In God We Trust

The recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll revealed that 63% of Americans believe that the President would be making a “positive step” by appointing a justice who “allows references to God in public life.”

While I’m glad to know that a strong majority recognize that it is healthy and positive to include God in public life, I’m a bit bothered by the nature of the question. While it's nice to know that the majority of Americans feel this way, I can’t help but remember what our Founders have said.

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”—James Madison

I hope we’re not expecting polls and popularity to dictate the way we ought to conduct ourselves as a nation and a people. Did our founders not already do this for us? The same people who literally gave their lives for this nation made it very clear how they felt about “allowing references to God.” They did just that. Today, feathers get ruffled at President Bush making reference to the difficulty of his job, and adding that he couldn’t imagine how it could be done without a faith in God. But, our very first president said the following:

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”—George Washington

It’s not simply a “positive step” to make reference to God. It is absolutely imperative that we do and foolish to think we can govern rightly otherwise.


At 7/15/2005 07:57:00 PM, Anonymous Clayton Bell said...

Yeah, the annoying this is not that people want to live in a nation that was not founded on Christian principles, but that people refuse to understand that this is what THIS nation was founded on. If you want to go live on Secular Island, go right ahead! But this nation's particular government (the US, not Secular Island) was founded on the principles that people have internal government based on biblical principles. This form of government, I think, doesn't even need born-again believers to operate functionally, just people who would be willing to internally restrain themselves and operate by Christian morals and values. Now, of course you can argue the vailidity of the actual ability to manage your life that way without being born-again, but you don't HAVE to be to live in this country comfortably and obediantly. But to just flatly deny that the founders had a strong faith or weren't governing from a presupposition that people would be Christian in behavior...just dumb. Just plain dumb.

On the other hand, I do think that we need to be careful in our religious expression. The intent of the first amendment I appreciate, because you can't mandate that people follow a religion that begins with a change of the heart. So while I have no problem with people using their faith to guide their decision (which everyone actually does, even if they don't have a name for their faith, which makes this whole arguement about God in public life so intellectually annoying...) but I do think that we need to be careful about mandated expressions of that faith. I don't think that praying at a high school football game is actually offensive, but if we allow that type of activity, have we thought through the possibility that it might be a prayer to Allah one day? Are we going to actually mandate that Christian prayers are the only ones allowed at public venues? I hope this isn't racist, but most of the people that I know to be valedictorians of high schools are not white Christians, but, at least at my high school, they were almost always of Indian decent, India not Native American. So, if we want kids to be able to thanks Jesus in their high school speeches, are we OK with them thanking Allah? I'm not saying that we should outlaw prayer, but we need to be OK with religious freedom, not Christian freedom. Are we trying to be a democratic society founded on Christian morals (which I'm pretty sure the Jew, the Moslem, JW's and Mormons would all agree on), or a theocracy? I think that a lot of Christians don't like PGWB because he is trying to run a democracy and not create a theocracy. So...where was I? We should allow people to talk about their faith in shaping their lives and their decisions, we need to be ready and accepting if someone is doing that from an inspiriation other than the Christian God, and we need to go through evangelism, not legislation, to see their lives transfomred.

At 7/15/2005 07:58:00 PM, Anonymous Clayton Bell said...

Is this my blog or yours? I feel like I should just link to your comment section...

At 7/15/2005 08:56:00 PM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

I think the key in this discussion is understanding that we're talking about Judeo-Christian values and principles as the foundation of the nation, in its framework, its values and its functions...not in any way dictating private behavior except when that behavior interferes with the rights and safety of others.

At 7/15/2005 09:48:00 PM, Anonymous Clayton Bell said...

Exactly...unfortunatly, it seems like many members of both sides are unable to grasp that...

At 7/15/2005 11:05:00 PM, Blogger Raymond said...

Lores, there was something else that struck me about the nature of the question. In a way, it serves to expose the real problem.

Such a question reveals that the current state of affairs in our Supreme Court is such that finding a judge who lives by even the minimal creed of "allowing references to God in public life" would actually be considered a "positive step."

What do you think the percentages would have looked like if the description of the judge was that of a Born-again Christian?

I hope, as a people, we continue to have extremely high expectations of our leaders. I hope we never become satisfied with one "positive step" in the right direction.

Secular Humanism has been one of the greatest thieves to dip his hands into America's biblical heritage. I hope we are not so easily appeased when he offers to return 1% of his plunder.

Even more so, I hope we really take Clayton's advice to keep our trust in the right place. The Gospel is the power of God, and only it will change the hearts of men.

At 7/15/2005 11:19:00 PM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

Good point, Raymond! I think it's dangerous to think that we need to be happy with whatever crumbs we can get when, in reality, the health and security of our nation is at stake.

At 7/16/2005 08:00:00 PM, Blogger Angie said...

Oh please! One does not need to believe in the existence of a god, and one does not need to refer to the existence of a god to run a nation. It's simple common sense that is needed. Nothing more.

At 7/17/2005 07:07:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

Angie, we don't completely disagree. However, if we rely on some subjective, individual common sense, we're in trouble. That's what separates us from dictatorships and despotic governments. Who is to say what is "common sense" if there are no absolutes and ways to measure outside of individual whim?

I believe that the common sense it takes to run a nation finds its basis in the Bible. For example, the concept of the three branches of government and checks and balances are derived from the Bible. The 10 Commandments contain the just a few common sense laws: no murder, no adultery, no stealing, no lying. Yes, common sense. And, yes, it comes to us from somewhere.

At 7/18/2005 02:59:00 AM, Anonymous Clayton Bell said...

I agree with Loris and I half-way agree with Angie. You certainly don't need to be a Christian to run this nation, but I do believe you do need to be a person of high moral character. I also agree with Loris that you can't nail down what "common sense" is. Tammy Bruce, author of "The New Thought Police" and former president of the LA chapter of NOW, says in her book that people need to continually refer to their internal moral compass. Well, as a former Boy Scout, I can tell you that the only reason that a compass works is because north never moves. My question for Ms. Bruce is, where is north on her moral compass? In the same sense, what is common sense? Does it make good sense to attack our enemies before they attack us, or to wait until they attack us so we can be certain of their intent? Doesn't common sense mean that you would do, in some way, what would be common to you? Doens't that mean that the values and circumstances in which you grew up, the values and situations which were "common" to you would determine you common sense, meaning that it could vary wildly from person to person? I think it is common sense to have small, local government and to take the responsibility of education out of the hands of the government and hand it over to the private sector, but I know a good deal of really smart people who would vehimently agree and disagree. What then is common sense?

This is why I don't think that someone needs to be a born-again christian to run the country, but only understand that this country was founded with a certain set of moral and values in mind. They don't have to be held by everyone to have this country work, but I do feel that they need to be held by the majority of Americans for our country to work, and this is the important part, THE WAY IT WAS INTENDED. Who knows what it will look like when it is being run by those with a completly different "common sense" than those who established the paramiters by which it should be run...

At 7/19/2005 12:54:00 AM, Anonymous Tony B said...

The Bill of Rights
Article I
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;....
Article 1 is just a single sentence and very easy to understand. Read it again. It in essence says Congress will not pass a law creating a religion or prohibit people from exercising their religion.... It does not say anything about banning religion from government property or events, at any level of the government. Nowhere does it say a Nativity scene can not be erected on school property or that students cannot hold religious invocations at graduations. In my interpretation it says the government can't stop it.
Article 1 of the Bill of Rights was written to protect religion. It is meant to prevent Congress from passing a law that would allow congress to govern religion. It is also meant to protect our expression of religion, be it in home, church, public, or on government property. This includes saying "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, anywhere.
Where in Article 1 of the Bill of Rights does it say "Separation of Church and State"? How was this slang derived from Congress shall pass no law? Here is how I see Article 1 of the Bill of Rights interpreted today. "The Judicial branch shall not respect an established religion, and prohibit the free exercise thereof;.... The "Separation of Church and State" has been perverted into the "Elimination of Church by the State"
I find it amazing that the second half of freedom of religion, "the free expression thereof" is completely ignored whenever freedom of religion is before our court system, at any leve.
Tony B

At 7/19/2005 01:24:00 AM, Blogger Mark said...

I started a firestorm on my blog when I posted an opinion on the subject that we are a Christian nation. I was surprised how many people disagreed. Surprised and saddened. I included some Quotes made by our founders, one is the same as the one you used.

At 7/22/2005 04:26:00 PM, Blogger Toad734 said...

1st off, why isn't the word God, Jesus, Christ, Christian, Heaven, 10 Commandments etc. ever mentioned once in our Constitution; the nations most important legal document?

"I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth." Thomas Jefferson

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

“Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” Thomas Jefferson 1802

"The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretended imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty.” Thomas Paine

“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.” James Madison

“Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” James Madison

Treaty of Tripoli:
"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen(Muslims); and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Ratified by the senate and 2nd president John Adams in 1797.

According to Article 6 of the US Constitution:
Clause 2: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. "


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