73) America Is Not One Nation Under God

“I pledge allegience…to the republic…One nation, under God…”

The word “republic” derives from the Latin noun-phrase res publica (thing of the people), which referred to the system of government that emerged in the 6th century BCE following the expulsion of the kings from Rome…

  • Remember, in ancient times every government was a theocracy. Kings literally embodied the head national god. The Romans weren’t expelling the rule of a human dynasty, they were expelling the supervision of a national divinity over humans via the god’s Prophet – Priest – King: Spokesman IntercessorSovereign over Life and Death.

The first Mesopotamian ruler who declared himself divine was Naram-Sin of Akkad...sometime during the 23rd century BCE…This…coincides with the first world empire of the rulers of Akkad…It was also accompanied by certain changes in religion, in which the king proliferated the cult of the Ishtar…in her war-like aspect (‘ashtar annunitum) and began to refer to himself as the husband/warrior of Ishtar.

Some consider…the famous Hammurabi of Babylon (1792–1750 BCE) to have been divine.

According to Roman mythology, the gods had a hand in the founding of the city of Rome itself. Mars, god of war, and a [human woman] named Rhea Silvia were the parents of twin boysThey dethroned King Amulius…Romulus killed his brother…[and] went on to name the city after himself…

This is consistent with the biblical account of the proliferation of hybrid god-humans ruling from city-states at this time in history, starting with Nimrod / Hammurabi / Amraphel.

Republics recurred subsequently, with, for example, Renaissance Florence.

  • As Renaissance Florence demonstrates, Humanism’s rejection of universal standards of morality is a setup for the exploitation of the weak by the strong.

Cicero, the great Roman orator, became the core example for the Humanists...a turn back to the secular…a huge amount of classical Greek knowledge was now worked in…a new form of education, which the rich were adopting…

Some Humanists began to turn away from reforming the world and focused instead…as creators… who made their own lives and who should not be trying to imitate Christ but finding themselves…

The concept of a republic became a powerful force in…the American Revolution. In Europe, it gained enormous influence through the French Revolution and through the First French Republic of 1792-1804.

The presence and influence of gods and goddesses were integral parts of life in the Roman state. The people of Rome built temples to their gods and observed rituals and festivals to honor and celerate them. Any favorable or unfavorable circumstances in Roman life could be attributed to the mood of certain gods, so people would likewise make offerings to the gods in thanks, or in an attempt to appease their tempers. Unlike many monotheistic religious or spiritual traditions [focused on morality], the Romans gods…chief concern was being paid tribute through very specific rituals.

  • This too is consistent with the American and French Revolutions’ rebellion against the increasingly excessive demands for tribute by their overlords.

Romans honored multiple deities. They believed that these deities…helped shape the events of people’s lives on a daily basis. Romans paid allegiance to the gods both in public spaces and in private homes.

The demotion of deities from overlords to servants matches the current state of affairs (that’s a pun) in most of American Christianity today.

640px-christian_flag_etc_covenant_presbyterian_long_beach_20050213The illicit affair between religion and government is key to understanding that God’s supposed people have placed the abomination that makes desolate in their houses of worship.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:

  • for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
  • and what communion hath light with darkness?
  • And what concord hath Christ with Belial?
  • or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
  • And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?

for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:14-18)

The battle for supreme authority between the heads of religion and state continue to be reflected in contemporary government with strategies ranging from

  • eliminating religion’s political influence altogether via ideologies like Communisms,
  • minimizig religion’s influence by media and propagandist dissemination of materialistic ideologies like evolution and consumerism,
  • coopting religious leaders via carefully controlled influence sharing.

The Roman concept of religion had never been that of an…exclusive obligatory moral loyalty to an unseen and highly spiritual Being. It made the relation between man and the gods entirely objective and unmystical. But it had recognized decent regard for the formulas of the community religion as a political duty of all good citizens…

Recently, President Donald Trump appointed evangelical Christian leader Jerry Falwell Jr.to head the White House education reform task force…tapping Falwell Jr. as its leader may seem odd to some observers given that he is president of…a Christian university founded by his father, Jerry Falwell Sr., and not a top research university…

The emergence and popularity of the Moral Majority came at a time when there were growing efforts to establish the rights of women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. Moral Majority, thus, represented the conservative religious reaction to those efforts.

The Moral Majority drew primarily from white fundamentalist and evangelical Christians, although it also…mobilized a broader conservative religious and political coalition than just white conservative evangelicals…Ultimately, this broad coalition of conservatives – mostly white Christians – came to represent the “Religious Right.” It has had an enormous impact on both the Republican Party and on public policy more generally since its founding...

Political involvement was a shift for Falwell, who as a fundamentalist Christian avoided political organizing as a matter of religious conviction…from entanglements with the political world.

Thus, Falwell’s move into politics also entailed a shift in his theological perspective. He moved from a separatist stance that taught that God controls everything, including politics, to one that required human action to fulfill God’s intended destiny for America.

the purely Roman system had no body of priests corresponding to the Aaronic priesthood among the Hebrews, or to the orders of clergy in the Christian church. Its religious officials were merely political functionaries of state…The pontifex maximus himself, recognized head of the religious system of Rome, was no more a cleric than…King George V in his official relation to the Church of England…

Falwell died in 2007, and his efforts to combine his religious and political commitments seem to have fallen to his son, Jerry Falwell Jr., who as president of Liberty University has been outspoken in his support of Donald Trump. Trump, in turn, seems to have rewarded him for his support with the appointment to the education reform task force.

Falwell Jr. is as outspoken in his religiously glossed opinions on issues as was his father. Perhaps this is seen most famously in his support for Second Amendment rights, to the point of advocating that students at Liberty University carry guns. He even built a shooting range on campus.

Jerry Falwell Jr. speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016. Rick Wilking/Reuters

as exemplified by the over 80 percent of white evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, the legacy of Falwell Sr. lives on – at least for the near term – making him a figure as important as Reagan for the Republican Party.

Whether Falwell Jr. will rise to the level of influence attained by his father remains to be seen. But, he has signaled his goals for the education task force, which are similar to the issues that motivated Falwell Sr. in the 1970s.

In the second place, the Roman religion made no demand upon or appeal to any personal or emotional faith on the part of its adherents…

Today, evangelicals make up the backbone of the pro-life movement, but it hasn’t always been so. Both before and for several years after Roe, evangelicals…considered [abortion] a “Catholic issue.” In 1968, for instance…refused to characterize abortion as sinful, citing “individual health, family welfare, and social responsibility” as justifications for ending a pregnancy. In 1971, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, passed a resolution encouraging “Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” The convention, hardly a redoubt of liberal values, reaffirmed that position in 1974, one year after Roe, and again in 1976…

W. A. Criswell, the Southern Baptist Convention’s former president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—also one of the most famous fundamentalists of the 20th century—was pleased: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” he said, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed…”

Baptists, in particular, applauded the decision as an appropriate articulation of the division between church and state, between personal morality and state regulation of individual behavior. “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision,” wrote W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press.

So what then were the real origins of the religious right? It turns out that the movement can trace its political roots back to a court ruling, but not Roe v. Wade.

In May 1969, a group of African-American parents in Holmes County, Mississippi, sued the Treasury Department to prevent three new whites-only K-12 private academies from securing full tax-exempt status…The schools had been founded in the mid-1960s in response to the desegregation of public schools set in motion by the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. In 1969, the first year of desegregation, the number of white students enrolled in public schools in Holmes County dropped from 771 to 28; the following year, that number fell to zero.

the plaintiffs won…Under the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which forbade racial segregation and discrimination, discriminatory schools were not—by definition—“charitable” educational organizations, and therefore they had no claims to tax-exempt status; similarly, donations to such organizations would no longer qualify as tax-deductible contributions.

Paul Weyrich, the late religious conservative political activist and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, saw his opening.

In the decades following World War II, evangelicals, especially white evangelicals in the North, had drifted toward the Republican Party—inclined in that direction by general Cold War anxieties, vestigial suspicions of Catholicism and well-known evangelist Billy Graham’s very public friendship with Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. Despite these predilections, though, evangelicals had largely stayed out of the political arena, at least in any organized way. If he could change that, Weyrich reasoned, their large numbers would constitute a formidable voting bloc—one that he could easily marshal behind conservative causes.

The new political philosophy must be defined by us [conservatives] in moral terms, packaged in non-religious language, and propagated throughout the country by our new coalition,” Weyrich wrote in the mid-1970s. “When political power is achieved, the moral majority will have the opportunity to re-create this great nation.Weyrich believed that the political possibilities of such a coalition were unlimited. “The leadership, moral philosophy, and workable vehicle are at hand just waiting to be blended and activated,” he wrote. “If the moral majority acts, results could well exceed our wildest dreams…”

For nearly two decades, Weyrich, by his own account, had been trying out different issues, hoping one might pique evangelical interest: pornography, prayer in schools, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, even abortion. “I was trying to get these people interested in those issues and I utterly failed,” Weyrich recalled at a conference in 1990…

as the IRS began sending questionnaires to church-related “segregation academies,” including Falwell’s own Lynchburg Christian School, inquiring about their racial policies. Falwell was furious. “In some states,” he famously complained, “It’s easier to open a massage parlor than a Christian school…”

The IRS had sent its first letter to Bob Jones University in November 1970…The school responded defiantly: It did not admit African Americans.

Although Bob Jones Jr., the school’s founder, argued that racial segregation was mandated by the Bible, Falwell and Weyrich quickly sought to shift the grounds of the debate, framing their opposition in terms of religious freedom rather than in defense of racial segregation…

In…an attempt to forestall IRS action, [Bob Jones University] admitted blacks to the student body, but, out of fears of miscegenation, refused to admit  unmarried African-Americans. The school also stipulated that any students who engaged in interracial dating, or who were even associated with organizations that advocated interracial dating, would be expelled.

The IRS was not placated. On January 19, 1976, after years of warnings—integrate or pay taxes—the agency rescinded the school’s tax exemption.

“That was really the major issue that got us all involved.”

Weyrich saw that he had the beginnings of a conservative political movement…he and other leaders of the nascent religious right blamed the Democratic president for the IRS actions against segregated schools—even though the policy was mandated by Nixon…In their determination to elect a conservative, they would do anything to deny a Democrat, even a fellow evangelical like Carter, another term in the White House.

But Falwell and Weyrich…were also savvy enough to recognize that organizing grassroots evangelicals to defend racial discrimination would be a challenge. It had worked to rally the leaders, but they needed a different issue if they wanted to mobilize evangelical voters on a large scale.

By the late 1970s, many Americans—not just Roman Catholics—were beginning to feel uneasy about the spike in legal abortions following the 1973  Roe decision…

the 1978 election represented a formative step toward galvanizing everyday evangelical voters…Weyrich characterized the triumph of pro-life candidates as “true cause for celebration,” and Robert Billings, a cobelligerent, predicted that opposition to abortion would “pull together many of our ‘fringe’ Christian friends.”  Roe v. Wade had been law for more than five years.

Weyrich, Falwell and leaders of the emerging religious right enlisted an unlikely ally in their quest to advance abortion as a political issue: Francis A. Schaeffer…considered by many the intellectual godfather of the religious right, was not known for his political activism, but by the late 1970s he decided that legalized abortion would lead inevitably to infanticide and euthanasia, and he was eager to sound the alarm…argued that any society that countenanced abortion was captive to “secular humanism” and therefore caught in a vortex of moral decay.

By 1980, even though Carter had sought, both as governor of Georgia and as president, to reduce the incidence of abortion, his refusal to seek a constitutional amendment outlawing it was viewed by politically conservative evangelicals as an unpardonable sin. Never mind the fact that his Republican opponent that year, Ronald Reagan, had signed into law, as governor of California in 1967, the most liberal abortion bill in the country. When Reagan addressed a rally of 10,000 evangelicals at Reunion Arena in Dallas in August 1980, he excoriated the “unconstitutional regulatory agenda” directed by the IRS “against independent schools,” but he made no mention of abortion. Nevertheless, leaders of the religious right hammered away at the issue, persuading many evangelicals to make support for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion a litmus test for their votes…

After the election results came in, Falwell, never shy to claim credit, was fond of quoting a Harris poll that suggested Carter would have won the popular vote by a margin of 1 percent had it not been for the machinations of the religious right. “I knew that we would have some impact on the national elections,” Falwell said, “but I had no idea that it would be this great…”

it is certainly true that evangelicals, having helped propel Carter to the White House four years earlier, turned dramatically against him, their fellow evangelical, during the course of his presidency. And the catalyst for their political activism was not, as often claimed, opposition to abortion. Although abortion had emerged as a rallying cry by 1980, the real roots of the religious right lie not the defense of a fetus but in the defense of racial segregation.

The Bob Jones University case merits a postscript. When the school’s appeal finally reached the Supreme Court in 1982, the Reagan administration announced that it planned to argue in defense of Bob Jones University and its racial policies. A public outcry forced the administration to reconsider; Reagan backpedaled by saying that the legislature should determine such matters, not the courts. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case, handed down on May 24, 1983, ruled against Bob Jones University in an 8-to-1 decision. Three years later Reagan elevated the sole dissenter, William Rehnquist, to chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The native official religion…was a part of the state system, and its administration a part of the administration of the state. The citizens and subjects of Rome were all naturally regarded in a technical sense as adherents of its religion as much as of the rest of its political system.

In the 1980s, born-again Christians burst into the political arena with stunning force.The founding of the Moral Majority in 1979 by Southern Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell placed Protestant evangelicals in the center of the American political stage. Together with conservative Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and members of various political-religious groups, Protestant evangelicals constitute the Religious Right, also known as the New Christian Right…

Against the respect for religious diversity and the constitutional separation of church and state, Religious Right leaders seek to impose their beliefs and practices on the entire society, as evidenced by the conservative domestic and international policies they ardently support. They use a stream of selective biblical quotes to buttress their political positions on a myriad of issues including abortion, homosexuality, marriage, capital punishment, private ownership of guns, public education and the legitimacy of preemptive wars initiated by the U. S. government. The 2004 election of George W. Bush to a second term as president confirmed the extraordinary power of conservative religious issues in determining the campaign’s outcome.

Religious Right adherents firmly believe that “the United States was established as a Christian nation by Christian people, with the Christian religion assigned as a central place in guiding the nation’s destiny.” Since the United States has lost its moral identity as shaped by its founders, they argue, re-creating a “Christian America” is the only solution to society’s acute problems. One of the Religious Right’s most visible spokesmen, the evangelist-psychologist James Dobson, distributes through his organization Focus on the Family a set of history lessons that seeks to show that “the Constitution was designed to perpetuate a Christian order.” Many of America’s disorders, Dobson says, stem from abandoning this unity of state and church. Another well-known Christian conservative leader, Beverly LaHaye, chair of Concerned Women of America, affirms that “America is a nation based on biblical principles… Christian values dominate our government. Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in government.” 

To be clear, Religious Right leaders seek to convert the United States into a theocracy. 

Emphasis added in the above quote.

The Jewish realm realm in that land was in the eye of Rome a foreign state, whose citizens might be tolerated as residents in any part of the Roman dominions…The Jews had a national religion, and, however absurd and debasing it might be, they might of course celebrate its rites freely.

Jews had…some special and perhaps unique privileges accorded them…The legal condition of the Jews, then, was distinctly favorable…in the Rome of the first century after Christ.

This was due to Herod the Great’s support of the ultimate winners during the Roman civil war between Octavian and Antony.

in 31 BCE, Herod, through his ability to keep Judea open to Rome as a link to the wealth of Syria and Egypt, and ability to defend the frontier, convinced Octavian that he would be loyal to himHerod continued to rule his subjects as he saw fit. .

And in return, Herod’s support from the Roman Empire was a major factor in enabling him to maintain autonomy in a landscape of constantly shifting territorial boundaries.

The United States has a “special relationship” with the state of Israel, as characterized by the US State Department:

Israel is a great partner to the United States, and Israel has no greater friend than the United States. Americans and Israelis are united by our shared commitment to democracy, economic prosperity, and regional security. The unbreakable bond between our two countries has never been stronger.

Politicians are constantly invoking the US commitment to Israel, and constantly branding any criticism of Israel as “antisemitic.” Each year, Washington sends $3.8 billion in aid and an additional $8 billion in loan guarantees.

Over the years, the US public has heard a litany of justifications for Washington’s support for Israel: because… “the only democracy in the Middle East…” demonstrably wrong.

Some argue Washington does whatever Israel wants. But the United States is the most powerful capitalist nation in the history of the world. Explaining its actions as cunningly manipulated by the tiny Israel gets you into “Jews secretly control the world” territory.

The actual story is different, but still simple. US and Israeli interests have converged in important ways. The United States has served as a critical sponsor for Israel financially and politically. And Israel has played an invaluable role in helping the United States dominate the Middle East.

God defines getting into bed with politicians as adultery.

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?…Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:4-8)

After the original autocratic rule of King of the ethnic Romans was shrouded in Republican egalitarianism and Empire internationalism, “enrollment in a tribe remained an important part of…citizenship.” The legal process granting Roman rights and responsibilities was accomplished through adoption as sons, including the bestowal of the new tribal / national / gens name / identity.

There is a group in the US who brought out a film shortly before the 2018 midterm elections called The Trump Prophecy…It all sounds like an excuse for people desperate to justify voting for someone who Christians should be rebuking, not supporting.

So not only is it wrong to support Trump on this basis, it…contributes to the tribal politicisation of evangelical Christians.

The politicisation and tribalism of Christianity is dangerous and, in the case of Trump, stands in direct opposition to the values of the saviour who Christians seek to follow. One who gave up his rights to save others rather than trampling on the rights of others to promote himself…

The choice of American Christians to publicly back Trump now, and George W Bush before him, has been a dangerous move in a culture war that now means that half of the US has its fingers in its ears when it comes to the gospel. My challenge to Christians in the US is this: what matters more to you, the identity of the person in the White House or the promotion of the good news about Jesus Christ? If it is the latter – and it surely must be – then you need to seriously reconsider your support of the former. The politicisation of US Christianity has undermined the witness of evangelicals everywhere.

Right Doctrine Matters

The assembly of saints is NOT the Senate or House of Representatives. It is the church.

“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God…By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for allthis man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God…For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more…’

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus…And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us [that’s a command, not a suggestion] 

  • draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
  • hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
  • consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
  • Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but
  • exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” (Hebrews 10)

The only people I see in America today who are made a gazing stock by reproaches and afflictions are Moslem women who face discrimination, ridicule, and isolation by maintaining their moral code in dress. This is not just a religious code of ethics. This demonstrates their membership in a Father-headed “one nation under God” nation that takes precedent in both time and authority over State political legal systems.

They put my own public testimony to shame.

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