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"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country."

In 1962, the Supreme Court banned this prayer from our public schools. Could there be a link between the removal of that simple prayer and many of the social, economic, and political crises this nation now faces?

To help answer that question, we need to be mindful of just how unique America is in all of human history. Our longevity alone makes us remarkable. Our constitutional democracy operating under the same governing documents for over 200 years is unparalleled in all of world history?though that is not the most significant legacy left to us by our founding fathers.

More valuable are the ideas and principles on which they founded this nation, principles that have produced the greatest degree of human liberty, freedom, and prosperity that any nation has ever experienced.

But all is not well in America. I don't have to tell you that. Still, of all the challenges facing our leaders today, one strikes at the very heart of our national health and goes to the root of our problems. And as you're about to see, it has quietly but steadily produced the widespread violence, anger, hatred and corruption that have led to the social crises we face today.

Asking For The Old Paths
We're not the first nation founded by the agency of God's hand to find herself in the midst of great moral decay. The prophet Jeremiah looked around and saw a similar state of affairs in his day. Listen to his diagnosis recorded in Jeremiah 6:15:

Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush. Therefore they shall fall among them that fall. At the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.

In verse 16, Jeremiah proposes the remedy:

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

The prophet is saying, "When things don't go well, when the Lord's blessing isn't apparent, think back to when times were good and go back to those old ways."

America needs to return to the ways that kept the hand of God firmly and obviously upon this great nation. Ways that kept the American dream within reach of anyone willing to work hard enough to pursue it. 


The Old Paths... of the Founding Fathers
"But Mac," you may be thinking. "What are the 'old paths' where our nation is concerned?" For us, the old paths are the founding principles on which this nation was built.

One of the things current secular historians would have us believe is that our founding fathers were anything but Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that 52 of our 55 founding fathers with a role in producing the Constitution, most of who also worked on the Bill of Rights, were committed members of either Orthodox or Evangelical Christian churches.

To understand their hearts and what they had in mind for America, let's look at some of the things they said during this founding era.

Let's start with Patrick Henry. He said:

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians. Not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams,said in a speech given on the Fourth of July in 1837:

"What is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world (your most joyous and venerated festival), returns on this day? Is it not that in the chain of human events the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?"

John Jay,the first chief justice of the Supreme Court and one of the three men most responsible for our Constitution said this:

"Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers. It is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

Can you imagine that statement coming from our Supreme Court today?

George Washington'sfarewell address is yet another example of the intent of our founding fathers. He said this:

"Of all dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars&."

There are literally hundreds of such quotations from our founding fathers that make it seem as if they were all cut from the same spiritual cloth, but let's also take a more secular look at the question of our origin as a nation.

For 10 years, the University of Houston's Political Science department researched over 15,000 writings from this nation's founding era, looking for the sources of the ideas, philosophies, and principles behind our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They uncovered 3154 quotes used by our founding fathers for which they could find an identifiable source.

Baron Charles D. Montesque's writings were quoted 8.3 percent of the time. And 7.9 percent of the quotes came from Sir William Blackstone; and 2.9 percent of the 3154 came from John Locke.

The real revelation came when they found that 34 percent of the quotations used by our founding fathers were directly from the Bible!

Not stopping there, they traced Montesque's, Blackstone's, and Locke's quotes back to their sources and learned that 60 percent of those were also derived from the Bible.

These scholars came face to face with the fact that nearly half of the source material used in the development of our Constitution and Bill of Rights either directly or indirectly came from the Bible!

Does that speak something about the old paths? It's undeniable. This nation was founded on the principles, standards and truths of the Word of God.

The Old Paths...of the Supreme Court
Another way to identify the old paths is to look at the Supreme Court's rulings from our early history. Understandably, many Christians have come to view the Supreme Court almost as an enemy because of the rulings that have been handed down in recent years. But it wasn't always that way.

In a case called "People vs. Rugels," The Court of 1811 stated:

"Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civic government&."

Now, aren't we seeing the truth of that statement verified before our very eyes? The 1844 case of "Vidal vs. Gerard" centered on a Philadelphia school that decided to try to teach morality without the Bible or Christian principles. Doesn't that sound like our public school system today?

That Court ruled:

"Why may not the Bible and especially the New Testament be read and taught as a divine revelation in the school? Its general precept expounded and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? Where can the purist principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?"

In the case of "Holy Trinity vs. the U.S." in 1892, the Court's ruling read this way:

"Our laws and institutions must necessarily be based upon and must embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible for it to be otherwise. In this sense and to this extent, our society and our institutions are emphatically Christian."

And they gave 87 precedents in support of their conclusion. Does this sound anything like our Supreme Court today?

Not One Precedent
For about 170 years, the Courts were very careful to follow the intent of our founding fathers. But let's jump ahead to the Supreme Court of 1947.

There we find one of the justices borrowing the term "separation of church and state" from a personal letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802. Part of his ruling read:

"The First Amendment erected a wall of separation between church and state…(and)…that wall must be kept high and impregnable."

Well, that term soon became so popular that the 1958 Court warned, "If we don't quit talking about "separation of church and state" so much, The American people are going to begin to think it was part of the Constitution."

Nevertheless, the 1962 "Engle vs. Vital" ruling officially and forcefully separated Christian principle from public education by banning organized school prayer.

Subsequent cases banned the Bible, then any mention of God, and then not just in schools, but in any public forum touched by civil government.

Now, you would think that such a far reaching and radical decision would have been backed by a large volume of case history and precedent. Not so.

Incredible as it sounds, the 1962 Court gave no historical or legal precedent whatsoever. In reality, there was no precedent to give and this at a time when 97 percent of the American populace professed a belief in God!

Why is the American dream dying? Because we, as a nation, have banished God from our society.

The Turning Point!
It is easy to see that the social upheaval this country is facing today began in earnest after our schools were stripped of their guiding moral standard in 1962. The amorality of our younger generation is reflected all too clearly.

It ought to be clear. You can't separate Christian principle from civic and public forums and expect things to be good. When you remove the standard of God's Word from our government and from the public square, the consequences are swift and tragic.

And we're not only suffering moral deterioration, academic achievement is in free-fall as well. Public High School student SAT averages have dropped over 80 points since 1962. Today, Christian school student averages are 80 points higher than that of the public school students.

Coincidence? I don't think so. But that's not all.

Even though Christian schools have only 12.4 percent of the student population, they produce nearly 40 percent of the National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists, the top half of one percent of all students.

There is no question that we are now paying a heavy price for our banishing God from all government and public arenas. James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution, summed it up well:

"We've staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments."

Yet our Supreme Court declares that it is unconstitutional to pray in public schools. Even though the man that wrote the Constitution said it had to be that way.

Turning This Nation Around
How could we, as a nation, have let this happen? We've let a lot of people who don't believe in God, or are outright hostile to Him, hold political office and run this country. The good news is that we don't have to let a pitifully small but vocal minority force-feed America with a philosophy we don't want.

As always, the first step is to pray. First Timothy 2:2 declares that we must pray for those in authority. Many Christians labor long and hard in the political arena, but they labor in vain if they're not first and foremost calling on the name of the Lord in prayer.

God has promised us, "If you pray for your land, I'll heal it" (2 Chron. 7:14).

But James 2:17 tells us we can't stop there. Faith without action is dead. God needs politically involved vessels to work through. That means a couple of things. Not only are we all called to be actively involved in the political process from the grass roots level on up, we all must never miss a chance to vote godly men and women into office.

Some believers are called to run for political office. Just as I am called to stand in the pulpit, there are those whom He has equipped and prepared to stand in some kind of public position. If you're one of them, I urge you to be responsive to that calling.

Thirdly, it is vitally important that we educate our young people with the value system of God's Word. Here's what the Lord told Israel about this matter:

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
(Deut. 6:6-9)

The fourth and most important thing?but probably the least often connected with making right America's problems?is our commitment to the increase of the Body of Christ.

When we have our political leadership and the voters in our community saved and serving God in a local church, things will begin to go God's way once again. This will happen as we invite and bring people to church, get them saved and let the Word change their hearts.

As they go back into the marketplace and the public square, the negative trends we've been seeing in America will begin to be reversed.

In closing, look at what John Adams said about the importance of God in our land:

"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."

In 1962, our nation made a sudden turn away from that great truth. The good news is, with prayer and diligence we can turn things back around just as dramatically.

We simply must become determined to do our part and to take the steps necessary to continue that legacy of righteousness, freedom and hope.

(Some research taken from "America: To Pray? Or Not to Pray?"
by David Barton published by Wallbuilder Press
P.O. Box 397, Aledo, Texas 76008)



Copyright © Mac Hammond Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

 

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
 
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at winnersminute.com. He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.
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