America, Where Are You? Part 1

A Sobering Assessment

I respect the courts, but the Supreme Court is only that—the supreme of the courts. It is not the supreme being. It cannot overrule God, when it comes to prayer, when it comes to life, and when it comes to the sanctity of marriage, the court cannot change what God has created.
Mike Huckabee


Key point: Three landmark Supreme Court decisions have helped chart America’s direction and helped define who and where we now are as a country. To help America recover her moral footing, we first need to understand just how far off the stable path these decisions have propelled our country.


For summaries of all the articles in this series, go here.

In Genesis 3:9 (go here for the context), God asked Adam a powerful question: He “called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” This question came on the heels of Adam’s and Eve’s disobeying God by eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It came for Adam’s benefit—not because God was looking for either Adam or Eve. Adam needed to assess where he now was in terms of his relationship with God, and, as it would turn out, in his relationships with everything else.

God Judging Adam by William Blake, 1795

The beginning of a new year gives us a unique opportunity to reflect on where we are in terms of our relationship with God—not just individually, but also as churches, nationally, and culturally. We need to take advantage of this opportunity. Accordingly, this will be the theme of this series of articles.

Steve, a friend and coworker of mine, reads my posts regularly and encourages me a great deal. A few months ago, he told me he would like to write a piece reflecting his own thoughts about where America is right now and what can be done about it. On November 11 of last year, he emailed me an article consisting of 338 words. Steve not as “long-winded” as I am.

President Trump and his wife Melania visit a Las Vegas shooting victim

My friend began by citing the recent mass killings at the First Baptist Church of Southern Springs, Texas on November 5 and at a Las Vegas concert on October 1. These incidents left 84 people dead and 566 injured. To what can we attribute these horrific events? Are some people just that mean? Do we need stricter gun laws?1 Steve indicated that if we go down these paths, we totally miss the main message of the larger picture. He wrote,

Three events in the USA’s past are keystone moments in the history of our great nation.

The Authority of Law Statue at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC

First, in 1962, the Supreme Court ruled unfavorably regarding prayer in schools.

Second, in 1973, the Supreme Court made murder of our most helpless citizens legal.

Finally, in 2015, our nation, again through the Supreme Court, declared that people of the same sex could marry.

These three events present a drastic change from the attitudes expressed by the Founding Fathers during the last half of the 1700s.


The Declaration of Independence acknowledges, affirms, and upholds “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” yet on numerous occasions, the Supreme Court of the United States has thoroughly rebuffed them.


To murder, to not be allowed to pray, and blaspheme the institution of marriage by making legal an act that God calls an abomination is a dangerous set of events. Historically, in the Bible when people take these paths, destruction follows.

In the book of Romans, the last 15 verses of chapter 1 describe the current state of the culture of the United States. Our nation has been given over to itself in its wickedness.

Then my friend essentially said this:

America has a chance to make a change for righteousness and to be saved from destruction, but needed changes will occur, not primarily through the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of our government, as important as the decisions made in all of these institutions are. The changes that must occur to make America truly great again will come when people of faith turn to God.


The changes that must occur to make America truly great again will come when people of faith turn to God.


The church has to be concerned about reaching people—I get that. And it must reach younger generations if it is to survive in the long term. Yet in its well-intentioned efforts to reach the young, it has become a place of entertainment rather than a place where the truth is upheld, a place where people can find a large gym to maintain physical fitness but not discover the gutsy challenges of the gospel, and a place that all too often seeks to be “relevant” over being authentically truthful.

Upholding the Truth in Love

Is there hope for this country? Yes! But to be the lighthouse this nation needs, the church must repent of its entertainment mentality and once again uphold the truth of Scripture, all the while demonstrating genuine love.


To be the lighthouse America needs, the church must repent of its entertainment mentality and once again uphold the truth of Scripture, all the while demonstrating genuine love.


Concluding, Steve cited two verses of Scripture—one from the Old Testament, and one from the New.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Lord declared, “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

While we must remember that God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 was extended to His people—those making up the nation of Israel—and that we cannot assume it applies to America in exactly the same way it applied Israel, the principle behind it does have a measure of application for the church in America in the 21st century. Similarly, in the context of Matthew 6:33, Jesus was challenging His followers not to worry about their material needs but to put God’s kingdom first. Even so, the principle of putting God’s kingdom first and of God’s taking care of everything else still is valid and has points of application for the church and the culture today.

Is Steve right in his assessment? I believe he is, and in future posts, I’ll explain why. We’ll look at each of the Supreme Court cases he cites, and then at the state of the church.

Be sure to return next time.

 

top image: www.lightstock.com

Copyright © 2018 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.

Note:

1While this isn’t a post on the effects of gun-control laws, this article offers some important insights on that subject.

 

Five Takeaways from the 2016 Presidential Election

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

abraham_lincoln_o-55_1861-crop

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the same page, Giovanni wrote,

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mrcbuilding

Media Research Center Headquarters Building, Reston, Virginia

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

about-tour

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

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

In 1996, Billy Graham said,

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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