Thursday, June 30, 2005

Freedom of Religion

Folks are talking about this week's Supreme Court rulings concerning public monuments and statues of the Ten Commandments. Some feel it is a defeat for Christians, others feel it is a good decision, and others are wondering why the court tried to have it both ways.

I disagree with many of my Christian brothers and sisters who are fighting so hard for these monuments. To me, they have taken the Ten Commandments statues and are coming dangerously close to breaking the commandment against taking the Lord's name in vain and having idols before God. Judge Roy Moore is even taking his two and a half ton granite statue on the road so people can come adore the monument from around the country. This is ridiculous.

Contrary to those that view the court's action in Kentucky as hostility toward Christian faith, I don't want the government to start speaking for God or claiming God's blessing, even if it is my faith tradition being referenced.

It is reminiscent of the debate about the "Pledge of Allegiance" with the articles by Aaron Shafovaloff and Mark Riddle that I blogged about here and here on July 4th, 2002.

You can pretty much strike the words "Pledge of Allegiance" and insert "Ten Commandments" throughout. Here are the highlights...
-- I don’t want anyone using my God’s name, any reference, or allusion to him in vain. I already hear enough of that. Nor do I want to coerce any child or force any Christophobic citizen into professing God’s sovereignty over America.

-- America isn’t just my country. It belongs to every American citizen, and if the government should decide by legislation or judicatory to purge itself of God, then so be it. Rattling off the Pledge of Allegiance as a vacuous, ritualistic ordinance without meaning and faith in Christ, God in the flesh, is to me nothing but an ignorant blasphemy.

-- Professed or not, the nation and its people have been and will always be "under God".

-- This decision and any further decision to remove the endorsement of God in American government does not interfere with my right to continue openly professing my belief in God. Too many Christians spend way too much time being mad at the world instead of loving it. The ruckus is embarrassing. Let us all “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and get on to more pressing issues.

-- Look gang. God’s still God. Whether our kids say the pledge of allegiance in school or not. So Pastors take down the church marquee that reads “One Nation under God.” Because frankly we are as under God as any other country. How about “All Countries under God” Last I check China was under God. So was, Somalia, Bosnia, South Africa, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Australia, Vietnam, Egypt and India. (to name a few) It’s bad theology to think that the USA is the “One Nation” under God. It’s bad history to think we were founded by people who view the world like we do. Let me say it in words Pastors will understand. That is Historical Eisegesis. Your Historicity is flawed.

-- We are screwed if we think that our “Christian nation” is at risk if we stop saying the pledge in schools. And I mean really screwed. Because the kingdom of God has nothing to do with the pledge. It’s not dependent on any president, congressman, elected leader or judge. It’s not based on any law in the books. But it’s written in our hearts. or have we forgotten that? Have we depended on comfortable slogans and a large military presence to build this “Christian nation”? I suppose it’s easy to say when you are the world‘s only super power. I’ll say this. It’s complete arrogance to think that the USA will be a superpower forever. A time will come when we will be more like modern Italy. Will you still be a Christian then? or will your world fall apart?

-- The USA is not a Christian nation. Let your trust be in God not a “Christian government”. Let’s separate the church and hate. Let’s worry more about the hearts of people and their journey than the politics of a pledge that’s only existed in its current form for 50 years."
Finally, Jesus established a new covenant that replaced the Ten Commandments anyway. We would all be better to follow the commandments that Jesus offered...
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31
Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a stone monument to the Ten Commandments (not to mention the costs of waging a lengthy court battle), we should spend the money helping our neighbor. Far too many of us are still "stiff necked people" who pass by the other side of the road instead of following God's will in helping and loving our neighbor.

Instead of building monuments out of stone, I pray that my life and our lives could be a living monument testifying to God's love.

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