevailing narrative says that Republicans, not Democrats, are racists, but the fact that the narrative is what it is simply demonstrates that liberals—Democrats—have controlled it and effectively have rewritten history to their own advantage.


Today the prevailing narrative says that Republicans, not Democrats, are racists, but the fact that the narrative is what it is simply demonstrates that liberals—Democrats—have controlled it and effectively have rewritten history to their own advantage.


Just how has it come to pass that most people believe the narrative rather than what history teaches? Actually, with last week’s post, we already have started to answer this question, but this week and next week we’ll seek to answer it in earnest. In these final two installments in our 10-part series, we will highlight two strategies Democrats have adopted in the last 70 years to promote a progressive agenda. Progressives have relied on

1. powerful appeals to people’s emotions and
2. vicious attacks against their opponents.

These approaches largely have worked to further progressives’ aims, and it’s significant that as they have used them, liberals also have employed racism and racist overtones. Their racism isn’t manifested in the same ways it once was, but it is real and destructive nonetheless.

Let’s learn more. To set the stage to consider the first strategy we named—appealing to people’s emotions—we need once again to look back into history.

The First Black Democrat Elected to Congress

arthur_w-1-_mitchellArthur Wergs Mitchell (1883-1968) was the first black Democrat to be elected to Congress. Not coincidently, he was first elected in 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression. Mitchell began his political work in the Republican Party but in 1932 switched to the Democrat Party to support the programs of FDR. When he arrived in Congress in 1935, Mitchell declared, “What I am interested in is to help this grand President of ours feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.”

As it turns out, Roosevelt wasn’t the first president to take steps to involve government in meeting people’s needs. How much do you know about the era of the Great Depression? Go here to take a brief, 2-question test and to learn some important things about American history you probably never heard in school. Also, you can learn more about Arthur W. Mitchell here.


What I am interested in is to help this grand President of ours feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.
—Democrat Congressman Arthur W. Mitchell, conveying His desire to assist FDR in passing his proposals—


Mitchell’s statement sounds compassionate, noble, and honorable. Who could argue with it? I will! Before speaking against it, though, I must highlight the era in which Mitchell spoke. The Great Depression was taking a heavy toll on the American people. The average unemployment rate in 1935 was 20.1 percent. People had needs—and those needs were real. We must not minimize their desperate situations.

Government—Not an Effective or Efficient Provider

Even so, I am compelled to point out that it isn’t the primary job of the president, nor is it the main task of the government, to “feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.” What is government’s job? Scripture is clear, but we don’t even need Scripture to understand that government is not equipped or suited to efficiently meet the material and physical needs of its people.

Thus, today, at minimum, government programs that “help” people in need must be reformed. Needy recipients must be encouraged to demonstrate responsibility and to work wherever and whenever possible—even though offering them handouts is tempting from an emotional point of view. Reforms were implemented in 1996, but President Obama gutted them in 2012. Reforms need to be reinitiated.1

Returning to our main point, we must not allow emotions alone to guide us when making decisions that affect so many. It is logical to assume this is one reason Thomas Jefferson warned against ignorance, or a lack of knowledge and understanding (see his statement at the top of this article). Government can’t help the poor without taking resources from others, and we need to use our heads to analyze, not just the impact government programs have on the poor, but also the impact they have on the country itself, and particularly on those who pay for such programs through higher taxes.

arlie-j-hoover-webThe point here is that emotions are a terrible guide. We have quoted the late Dr. A. J. Hoover in previous posts on other subjects (here and here). In a book exposing the weaknesses of various kinds of faulty arguments, Professor Hoover says, “Clear thinking involves many things, but one of the most important things it involves is learning to control your emotions.”2 Hear him elaborate on this idea. Especially today, these statements offer much needed wisdom.

Sometimes even the noble emotions like love, honor, courage, and kindness need to be carefully watched. You commit the fallacy of argumentum ad misericordiam (“argument to pity”) when you make an illicit appeal to the emotion of pity.

This technique of persuasion has long been a familiar practice of lawyers in the courtroom. It is usually employed by the attorney for the defense who ignores the facts of the case and plays on the heartstrings of the jury. For example, he may bring into the courtroom the bedraggled wife of the defendant, followed by his seven pathetic, ragged children. He need not speak any words, for this “body language” says to the jury: “If you send my client to prison, you will make a widow of this poor woman and orphans of all these innocent children. What have these poor human beings done to deserve all this?”

Naturally, the prosecuting attorney will want to remind the jury that there is no necessary, logical connection between the deplorable state of the man’s family and his guilt or the requirements of the law. The jury should not be blinded by the noble emotion of pity in such a case.3

We’ve also previously noted this about government.

Government is inefficient, costly, and has an intoxicating effect on leaders and the public. Government may look like a benefactor, but it can offer only those resources it has taken from citizens and businesses through taxes and regulations. Despite appearances, government is not compassion, but force. Government’s good intentions often have very bad unintended consequences.

And this

The following quote frequently is attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, although no evidence exists in his writings it ever originated with him. Nevertheless, whoever said it was absolutely correct. We need to heed this warning and understand its implications.

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

• From bondage to spiritual faith;
• From spiritual faith to great courage;
• From courage to liberty;
• From liberty to abundance;
• From abundance to selfishness;
• From selfishness to complacency;
• From complacency to apathy;
• From apathy to dependence;
• From dependence back into bondage.

When the people of a nation believe they have a right to government “benefits,” they become intoxicated with everything the government is willing to offer. In turn, those in authority become intoxicated with the power they gain as an increasing number of people become dependent upon them. The more government “gives,” the more beholden recipients become. This is how a nation that began with liberty can be led into tyranny.

The early stages of this process, however, don’t look at all like a journey into tyranny. They may not look that way years or even decades later. Eventually, though, “the chickens will come home to roost.”


When the people of a free nation begin to look to the government to meet their needs, the journey on which they’ve started won’t appear to have tyranny as its destination. The road may not look like a path to tyranny and oppression years or even decades later. Then, when it’s too late, some of the people—certainly not all—will realize they’ve traded freedom for security and now live in bondage to the government.


FDR’s policies often are viewed favorably because of the many ways they seemed to help those in need. In other words, his programs were “compassionate.” Roosevelt was then, and is now, a hero to many. Economist Robert Higgs writes, “Roosevelt, it is said repeatedly, restored hope to the American people when they had fallen into despair because of the seemingly endless depression, and his policies ‘saved capitalism’ by mitigating its intrinsic cruelties and inequalities.”

But wait! Higgs goes on to contend this perception doesn’t fit the facts.

This view of Roosevelt and the New Deal amounts to a myth compounded of ideological predisposition and historical misunderstanding. In a 1936 book called The Menace of Roosevelt and His Policies, Howard E. Kershner came closer to the truth when he wrote that Roosevelt

took charge of our government when it was comparatively simple, and for the most part confined to the essential functions of government, and transformed it into a highly complex, bungling agency for throttling business and bedeviling the private lives of free people. It is no exaggeration to say that he took the government when it was a small racket and made a large racket out of it.4

As this statement illustrates, not everyone admired FDR during the 1930s.…The irony is that even if Roosevelt did help to lift the spirits of the American people in the depths of the depression—an uplift for which no compelling documentation exists—this achievement only led the public to labor under an illusion. After all, the root cause of the prevailing malaise was the continuation of the depression. Had the masses understood that the New Deal was only prolonging the depression, they would have had good reason to reject it and its vaunted leader.

headshot-bennettYet the masses, in fact, did not understand. In his three-volume work on American History—America: The Last Best Hope—William J. Bennett states that the congressional Democrats who had been elected to office in 1932 on Roosevelt’s coattails were all too eager to pass his policies, and pass them they did. Bennett quotes this paragraph from Samuel Eliot Morison as part of his explanation of the shift of political allegiances occurring against the backdrop of the Great Depression.

A feature of the WPA [Works Progress Administration] which caught the public eye and became nicknamed “boondoggling,” was the setting up of projects to employ artists, musicians, writers and other “white collar” workers. Post offices and other public buildings were decorated with murals; regional and state guides were written; libraries in municipal and state buildings were catalogued by out-of-work librarians, and indigent graduate students were employed to inventory archives and copy old shipping lists, to the subsequent profit of American historians. The federal theater at its peak employed over 15,000 actors and other workers, at an average wage of $20 a week. Under the direction of John Houseman, Orson Welles, and others, new plays were written and produced, and the classics revived.5

Bennett then writes,

iuHere, in a nutshell, we see the origins of many of today’s political alignments. Hollywood, academia, the press, libraries, the public universities—all are inhabited by tens of thousands of people who could trace the existence of their jobs or their institutions to a federal program begun under FDR. By bringing into government a “Brian Trust,” FDR assured the allegiance of what we today call the “knowledge class” to the Democratic Party. One thing can always be assured: If you take from Peter to pay Paul, you can generally rely on the vote of Paul.6

A history website  agrees that the 1932 election brought together a new coalition in support of Democrats. It also included blacks, the country’s other minority populations, and organized labor (see also the last paragraph on the 1936 election in this article). For decades beyond, Democrats would depend on this coalition for many of its wins. Robert Higgs, whom we cited earlier, says bluntly that “the New Deal served as a massive vote-buying scheme.”

The Snowball Effect

Lyndon_B._Johnson,_photo_portrait,_leaning_on_chair,_color_croppedWe see this dependency not just in the Roosevelt era, but particularly during and since the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with building a coalition to support a cause, to use taxpayer money to strengthen a political party’s power—and to make constituents dependent on that money in the process—are actions that are especially unethical and wrong. It’s apparent that President Johnson was quite pleased at the prospect of bribing and manipulating voters—especially black voters—to increase his own party’s power.

If you don’t remember or haven’t heard what Johnson said privately about civil rights legislation when he was a senator and about his “Great Society” programs when he was president, you need to know. Go here to read these statements. Also recall the apparently deliberate misrepresentations of so-called black leaders with regard to the Three-Fifths Compromise. In each of these situations, the goal is the same—more power.

The unethical nature of creating dependency for votes is only one problem with government “entitlement” programs. Another big problem is that the stated goals of these efforts never are realized. In fact, since the welfare system was set up, things have worsened for those the system was supposed to help. African American economist and political commentator Walter Williams has rightly declared, “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.”


The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.
Walter E. Williams


Yet another huge problem with wealth transfer programs—not just welfare but Social Security and other such programs, is the inability of taxpayers to sustain them as the number of recipients continues to increase. In other words, there’s a snowball effect. In a National Review article, journalist Michael Tanner asks, “How long can a shrinking number of taxpayers support a growing number of beneficiaries?” It’s a great question.

socialsecurityposter1

poster from the late 1930s or early 1940s marketing the “benefits” of Social Security

Advocates of government intervention to meet people’s needs focus on compassion and whether or not the action or the program makes them feel good. Bill Voegeli, the Senior Editor at the Claremont Institute, explains this important dynamic in progressives’ approach to government in this PragerU video.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line. Even though Arthur W. Mitchell, the first black Democrat, was elected and reelected to Congress by narrow margins, his wins reflected the beginning of a change in Americans’ perception about the role of government in people’s private lives. Even more importantly, Mitchell’s electoral contests—as well as Roosevelt’s landslide wins in 1932 and 1936 and his decisive wins in 1940 and 1944—reflected the beginning of a change in the nation’s perspective on rights. The ignorance Thomas Jefferson feared can, to a large extent, be effectively countered when citizens understand the Founders’ views on rights and why that perspective squares with reality.



FDR’s election and his subsequent reelections, as well as Arthur W. Mitchell’s election and reelections to Congress, reflect that the country was beginning to change its perspective on rights. It is critical for us to understand the Founders’ views on rights as well as the new perspective on rights the country was beginning to embrace. Why? The country has fully embraced the revisionist view today, and we need to combat this misinformation with the truth. America’s Founders got it right!



A quick review: To secure rights like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, government needs to stay out of the way and allow people to exercise those rights; but to secure rights like the “right” to food and shelter, government has to take wealth from its citizens and redistribute it so it can meet those needs.

Aren’t you concerned about hunger and housing? someone will ask. Of course we are! We’re simply saying it isn’t government’s primary role to meet these and similar needs. Please read and review our series on Americans’ posture with regard to rights. This is critical information.


Misinformed and Misled: An Eight-Part Series on America’s Distorted Perspective on Rights


In the 1930s, the 1960s, and beyond, progressives saw a golden opportunity for themselves. Unfortunately, they took advantage of it; and quite frankly, in doing so, they have exploited Americans who already were at an economic disadvantage. Moreover, it is not coincidental that to effectively promote the entitlement mentality that strengthens their power, Democrats have had to misrepresent history, including the Founders’ views on race, and liberty, and rights.


To effectively promote the entitlement mentality that strengthens their power, Democrats have had to misrepresent history, including the Founders’ views on race, liberty, and rights.


Republicans and other concerned citizens need to call them out, but they know there’s a risk in doing so. They’ll be called racists and practically every other pejorative name in the book.

Next week, we’ll explore this tactic, another manipulative strategy in progressives’ playbook.

 

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

 

Top image: A line of unemployed men waiting outside a soup kitchen opened by Al Capone in Chicago, 1931

 

Notes:

1As an aside, the Bible upholds both hard work and Christian generosity as means to meet the needs of individuals who are unable to work to provide for themselves and their families. When government took over the job of helping the poor, the church stepped away from it. The church should reassert itself in this area.

2A. J. Hoover, Don’t You Believe It! Poking Holes in Faulty Logic, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 67.

3Ibid.

4The statements from Howard E. Kirshner’s book, The Menace of Roosevelt and His Policies, are quoted by Richard M. Ebeling in “Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part XIV: The New Deal and Its Critics,” Freedom Daily, February 1998, p. 15.

5Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, Volume Three, 306.

6William J. Bennett, America: the Last Best Hope, Volume II: From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom, 1914-1989, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 114.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Getting History Right, Part 8

Don’t Be Fooled!

Before lecturing Republicans, Democrats should mop up their side of the political spectrum [with regard to the issue of race].
—Journalist Deroy Murdock (who, by the way, is black)—

Note: In Part 6, we began to record some historical facts Democrats have hidden from the public or effectively encouraged the public to ignore. We added to the list in Part 7, and this week, in Part 8, we complete it. The list contains 33 items. It isn’t exhaustive by any means, but it is thorough and very informative. It’s available on a single page here.

The second Sunday after a congregation had welcomed a new pastor into its midst, churchgoers noticed he preached the very same sermon he’d given a week earlier. The next week, he preached the same sermon yet again. When his people asked him why he was doing this, the pastor replied, “When you begin to apply the principles in this sermon, I’ll be happy to move on to the next one.”

As we continue adding items to our list of historical truths Democrats conveniently overlook, some may feel we are being repetitious, even though we’ve been adding new items every week. Unlike the new preacher who kept preaching the same sermon, I believe you’re getting it. Democrats, generally speaking, have rewritten history and are overlooking their own racist past. There are exceptions, but overall, Democrats have a history that upholds racism.

The eleventh item on our list (see last week’s post) highlighted Republican attempts to make lynching a federal crime in 1922, 1923, and 1924—and Democrat efforts to thwart them. Southern Democrats in the US Senate successfully filibustered the bill. Looking back a few years may shed some light on why these Democrats’ efforts could succeed.

Historical Truths Democrats Have Successfully Concealed

Twelfth, Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921, was a Democrat who promoted and adopted racist policies and who glorified the Ku Klux Klan. Under Wilson, the federal government resegregated numerous agencies in the US government. Yes, resegregated. Integration had taken place during Reconstruction decades before Wilson took office. Wilson “brought with him an administration loaded with white supremacists who segregated offices and removed black men from political appointments.” In 1914 President Wilson defended these policies, saying this:

Segregation is not humiliating but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen. If your organization goes out and tells the colored people of the country that it is a humiliation, they will so regard it, but if you do not tell them so, and regard it rather as a benefit, they will regard it the same. The only harm that will come will be if you cause them to think it is a humiliation… If this organization is ever to have another hearing before me it must have another spokesman. Your manner offends me…

Of course, Wilson’s policies affected people on a personal level. One man affected was John Abraham Davis. John Davis was a hard worker and excelled in school. Not long after graduating from high school in 1882 he landed a job at the Government Printing Office in Washington, DC. His job became his career. John was rewarded for his hard work with promotions and pay increases, and by 1908 he had a very respectable income as well as a home in the nation’s capital and a farm in a nearby state. Everything changed for John after Wilson took office. He was demoted, then sent from one department to another to do jobs that required little skill or experience. In the end he wound up delivering messages in the War Department, but that job paid only about half of what he had been earning in 1908. John was forced to sell the farm, and by 1917 his spirit had been crushed. He’d live for eleven more years but could not recover from the humiliation and economic ruin Wilson’s racist policies had brought upon him. Not surprisingly, other black men in government jobs had similar experiences.

Moreover, Woodrow Wilson spoke glowingly of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1901 in his book, A History of the American People, Volume IX, Wilson wrote, “Those who loved mastery and adventure directed the work of the Ku Klux.” He also wrote, “The white men of the South were aroused by the mere instinct of self-preservation to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant negroes and conducted in the interest of adventurers.” The quote inspired this frame in the racist movie The Birth of a Nation, a silent movie directed by by D. W. Griffith and released in 1915. The film was successful and was a factor leading to a resurgence of the Klan, which also took place in 1915.

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On another issue, Wilson is seen today as a leader promoting women’s suffrage. Not so fast! He and other Democrats actually had no choice but to go along with passage of the Nineteenth Amendment after landslide wins for Republicans in Congress in the election of 1918. On May 21, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment passed the House of Representatives. The vote was 304-89. Ninety-one percent of Republicans but just 59 percent of Democrats voted for it. The Senate passed the amendment on June 4 of the same year by a vote of 56-25. Eighty-two percent of Republicans but just 41 percent of Democrats voted for it. On to the states it went, and Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 26, 1920. Tom Wrutz writes, “Of the 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment, 26 were Republican states [states with Republican legislatures].”

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Suffragist demonstration in 1913 in Washington, DC

Thirteenth, the Democrat Convention in 1924 was called Klanbake because of the controversy that swirled around it involving the Ku Klux Klan. No political convention in US history has lasted as long as did this one. From June 24 to July 9, 1924, delegates cast a total of 103 ballots before officially nominating John W. Davis and Charles W. Bryan to run for president and vice-president, respectively. They would be defeated by Calvin Coolidge and Charles G. Dawes in November.

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1924 Democrat Convention

Going into the convention, observers probably would have put their money on either Al Smith of New York or William Gibbs McAdoo, who had served as the Secretary of the Treasury in the Wilson administration and who would go on to serve as a Democrat US Senator from California. Davis became the compromise candidate.

Not all Democrats supported the revived KKK, and some wanted the party’s platform to condemn Klan for its violent activities. A plank was proposed. Pro-Klan delegates opposed Al Smith’s candidacy (Smith was a Catholic) and supported the candidacy of his chief opponent, William McAdoo (a Protestant). The convention was deeply divided. Writing about the proceedings, Randy Dotinga seasons his report with quotes from Robert K. Murray, a historian.

The vicious KKK debate finally ended in a chaotic two-hour vote that produced the most “prolonged pandemonium in an American political gathering.”

“The delegates engaged in fist fights, arguments, name calling, wrestling matches, and brawls, while the galleries howled and stomped their feet.” The fighting veered toward a riot that was only averted when 1,000 NYC cops hurried to the scene.

1924-dems202_zpsyoyhzzomDebate over adopting the anti-Klan plank was fierce. In the end, the plank was rejected by a vote of 546.15 to 542.85. In Celebration, “tens of thousands of hooded Klansmen rallied in a field in New Jersey, across the river from New York City. This event…was also attended by hundreds of Klan delegates to the convention, who burned crosses, urged violence and intimidation against African Americans and Catholics, and attacked effigies of Smith.”

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Fourteenth, Democrat Hugo Black, who was a US Senator from Alabama from 1927 to 1937, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. After being elected to his seat in the Senate in 1926, Black spoke to a KKK gathering and thanked them for their support:

This passport which you have given me is a symbol to me of the passport which you have given me before. I do not feel that it would be out of place to state to you her on this occasion that I know that without the support of the members of this organization I would not have been called, even by my enemies, the “Junior Senator from Alabama.”

As a US Senator, Black strongly opposed anti-lynching legislation, even when the sponsors of the bill also were Democrats.

In 1935 Black led a filibuster of the Wagner-Costigan anti-lynching bill. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that when a motion to end the fillibuster was defeated “[t]he southerners- headed by Tom Connally of Texas and Hugo Black of Alabama—grinned at each other and shook hands.”

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Fifteenth, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Hugo Black to the Supreme Court in 1937. He was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court from August 19, 1937 until just September 17, 1971, just days before his death. Shortly after Black became an Associate Justice, reporter Ray Sprigle of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote a story disclosing Black’s involvement in the KKK. The report caused quite a stir, and Sprigle won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. As a Supreme Court Justice, Black “went on to reintroduce America to the long-dormant phrase ‘separation of church and state, twisting its meaning. Black also wrote the majority opinion that deemed internment camps in the United States constitutional in 1944.”

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Sixteenth, in 1938, during a filibuster of the Wagner-Van Nuys anti-lynching bill—a bill, by the way, bearing the names of two Democrat senators, Robert Wagner and Frederick Van Nuys— Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo, also a Democrat, declared,

If you succeed in the passage of this bill, you will open the floodgates of hell in the South. Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots, and crime will be increased a thousandfold; and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped and outraged daughters of Dixie, as well as the blood of the perpetrators of these crimes that the red-blooded Anglo-Saxon White Southern men will not tolerate.

Seventeenth, in 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed James Byrmes to the US Supreme Court. Byrmes was a segregationist who in 1919 said, “This is a white man’s country, and will always remain a white man’s country.”

Eighteenth, FDR committed racist acts and failed to defend races who were vulnerable.

  • In 1942, internment camps were established by Executive Order 9066 to house American citizens descended from Japanese and Japanese expatriates.
  • Jesse Owens had defied the propaganda of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany by winning four gold medals on German soil, at the Berlin Olympics of 1936. After the games, FDR invited only the white athletes to meet with him. Of course, Owens received no such invitation.

FDR invited only white athletes to meet with him following the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.


  • While Roosevelt was critical of lynching, he would not support a federal anti-lynching law. He said Southern Democrats, especially Senators, would retaliate by blocking other bills Roosevelt supported that were essential for the country’s survival: “If I come out for the anti-lynching bill now, they will block every bill I ask Congress to pass to keep America from collapsing. I just can’t take that risk.”
  • FDR also has been accused of not doing enough to help the Jews during the Holocaust and World War 2.

Ninteenth, evangelist Billy Graham led a crusade in Jackson, Mississippi in 1952. Graham’s policy was clear regarding race—members of all races would be welcome at his events. Mississippi Democrat Governor Hugh White didn’t like the policy and asked Graham to schedule different services for white and black audiences. Graham refused, although he did, at the Jackson Crusade, allow segregated seating. Several months later, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Graham vehemently resisted the call for segregated seating. In Jackson, Graham proclaimed, “There is no scriptural basis for segregation. It may be there are places where such is desirable to both races, but certainly not in the church. The ground at the foot of the cross is level.…[I]t touches my heart when I see whites stand shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross.”

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Billy Graham in 1966

Twentieth, In 1956, a document was drafted in the US Congress called “The Declaration of Constitutional Principles” or simply the “Southern Manifesto.” In it, 101 political leaders expressed their opposition to racial integration in public facilities and venues, including schools. Ninety-nine of the leaders were Democrats and two were Republicans. One signatory to the document was J. William Fulbright, Senator from Arkansas and eventual mentor to Bill Clinton. Fulbright has been described as a racist, a “notorious segregationist,” pro-communist, and anti-Semitic. Recently, “the famous Fulbright fellowship…[was] renamed…the “J. William Fulbright–Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellowship.”


Former Democrat Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright has been described as a racist, a “notorious segregationist,” pro-communist, and anti-Semitic. Recently, “the famous Fulbright fellowship…[was] renamed…the “J. William Fulbright–Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellowship.”


Twenty-first, Bruce Bartlett, author of Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past,” explains that Republican President Dwight Eisenhower repeated his call for civil rights legislation in his 1957 State of the Union address. Previously, the legislation had passed in the House but had died in the Senate because of opposition from Southern Democrats. Lyndon B. Johnson was the Senate’s Majority Leader. Opponents of the legislation were looking to him to oppose it, just as he had in the past. (While a congressman, Johnson had called President Harry Truman’s civil rights initiative “a farce and a sham—an effort to set up a police state in the guise of liberty. I am opposed to that program. I have voted against the so-called poll tax repeal bill…I have voted against the so-called anti-lynching bill.”) Johnson, however, wanted to become president. Bartlett continues,

After dragging his feet on the civil rights bill throughout much of 1957, Johnson finally came to the conclusion that the tide had turned in favor of civil rights and he needed to be on the right side of the issue if he hoped to become president.…

At the same time, the Senate’s master tactician and principal opponent of the civil rights bill, Democrat Richard B. Russell of Georgia, saw the same handwriting on the wall but came to a different conclusion. He realized that the support was no longer there for an old-fashioned Democrat filibuster.…So Russell adopted a different strategy this time of trying to amend the civil rights bill so as to minimize its impact. Behind the scenes, Johnson went along with Russell’s strategy of not killing the civil rights bill, but trying to neuter it as much as possible.…

Eisenhower was disappointed at not being able to produce a better piece of legislation. “I wanted a much stronger civil rights bill in ’57 than I could get,” he later lamented. “But the Democrats…wouldn’t let me have it.”

Johnson explained his approach this way:

senator_lyndon_johnsonThese Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don’t move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there’ll be no way of stopping them, we’ll lose the filibuster and there’ll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It’ll be Reconstruction all over again.

Forgive the language—I’m just reporting what was said. On Air Force One, President Johnson was speaking to two like-minded governors and explaining some of the benefits Democrats would reap from his “Great Society” programs. Johnson said, “I’ll have those niggars voting Democrat for the next 200 years.”

Twenty-second, In 1958, Billy Graham planned a rally on the steps of South Carolina’s capitol building. South Carolina Democrat Governor George Timmerman objected and successfully nixed the plans to hold the rally at the capitol. Graham was viewed as an “integrationist.” In fact, the KKK had listed Billy Graham as one of their targets in 1957. Governor Timmerman said, “There is, in fact, no reason to select the State House unless the real purpose is to capitalize, for propaganda, purposes, on the appearance of a widely known advocate of desegregation. It is Graham’s endorsement of desegregation that has brought him front-page acclaim.” Brig. General Christian H. Clark helped make Fort Jackson, which was a federal venue, available, and the rally was held there. As many as 60,000 people of different races attended, and the meeting was “described at the time as the largest turnout for a non-sporting event in state history.”

Twenty-third, in 1962 George C. Wallace, then a Democrat, was elected Governor of Alabama. He was inaugurated on January 14, 1963.

In his inauguration speech he proclaimed, “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”

Twenty-fourth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963
The top image is a photo of the crowd attending that event.

Twenty-fifth, Contrary to the assumptions of many today, Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • In the House of Representatives, 80 percent of Republicans voted for the measure, while just 61 percent of Democrats voted for it.
  • In the Senate, Republicans were at last able to end a filibuster brought by Democrats. Eighty-two percent of Republicans supported cloture along with just 66 percent of Democrats.
  • In the vote on the legislation itself, 82 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats gave their support. 

Twenty-sixth, Surprise, surprise! The Voting Rights Act of 1965 also became law largely because of Republicans.

  • Ninety-four percent of Republicans in the US Senate supported the Voting Rights Act, contrasted to 73 percent of Democrats.
  • When the Senate voted on the final version of the bill from the House, one lone Republican Senator opposed it, along with 17 Democrats.
  • In the House of Representatives, 82 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Democrats voted for the legislation. 

everettdirksenRepublican Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen was a co-author of the legislation, and he strategized against opposition brought by Democrats. He said, “There has to be a real remedy. There has to be something durable and worthwhile. This cannot go on forever, this denial of the right to vote by ruses and devices and tests and whatever the mind can contrive to either make it very difficult or to make it impossible to vote.”


The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became law largely because of the work of Republicans.


Twenty-seventh, Lester Maddox was elected governor of Georgia in 1970 and was a Democrat at the time. An ardent segregationist, Maddox once said, “That’s part of American greatness, is discrimination. Yes, sir. Inequality, I think, breeds freedom and gives a man opportunity.”

bill_clinton_1978Twenty-eighth, In 1989, the NAACP sued three state officials, including then-Arkansas Democrat Governor Bill Clinton, under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a federal statute. According to the Arkansas Gazette on December 6, 1989, “Plaintiffs offered plenty of proof of monolithic voting along racial lines, intimidation of black voters and candidates and other official acts that made voting harder for blacks.” The paper also said that “the evidence at the trial was indeed overwhelming that the Voting Rights Act had been violated.” The court ordered the redrawing of electoral districts to enhance the strength of votes from the black community.

Writing at nationalreview.com, Deroy Murdock reports,

During his 12-year tenure, Governor Clinton never approved a state civil-rights law. However, he did issue birthday proclamations honoring Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. He also signed Act 116 in 1987. That statute reconfirmed that the star directly above the word “Arkansas” in the state flag “is to commemorate the Confederate States of America.” Arkansas also observed Confederate Flag Day every year Clinton served. The governor’s silence was consent.

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Also, examples of merchandise from Bill Clinton’s presidential run in 1992 have appeared that reflect Confederate sympathies.

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Twenty-ninth, As a presidential candidate in 2000, Al Gore declared to the NAACP that his father was voted out of office after voting for the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The Senior Gore, however, opposed the Civil Rights Act and voted against it. In 1970, Gore, Sr. lost to Republican Bill Brock in a contest that centered on the Supreme Court, the war in Viet Nam, and prayer in public schools. Also in 2000, Gore claimed to have worked to increase diversity among those who followed him every day, including the Secret Service; but blacks in the Secret Service were suing Gore because they “were not being promoted to positions guarding the Vice-President.”

robert_byrd_official_portraitThirtieth, in a National Review article titled “Whitewashing the Democratic Party’s History,” Mona Charen writes, “As recently as 2010, the Senate’s president pro tempore was former Ku Klux Klan Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd (D., W.Va.).” Go here to learn more about this KKK role.

During World War 2, Byrd wrote, “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side. … Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” Go here to view a brief timeline of Byrd’s actions with regard to race relations.

Thirty-first, Barak Obama has increased racial tensions in this country since becoming president. One glaring manifestation of this truth that if you’re opposed to his policies, you’re accused of racism. Check out articles herehere, here, and here.


This president is the most racist president there has ever been in America. He is purposely trying to use race to divide Americans.
Ben Stein, speaking of President Barak Obama—


070731-N-0696M-156 WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 31, 2007) - As Senator Hillary Clinton listens, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Mullen responds to a question during his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee for appointment to Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Hart Senate Office Building, July 31, 2007. Mullen was joined by Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. James E. Cartwright for his appointment to Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley (RELEASED)

Thirty-second and finally, Hillary Clinton apparently has garnered support from people willing to embrace the Confederate flag (also go here). While a candidate can’t control who supports him or her, the candidate can disavow attitudes of prominent supporters with whom he or she disagrees.

Hillary Clinton does not have the best track record with regard to race, especially when one considers her husband’s policies when he was Governor of Arkansas. Yet she has been quick to accuse Republicans of racism.

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In fact, accusations of racism among Republicans has become a Democrat mantra.

You see, Democrats don’t just rewrite the past, they misrepresent the present, too.


Part 9 is available here.

 

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