When God was in school and state, US was better

By Roger Tracy, Special to the BDN
Posted March 27, 2012, at 3:56 p.m.

Wherever I ask people where the term “separation of church” comes from, they invariably answer, “It’s in the Constitution.” Well, that may be what the left in America wants you to think, but it’s just not true.

What is in the Constitution is Article I of the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The infamous “separation of church and state” statement is found in a personal letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptists, in which Jefferson expressed his personal opinion.

As a Bible-believing Christian, and a local church pastor, I wish Sean Faircloth’s recent characterization of our current culture as decidedly pro-Christian was true ( “Separation of church and state, back by popular demand,” BDN Op-Ed, March 15) but I wonder what America he is living in.

He makes outrageous charges that “theocratic laws have already been passed in Congress,” “the religious right bias holds sway in the military” and that there is “religious bias in public schools and textbooks,” but offers not a single piece of evidence to substantiate his claims. He further declares, without verification, that because of this religious bias in government, there are “thousands of real people harmed” and that hundreds of children every year experience torture worse than Abu Ghraib.”

Outrageous beyond belief!

The sad truth is that there was a time in American history when the culture was decidedly Christian, but that time has long faded into obscurity. I was privileged to grow up in Bangor, when it was commonplace to read the Bible in class before we prayed and saluted the flag, and then started our school day.

God and country were proud themes in America, and Christmas carols were as common in school as they were in church.

But, since the Supreme Court decisions of 1962 and 1963, where the court held that prayer, Bible reading, the Ten Commandments and invocations and benedictions all violated the “Constitution’s wall of separation of church and state,” our culture has become increasingly nonreligious, and in many places, is even becoming aggressively anti-Christian.

A simple Google search of “religion in public school,” or “prayer in school banned,” or “bible in school banned” will find hundreds of illustrations. School texts have been stripped of pre-1960s references to God and Christianity in our nation’s history, while the writings of the Founders is replete with religious references. Even the Declaration of Independence references God four times.

In the military, we recently learned that Catholic chaplains were forbidden to read a letter from Archbishop Broglio to their parishioners. A Department of the Army policy recently stated, “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit” to Walter Reed Medical Center. The policy has since been overturned, but this kind of anti-religious bias is common. The Air Force Academy backed out of a toy drive, Operation Christmas Child, because it was done through a Christian organization.

While the premise of the article is clearly flawed, it is equally clear that Mr. Faircloth is unfamiliar with Christian teaching. He says it has harmed thousands. Yet the Bible always calls men to be loving, generous, kind, patient, forgiving, grateful and good. It says never return evil for evil and love your enemies. It tells its followers to submit to authority with respect and dignity, and always do the right thing, regardless of personal consequences.

Certainly there are individual failures, but the principles of Biblical Christianity have undergirded this great nation since its foundation, and we would serve America well by returning to the faith of our fathers.

It is obvious that someone’s values will govern America. Mr. Faircloth envisions a secular America where Hollywood morality is the norm. The Founders had a different vision. “The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence, were the general principles of Christianity,” wrote John Adams, the second president of the United States.

Rev. Roger E. Tracy has been an ordained minister for more than 40 years. He was born and raised in Bangor, where he has lived for nearly 60 years.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/27/opinion/contributors/when-god-was-in-school-and-state-us-was-better/ printed on July 25, 2014