In part one of this two-part article series, I demonstrated that Thomas Jefferson’s famous words regarding “separation between church and state” referred not to a complete purging of Christianity’s influence from public life, but his conviction that the federal government had no power to interfere between individual states and churches in matters of religion.
In support of this, I quoted the entire letter in which this famous phrase appears, reviewed the context in which his words were originally written, and noted Jefferson’s own religious accomplishments as a member of both the state and federal governments.
Furthermore, I established that far from desiring to eliminate the “evils” of religion, the Founders believed religion, particularly the Christian faith, to be critical in crafting and sustaining a prosperous government and people.
What makes America great?
As I begin this second article, let me first argue that the things that have made America great—individual freedom (including economic freedom), the rule of just law, work ethic, morality, mercy, personal responsibility, and humility before God (among others)—are a direct result of the influence of Christianity and the Bible upon the nation.
Let me be clear, I am not arguing that every person in early America was a committed Christian, or that all of the Founders were (though many from both groups were passionate followers of Jesus). What I am saying is that the influence of the Bible and its principles was so pervasive in early American culture that those who were not devoutly Christian thought and acted in accordance with those principles without even knowing it.
Consequently, as we move further and further away from those same principles, we deteriorate our own greatness. America cannot continue to be great, as it has been in the past, without adherence to the principles of its early design, principles that are undeniably Christian.
Is a “secular” government even possible?
One of the reasons put forth for the current interpretation of the separation of church and state is that it creates a religiously neutral government where all religions can operate freely. This argument is even held by some in the Christian community.
But this is a terrible fallacy. Every law enacted, policy established, or action taken by a government—federal, state, or local—is based upon a worldview, a set of beliefs about truth, right and wrong, and, ultimately, accountability (or lack thereof) to a deity.
A worldview thus defined, whether it formally espouses a god or not, is for all practical purposes a religion. Therefore, separating Christianity from government does not make the government neutral on issues of faith; quite to the contrary, it creates a religious vacuum in which other faith systems fight to dominate.
The problem is that every religion is not equal in terms of its ability to produce a fruitful, prosperous nation. Why? Because they are not all based on the Creator’s design for human conduct, society, and law, a design contained in the Bible alone.
I remember hearing a sermon on Islam from the late Ron Carlson. He recounted the time he spoke at Duke University on the radical and dangerous nature of Muhammad’s religion. As he walked onto the stage, a group of students on the front row yelled at him, “Islam is a religion of peace. It’s a beautiful religion.” To these liberal-media-inspired charges, Carlson replied, “If Islam is such a great religion, where are the lines of people waiting to get into Egypt, Syria, and Iran?”
His point was simple: Islam does not produce a culture in which people want to live. Countless millions have sacrificed life and limb to get into the United States. Why? Because it is a prosperous, fair, and wealthy nation. America, like Egypt, Syria, and Iran, was also built on a worldview, a worldview taken, not from the Koran, but from the Bible.
Another Religion Must Now Take Christianity’s Place
As the popular view of the separation of church and state takes hold (namely that Christianity should be eliminated from government altogether), America, whether it realizes it or not, must now choose some other worldview to take its place, none of which can produce or sustain the great nation we know and love.
Here are the options vying for adoption:
- Atheism: In this worldview, there is no standard at all. No God, no accountability, only survival of the fittest. Do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it. What kinds of laws would be passed if this godless view became the prevailing view in government?
- Hinduism: Hinduism teaches that pain, suffering, and evil are only an illusion. Furthermore, all animals are as valuable as human beings and, therefore, and cannot be used for food. The New Age movement, so popular in Hollywood today, is heavily influenced by this ancient religion. What does foreign policy look like when there are no evil nations? What does healthcare look like when suffering is an illusion? What happens to food production when cows are deemed holy?
- Islam: Sha’ria Law and the Koran produce the Middle East. They teach polygamy (because Muhammad was a polygamist), the oppression women, and the forced subjugation of all unbelievers. What would our land look like if this system of thought were to take hold?
- Liberalism: This worldview is actually all about morality, not a biblical morality, but a perverse, man-centered morality. In this view, freedom has no restrictions (sexual or otherwise), work has no real value, god is whatever you want to make him (so long as you don’t make him God), and America is the great tyrant and bully of the world.
- Secularism: The American government is actually secular now. This worldview tries not to have a worldview at all, but has one nonetheless. Secularism in America takes liberalism and combines it with parts of the other worldviews it approves (all the while expressly excluding Christianity). What kind of good for the land has that worldview produced? School shootings, abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, socialism, massive debt, destruction of the family, and corruption.
Why don’t secularists accept the truth about America?
If America is great because of Christianity and the Bible, why do so many reject this truth? Let me explain why.
In September of 2009 I had the opportunity to attend a luncheon with Kirk Cameron. As providence would have it, he sat at my table and talked about his upcoming new film Monumental.
I remember how passionate he was about the film. His soul caught fire when he talked about how important it was to educate Americans on the biblical roots of our nation. I agree with him completely, and totally support the work he’s doing with his film. I am so glad he’s out there fighting! Praise the Lord for his faithful service.
At lunch that day I ran a scenario by him that really got his attention, and I’ll run that same scenario by you now. Let’s say it’s unavoidable that America has Christian roots, and that those roots are the foundational cause of our greatness. Let’s say that you make that case to every liberal and secularist you can find, and your arguments are so strong they have no choice but to concede your point. What will happen then?
Do you think these folks are going to change their minds on the spot and immediately submit to biblical principles? Will they drop their swords at your feet and reject abortion, homosexuality, socialism, and every other unbiblical value they hold?
Why? Because, in the end, they don’t care! It doesn’t matter to them in the slightest that America has Christian roots. If you prove to them that it does, they’ll reject it anyway because they hate the God of the Bible. They vigorously reject his rules, his salvation, and his authority over them.
In fact, they hate him so much, they’ll change the Constitution, laws, judges, elected officials—whatever it takes—to get an America that is the opposite of the nation his Word helped found.
They don’t want the America the Founders designed, the one that produced the amazing nation we have today. They hate the historical America, and they’ll fight to the bitter end to reform it into the liberal, secular version they desire.
The Underlying Cause and Solution
The underlying cause of the popularity of secularism in America is the collapse of the Protestant, evangelical church. The Danbury Baptists (whose letter prompted Jefferson’s famous phrase), and the rest of the biblical Christian community, have not done enough to maintain our influence over the convictions and ideas that held sway during Jefferson’s time.
We have lost the battle to maintain the Bible’s place of authority in the moral, legal, economic, scientific, and spiritual spheres of American culture. To put a fine point on it, we have lost the soul of the country by failing to secure the souls of its citizens with the gospel.
The ultimate solution, therefore, is not political, but spiritual. It is rooted in a return to the proclamation of the gospel, the defense of the truths of the Bible, and the revitalization of biblical churches throughout the nation.
When the heart changes, the worldview changes—views on abortion, marriage, economics, family, and virtually everything else. But laws cannot change the heart, only the gospel can.
We must do these things—promote the gospel, revive the churches, defend the Bible—not for the sake of political change or “remaking” America alone (though we want this), but because our first duty as biblical Christians is to extend the kingdom of God, regardless of the fate of the particular nation in which we live.
America is great because of the influence of Christianity on its founding. While many believe a “secular” government would better serve the country, a secular government isn’t actually possible. Every government espouses a worldview, a religion, that drives its decision making.
The secular government dominate in America today is a combination of liberalism and a host of other worldviews, and has undermined our greatness, morally and economically. In the end, secularists don’t care about the history of America; they care about creating the America they want, regardless of whether that iteration is as successful as the previous one or not.
The ultimate solution to the degradation of America is not political. The key to the revival of the nation is the revival of biblical churches and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, my fellow American and fellow believer, I ask you: What are you doing to revive these?
Wes Moore is a conservative Christian author and speaker, and the founder of Evidence America, an apologetics and evangelism training ministry. Wes is the author of Forcefully Advancing, a book designed to equip the average Christian to engage the lost; The Maker, a futuristic apologetics novel; and The Spiritual Top 50, a non-fiction apologetics book designed to help Christians answer the questions their lost friends are asking. You can learn more about him at www.wesmoorenow.com.