8/23/2012

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Politics and the Kingdom of God in a Year of Change

The political rhetoric has heated up as the politicians try to convince you and me that we should join their party and take their side in the coming election. Daily polls are taken by pollsters and political pundits wanting to know whose side we are on. As Christians, we need to turn the question on the politicians and put them on the defensive by asking, “Whose side are you on?”
There were a number of political and religious parties in Jesus’s day, all jockeying for power and control. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, Zealots, and others all sought public support for their agendas. Interestingly, Jesus never identified Himself with any of those parties. Why? He did not come to take sides; He came to take over. He came to establish God’s values and righteousness in the hearts of all people. It was not a question of whose side he would take, but a matter of who would side with Him? This reminds me of the time Ronald Reagan was accused of claiming that God was on his party’s side. He responded by saying, “It is not a matter of whose side God is on; the question is, “Are we on His side?”
That is the question with which we should be challenging the candidates of both political parties. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, “Whose side are you on?” Mr. President and Mr. Vice-President, “Whose side are you on?”
Mr. President, I Have Grave Concerns about Whose Side You are On
Mr. President, I have grave concerns about where you stand and whose side you are on. I heard you tell a foreign audience in a Muslim country, “America is not a Christian nation?” I also heard you say that the Bible cannot be used as a guide for public policy?” You have recently implemented a policy that forces Christian organizations to provide services that violate their conscience and are against their religious beliefs. Mr. President, “Whose side are you on?” Since you have dispensed with Christianity and the Bible, where are you deriving your values and your guidelines for public policy? Are you getting them from Marxist/socialist friends and think tanks? We have a right to know, “Whose side are you on?”
Mr. President, your dispensing of Christianity and the Bible is a sharp departure from the Founding Fathers of this nation. When George Washington laid his hand on the Bible and was sworn in as our first president, it was no mere formality. By taking his oath of office with his hand on a Bible, Washington was making a statement that the Bible would be the moral compass and guide for his administration. He even said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” The First Continental Congress was opened with an extended time of prayer and the reading of four chapters from the Bible. A recent ten-year study project to determine where the Founding Fathers got their ideas for America’s founding documents found that, by far, the single most cited source of authority was the Bible. Mr. President, “Whose side are you on?”
Candidates; Where Do You Stand on the First Amendment?
Presidential candidates of both parties, where do you stand on the First Amendment, particularly the section that says, “Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion, nor hindering the free exercise thereof.” Secularists interpret the first part of this statement to mean “freedom from religion” and seek to remove any Christian influence from the public arena. Based on this misinterpretation, atheists and secularists regularly file lawsuits because they are offended by the presence of a Christian symbol or expression on public property. One such lawsuit, now in process, seeks the removal of a cross from the 911 site—a cross that is actually a naturally occurring cross of steel beams pulled from the wreckage.
Secularists love to use Thomas Jefferson’s phrase “wall of separation” in this regard, but they have wrenched it from its original context and meaning. Anyone who has looked into the matter with an unprejudiced mind knows that Jefferson used the phrase “wall of separation” in a letter to a group of Baptists to assure them that in the new American republic they would be free from the kind of government interference they had known from the state controlled churches of Europe. Jefferson’s “wall of separation” was unidirectional, there to keep the government out of the church. The secularists, however, say “no,” that Jefferson wanted to keep expressions of faith out of government. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan; Mr. President and Mr. Vice-President, “Whose side are you on?”
Candidates; What Do You Think of “Jesus”
Presidential candidates of both parties, where do you stand on the current trend to remove the name of Jesus from any kind of public expression. For example, when Oprah Winfrey hosted a large prayer gathering in Yankee Stadium after 911, one criterion for those participating was that no one could pray using the name of Jesus. Here in Dallas, Texas, in the heart of the Bible belt, Dr. Tony Evans was asked to pray an opening prayer for the new city council. But, before he prayed, the mayor at that time asked him not to use the name of Jesus in his prayer. In Houston, TX, recently, a government bureaucrat issued an order that memorial services held in the Veterans cemetery could not contain the name of Jesus. Mr. President, your justice department did nothing to rectify the matter and it took a lawsuit filed by the good people of Houston to get the order rescinded. Mr. President, in April of 2009, when speaking at Georgetown University, you ordered that a monogram symbolizing Jesus' name be covered while you were speaking. This all makes us want to ask, “Whose side are you on?”
The excuse is made that, “We don’t want to offend people of other religions.” There is no Constitutional right to not be offended. But there is a Constitutional right of religious expression and free speech for everyone. We are fine with Muslims praying to Allah and Hindus praying to Krishna or one of their other gods, but why the onslaught against the use of the name of Jesus. What are you afraid of? The Founding Fathers were not afraid to speak the name of Jesus. George Washington once publicly prayed, “Bless Oh Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thee and of Thy son, Jesus Christ.” Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, closed all presidential documents with the phrase, “In the year of our Lord Christ.” The famous patriot and Founding Father, Patrick Henry, declared, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Candidates of both parties, “Whose side are you on?
We Must Recover Our Christian Values
A society derives its values from religion. Nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iran derive their values from Islam. America was founded and built on Judeo-Christian values that were also the basis of its laws and judicial system. These values of love for God and one’s neighbor, honesty, moral integrity, hard work, and compassion toward those in need are the values that have made America great. These are the values of heaven—what Jesus called the “kingdom of God.” Unless we can recover these values, we are headed for ruin. In his farewell address, George Washington warned the nation, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
This year I will not be taking sides with any political party. I will, however, be carefully observing the statements, actions, and policies of the candidates as to how well they reflect the Judeo-Christian values on which this nation was founded. I want to know Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan. We want to know Mr. President and Mr. Vice-President, “Whose side are you on?”