I wrote a letter to FreedomWorks.org today. I hope it’s worth sharing.
I have been involved in the fight for the rights of the unborn now for a few years. Like most Christians, I didn’t think much of it before that time because I never heard anything about it from the pulpit in my church. Ever since becoming an activist, I started trying to figure out how the voice of the church was so effectively silenced in this country, not just on abortion, but on issues such as so-called “gay rights” and a myriad of other things up to and including talking about and even recommending political candidates from the pulpit!
You see, Jesus commands us to be “Salt and light”. Salt is a preservative, it has the property of keeping things fresh, in terms of what Jesus was saying, you might say “Holy”. Light, on the other hand is the opposite of darkness, and is known in the Bible as representing truth. These things combined together give you what Chuck Colson used to say we should be: Culture creators. In my study, I have found no better way of expressing these two simple aspects of our Christianity working themselves out in our world.
So, if we are to impact our culture I reasoned, then why has the church been so silent on major issues confronting our society? I had to dig and dig and as I uncovered each piece, I turned it over, thought about it, compared it with other events and pieces of our recent history and one by one before I discarded them. I started with Roe v. Wade in 1973, but reasoned that was not the origin of the problem. It was a terrible decision, yes, that doomed over 55M unborn children to be murdered in what should have been the safest place on earth – their mother’s womb, but that event (decision) was not the source of the problem.
I turned further back in recent U.S. history. I looked at Civil Rights, no that was not the issue either, though you start to see where the problem comes from by examining the entire history of Civil Rights and studying the facts around the democrat’s resistance and the republican support for Civil Rights. The parties were divided, deeply, but the source of the problem goes a bit further back.
I got to the decision to remove God from schools. This was Engel v. Vitale case (1962), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-1 against New York’s “Regents’ prayer, so God was effectively removed from schools following that event. As bad as that was, it still did not seem to me to be the source of all our problems in our society. I knew that it was at some point after WWII, as the Government still prayed openly at that time (during the war) and asked the favor of “Almighty God” and FDR was certainly no stranger to asking people to pray either.
So now you have a short span of roughly 15 years between the end of WWII (1945) and about 1960. What happened? I found it in an article written by a Pastor where he points out that the Johnson Amendment (1954) was effectively used to put a muzzle on the church. His analysis said basically that the IRS and the “Tax Exemption” rules for 501(c)3 entities were used to cow the church into submission, and to silence us in the public square. That was it!
The “Church” never should have stood for that! Nor should they have allowed themselves to be silenced either in the pulpit or in the public square! If Christ doesn’t go with you into your world, then what are you doing in church in the first place? I can answer that question, actually, but let’s leave it for a moment and explore further the notion that the church allowed itself to be “Threatened” in every bit the same fashion as the NAZI’s threatened folks with Concentration Camps, and that we simply laid down and took it.
The “Church” in America therefore died on that day in 1954, and has not risen or re-established itself yet, even to this day. Granted, there are pockets of enlightened folks all over the place, and many are saved and are being saved by the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, but the central function and purpose of ;the church failed on that day in 1954. Our mission, to be salt and light, to be “Culture creators” failed, and it was Lyndon B. Johnson (a democratic senator from Texas) who killed the church.
How was it killed so easily is the other question. In reality, the church never has been a place of large numbers of saved people all working for the good of Christ’s Kingdom. Instead, it’s a place where people go to feel better about themselves, and that is as true today as it was in 1954. I have heard it estimated that even in the Evangelical churches today that really only about 15-20% of the folks are actually “Saved” and the rest are there because they like hearing the message and feel better about themselves as a result.
I didn’t start out to write an indictment of the church, rather to point out when it died in America, and as an aside, who killed it. Jesus says in John 17:15-19 ” I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” And later in John 17:20-21 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
In other words, Jesus’ high priestly prayer was for US, the church, in all ages, all times, that we would be one. He prays for us now that we would UNITE and rise up (Revival) and return to Him with our whole hearts. There is one area in our culture where this is happening: My wife volunteers at our local Pregnancy Help Center, and there are Catholics and Evangelicals working side by side to save babies from the evil that is abortion. It is ONE PLACE, and we are ONE BODY, working together. Recently, I had the privilege of protesting outside our local Planned Parenthood with about 180 people from our local community (of roughly 500,000 folks) and we were again, standing shoulder to shoulder, Catholics and Evangelicals, united in the fight to save the unborn.
Jesus doesn’t want us to be about ourselves, but serving others. What better way than to serve the most defenseless in our world – those who are too small and too weak to speak for themselves? What I’m asking you all is to consider the unborn as being those most oppressed. I will close with the famous quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
You see, Dr. King understood what unity really means.