Editor's note: This column was co-authored by James Gottry.
In October, President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General William Barr gave speeches highlighting the importance of faith and religious freedom. Not surprisingly, the media breathlessly reported on those remarks.
From USA Today: Secretary Pompeo’s speech “potentially violates the principle of separation of church and state.”
The Guardian went a step further: Attorney General Barr’s “devout Catholic faith poses a threat to the separation of church and state.”
And on MSNBC: “Team Trump’s theological push isn’t exactly subtle. In a country that’s supposed to honor the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, it isn’t exactly healthy, either.”
Taking this “reporting” at face value, a casual observer might wonder what these national leaders said to provoke such an outcry. Consider these words as a representative sample:
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
“[T]he longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in the Affairs of Men!”
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. The mere politician… ought to respect and to cherish them.”
Overtly religious? Certainly. Proselytizing? Possibly.
Wholly inappropriate in a nation with a “constitutional principle of separation of church and state?” Absolutely not.
One critical fact to note: the words above were not spoken by President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, or Attorney General Barr. Instead, they are the words of Abraham Lincoln, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington.
Here are the words of the former:
“[A]ll of us here today know that our rights come from God Almighty, and they can never be taken away." - Donald Trump
“As believers, we draw on the wisdom of God to help us get it right, to be a force for good in the life of human beings.” - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
“The Department of Justice is “ready to fight for the most cherished of all our American liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.” - Attorney General William Barr
Given the similarity of these statements, one can only assume that if our founding fathers were here today, the mainstream media and far-left activists would strongly condemn their words as well, which raises the question: Do they rightly understand the First Amendment and the oft-cited “separation of church and state?” (Incidentally, these words appear nowhere in our constitution or founding documents.)
Let’s avoid any unnecessary suspense: they do not understand.
The First Amendment was never intended to stamp out religious expression…it was designed to protect it. Statements by political leaders that acknowledge God or champion religious freedom do not constitute an “establishment” of a national religion, nor did similar statements from our founding fathers. The ongoing attempt to distort the First Amendment and use it as a sword against people of faith is abhorrent and must be condemned.
Consider the impact of this campaign against Christianity that has been waged on our nation. The Ten Commandments once graced the halls of many public buildings; now they are targeted for removal. Public prayer was once expected and appreciated; now it is mocked and frequently banned from public events, with perhaps a few exceptions for hollow words offered up to a nameless “higher power” of our own creation. The Bible was once taught in public schools and esteemed in the public square; now our societal devotion to Scripture has been replaced by the gods of sexuality, self-fulfillment, and salvation through socialism.
Suffice it to say, our once-shared acknowledgement of morality and absolute truth has disintegrated. Those who advance this new vision of America are determined to see its fulfillment. We can no longer take for granted that our government officials will embrace the First Amendment and defend the freedoms of expression and belief.
Freedom-loving Americans have two choices. Will we sit quietly by and witness the disintegration of our once great nation? Or will we remember that ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and use our voice to turn these United States back toward the principles upon which it was founded?
Bible-believing Christians also have two choices. Will we wash our hands of this culture, lamenting what it could be but losing the courage to stand for truth? Or will we embrace the charge to be salt and light in our communities, and prayerfully advocate for what is good, true, and righteous in our communities?
We have long had a national conscience…it’s time for that conscience to awaken.