Less than 250 years after the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, America finds itself in a veiled, but deadly confrontation for religious liberty once again. However, in this conflict, the opposing forces are not living across the ocean, but come from within our own borders. All across the nation, from small towns in the Bible belt to major metropolitan communities, battle lines are being drawn throughout the public square. Working behind the scenes, they are attempting to dismantle the tenets of freedom that have endured since our Founding Fathers first crafted these core principles into the framework of the Constitution.
Yet, there is hope! The armies of God–composed of faithful leaders and citizens–are assembling together in prayer and action with a great passion to preserve those cherished values that make America great. The struggle is now at the doorsteps of our state capitols, city-councils and academic institutions, as men and women consider the role of faith to determine how to best stand up for their convictions.
Committed legislators in North Carolina are taking a bold stand. During the first day of the new legislative session, the North Carolina Prayer Caucus met to pray and seek God’s wisdom. As legislators gathered, government leaders from the top-down were exercising their First Amendment right to publicly pray. The following is an excerpt from a report by Dr. Mark Creech:
“I must tell you that I have never experienced a day during my 14-year tenure at the NCGA quite like this one. There was a different spirit – prevalent was a spirit of hope – even a spirit of joy – tempered with a spirit of humility.
One very moving moment was when public officials representing all three branches of North Carolina’s government, Executive, Legislative and Judicial, were packed together with supporters and constituents, standing room only in the small Chapel between the chambers. They were there to sing their praises and give thanks to a sovereign God. They sang hymns like, ‘Victory in Jesus,’ and ‘Take My Life and Let It Be.’ They earnestly prayed, asking God to give them wisdom to govern in a way pleasing to him. They thanked God for their calling, acknowledging that their election and appointments were by his hand. Therefore, they were there to serve and not to be served. They even prayed that God would guard them from petty bickering and personality struggles that his glory might more eminently shine.”
The Kentucky Prayer Caucus likewise started their new session with two onsite prayer events where leaders and citizens filled the Chambers, as well as another location in the capitol to gather and entreat God’s favor and guidance to direct the affairs of the state. Later that week, the first Prayer Caucus meeting of the short session convened as the State Director and his team dedicated themselves to defending God’s rightful place in Kentucky.
Contrast these events with the recent attacks on prayer at West Point. What was once a welcomed and respected practice is now under fire with hollow accusations by well-funded anti- faith groups carrying out a misguided mission to remove God from the public domain. They have misinterpreted and twisted the First Amendment, claiming that it implies freedom from religion not freedom of religion. We must continue to pray and make our voices heard in order to combat these alarming trends. Otherwise, our silence is tantamount to consent!
Furthermore, this is not a task for the faint of heart or for those who have yet to count the cost. Neither is it time to become unduly cautious and timid in the face of strong opposition or politically-motivated rhetoric. Rather, we must lead by example–with boldness and confidence–knowing that the right moral compass always centers a person’s soul and encourages us to put our trust in God’s grace and mercy. At the end of the day, you must be at peace with the man or woman in the mirror. Have you stood up for your values and your convictions? Have you given your best effort, even in the face of adversity? Win or lose, have you remained true to your principles?
At the onset of the American Revolution, activist and author, Thomas Paine, stirred the hearts of a young nation when he penned his widely read Common Sense. Over the next several years, he also published a series of pamphlets referred to as the American Crisis. They were written at a time when public morale was ebbing and those who were fighting for the cause of freedom had to press through discouragement and the overwhelming magnitude of the task at hand.
In the bitter winter of 1776, hundreds of soldiers were deserting the army and hundreds more were doubtful at the threshold of their reenlistments. Just before Continental forces crossed the icy Delaware River during the Battle of Trenton, George Washington had Paine’s first pamphlet read aloud to his troops. The decisive victory against the Hessian garrison ignited a new optimism and galvanized the country into believing victory over the mighty British was possible.
These words are a poignant reminder of what we face as the post-modern battle lines of today are being drawn:
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”1
The American Prayer Caucus Network is part of a successful and proactive strategy designed to ouflank those who would have us forfeit our freedoms by reversing the damage done through their efforts. Let us reaffirm our Judeo-Christian heritage, continue in fervent prayer, and pursue religious liberty through the legislative process. In doing so, we are promoting freedom for all.
1. The Crisis by Thomas Paine