by David Sisler

September 11, 2001.

Four airliners were hijacked by Al Qaida terrorists, thousands of people died, billions of dollars were lost. But America went to her knees. For a few days anyway.

On September 16 churches all over this nation were full. People wanted to know “why” and the church was where they went for answers.

President George Bush called for a national day of prayer and the National Cathedral reverberated with calls to God.

We flew the flag.

We begged, “God, bless America.”

We even stopped singing, “Take me out to the ball game,” and sang a prayer instead.

In November, Pollster George Barna wrote that the revival many believed was coming was already over. “It appears that [church] attendance, which nationwide increased by perhaps 25% immediately after the attack, is back at normal levels. Other ... measures of religious behavior were at identical levels to those noted in August. Church volunteerism, after an initial outpouring of involvement, is back at pre-attack levels. Prayer, also alleged to have escalated, is currently at its normal level ... Little has been altered by the terrorist attacks and subsequent war efforts.”

When the 2002 baseball season began we once again started singing hymns to peanuts and popcorn and cracker jacks.

So much for the revival.

And now comes word that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional – it is an endorsement of religion, says the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It has evidently been unconstitutional since 1954 when Congress added the words “under God” to our national covenant.

The case was brought by Michael A. Newdow, a Sacramento atheist who objected because his second-grade daughter was required to recite the Pledge at their Elk Grove school district.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said students cannot be compelled to recite the Pledge, but the 9th Circuit argued that when the Pledge is recited in a classroom, a student who objects is confronted with an “unacceptable choice between participating and protesting.”

America was founded by protestors!

Colonists left England protesting that their right to worship was hindered.

Colonists protested taxation by a government which refused to give them representation in the process which levied the taxes.

Colonists protested that their own legislative bodies had been suspended.

Colonists protested the quartering of large bodies of troops among their cities and people.

Colonists protested that they were cut off from world trade.

Colonists protested that they were deprived of trial by jury.

The protestors, endowed by their Creator, took up arms and pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to fight for their freedoms.

Reacting to the news of the 9th Circuit's decision, which mocks those lives, wastes their fortunes, and tarnishes that sacred honor, President Bush said the decision was “ridiculous.”

It is more than that, Mr. President, it is frightening.

There was a day (as recent as 1954) when we understood, as a nation, that unique among all of the world’s nations, was this place called America. We recognized that her greatest strength was freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. We recognized that the original idea of the separation of church and state was to protect the church from the state, not to expel God from the state.

But little by little we’ve chipped away at the foundations. The small foxes have consumed the grapes and spoiled the vineyard by their voracious appetites.

Forty years ago the Supreme Court ruled that prayer could not be mandated in public school, but we acquiesced to the point where, like sheep to the slaughter, we said, incorrectly, “Oh, we can’t pray in school.”

Thirty years ago we said it was okay to murder unborn babies.

Twenty years ago we were a people consumed by status seeking. “If you’ve got it, flaunt it,” became the motto of the “Me Generation.” We learned about AIDS, but continued to kill ourselves with our sexual habits.

Less than ten years ago we began to sanction death at the hands of our doctors. Incidentally, it was the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who gave the go-ahead to Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide measure.

And today we have declared it is unconstitutional to stand, place our hands over our hearts and declare that we live, as a nation, under God and exist by his grace!

Michael Newdow said he was offended by the Pledge of Allegiance. He is an atheist. I understand his offense. I would hope he is offended. He says Buddhists are offended. I understand their offense. I would hope they are offended. But what are our foundations? Atheist or Christian? Buddhist or Christian?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has always been offensive, and regardless of this most recent nitwit decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, we remain one nation under God. Not Zeus. Not Vishnu. Under God – capital G.


Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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