commentary: A Government to Fear (Part Three)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 03-May-14; Sermon #1211c; 14 minutes
Recently, an overzealous elementary school teacher confiscated a Bible from a seven-year-old student reading the book of her choice, because it 'violated' the supposed separation of church and state. Secular-progressives are increasingly winning legal cases because of the enormous ignorance of the populace of both religious and civic knowledge. There has never been a separation of church and state clause in the Constitution, except for a ban against a single religious group should ever dominate the political landscape. In this context, the zealous teacher was guilty of religious oppression, but because of mass stupidity, the rights of the oppressor are more likely to be upheld than the rights of the oppressed.
This is going to be my third commentary on this same subject, and I think I will have one more in order to conclude it and draw everything together. But there were two incidents that occurred this past week that caught my attention because the reaction to them from the public was so vastly different. The one that first hit the news involved the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers (a basketball team), a man named Donald Sterling. He made some racist remarks while giving advice to his girlfriend about dating black men, and judging by the reaction in the media, it could easily have been suggested that the end of the world was about to occur, and we only had a couple of days to take care of things.
The other incident was to me actually far more interesting. It was reported on, and I judge from the lack of reaction to it, to be far more indicative of, in the long run, a more serious national problem for us, especially. It made absolutely no blip on the news screen except for the brief one when it was revealed what had happened. It involved a seven year-old second grade female student in a Texas public school who, in free time, was reading the book of her choice, as were the other students in her class. But she was reading the Bible, which, when the teacher discovered what she was doing, she confiscated it, telling her that it was not appropriate.
When the girl got home from school, she told her parents, and they immediately contacted a group that fights such discrimination. The group began an investigation and discovered that the school has a Bible in its library, so a question was immediately thrown up to those people: If it's appropriate reading in the library, why not also in the classroom in free time? Well, a radio station in Houston, hearing of the incident, interviewed two parents (who were not the parents of the girl involved). One parent stated, it should be permitted to be read, but her statement did not touch on anything either religious or legal. A second parent, though, said that the teacher did the right thing because there should be a definite "separation," This was very instructive because it shows how out of touch most people are regarding such things.
What this parent said indicates a very commonly held error. There is no separation statement in the entirety of the Constitution of the United States. The First Amendment gives everyone, including seven year-old girls, the liberty to practice his or her religion in any way that one sees fit, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others and does not break other laws in so doing.
Well, the teacher's intervention regarding this little girl is technically a violation of the girl's religious rights. The intervention action is in reality becoming something happening with greater frequency and is technically religious oppression. A very tiny one, no doubt. But this is the kind of thing that is happening more and more frequently. The government, represented by the teacher since it was a public school, would be permitted to intervene only if the school was promoting one religion over another. Neither the school nor the girl was doing this. That was not what was happening then in this case at all.
I was given another reminder on Wednesday when I received an email video showing a young man asking very basic questions regarding American history and government, and seeing, once again, how little people know now. This happened in Miami and is very recent. Those filmed being asked questions mostly appeared to be 18-20 years old. A few were a little bit older. The man, in the space of four minutes and a few seconds, asked at least 18 questions of these people. The questions were like this: How many justices on the Supreme Court? One lady said, "Twelve." He told her, "You're thinking of the movie, Twelve Angry Men." Listen to this one. "What color are the stars on the American flag?" "What are the first ten amendments to the Constitution called?" These are no-brainers. Out of the 18 questions, he got only two right answers. "Who is the present Vice President of the United States?" That's one they got right. But it took two people answering the same question to finally get "Joe Biden."
Here was the hardest question, by my judgment. You know what? He asked a young man and he got it right. "What significant dealing did the United States have with France in 1803?" The first one they asked said, "We bought the Statue of Liberty." 1803? Well, the other guy got it right. He said it was the Louisiana purchase.
I give you this because I want to relate to you how little people know about the nation they are living in, and this ties in directly with this thing about religion. The last two commentaries I've given spoke of what I believe is a very apparent trend here in the United States. The trend is happening in two significant sectors of cultural life at the same time, and possibly at the same rate of decline, and it definitely bodes ill, not just for this nation, but for us as Christians. The two sections are religious life and political life.
I mentioned last week it is becoming more apparent that the overwhelming majority of the citizens of this nation are biblically ignorant. People seem to have little or no biblical common sense anymore, because brethren, in so many people, nothing's there regarding the Bible. What is happening morally to this nation and in the decisions rendered by the courts is clear evidence of this. Not only does the average citizen know little about what the Bible teaches, even the leadership, as we are beginning to see much more clearly—the supposedly highly-educated—have little or no education in biblical principles, either. That's why they are making such dumb decisions—lopsided. The judges render decisions that persecute those with sincere religious conscience convictions that are injuring nobody. The judges, then, through the court, allow the suing person to inflict severe financial and reputation injury to the one sued, who innocently followed a biblical truth allowed by the First Amendment. We are being cursed in this way—by "we," I mean the Christian Church.
Through the courts, those pushing hard for homosexual and lesbian rights are managing to technically turn Christianity into a criminal operation. People of biblically based conscience have become victims of gay tyranny with a major assistance of humanist judges. At the same time, it has become clearer and clearer to me that the citizenry is becoming equally ignorant regarding civic responsibilities and an awareness of what is going on in this nation.
I reflect on my childhood again. Pardon me. While in grade school—this is back in the '30s and on into the '40s—in the school system that I went to, we had classes at elementary level on the government of the United States of America. In high school, for two years out of the floor, we were required to take classes in civics in order to know a higher level of how the government worked, things about the Constitution, and our responsibilities as a citizen. That was drilled into us way back then. And these classes were not one ones that could be elected to take; they were required. How much of our kids are taught now about these things? You can tell from the things that I have just told you about what I'm seeing, they know almost nothing. And so we have two major areas of the culture declining almost at the same rate: religion and civic areas.
Maybe it has always been as I now see it, but I have seen in the past six months or so via television so much of this, it is disgusting to me to see how ignorant young people are about the nation and it is being stolen away from them with hardly a peep, by means of their ignorance. I do not blame them. They're ignorant because they are not being taught.
I know for a fact that what I now see has taken place in broad daylight. By that, I mean, it should have been apparent. But both of these ignorances—biblical and civic—possessed especially by our youth and young adults, have taken place at such a slow pace, so gradually, they are unaware with cause. In other words, they are not really, in a sense, to blame. Apathy regarding how life in the United States could and should be lived has been imposed on them unawares. They do not care. They're so completely unaware. They do not care until something affects them personally.
My concern for us—those of us in the church—is that if we are not following Jesus' Olivet command to His disciples to be alert and to be on guard can allow absorption of this world's Satanic, anti-God apathy to be slowly imposed upon us without our even being aware, even as today's young Americans are oblivious to what is happening to them.
God-willing, more to follow. Maybe I'll complete this next week.