Sunday, March 30, 2008
READY TO DEFEND PLEDGE AS SOON AS IT'S ATTACKED
Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:
For almost six years, Faith and Action has been busy defending the two most cherished words in our Pledge of Allegiance, "Under God." You may remember way-back-then, I personally (and gently) confronted notorious atheist activist Michael Newdow at a meeting we both attended in the National Press Club building here in Washington.
Newdow had just won his case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The judges ruled the Pledge's two-word phrase violated the so-called "separation of church and state." During that encounter, Newdow asked me why I thought we needed to confess that our nation is accountable to God. "Because I don't trust you, Michael, and you don't trust me. We must appeal to a moral authority greater than ourselves." He offered no rejoinder.
I'd say the same thing to Newdow now. As an atheist, Michael puts his ultimate trust in humans and human agencies. I don't. Sinful people will fail and so will the governments they establish and operate. The only safety from our our own proclivities toward evil is our confession that we need God. That's what "Under God" in the Pledge is all about. This rationale is woven into the history behind the insertion of these great words. That happened in 1954 when the God-fearing United States stood in stark contrast to the God-denying Soviet Union. Our country wanted to make abundantly clear that our world view was distinctly and diametrically opposite to a Communist-Humanistic worldview. I have a paper copy of the February 8-12, 1954 Congressional Record reflecting the fascinating debate behind this move, but I can't find it online. (If you know of a link, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!) It's really worth examining the original reasoning offered by congressional sponsors.
As you know, we've already been out front on this, making a case for why the people of the United States must continue to acknowledge God in the Pledge. The Ninth Circuit could come down with its decision on Newdow's second case any day. To protect the Pledge as it is now, a new law has been drafted and will be proposed the instant that the Pledge is threatened. We're part of the working group that drafted the legislation.
I expect the Ninth Circuit to indeed strike down the Pledge again as unconstitutional. At the moment it does, we will ask you to contact your members of Congress to urge them to pass this new law protecting the phrase "Under God. " Please stand by for details! I'm also asking you to ask your pastor to have a sermon ready. Pastors should be poised and informed to preach on this at the very next opportunity and to make statements from the pulpit and to the media in support of keeping the Pledge as it is. You should also call into your local radio talk shows and offer your opinions as well as write a letter to the editor of your local paper If we're going to save this vital part of our national life, there must be a hue and cry in the land!
I will discuss all of this with a special group of church leaders who will gather at our ministry center next week. Our guest will be America's foremost authority on the so-called "separation of church and state," Dr. James Hutson of the Library of Congress. Dr. Hutson has done unique, original scholarship on the subject and has a new book out, Church and State: The First Two Centuries, published by the prestigious Cambridge University Press. (We'll have the book available at our website shortly.) This is not a stuffy, scholars-only tome. It's a short paperback and a very readable, easy-to-understand examination of this very important subject. If you're looking for a truly authoritative resource on "Church and State," one that cannot be dismissed as "religious right" propaganda, get Dr. Hutson's book! (Pastors who attend our "Preachers' Circle," April 10-12, will get a complimentary autographed copy. For details contact Elizabeth Sowers at my office, 202-546-8329, extension 107.) We'll post an edited video of Dr. Hutson's talk to the "Preachers' Circle" after the event.
FYI: I'm posting this blog on Sunday, March 30. My friend, Jay Sekulow, the top lawyer and director at the American Center for Law and Justice, E-mailed me a few minutes ago announcing he expects some big news at the Supreme Court tomorrow morning, March 31. The Court met Friday in conference to discuss two Ten Commandments appeals Jay is handling. (Friday Conferences are the highly secretive sessions when the Justices talk about possible cases without anyone else present in the room.) Both cases basically amount to lower court orders requiring government approval of opposing displays. While the direct affect would be to allow atheistic and other counterpoints to Ten Commandments displays, Jay and his legal team argue this would ultimately lead to the absurd conclusion that government would have to allow the Statue of Liberty to be "balanced" with a "Statue of Tyranny."
I'll have breakfast with Jay in the morning at the Supreme Court, then we'll wait for "orders" to be handed down. If the Court does agree to hear one or both of these cases, I'll be back to this blog to explore them more fully and suggest more ways for you to get directly involved. For now, please watch and pray!
Back later . . .
Your grateful missionary to elected and appointed officials,
Faith and Action
109 2nd St, NE
Washington, DC 20002