In 1956, our leaders in Washington adopted our national motto, “In God We Trust.” Their attempt to honor and remember the God-given rights identified in the Declaration of Independence and faith's role in forming and protecting our union, was appreciated by many. But since then, secularists within our country have rejected faith as a myth that is no longer necessary or even desired. In short, for some, a new motto might be appropriate—“In Man We Trust.”
Unfortunately, it’s hard to hold an optimistic view of the perfectibility of man in light of the terrorism, mass shootings, and sexual abuse that grace our news coverage daily. Without God and absolute values, who is to say rape and mass killings are wrong. There are locations in the world today where such behavior is accepted.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in The Brothers Karamazov, asserts: “If there is no God, everything is permissible.” With moral relativism there is no objective morality. After all, who are you to say that I am wrong? Does might, money, or position make right? In America, we’re so politically correct that even talking about faith is out of bounds to some Americans.
Recently, NBC analyst and former NFL head coach Tony Dungy has come under fire for tweeting about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles’ Christian faith: “Congratulations to the Eagles. Nick Foles told me last week that he felt the Lord had him in Philadelphia for a special moment and he played like it tonight.” He continued to tweet about his son seeing “the 3 Eagles QBs Nick Foles, Carson Wentz & Nate Sudfeld along with Zach Ertz who scored the winning TD. They were in a room by themselves—praying and thanking God.” To Dungy, faith is an important part of his life. And since it was important to the players, it was a topic worth covering.
The twitter feed was filled with attacks, “unbelievable you would use your employer, NBC Sports, to spout this nonsense on the air.” A Houston sports writer suggested that Dungy’s comments should not be “part of football analysis.” In his column, Kyle Koster shared a view many secularists would hold: “Dungy expressing his beliefs on his personal time and platform is one thing. … But when his beliefs seep into his analyst role — either unintentionally or otherwise — they should be checked, both by NBC and the public.”
Critics are entitled to their freedom of speech but so is Tony Dungy. But it goes beyond freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Forcing faith out of the public square and limiting expressions of faith to our churches, synagogues and mosques would negate its role in sustaining our American culture.
In George Washington’s Farewell Speech in 1796, he spoke clearly about the importance of religion to a culture’s morality: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”
Jesus called believers the “salt of the earth.” For centuries, salt was the essential preservative treasured before the creation of refrigeration. Jesus was calling believers to spread and preserve the God-given wisdom and values that God had given them. Ever since Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with God’s commandments and put a stop sign against man’s unbridled desires, the world has chafed against such restrictions, beliefs, and values.
But where would we be without God’s absolutes and believers who worked over the years to enshrine Judeo-Christian values into our society? We are all benefitting from their fight for God-given equal rights, the belief that all lives matter, the call for forgiveness over revenge, and the commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself.
The Judeo-Christian influence was so strong that after the Declaration of Independence, some founding fathers proposed a unique seal for the new country. Their recommendation was Moses, leading the Israelites through the Red Sea as the water overwhelms the pharaoh. They believed that God’s providence would give them freedom through victory over England.
Values will always have value to America’s future. It is one thing to ensure that our government not establish a state religion. It is another to seek a secular society in which religion is relegated to a small private sphere. Even if one is an atheist who believes that religious believers delude themselves, might it not be wise to allow good people to delude themselves if it made our society safer and supportive of the rights and values all Americans benefit from.