Patriotism and Religion: Can They Co-exist?

Some believe Jonah’s refusal to preach to the Ninevites was motivated by Hebrew nationalism. In other words, as a Jew he hated the people of Ninevah so much he wanted them to perish. Therefore, he refused to warn them of their danger. (See Jonah 1:1-3; 3:1-10).

I don’t know if that was his motivation, but if it was, he was right to be ashamed and to repent. And, if patriotism outweighs our love for lost souls, we need to repent.

Having said that, I want to remind us all of the marvelous privilege of living in this land in which we are free to worship God as He has directed. With all our problems, and with all of the deviations from our roots, this still is a wonderful nation in which to live, work and worship. We should be grateful for each right and privilege.

One of the deviations of law and principle we are experiencing today is that many restrictions are now being placed upon religion generally and the Bible specifically. In the last five decades we have seen an “anti-religion” sentiment grow and prosper. To hear some speak or to read from the pen of many, religion is the greatest enemy of our freedoms and our prosperity. We hear much about a “separation of church and state,” with applications made that religion must bow to modern thoughts and practices. Some of these restrictions have limited the teaching of biblical truths, prayer, worship and what we have always known as “freedom of religion.” Unfortunately, we now see much written and spoken, from a minority of our population, on the need of “freedom from religion.”

Christians today must be ready and willing to speak God’s truth and practice God’s Word regardless of man’s mandates, Acts 5:29. Some practices must be opposed. Some truths must be exposed—faced with persecution or not. One way for us to be true to God and our nation is to be aware of the words and intents of those who founded our nation centuries ago. Their intent was for religion to have free course, but not to become a government mandate.

Familiarize yourself with the following words from the pens and the speeches of our forefathers:

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: that it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity,” John Quincy Adams.
“This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!” Patrick Henry.

“The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall; it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government,” Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States, January 1, 1802.

“Had the people, during the Revolution, had any suspicion of an attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle...At the time of the adoption of the constitution and amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one this age there can be no substitute for Christianity...That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendents...the great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (House Judiciary Committee Report, March 27, 1854. A Study brought about by a lawsuit to force the separation of church and state.)

“Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle,” George Washington from his Farewell Address to the nation.

“What does it mean when the Court declares something to be unconstitutional? It means that the Founding Fathers would have opposed this, would not have wanted this. As in the following: We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God,” James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution.

“If we were to remove the Bible from schools, I lament that we would be wasting so much time and money in punishing crimes and taking little pains to prevent them.” A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a School Book, by Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence and called the Father of Public Schools, 1791.

“We must make sure the Bible retains its proper place of preeminence in the classroom, because when reverence for this book is not impressed early in a child’s life, it never truly takes hold!” Fisher Ames, author of the First Amendment.

We are well aware that the term “Christianity” means different things to different people, and that the views of some were—and are— skewed considerably. But it is clear that our nation was primarily founded upon principles that were in harmony with the Bible. We must be willing to accept, teach, promote and defend our nation, now under virtual attack by humanists and others who resent and desire to overthrow any and all influence of God in our society. The only way we can do that is to be informed and determined not to be intimidated by any method of opposition, however threatening or demeaning.

We do not want to make any religion a “state church,” or to force anyone to accept any form of religion. But we can and must stand for what our Constitution has mandated for our nation’s moral precepts. We must not allow these privileges to be lost or diminished!

Carl B. Garner

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