Thursday, July 4, 2013

@ the Intersection of Faith and Politics: Thoughts for Independence Day

Thomas Jefferson said,  "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?  Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever. . ."

Happy Independence Day! Or is it?

Sure we will have our barbeques and fireworks, our family fun, friends gathering to eat, drink and be merry. We should also consider however where our nation is today and the continuing move away from the "firm basis" upon which our nation was established. I don't mean to dampen the spirit of celebration, and it is right to celebrate the blessings of God, but neither can we ignore our nation's spiritual, moral and resulting leadership decline of the early part of the 21st Century. To do so puts future celebrations of our independence in peril. Liberty is guaranteed to no one but is a right of everyone who appreciates and understands its "firm basis."

As we celebrate the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I got to thinking about how our independence has been misappropriated in this country, how they have been "violated." Last night I read for the first time in some years the actual text of the Declaration. I was struck once again by the long list of grievances that our Founders leveled against the King of England. If you haven't read the text of the Declaration in some time, can I recommend that you do so now - online version. 

You probably know the 2nd paragraph or at least the oft-quoted part:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Following these self-evident truths, of our unalienable Rights - Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, are these words:

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." 

Our Founders understood that governing power ought to rest not with the central government but the consent of the governed. They were throwing off tyranny by a governing power. They understood governments are answerable to the people, which is the very basis of democracy. Our Republic offered an experiment in elected representation of the people, by the people, and for the people. Today, our nation's power rests, in large part, with the Electoral College majority, and is the very reason that our nation is where it is. We are experiencing the great turmoil and culture wars that have been raging for decades now, not because of our government policy but because "We the People," have lost the conviction that our liberties are a "gift of God."

On the surface, our presents problems in 2013 are directly the result of the 51% of the voting population who have given our government, by which I directly mean our President, at least passive consent to do the things this Administration is now doing. Compound this with the 47% of non-voters, citizens of voting age who simply relinquish their right to exercise their vote. That is a travesty! The failure of the governed, as it is today. is largely the reason our nation is experiencing our woes. "We the People," or at least the popular majority, have the government they deserve. The rest of us, those who understand the endowment of our Creator and the "firm basis" of our liberties, must speak prophetically but have largely failed in that regard.

As I revisited the grievances recorded for posterity in that historical moment of July 4th 1776, I am struck afresh by the similarities of what our Founders faced and what we face today in our moment in history.  The grievances penned by Thomas Jefferson and conjoined by John Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin along with the other 53 Signers, instructs us through these 237 years where they were coming from, their deep sense of obligation for they were undertaking for the future of a nation, and should inform us as well in our present day. Let's consider what they charged the King with against current events:

"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good." 

The lawlessness of this present Administration is well chronicled, especially in the past few month's since this President's reelection. The circumventing of Constitutional law and the numerous scandals of prior months, all demonstrate a refusal of "Assent to Laws."  From the Benghazi cover-up to the intrusion into the private records of citizens, as well as the invasion of the right of a free Press, this Administration is doing harm to the "public good." Of course, the President pleads ignorance to these offenses which only goes to the quality, or lack thereof, of his leadership.

"He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance"

As but one example of this grievance, our Justice Department's intrusion into the immigration laws of Arizona, that sought remedy from the failure of the Federal government to act to reform our broken immigration policies, correlates with forbidding the passage of laws of "immediate and pressing importance." When the central government fails to act, it is the duty of the "States of America" to protect and defend their citizenry. This Administration forbid and brought charges against Arizona for acting in their best interest.

"He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people..."

There is today one very large "district of people" who have been silenced and offered no or very little protection from our central government. I am of course referring to the right of the unborn, and the resulting calamity of  abortion. Of course, the President is not alone in refusing "accommodation" to this "large district of people" but he is outspoken against extending them any rights.  He champions the cause of the abortion proponents, extending support just recently in opposition of Texas legislation to make abortion rarer after 20 weeks and hold abortion provides accountable for the conditions of the death mills. Indeed, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever..." 

"He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers."

The obstruction of Congressional investigation into the Fast & Furious gun running scheme, is but one glaring example of refusal by the Presidents to the "Assent to Laws." Instead of complying with the authority of Congress to investigate the deaths of two duly authorized law enforcement officials, this President chose to issue an Executive Order, effectively shutting down the process of justice.

"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance."

While appointment of "New Offices," is nothing new for a President, this Administration has used these "New Offices," also called "czars," in unprecedented ways to "harass" and to "eat out their substances" of the people. This has been accomplished by expanding the regulatory powers of the central government, Obamacare being the largest such single policy (found to be broken before it even gets started), harming businesses, the economy and thereby American families. Most recently, this President is prepared to circumvent the constitutionally established process of "advise and consent," unilaterally declaring himself ready to rule by decree to advance the false ideology of climate change. 

"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation..."

Despite lacking the Constitutional authority to so, at the beginning of June new Secretary of State John Kerry said that this Administration will sign a UN treaty on arms regulation despite lawmaker opposition. The Administration may sign this treaty, against the consent of Congress, or "We the People" but ratification of any treaty requires a 2/3 majority vote of the Senate. We will have to wait to see if  the Administration seeks to bypass Congressional approval in their efforts to enforce this unconstitutional measure.Given this President's track record however it is almost a sure bet they will find a way to abjugate the Constitution once again.

In our Declaration of Independence, our Founders brought 17 grievances (stating each with the pronoun "He"), along with several sub-charges, against the ruling power of the time. No doubt other correlations can be made between the charges against the English King then and with our current Administration today. Just like the preceding time that brought about our nation's foundation establishing day, however, we didn't get to our present foundation crumbling crisis overnight, or even in the last 4 1/2 years. Nations don't rise and fall overnight.

Just like then our peoples tribulations were decades in the making, as "We the People" drifted further and further from one the true Cornerstone, the "firm basis," of all freedom our Founders understood - the "self-evident" truth of our "Creator" who "endowed" certain "unalienable Rights." One truth of God, as a measure of his judgment, is that he gives to people the leaders they deserve, due to their wayward hearts and the trampling of his "gifts." 

Consider the people of Old Testament Israel who went to their great judge, Samuel, demanding he give them a king like all the other nations had. When Samuel took their petition to God he was grieved, but God told him the people weren’t rejecting Samuel; they were rejecting Him. So God honored their request and gave them Saul as king. Saul was right out of central casting and certainly looked the part physically, but inside he lacked moral clarity. His first loyalty wasn’t to God, but instead he was constantly trying to please the people instead. Eventually, he became so spiritually blinded by his own inner demons and ambition that the people had exactly what they had asked for – a king just like everyone else.

It is "We the People" who must take a stand just like our Founders did, as Israel failed to do, as Thomas Jefferson points us to. This is not a call to a revolution of arms, but a revolution of hearts turning back to God. This is not to advance the agenda of any political party but the agenda of Christ's and an understanding of the Rights that have been "endowed by (our) Creator." That can only happen through a national spirit of repentance, a re-embracing of the truth that our "liberties are of the gift of God, and according to the words record in Scripture:
 "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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
John Adams recognized that:
 "we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion....Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
It is not the government, then who is to fault for our clear and present danger of a nation in crisis, and the growing lose of civil liberties but the fact that we have forgotten the "moral and religious" basis on which all freedom reigns. The Apostle Paul put it like this:
 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
The place to stand at the intersection of faith and politics is on the freedom we have in Christ. 

Now for the barbeque and fireworks!

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