The conflicting thought is that nowhere in Scripture is the secular state expected to acknowledge God. The state is an instrument of God, which Paul tells us we are to obey for our own good (Romans 13:1-5). There are verses about nations being "blessed whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 33:12). But there is no expectation or command for the state to be an instrument in spreading God's message to humankind. That is clearly the job of those who follow Him. In fact, when the state takes upon itself the work of spreading God's message (or is asked to do so by God's followers), it often does a poor job.
Does the presence of the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, or a creche on public property in December, or a cross on state property, advance or detract from the message these symbols are supposed to communicate? Will an irreligious people who worship their personal golden calves of pleasure and affluence be more likely to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33) if they see such displays, or be lulled into a false security that God is somehow pleased or tolerant of the increasingly secular outlook of His creation?
If the ultimate question is how best for God's followers to interest more people in Him and His message, then the ultimate answer ought to come from internal, not external, things. Loving your enemies, praying for those who persecute you, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison and caring for widows and orphans make up the "strategy" laid down by the Founding Father of the Christian faith. Could it be that too many have forsaken the harder but more effective work in favor of exterior symbols that, like crosses worn as jewelry, tell the observer nothing about one's heart?
It's a conflict, not only between church and state, but between God and man.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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