America and the Church: A Discussion

A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven.

[Letter by Madison to William Bradford [urging him to make sure of his own salvation] November 9, 1772]



I had a most memorable Fourth of July. I spent the weekend river tubing and white water rafting in the mountains of North Carolina. Last evening I watched, from the cool comfort of my living room, the fireworks over Washington, DC and over New York City. I had goose bumps as I heard readings from the Founding Fathers that the Fourth would always be remembered in celebration with fireworks and chiming bells. I wondered what they would have thought of the wondrous new fireworks that we have. (For Stargate fans, did you see the new fireworks that looked like the ascensions)?


Man’s ingenuity never ceases to amaze me. I thanked God that I was born in a country that allowed me to be free to seek and find my Savior. But I whispered an even deeper thanks for the ability of two middle aged women, of no great import, to be able to write about our thoughts on faith. Better yet has been the community of believers that I have met through this endeavor. I am particularly moved by others who do not know us yet would spring to our defense.


I have been following with deep interest a discussion that is ongoing between some of this community on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc. The depth of knowledge and the concern for this country’s laws exhibited by these folks is impressive. I thought I would reprint their comments as part of this post. Then I have something to add to this conversation.

Lydia says: 
Sun, Jul 04 09:13 am at 09:13 am      

I started what I hope to be a tradition this year. Reading the Constitution every 4th of July to my kids.

Arce says: 
Sun, Jul 04 05:06 pm at 05:06 pm

Please begin with the Declaration of Independence, and then follow up with the Constitution, including the amendments thereto. And perhaps share that the religion clauses in the first amendment were placed there, at least in part, at the instigation of believers, Baptists in fact. It was their believe in soul competency — the freedom to choose to love God — that made them detest government interference in religion.

Lydia says: 
Sun, Jul 04 09:46 pm at 09:46 pm

Arce, I quite agree. (When I say Constitution, I should be more clear that I include the Bill of Rights which I am so glad some held out for)
I also tell them there is NO wall of seperation wording in the Constitution so when they hear that proclaimed by so many, they know the reference is, instead, from a letter Jefferson wrote responding to the Danbury Baptists over their concerns about the Anglican church.
But I am not aware of any Baptists who participated in the Constitutional Convention. If you know of one, i would be delighted to hear about them.


 Junkster says: 
Sun, Jul 04 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm

Here’s an article about religion and the US Constitution, which makes references to the influence of Baptists on the Bill of Rights:


Junkster says: 
Sun, Jul 04 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm

By the way, what the Baptists and others were concerned about, and what the authors of the 1st amendment instead to address, was the establishment of a national religion. They felt that such matters should be left to the States, and each State could determine whether it would have any specific religion (by which they meant Protestant denomination) as their official State religion. It wasn’t until much later that the religion clause of the 1st amendment was applied to State and local governments also. Though I think it is best that no level of government establish or promote a specific religion, the U.S. Constitution is silent on that matter, and the Framers would likely be appalled that anyone would take what was intended to apply to the federal government and enforce it as applicable to the States.


Arce says: 
Mon, Jul 05 10:27 am at 10:27 am

But later, the Congress and the States adopted the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the Framers of those amendments apparently wanted the protections of the Constitution, including the previously adopted amendments, to extend the residents of the states as against those State governments. Hence, the bar on States having established religions or religious preferences. The earlier controversies, between disestablishment and anti-disestablishment, are well documented by historians.


Junkster says: 
Mon, Jul 05 02:43 pm at 02:43 pm

True, Arce. I meant that the original Framers intended to limit the power of the federal government and allow the states independence in anything not specifically adressed in the constitution. The proper extent of the federal government’s power in relation to that of the states was one of the primary areas of conflict that led to the Civil War. After the Civil War, the power and extent of the federal government grew considerably. 


Junkster says: 
Mon, Jul 05 02:44 pm at 02:44 pm

And grew considerably beyond that intended by the original US Constitution’s framers.


Junkster, ARCE, and Lydia met, as far as a know, in the blogosphere. Due to various things they have said, I know they come from different parts of the country. Yet they exhibit a love for this country through their understanding of the law, the history and the faith. They all wrestle with the subject of the role of faith and the part that it plays in the political system in America. Several things they have said made me realize that I have much, much more to learn about the role Baptists and other people of faith played in the founding of the laws of this country.  

I have a question for some of our readers. Do you ever have conversations like this with your friends and family? Have you, like Lydia, ever read the Constitution to your children, starting with the Bill of Rights as ARCE suggested? Even better, have you ever read them through yourself? Like Junkster, do you know how your particular denomination affected the founding of the laws of our country? How much do you know about the issue of soul competency that ARCE raised? Do you even care?

I have provided both some definitions along with some excellent links if you are unfamiliar with some of the history, documents or terms that are used in their discussion. 

1. From the SBC we find the definition of soul competency.

"We affirm soul competency, the accountability of each person before God. Your family cannot save you. Neither can your church. It comes down to you and God. Authorities can't force belief or unbelief. They shouldn't try.

Against this backdrop of religious freedom, it's important for us Baptists to set forth our convictions. By stating them in a forthright manner, we provide nonbelievers with a clear choice."


Note how this is predicated on the importance of religious freedom. Our country allows for the freedom of each citizen to make his or her case for the gospel to nonbelievers.


2. Furthermore, here is a link to an informative article on Baptist patriots involved in the founding of our country.

3. Here is a link to the Bill of Rights which is reprinted on Wikipedia along with the amendments.

4. Finally, here is a link to the Constitution in its original text.

It takes only a few minutes to read both the Constitution and the Bill or Rights. If you have never done so, you will be humbled by the grand vision of these documents.

Out of this discussion arises a question. What is American and what is Christian? In other words, do we sometimes confuse the two? I have had the privilege of a close friendship with a Christian couple from Norway and Sweden. I travelled to Scandinavia and spent time with their families. Through I our discussions I learned much about the dangers inherent in a state recognized and supported church. 

On a slightly different note, I am currently reading Michael Spencer's book, Mere Churchianity. In this book, he makes the observes  that  some citizens make the mistake of confusing their Americanism with their Christian faith. 

In the next two posts I will elaborate on both the problems inherent in a state run church as well as the confusion between what constitutes the faith and what comprises secular cultural mores.

Today, I want to leave you with one of the most moving Pledges of Allegiances ever made. Red Skelton remembers what he was taught by a teacher. Grab a handkerchief and the hand of a loved one and listen to this 4 minute pledge.

And, May God bless America.


America and the Church: A Discussion — 34 Comments

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    Dee, what a thoughtful post! A while back the subject of war came up over at Wade’s blog and several youngish men were talking about how it is never appropriate for a Christian to be involved in war. And the point was made that we are to obey our rulers no matter what.

    I had to chuckle since our country was FOUNDED on NOT obeying the ruler. And they had the freedom to critisize our country in public. (wink)

    And a few years back my niece and her husband came home after several years studying under and working for Piper. It was during the 4th of July Holiday. The whole time home, this young couple did nothing but make fun of the celebrations across the country and called it idolatry. Now they are living in Southeast Asia but I have not asked them if they appreciate the US more. I am afraid that I found their brand of Calvinism a bit idolatrous and some of their interpretations of scripture a bit illogical and legalistic.

    I do not know the answers. One reason is because we elect our ‘rulers’ so we bear the responsibility for the direction of our nation. Our “experiment” is unique in history, in that way. And it is “unique” in the way we corrected ourselves. We claimed certain principles early on that were not true. And because we decided to be a nation of laws, instead of a nation of rulers, that could not stand. This led to a civil war and eventually the franchise for women and again for African Americans.

    Our country was founded on conflict. The last thing Americans should hate is conflict and debate. It is what makes us. It is an ugly process and more and more people shy away from it thinking it is too negative. Those who hate conflict do not know history.

    I would encourage folks to read all kinds of history. There are so many things that never make the official history books. Jefferson and Hamilton hated each other with a passion. Adams and Jefferson hated each other, too, until their later years when they exchanged letters and both died on July 4, ironically. Yet all these men greatly contributed to this country. Their passionate conflicts were a sort of checks and balances in our growth.

    Had it not been for Madison, we would have very little idea of the Constitutional Convention conflicts and processes. Inthe Philadelphia heat, they kept the windows closed so folks could not hear and spread rumors before they had finished. It was a very tenuous time. No one had never done this before. They had Locke and of course, the Magna Carta. But this was really new. It had to work in practice. (And we changed a few things such as electing the members of the House)

    Madison had the forethought to write most of it down. Catherine Drinker Bowen does an excellent job of explaining the process in her book, Miracle at Philadelphia.

    The biggest problem we have is that few young people understand our founding and what happened. For those of us who love history, we see it repeated over and over as if each generation has to relearn the lessons for themselves the hard way. It is such a waste of precious time and resources.

    One of the worst things we did in being our own rulers was to elect FDR 4x. That was the beginning of the demise of America. I know I will get blasted for that, but it was the turning point of allowing government bureaucracy actually rule us. We gave away many of our freedoms in that time.

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    I have really appreciated your insights. The history of our country is so very important!

    My husband and I wanted to instill this in our daughters from an early age. Beginning when they were very small, we would buy annual passes to Colonial Williamsburg. Fortunately, we live close enough to eastern Virginia that we would visit on average two or three times a year throughout their growing up years. They learned so much about U.S. history and what made our country great. We also took them to Boston, Philadelphia, etc., during their formative years.

    For parents of younger children, I highly recommend this hands on approach to learning about our country’s founding, along with investing in some accurate history books. My daughters LOVE history because of the time and energy we spent helping them learn about what made America great.

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    Wow. You guys sure had great conversations last week.

    First Amendment interpretation is subject to a lot of lore and the desires of each of us to see it interpreted the way that we wanted to interpret it.

    My take is that yes, Baptists played a role in the adoption of the First Amendment. Yes, they were concerned about the establishment of a national church. The practices of the state were not at issue in the US Constitution.

    In discussing the First Amendment, I think that to be careful, we should use the actual words of the amendment. Not a summary or a re-phrasing of the amendment. Therefore, words like “separation of church and state” are not preferable. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is preferable. I feel the same about the so-called “Lemon” test that the U.S. Supreme Court uses. The court should stick to the words of the constitution and not create tests that are elevated to the status of the words of the consitution.

    I believe that on national, state, and local levels that some neutrality and goodwill need to govern how the particulars are worked out. I do not believe that the Consitution mandates or prohibits many of the things that the court says that it mandates or prohibits. But still, I do not think it is a good practice generally for the proponents of one religion to try and dominate public space and dominate those of other religions. But I believe that primarily as a matter of human decency and goodwill. I do not believe that the U.S. Constitution addresses many of the things that have been brought before it (e.g. “In God we trust” on money; public prayers, graduation prayers, symbols of local governments etc.).

    Just as religious people should be kind and generous, atheists and others who want the public square scrubbed of any reference to God are way off base. Unfortunately, they have convinced a substantial number of people in the U.S. that the consitution mandates this, when it actually does not.

    The best proof of that is to look and see how the founders ran the country just after adopting the First Amendment. They had lots of practices that today would be considered “violations of the First Amendment”, but they actually wrote and adopted the amendment. I think that they would know its meaning and application better than people in 2010.

    Arce is correct. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were passed to bring to the states the protections of the U.S. Constitution. But that was done in the wake of the civil war. The design was to see that freed slaves in Southern states could not be enslaved, vote and have due process.

    It is NOT correct to take First Amendment jurisprudence that was developed primarily after the New Deal and then expanded during the Warren court, and to then claim the the congress wanted these legal precedents applied to states and local governments. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Again, if you want to see what the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments mean, look at the way the US operated after their adoption and how the US related to the states. Again, in the US and in the states, religion and religious expression was pervasive and NEVER considered violative of the US or state consitutions – the 1st, 13th, 14th or 15th amendments.

    All of the cottage industry of trying to micro-manage governmental entities, schools etc. in the area of religion, came after the New Deal. None of this was part of the discussion of the First Amendment or the adoption of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments.

    Also, the First Amendment does not prohibit people in the US or any state from adopting laws based on religious belief. Law’s are often based on what people belief is right and wrong. People who are theists should not lose out because their beliefs are theistic to people whose beliefs are not.

    Today, we have the courts clogged with lawsuits about monuments, Christian symbols, public prayers, chaplains, manger scenes, funding of schools or non-profits, prayer rooms for certain religions at school etc. The decisions on these topics are hopelessly confusing and contradictory, and the results are sometimes silly (e.g. the city can have a manager scene, but only if there is a Santa nearby).

    I submit that 99% of this was never intended to be policed by the federal courts. It never was so policed until the 1950s. Then, people got the idea that the courts would weigh in on all this stuff and they try to say it all goes back to the U.S. Consitution.

    I believe that common sense is starting to return to the courts and the people. I see some hopeful signs. As local areas become more diverse, people understand that their ways of doing things should be expanded to include everyone. I think that is what the founders intended. Change to accommodate change.

    I also believe that most people, even non-religious people, are getting tired about reading about the resources of the federal courts being used up to debate whether a cross can be in a cemetary when it was placed there 50 years ago. That kind of historical and religious cleansing is not mandated by the constitution, and it’s probably not healthy anyway.

    Hope everyone had a great 4th!

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    The issue with government for me is not how big or how powerful, but how effective in carrying out the principles and mandates of our governing documents. While we are a majoritarian country in many ways, a critical role of government is protecting the rights and interests of the various minorities. That is what the religion clauses do, they protect the rights of minorities to practice whatever form of faith, in whatever or no deity. Baptists were once one of those minorities, which is why Baptist leaders pushed for the adoption of the Bill of Rights. It is also why Baptist leaders, including George Truett, have argued over the years since, for the widespread observance of the religion clauses. They protect our freedom too.

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    I agree. Well put.

    It’s just the twisting of that to try and make the federal courts what they were not intended to be or to try and make the constiution say things it doesn’t say that are issues for me.

    I would say that the US has done a good job of protecting minority rights in this area for its entire history, not because of court decisions, but because it was woven into the fabric of who we are as a people.

    Jewish congregations and those of other faiths have come here for the last 2 centuries and been able to worship, buy land, build buildings, proselytize etc. Sure, there have been incidents from time to time, but very minor compared to what goes on around the world.

    This spirit was part of our founding even before the Constitution was adopted. Jewish congregations existed and were not harassed (as in Europe) when the colonies were formed and during the days of the Articles of Confederation.

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    “All of the cottage industry of trying to micro-manage governmental entities, schools etc. in the area of religion, came after the New Deal. None of this was part of the discussion of the First Amendment or the adoption of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments.”

    How very true.

    Junkster mentioned states rights in the last thread and I remember reading something years ago…an simple paragraph in a bio tht stunned me. I cannot remember if it was a bio of Herbert Hoover or someone else. In any event, before FDR was elected, people would have to read history to understand how little the federal government interferred with states. With the advent of margin calls and problems leading up to the crash, Hoover called the Governor of NY and asked him to put some brakes on the market since it was located in NY. The Governor refused. That Governor was FDR.

    Hoover made huge mistakes so please do not think I am supporting him. But FDR certainly knew how to make the federal government more powerful than ever could be imagined. And he needed a national crisis to make it happen. So does Obama.

    ( I also read a very interesting piece by Douglas Brinkley years ago that compared the number of bills in Congress passed with the advent of air conditioning)

    Fast forward to today and note our Attorney General is filing suit against Arizona for enforcing laws already on the books.

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    My daughter and I are sitting here in a waiting area at the Duke Eye Center for her annual eye exam. She is now 18, but when she was just 3 years old she was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes. Thanks to the miracle of intraocular lenses she has extremely good vision which only needs to be slightly corrected with contacts. God is so good!

    I am enjoying the discussion. Thanks for the great information to help us see clearly the intentions of our founding fathers.

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    That’s great that your daughter has access to such excellent care.

    If it were not for modern medicine and dentistry, I would be toothless (or really much more ugly than I am) and probably dead.

    We are very blessed.

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    I believe differently about the intent of the framers. I also believe the original intent is very hard to determine. One of the genious things about the constitution is that it is adaptable to changes in society and culture, as well as technology. An example, if we think about the military equipment that existed in 1789-90, and were to go with a really strict construction, then the federal government and the states could ban all guns other than muzzle loaders, since those did not exist then.

    The courts have never banned prayer in the schools, only that the state employees who work there and those who govern the schools cannot specifically set a prayer to be said or organize a time of prayer. But the students can, if either outside the class time on the same basis as other student groups meet, or even in class time, if not disruptive of the educational process or of other students.

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    There is a wealth of primary source matierials, such as the Federalist papers, and scores of personal and public letters, to help determine the the US Constitution’s framers intent. It’s really not that complicated — they wanted just enough federal government to ensure maximum freedom and opportunity for the coountry’s citizens and to secure their natural human rights and the rule of law.

    The beauty of the Constitution, and what makes it applicable and adaptable to changes in the culture over time, is in the basic principles underlying it. Those principles were imperfectly implemented at first, but, as they have been more fully implemented, have led to greater freedom and opportunity for all.

    One thing that I found interesting in my studies was that some of those who were against the Bill of Rights objected because they felt those amendments were unnecessary, as the Constitution grants only very specific, limited powers to the federal government. They felt that there was no need to specify anything about the rights of individuals or the states, as those rights were God-given, not granted by the government, and thus already guaranteed. They also felt that enumerating specific rights might eventually lead to the belief that citizens only had those rights which were specified in the Constitution.

    But others felt that it was important to specify a minimum list of fundemental rights that the federal government could never infringe, so that, as the federal government inevitably grew in size and power, as governments always do, they could avoid the abuses of the Englsh government that led to the American Revolution. Those in favor of the Bill of Rights knew that many of the States would not ratify the Constitution without these guarantees of basic liberties. The 9th and 10th amemdments were included to make sure that everyone knew that the natural rights not specified in the Constitution were retained by the people, and that the States and people retained all powers not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution.

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    But Junkster, haven’t you heard? The 9th and 10th amendments were swallowed up in the post New Deal interpretation of the commerce clause. The clause that gives the US congress the right to regulate interstate commerce.

    To some, the commerce clause has no limit. Elena Kagan said that last week in response to questions from Senators Cronyn (sp?) and Coburn. Coburn asked Ms. Kagan if the US congress could pass a law requiring people to eat one meat and three vegetables, would the commerce clause support such a law. First, she said it was a dumb law (all agree on that). But the rest of her answer was basically, “yes.” The Commerce clause would be a basis for such a law.

    I agree with Arce that sometimes original intent is difficult to ascertain, but it is not always that hard.

    Take, for example, the debate about the death penalty.

    The consitution mentions is specifically – in the 5th and 14th amendments. “Life”, liberty and property cannot be taken by the state without Due process of law. The constitution also mentions “capital crimes”.

    So, it’s not too hard there to determine that the framers and ratifiers understood that the state and national legislatures might pass laws that provided for capital punishment.

    I believe it is sophistry to come along, therefore, and “interpret” the 8th amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment to the point that it invalidates the death penalty.

    There are reasons one might oppose the death penalty, and that can be debated in elections and during legislative sessions.

    But to say that the US constitution was written to prohibit the death penalty is crazy.

    Also, the First Amendment prohibits restrictions on speech. It is clear what the framers intended here. They wanted people to be able to speak – especially about political matters and how the country is run.

    But the way the US Supremes have often interpreted the First Amendment is that 1) things like nude dancing are protected as “speech” and 2) political speech (e.g. “I don’t like candidate Jones”) is not protected if it’s within 90 days of an election).

    Neither of those decisions is based whatsoever on original intent. It turns the amendment on its head.

    Not all questions are easy ones. But some questions are easy. It’s just that the people interpreting the constitutions don’t like the answers, and they work really hard to create new language and new tests that the consitution doesn’t mention. So “cases” rather than the text of the constitution become the loadstar.

    I believe in precedent or stare decisis, but not over the text of the constitution. Therefore, a case like Plessy v. Ferguson, which enshrined “separate but equal” to support Jim Crow regulations in the South, could be overturned later.

    I think it was Justice Alito in his confirmation hearing who said, “I don’t believe in Super Precedents, or Super-Duper Precedents.”

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    Another interesting tidbit — although it is generally accepted that the Supreme Court’s role includes interpreting the meaning of the Constitution to determine what is and isn’t constitutional, the Constitution itself does not grant that power to the Supreme Court. The Constitution says nothing about who will interpret the Constitution’s meaning — which is evidence that the Framers did not think their intent would be less than plain.

    The role of the Supreme Court as the ultimate interpreter of what is and isn’t consttutional is a result of the Court’s own declaration in Marbury v. Madison, in 1803. In this decision, the Court declared that their normal judical role included interpretation of laws, and that the Constitution itself is a set of laws that must be interpreted by it.

    Isn’t Constitutional history interesting?

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    Junkster, Lydia, Anonymous, ARCE

    I feel so stupid when I read your comments. I realize that I know very little about constitutional history and am so impressed with, as we say in the South, all y’all’s knowledge. I feel like I am getting a crash course. Many thanks.

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    What a nice thing to say. The great thing is that constitutional matters are not left up to “experts” or people who act and think they are experts.

    Junkster, you have hit upon a really good tension in our system that has never been fully tested. All of the branches have a duty to interpret the constitution. The Executive and Legislative branches have much more power than they have exercised because those tensions have never come to the fore.

    For example, the constitution provides that Congress has the right to define the limits of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction. Congress has done that, but it is very broad. Congress could severly restrict the Court’s jurisdiction, and the Court could do nothing about it.

    Also, Congress funds the Court. Congress could cut the funding of the Court to zero.

    On the executive side, the President is commander and chief of the armed forces. The Court cannot set the limits of that. Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus, imprisoned some of the press on ships, stole private property as supplies for the troops – all under the commander and chief powers. There is a fascinating article in a rather recent edition of the The Federal Lawyer that describes how Lincoln dealt with the powers of commander and chief. His chief adviser in these matters (whose name I cannot remember) basically told Lincoln that if Lincoln declared something a military matter, it came within the purview of his commander and chief powers.

    If Obama sent troops to Kansas to put down an uprising, the Supreme Court might try to address it, but Obama would have an independent duty to determine the contours of his power as commander and chief. If the Supreme Court did not like what he did, the President could ignore it because he is commander and chief. The Supreme Court is not commander and chief over the commander and chief.

    So, there are lots of tensions that remain (thankfully) unexplored because the 3 branches have to work together and they basically accommodate one another to get along, even when one branch thinks another branch has overstepped its boundaries. Bush probably could have ignored portions of some of the Supreme Court decisions relating to trying those apprehended on the battlefield, but all of the court’s decisions in that arena always contained an alternative for Bush to pursue, and they chose to pursue those alternatives each time, which was wise.

    You know, the English had a revolution to settle the relationship between the Crown and Parliament. The matter was settled, but they never wrote anything down to describe the settlement. It’s all done by tradition and accommodation, which is really what we have, even though we have a written constitution.

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    Not so minor correction. The operational title is “Commander in Chief”.

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    Thanks, Arce!

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    So glad that the old Jewish rabbi I visit on occasion will never be intimidated or abused in this country for his faith in God. He doesn’t have much family. They died in a Christian country in the death camps.

    Here, at least for a short while longer, he may be safe.

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    Germany was a “Christian” nation in the 30’s and 40’s?

    That is strange since the churches were taken over by the party in 1936 and called the “Reich Church” led by Ludwig Muller, a Nazi, as Riech Bishop. The pastors were required to pledge allegiance to Adolph Hitler. And those pastors that refused were also put in camps. The cross was replaced with the swastika

    You have a strange notion of what is “Christian”.

    Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemoller, would also disagree with you but the former he was hung for being an outspoken Christian (Even had a secret seminary for a while) in Germany and the latter, a former WW1 Uboat Captain, spent 7 years in a camp for preaching truth.

    One embarassing factoid from that period is that Hitler quoted Martin Luther to the Lutheran leadership… concerning Jews.

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    Germany is “Christian” only in the sense that the church and state are not separate, with the Lutheran church being the official state religion. But, in reality, countries and soceties can’t be Christian, only people can.

    If genuine Christian people (i.e., those who love and live for Christ, not merely those who claim membership in some sort of church or denomination) live out their values, they can influence their society and culture and country for good. Tragically, there apparently weren’t nearly enough people willing to actually live for Christ in Nazi Germany to influence that society. And those who did, like Bonhoeffer, were severely persecuted, along with the Jews.

    As we’ve been discussing, the foundational principles of American government are based on a Christian worldview and Christian values, and today’s political conservatives are those who want to stick to those principles. If there is any threat to personal liberties and other American ideals, it comes from modern political liberalism/progressivism, which by definition seeks change to move away from our founding principles.

    Christiane, your Jewish friend will be safe if genuine conservatives can manage to hold back the current liberal agenda in this country. If not, none of us will be safe.

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    Dee, how can you, one of our resident MBAs, theologians, and Trekkers ever feel stupid? We all learn so much from you and Deb all the time!

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    I believe you are wrong about progressives, of which I am one. I believe the entirety of the Bible, including all of the passages (about 35 percent of the totality) that describe the necessity of social justice. Matthew 25 can only be understood as saying that one who does not act to take care of the poor, the sick, the hunger, the orphaned and widowed, etc., is not truly a follower of Christ and will not see heaven.

    So my Christian faith impels me to act to address those needs, both individually and through the policies I commend to governments. But I am not one who desires to give away public resources, but rather to use them to bring about the common good. An example, locally we have problems of poverty, hunger, inadequate educational outcomes, too many early pregnancies, etc. To me these are symptoms, and a cause that government can address is too few good paying jobs here and too many jobs that are not family sustaining. The economic development policy awards tax abatements and other incentives to companies that pay an average $12/hour, so that many of the jobs pay at or near minimum wage. A family of two adults and three kids cannot survive on two such jobs.

    So I have proposed setting a floor, that 95% of the jobs must pay at least $15.00 per hour for the government to provide incentives. That will enable a family with two such jobs to survive and perhaps thrive.

    I am what I call a “new progressive”. I want to use resources to fix the causes and not just treat the symptoms, using focused analysis to identify the causes and find solutions that can be effective and that are not just tossing money at them.

    And I give away about 40% of my time as an attorney to people who cannot pay but need legal help, and so live in a poor neighborhood myself.

    Don’t blame progressives or liberals for the problems. Keep in mind that our current economic problems are source in the policies of the previous administration and that $12 trillion of the $13 trillion national debt came about under the last three Republican presidents, $8-9 Trillion of it under the immediate past president.

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    So many opportunists have used the name of Christ to support evil causes. Just as evil gained a foothold in some of the churches in Germany during WW2, great faith caused a Dutch woman, Corrie Ten Boom, and her family to hide Jews from the Nazis. She and her sister were interned in a concentration camp for their efforts. You can read her story called The Hiding Place. Even in terrible darkness, God is still afoot and working in those who truly serve him.

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    “I believe you are wrong about progressives, of which I am one. I believe the entirety of the Bible, including all of the passages (about 35 percent of the totality) that describe the necessity of social justice.”

    Do you think the Bible commands us to go through Caesar to help the poor? Seems to me that is a very inefficient middleman who keeps too much for himself that never makes it to the poor.

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    “Keep in mind that our current economic problems are source in the policies of the previous administration and that $12 trillion of the $13 trillion national debt came about under the last three Republican presidents, $8-9 Trillion of it under the immediate past president.”

    I agree. Now that we have blamed Republican presidents, what is this president doing about it?

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    This president has only raised the stakes, outspending all the prior Presidents.

    Unfortunately and predictably, it’s not working.

    So, the new President’s solution – spend even more money.

    I am very concerned.

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    I’ve tried posting a resonse several times, but it won’t go through. Maybe Dee and Deb can figure out where it went.

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    Could you let us know what is going on? Tell us exactly what you do. I am about to try to test comments.

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    Test comment #1

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    Try to posy and note the time. I will keep track of what I receive from our dashboard (where we can edit stuff). I’m sorry. Has anyone else had trouble out there?

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    Whoops post not posy . Isn’t that what they had in their pockets during ring around a rosey?

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    Sorry there has been a problem with commenting.

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    So sorry there has been a problem with commenting.

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    I sent y’all an email (I think — not sure if I had the right addresses). It acted like it posted but never showed up, and when I tried again it told me it was a duplicate post. So I tried again on a more recent thread, and it still didnt show up. I thought maybe it was too long, so I tried to split it and posted only a portion of it, but it still didn’t show up. Strange. I’ll try again.

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    Nope — just tried again, and it just won’t show up. Guess it wasn’t meant to be.