"When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that an old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had only one before." ~ H.L. Mencken
Famous Preachers or Invertebrate Bootlickers?
Christians have an amazing ability to disengage their intellects. Let me relate an innocuous story in order to illustrate my point.
I recently received a few e-mails about a White House lunch attended by several "famous preachers," including the author Max Lucado. According to Lucado, Bush attributed his strength to the prayers of the American people. Bush also asked for prayers for his wife and daughters, as well as for his own clarity of mind so he could make wise decisions.
Lucado concluded by stating, "We must thank God that we have a president who loves and fears the Lord. No human leader is perfect, but God is perfect, so let's keep President Bush lifted up in prayer before the Father."
Scripture tells us to pray for those in authority (I Timothy 2:2). It does not matter whether you like those in authority. At the same time, it does not tell us to follow them blindly. However, too many Christians place entirely too much trust in President Bush for no good reason.
To be sure, he quotes the Bible more frequently than his predecessor. Moreover, he is not the man about town that his predecessor was, thereby leaving him more time -- and energy -- to devote to affairs of state. (Having more of this than his predecessor is not a good thing.) However, the Bible tells us that we will know people by their fruits (Matthew 7:20). Christians are so captivated by the president's words (and his party affiliation) that they overlook his deeds.
All President Bush has done since taking office is expand, augment and intensify the size and intrusiveness of government. His tax cut -- about one percent phased in over ten years -- will not be noticed in anyone's paycheck. When Bill Clinton took away our freedoms, he was the president from hell. When George W. Bush takes away our freedoms, too many Christians make the lamest possible excuses.
Big government is not just bumbling and incompetent. It is evil. Government need not be totalitarian in order to be evil. Big government is evil no matter which party is calling the shots.
Several years ago, a pastor at my church delivered a series of messages on "The Theology of Everything." In it, he and other teachers examined everything from movies to baseball to rock lyrics to science. The pastor's point was that no matter how far removed from God some things may seem, His Fingerprint is still on everything.
God's Fingerprint is very much on the subject of government. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible talks of worldly government, and very frequently does so harshly. Which brings us back to the subject of preachers breaking bread with presidents.
I fervently pray that, someday soon, some preachers meet with President Bush and notify him that they are praying for a return to limited constitutional government. The idea that electing the right people and passing enough laws can usher in some kind of Christian utopia is not Biblical. The Founders' emphasis on strictly limited government was stemmed from the belief that God, not man, rules the world. The Declaration of Independence acknowledges a "Creator" Who endows us "with certain unalienable rights." It appeals to the "Supreme Judge of the world" and to the "protection of Divine Providence." Many of the Founders, men of means and intellect, paid great prices that we may live in freedom as a nation under God rather than under man.
Today, the church has grown silent on almost all political matters. Yes, Christians have been vocal on abortion, but they routinely back presidents who will not lay one finger on Roe v. Wade. Those who are vocal about school prayer ask all the wrong questions. (More on this in a minute.) This silence has weakened the mental and moral fiber of American Christians.
I fervently pray that, when they meet with the president, these preachers appeal to him for a large, sweeping and -- most importantly -- immediate lifting of the tax burden from the shoulders of the American people. King George III taxed his subjects at about three percent and we know all the nasty things the Founders said about him. King George XLIII and his regime tax us at 49 percent and millions of Christians glorify him. If we were only taxed at three percent it would be far easier for us to tithe, provide for our families, save money, educate our children, take care of the poor and do all the other things that God has called us to do. God tells us to render unto Cesar "the things which are Cesar's," and not whatever Cesar willy-nilly pleases (Matthew 22:21).
I fervently pray that, when they meet with President Bush, these preachers appeal to him to close, padlock and fumigate the Department of Education and to end all federal involvement -- financial and otherwise -- in education. God places the duty of child rearing on parents (Proverbs 22:6) not the state. There are no state schools in the Bible. The Constitution authorizes no federal involvement in education. The Ninth Amendment protects the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit without having to ask permission. If we were to return to this arrangement -- i.e. the separation of school and state -- all the debates about school prayer, sex education, creation or evolution, condoms, pledges, dress codes, etc., would disappear immediately.
I fervently pray that, when they meet with President Bush, these preachers appeal to him to repeal all federal gun laws on the books. The Bible never says that Christians should be disarmed. Indeed, Jesus instructs us to arm ourselves (Luke 22:36). The airplanes that were hijacked on September 11 were gun-free zones. No one could fight back when the terrorists went to work with their box cutters. Columbine High was a gun-free zone. On that horrible morning when Harris and Klebold sprayed bullets all over Columbine High, no one could shoot back. When you disarm innocent people, bad things happen. Every instance of genocide has been preceded by the disarming of the citizenry. If you want to bring persecution to our shores, just keep taking away guns as well as all other means of self-defense. (For more, please read this fine piece by Pastor Matt Trewhella.)
I fervently pray that, when they meet with President Bush, these preachers inform him that, should he not return us to constitutional government, they will call from their pulpits for not only his ouster, but also the ouster of all public officials who support our current form of government. Will they lose their 501(c)(3) tax exemptions for this? If so, big deal! Is your church a real church or merely an elaborate tax dodge? A lot of preachers talk a good game about how their churches are built upon rock and how "the gates of hell shall not prevail" against them (Matthew 16:18). However, the IRS certainly has prevailed against them. Let us find out who the real church is in this country. It will survive and thrive without a tax exemption. (In a free society, where everyone could keep what they earned, we would not have everyone clamoring for tax exemptions.)
Proverbs 25:26 states that "A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring." Our current tyrannical socialist form of government is wicked, evil and corrupt by its very nature, no matter who is in charge. When those to whom we look for guidance genuflect before it and remain silent about the evils it perpetrates, they have the same effect as a polluted spring or water supply. They spread ignorance and falsehood among their followers. The result is a dumbed down church, which is far more dangerous than a dumbed down school.
The words of folks like Max Lucado carry enormous weight among people who profess to believe in freedom. When Lucado and company have an audience with a president whose policies and actions do substantial harm to Christians and they say nothing about it, they do even more harm by their silence. They may be "famous" and they may be "preachers," but in reality they are invertebrate little bootlickers.
We cannot surrender our other freedoms and expect to keep our religious freedoms. As long as Christians remain silent about the rapid erosion of freedom in America, they will make the unthinkable -- persecution of Christians right here in America -- inevitable. It is only a matter of time.
Am I being unduly harsh? I think not. When the religious leaders of Jesus' time were wrong, Jesus denounced them in extremely harsh terms. If a pastor is uncomfortable talking about political matters, I can empathize with him, as I am uncomfortable talking about many subjects. However, saying that we should never discuss politics in church is pure heresy. It is like saying that we should never discuss sex. Politics, like sex, will no doubt spark debate, discussion and disagreement. However, we need to discuss it because God, in His book the Bible, discusses it. God's people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
Not all the Founders were Christians, but many were. The Revolutionary War had the backing of many ministers. In the 1770s, pulpits throughout the colonies were aflame with calls for revolution. (For more on this subject, please read this very fine article in Christianity Today.)
The Apostle Paul tells us that there will come a day when people "will not endure sound doctrine." Rather they will seek out teachers who tell them whatever they want to hear, even when is not the truth (II Timothy 4:2,3). There are few better examples of this that when our pastors turn a blind eye to the deeds of the president, just because he happens to be of their political persuasion.
This essay may not endear me to some people. Indeed, it may even cost me one or two friends. However, friends do not let friends get trampled by tyrants. The truth is the truth, and we pay a very steep price when we ignore it.