Bookmark and Share


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sing Praises to Obama? Yes We Can; Sing Praises to Christ? No Can Do

A good friend of mine asked me two days ago what I thought of kids in school singing praises to president Obama. I told him it felt a bit creepy but that I had no problem with it beyond that. He then asked me if I would feel “creeped-out” if they were singing praises to someone else, for example Martin Luther King. I had to admit that kids singing praises to Dr. King would not be creepy but rather commendable. I then asked my friend, “How about kids singing praises to George Bush, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin?” He responded by saying that some more liberal people might take offense because of the polarizing nature of these people, but that he wouldn’t have a problem with it ultimately. My next question started a pretty interesting discussion and provided the material for this article. I asked my friend, what if they were singing praises to Christ? His answer was, “You can’t do that because now they would be involving religion.” It is to this point that I will now turn my attention.

Why is it ok for a teacher, acting on affections for her president, allowed to express that affection openly? Why am I restricted (under punishment of law) from showing affections for my God? Many people on the right (politically) do not like the idea of teachers politicizing the classroom. For me the real issue here is the censoring of Christians. When I heard school children sing praises to Obama, I thought to myself that I dare not attempt such a thing as a Christian, and I want to know why; what makes me and others like me so special. When we venture to ask why, we are beaten over the head with the misguided notion of separation of church and state. Just so we are on the same page, the first amendment to the constitution reads:

”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

There is nothing in this amendment that even comes close to prohibiting Christians in government from doing or saying Christian things as a group or as individuals. The only place you will find anything coming close to suggesting a hard separation between church and state, would be a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. [1] But I know, and so do many of you, that the silencing of Christians isn’t about a noble attempt to uphold the law, anymore than abortion is about where life begins. In both of these cases the real issue is something completely different than the one being presented. [2]

When someone declares we shall have no prayer or practice any Christian rituals in public schools, you can be sure that what is really going on is the assertion of human autonomy from the Christian concept of morality and that in their heart of hearts they know it is incumbent on them to follow these principles. Liberals for example know deep down (perhaps very deep down) that it is wrong to kill an unborn child, but because they want to have their own way, they suppress what they know to be true. I can understand people affirming their autonomy, as a matter of fact; the bible tells me to expect it. What I don’t understand is why Christians have to be silenced (by law) when we profess or try to promote these standards? As far as I can tell, people who are not Christian (especially liberal ones) have such an axe to grind that they will swing that axe right at my first amendment rights. Again, I’m not surprised by this level of antagonism, given the bible’s warning of this sort of behavior. Furthermore, I would like an explanation as to why the separation of all things religious from the affairs of the state is such a noble endeavor? And why is the lack of an acknowledgment of God not ignoble?

Consider a hypothetical with me:

Two men elected to public office serve as present and past presidents of the United States. One of these men believes that wealthy people and big corporations are inherently evil and must be taxed to keep them in line and so that the much more noble poor people can be given their just deserts. The other man believes that all people are sinners (not just the wealthy ones) and in need of restoration in the image of God through Christ. Because of his beliefs, the second man believes that prayer and church attendance is a way in which we might help all people, rich and poor. My question is this, why is one allowed to espouse and pursue his worldview and the other is restricted by law from doing so? Why is it that a teacher can assemble her kids and tech them to have an allegiance to president Obama, but cheerleaders who storm the field of a football game carrying a banner quoting a bible verse are bared from ever doing so again because it violates the constitution? [3] It seems to me that the decision to single-out religious views (especially Christianity since the word church is traditionally a Christian term. Cf. separation of Church and State) is simply arbitrary.

It is true that Christians in public life are free to practice religion in their private lives, Jimmy Carter for example regularly teaches Sunday school. [4] I am concerned however, by a type of “religious Jim Crow” America that is evolving in our day. There are parts of our society with signs (not seen by the naked eye) over their entryway that says, “No Christians Allowed.” Fortunately for Christians (unlike black people), our worldviews cannot be ascertained by looking at us. I am also concerned by the fact that liberals are not neutral on Christian commitments. It is not the case that when liberals use the courts to chip away at Christian influence in our society that that void is left vacant. That void is replaced with liberal ideas, as Ann Coulter puts it, the liberal religion.

You see, liberals can’t have it both ways, either they allow religious people to be who they are with the freedom to espouse their worldviews, and thus allowing the best ides to win the day. Or, they must bar the promotion of all worldviews, Christian and otherwise. In which case, no elected official could ever say anything ever again, since no one is objective and all of our actions, thoughts and speech flow from some kind of a worldview. Actually, a silent government might not be a bad thing right now; perhaps the liberals are on to something here. We must not infringe upon people’s right to free speech, especially and I must emphasize especially, when we don’t agree with that speech.

President Obama is now freeing captured terrorists from Guantánamo Bay, isn’t it about time we freed the rights of Christians to espouse their beliefs in all facets of American Life? [5]

Danian Michael,
Political Agenda.


[1] This is what Jefferson wrote in his letter (which is not legally binding):

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate 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.”

It is clear to me that Jefferson’s intention was not that Christians serving in public office would be bared from suggesting Christian solutions to problems, but that the state would leave us alone to practice our faith freely. The exact opposite is happening, when we see the State tell cheerleaders that they can’t show a bible verse because doing so is breaking the law.

[2] In an earlier article titled, “The Big A – Abortion Not Apple.” I made the very bold claim that the abortion debate is not and never was about where life begins. It is actually about a woman’s unwillingness to take care of a child.
Read the entire article:

[3] The picture associated with this article was taken from the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The caption reads, “9/18/09 At a football game on the school's field, cheerleaders at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School hold up a sign with a Biblical verse on it. After a complaint last week, the school has banned the cheerleaders from using any more signs with religious statements on them, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution.”
Read the article:

[4] The Associated Content News article titled, “Former President Carter Teaches Sunday School in Hometown of Plains, Ga” shows that not only was former president Carter a professing Christian, but that he also did very Christian things like teach Sunday school. President Carter is an unusual case however, and I would argue inconsistent, because although he is a professing Christian, Carter believes that elected officials should leave their faith at the door when they represent the State or do State business. He is inconsistent because of this basic Christian principle; exposing your whole life to the lordship of Christ, and leaving nothing to yourself.
Read the Associated Content News article:

[5] This New York Times article titled, “freed detainee arrives in Britain” chronicles the activities of freed Guantánamo Bay detainees.
Read the article:

Labels: , , , , ,