God and Country Service? Yes. And here’s why
Here at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville we will have a “God and Country Service” this coming Sunday, June 30, at 10 a.m. (Yes, one service at 10.) The community is invited and encouraged to attend. There will be a uniformed color guard, presentation of the flags and pledge of allegiance, a volley salute (yes, “real,” outside), bagpipe playing Amazing Grace, patriotic hymns, prayers for our nation, and I will deliver a Biblical message affirming the celebration of the rightful and historical partnership between God and our country.
So, is this “appropriate?” Absolutely.
I certainly agree with those who point out that for too many years the politicians and courts of this country have been able to perpetrate the false idea of “separation of church and state”. They claim that the founding fathers of this nation designed this to be a basis for our form of government. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They did intend to keep government out of the religious arena by disallowing a national religion such as existed in England with the Church of England; however the intent was never to keep the church out of government.
As a historian and a pastor, I believe we must return to the writings and convictions of the founders of our great nation and keep these principles dynamic still today.
Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention June 28, 1787:
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of the truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without this concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the builders of Babel: we shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest. I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the audience of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
“And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
U.S. Supreme Court - Church of the Holy Trinity vs U.S .1892:
“This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation ... These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances, they speak the voice of the entire people ... These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”
John Jay - First Chief Justice US Supreme Court:
“Providence (God) has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
George Washington - Inauguralspeech to Congress April 30, 1789:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency ... We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a Nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
“It is the duty of nations as well as men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
“All the good from the Saviour of the World is communicated through this Book; but for the Book we could not know right from wrong. All the things desirable to man are contained in it.”
[Reach Kollmeyer at www.princeofpeacefayette.com]