Skip to comments.Prayer Warriors Fight Church-State Division
Posted on 11/18/2001 4:35:27 PM PST by victim soul
ARVEY, Ill., Nov. 17 Jason Clark, 17, a junior at Thornton Township High School, stood at the chalkboard in Room 202, thumbing through his Bible as about 30 students stood silently, eyes closed and heads bowed.
"Father, we thank you for being the God that you are, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords," Mr. Clark said. "We ask you to forgive us for all of our sins, cleanse our minds, cleanse our hearts, cleanse our spirit. We thank you and we praise you and give you all honor and all glory."
"Amen," the students said. Mr. Clark then began his regular Tuesday after-class sermon. The theme was "Self Check," he told the group, because "basically, it's time to get real in our walk with Christ."
Mr. Clark and most of the teenagers who pray with him in this public school in a suburb south of Chicago call themselves Prayer Warriors for Christ. The metaphor is spiritual, but it fits on a political level, too, for the residents here who see the battlefield as the wall between church and state.
They include Harvey's mayor, Nickolas Graves, and City Council members who recently have called for voluntary prayer in the public schools in this city of 33,000, where community and church leaders have asked Harvey officials to petition the state for the right to pray openly in school.
Mr. Graves and Harvey's aldermen have pressed their case in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, and the subsequent national embrace of public prayer. The Harvey City Council, in fact, unanimously passed a resolution calling for the restoration of prayer in schools two weeks after the attacks, and Harvey political leaders held a town hall meeting two weeks ago to discuss the topic.
Mr. Clark and two of his Prayer Warrior friends, Devlin Scott, 17, and David Anderson, 16, were among scores of people who testified at that meeting, which city officials called a first step in restoring school prayer.
While school-prayer initiatives have been fiercely challenged in other suburbs, the mayor's call has been welcomed in Harvey, known to some as "Little Chicago" because of the urban-style ills that have swelled in recent years with the migration of poor city residents. Gangs, drugs and violent crime have added to the roster of suffering in a city already plagued by poverty.
While politicians here concede that constitutional hurdles and potentially years of legal battles lie ahead, they say the need for prayer has never been clearer.
"It's on everybody's mind and on their hearts," Mr. Graves said at the town meeting. "It's about our children."
Illinois is among the dozen states that allow voluntary moments of silence in schools. But Harvey officials pushing for prayer contend that the law, which permits a moment of silence in class at a teacher's discretion, does not go far enough.
"What we want is actual prayer," said Alderman Ronald J. Waters. "I happened to have been around on Sept. 11. The next day at some of those schools, there was open prayer all through the schools. Even the president is asking for prayer. But the very institutions that we need to have prayer the most, it has been outlawed. So why not where it is needed the most and where it can have a lasting effect?"
Mr. Anderson, one of the Prayer Warriors, agreed.
"We have a lot of young people in school that are troubled and hurting," he said in an interview after the meeting. "And the first thing they want to turn to is the gangs, they turn to the drugs. But they are not turning to prayer. Why can't we pray in the school and let peers know that you have somebody to turn to?"
The Harvey meeting on Oct. 30 took on the air of a church service, and it was clear that the speakers were preaching to the converted. Among those in attendance were pastors and ministers, as well as business and civic leaders and residents from across the Chicago area.
The meeting fell on the day after the United States Supreme Court refused to hear a Virginia case that challenged that state's law, which mandates a daily moment of silence in public schools.
At Thornton, prayer at least a couple of days a week has become the norm for the Prayer Warriors. There is also a teachers' prayer group that meets on Thursdays before school. The student group, which has started a step dance troupe called Everlasting Faith, meets for an hour after classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Members as well as nonmembers attend the prayer and Bible study sessions that sometimes include singing and preaching. Otherwise, the group functions the same as any other school-based group at Thornton, said William O'Neal, the school's principal.
"We follow the same guidelines as the science club, the math club and the English club," said Mr. O'Neal, who has been principal for nine years. "The only stipulation that I put there is, I don't want them coercing anybody to come."
"They take some criticism for it," he said of the Prayer Warriors. "I always let kids know that it's O.K. to be different."
Inside Room 202 this week, Mr. Clark was praying again after his sermon. He paced back and forth.
"Father God, only you know the things that they are going through," Mr. Clark prayed. "I ask Father that as they confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, I ask that you cleanse them."
The teenagers stood, some crying, calling upon God.
Let's see, an ALL-KNOWING(allegedly) God makes a bet with Satan(Gambling!well, ok he 'knows' the outcome) and basically murders(irrelevant if Satan actually does it, as he had to get permission from the big guy) Job's loved ones, and makes him suffer all to prove a point.
If a human did this people, you'd call him monstrously inhumane, and probably evil. The fact is, God doesn't answer Job's "Why?" because there IS no answer. That is the only truth that is really in that story, that there's no answer to the good man's question "why?" in the face of suffering or evil. That God ridicules a mortal who faithfully followed him, only shows the God-King concept at work, a concept so central to Middle Eastern religion.
In fact, with a few reductions in the scale of the miraculous acts in the Bible(like murdering innocent Egyptians to get one man to change his mind, THEN harden his heart even though God could simply teleport the Hebrews out of Egypt) you could replace "God" with Hammurabi or Sargon or Akhenaton.
"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..." -- Lawful treaty negotiated under Washington, confirmed by Senate, signed by Adams
"All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution" -- Proposed language by Jefferson for Virginia constitution.
"I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor. " -- Jefferson
Actually, the letters between Jefferson and Madison take on a decidedly anti-Christian (but not anti-God) tone.
"I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his [George Washington's] secrets & believed himself to be so, has often told me that Genl. Washington believed no more of that system [Christianity] than he himself did." -- Jefferson
"But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer [Jesus] of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State." -- Jefferson
And they go on like that. Let's switch authors:
"Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history. (See the cases in which negatives were put by J. M. on two bills passd by Congs and his signature withheld from another. See also attempt in Kentucky for example, where it was proposed to exempt Houses of Worship from taxes. " -- Madison
""Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the principle of a national establishment ... " -- Madison
Washington was widely regarded as a professor of Christianity because it was as required in politics as it is now. He was called, by religious people, a Deist and a Unitarian. Many men of influence, including Jefferson, held church positions of authority while believing contrary to the teachings of the church. Also, "Washington frequently alluded to Providence in his private correspondence. But the name of Christ, in any correspondence whatsoever, does not appear anywhere in his many letters to friends and associates throughout his life."
"George Washington's practice of Christianity was limited and superficial because he was not himself a Christian. In the enlightened tradition of his day, he was a devout Deist--just as many of the clergymen who knew him suspected."
And Franklin chimes in:
"I believe in one God, Creator of the universe.... That the most acceptable service we can render Him is doing good to His other children.... As to Jesus ... I have ... some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble."
Thomas Paine: "Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity."
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish [Muslim], appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."
"Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."
The list of quotes supporting the original idea of separation of church and state is extremely long.
I think you got him. It is quite clear from "the historical documents"(sorry had to get in that Galaxy Quest reference) that the Founders of greatest stature were Deists/nominal Christian/skeptics(The great ones being Washington, Franklin, Jefferson and Madison, oh Adams too.) Because Phineas McDougall was a devout Christian that wanted to put the death penalty in the constitution for those professing a faith that wasn't Christian, doesn't mean the opinions of the leaders of that movement are made invalid.
In a sense that's beside the point. Simply examine history in the last three hundred years. It is quite obvious that it was the secularization of Western civilization that led to the next step of advancement of great moral ideas AND the implementation of those ideas. The Renaissance and Enlightenment were partly the result of a re-examination of Christianity, which led to the more benign forms we have today, but they were also due to the focus on Greco-Roman philosophy.
Heck many Christian concepts are actually Neo-Platonic(in the case of Paul) and Stoic(depending on the sect, I suppose)
And I still maintain that our Founding Fathers were mostly Christians (of all sects: Episcopal, Calvinist, Catholic, Evangelical, etc.). There were only 3 known Deists. That is hardly most. You quote Paine (I believe an atheist) and Franklin (a Deist). I have not said that all of the Founding Fathers believed in God or that all were Christians. I am well-acquainted with Paine. I can respect him without respecting what he believed. The same goes for Franklin. But these are two men out of hundreds (mostly Christians) who were responsible for putting our country together.
Letter, John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813: "The general Principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young gentlement could united, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity in which all those Sects were united. . . . Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God . . ."
George Washington, Address to the States, June 8, 1783: " . . . I now mkae it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in His holy protection, that He would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that He would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks [sic] of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation."
Upon George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789, Washington Irving observed: upon concluding the oath of office "Mr. Otis would have raised the Bible to [Washington's] lips but he bowed down reverently and kissed it." Washington also added "so help me God" to the official presidential oath of office, and every president since has followed his example. From the address:
". . . it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happines of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes. . .In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. . ."
John Adams, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1797: " . . . And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence."
Letter, Alexander Hamiliton to his wife Elizabeth, July 10, 1804, (written immediately prior to his duel against Aaron Burr): ". . . I need not tell you of the pangs I feel from the idea of quitting you, and exposing you to the anguish I know you would feel. Nor could I dwell on the topic, lest it should unman me. The consolations of religion, my beloved, can alone support you; and these you have a right to enjoy. Fly to the bosom of your God, and be comforted. With my last idea I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world. Adieu, best of wives--best of women."
His second letter: "This is my second letter. The scruples of a Christian have determined me to expose my own life to any extent, rather than subject myself to the guilty of taking the life of another. This much increases my hazards, and redoubles my pangs for you. But you had rather I should die innocent than live guility. Heaven can preserve me, and I humbly hope will; but, in the contrary event, I charge you to remember that you are a Christian. God's will be done! The will of a merciful God must be good."
Letter, George Washington to Samuel Langdon, September 28, 1789: ". . . The man must be bad indeed who can look upon the events of the American Revolution without feeling the warmest gratitude towards the great Author of the Universve whose divine interposition was so frequently manifested in our behalf. And it is my earnest prayer that we may so conduct ourselves as to merit a continuance of those blessings with which we have hitherto been favored. I am etc."
James Wilson, "The Laws of Nature," 1790: "Havings thus stated the question--what is the efficient cause of moral obligation? I give it this answer--the will of God. This is the supreme law. His just and full right of imposing laws, and our duty in obeying them, are the sources of our moral obligations. If I am asked: why do you obey the will of God? I answer: because it is my duty to do so. If I am asked again: how do you know this to be your duty? I answer again: because I am told so by my moral sense or conscience. If I am asked a third time: how do you know that you ought to do that, of which your conscience enjoins the performance? I can only say, I feel that such is my duty. Here investigation must stop; reasoning can go no farther. . . ."
Letter from Thomas Jefferson to his friend's son Thomas Jefferson Smith, February 21, 1825: "This letter will, to you, be as one from the dead. The writer will be in the grave before you can weigh its counsels. Your affectionate and excellent father has requested that I would address to you something which might possibly have a favorable influence on the course of life you have to run; and I too, as a namesake, feel an interest in that course. Few words will be necessary, with good dispositions on your part. Adore God, Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life into whic h you have entered, be the portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss. And if to the dead it is permitted to care for the things of this world, every action of your life will be under my regard. Farewell."
As for people saying or not saying things at different times, for different reasons, even Jesus, who knew His destiny from his youth (and before that, eternity), "fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. . . ." (Matt. 26:39). He was asking that He would not have to die upon the cross. Yet, just awhile before while at dinner He said: "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him. . . ." He had been referring to his death for several years, yet prayed in the garden shortly before it was to occur that if were possible, He asks God that it not have to be.
They did not want the power of a Catholic Church repeated. They did not want people persecuted because they espoused the beliefs of Martin Luther, who when he nailed his thesis on the door in Heidelberg, created great turmoil and atrocities by simply stating that man has the right to read the Bible and come to his own understandings without a priest telling him what the Bible says.
These differences in opinions of theology create divisions, not unification. It is this that the Founding Fathers most feared and determined not to have occur. No particular religion would be set above another. No belief in any particular religion would be a requirement to hold public office. Rather, this would be a country where individuals could worship as their conscience and their God determined, seeing that God is so important in people's lives. Who were they to determine how the masses were to worship. It is this fear they wished to alleviate and by doing so, ensure stability for this new country.
I'll concede that most weren't deists, but a side point is that the most important of them, especially the central drafter Madison and the man with his right ear, Jefferson, were. Others professed Christianity, but did not really practice (actually, I think this is as many today are), or were Unitarian.
Others, of course, were devout Christian of some demonination or another. These people did try to insert a weaker 1st amendment that only required no state-established church, but that was rejected in favor of a more separating version.
I will also concede, to an academic extent, that this nation has some Christian ideals built into it. Given that religion is usually closely tied with societal rules, the Fathers had no choice but to include religious concepts. I will also put forth that the Christian ideal is absolutely not democratic and does not favor the freedom of the individual that this country is based on should it be used as the basis for a political system.
I still hold, however, that despite the individual religious views of the Fathers, all but with a few exceptions saw the mistakes of religious/government entaglement, saw the mistakes of a religious power having secular power, and decided that this country would be founded without any such entanglement in order to preserve the religious and secular freedoms of the people.
The "wall of separation" text was written by Jefferson (yes, I know it's not in the Constitution, as I previously posted) was, believe it or not, in the context of meaning greater religious freedom for religious people -- Baptists in this case. They were being persecuted by the state-sanctioned Congregationalists, and wanted to know if they would continue having the state religion forced upon them. In his letter, Jefferson said, basically, matters of God are personal and that the state should have no say at all in them.
As will I.
despite the individual religious views of the Fathers, all but with a few exceptions saw the mistakes of religious/government entaglement, saw the mistakes of a religious power having secular power, and decided that this country would be founded without any such entanglement in order to preserve the religious and secular freedoms of the people.
And to this I will also agree. :)
This is the problem. All you have to support your theory......is your own wishful thinking, (vain imaginations) which doesn't hold truth. In your limited knowledge of God's persona; you try to gauge His intentions and thoughts on a flawed, human level.
In this case, after I demolish(and a very poor job of it, there are far better skeptic arguments, i just give a sampling) the morality of the lessons in Job, you respond by saying I cannot comprehend God's word. That's the old appeal to authority. "you cannot divine the Will of God" is not a valid counter to the many arguments skeptics make. You'll have to come much stronger than that, and avoid the logical fallacies.
Being someone who was once religious, I've heard the justifications. Perhaps I realized the rationalizations were garbage, and this may have swayed me, ya think? Heck, there's an entire book that simply LISTS(not much editorializing) of inconsistencies, inaccuracies and immoralities in the Good Book. Yes, I own it, and facts be facts. Sorry...
I stand corrected for my error of stating 1964 when it should have been 1947; the rippling effects of one Supreme Court decision:
Everson v. Board of Education (1947) in which the Supreme Court declared, The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.
McCollum v. Board of Education (1948) in which the court declared that religious instruction in public schools is unconstitutional.
Tudor v. Board of Education (1954) The Supreme Court let stand the lower court ruling, Tudor v. Board of Education against the distribution of Bibles by outside groups like the Gideons.
In 1960: Madalyn Murray O'Hair sued the Baltimore MD school system on behalf of her son William J Murray, because he was being forced to participate in prayer in schools.
Torasco v. Watkins (1961), by unanimous decision, ruled that any religious test for state office holders is unconstitutional.
Engel v. Vitale (1962) in which the court declared school prayer unconstitutional (disallowed a government-composed, nondenominational "Regents" prayer recited by students).
Abington Township School District v. Schempp (1963) in which the court declared Bible reading over the school intercom unconstitutional.
Murray v. Curlett (1963) in which the court held that it is unconstitutional to force a child to participate in prayer.
Stone v. Graham (1980) in which the court outlawed the posting of the Ten Commandments in a school even if it is done for a secular purpose.
Wallace v. Jaffree (1985), the high court voted 6-3 to strike down an Alabama law requiring public schools to set aside a moment of silence for meditation or prayer.
Lee v. Weisman (1992), the Court ruled that public schools may not sponsor invocations at graduation ceremonies.
There are those whose goal it is to strip America of God. I'm sorry you focused on the year and attributed this to me "playing."
However, I respectfully back away as this will not be resolved by us. Besides, more than likely if I were to ever take up arms, I'd be fighting alongside you, so certain things have a way of being of less importance down the line:)
Well...not really. You see, we are collectively punishing Afghanistan for harboring Bin-Boy. I don't call that evil... I call it consequences of a choice their leaders made when they refused to comply with the demand to turn him over and dismantle the Taliban. In the same respect, God gives us choices. If He were evil... He wouldn't. He'd just thump us off when we did something wrong. *chuckle*
It also contradicts the "sins of the father shall not be visited upon the son" idea.
This is taken out of context. It refers to a personal relationship and not a collective relationship.
However, I respectfully back away as this will not be resolved by us. Besides, more than likely if I were to ever take up arms, I'd be fighting alongside you, so certain things have a way of being of less importance down the line:)
It may not be resolved by us... but it's FUN! :) (sharpens my wits, dontcha know) My hubby just hates it... *chuckle* Cheers and have a happy TG!
Happy Thanksgiving to you also!
You say that Hell is real and forever whether I like it or not. The thing is, it is not a question of whether I like it - the fact is, the Christian view of an eternal punishment visited upon us by God is not reconcilable with the Christian view of a good God. It seems to me that you are throwing away the 'good God' part. Or do you have a way of reconciling God's goodness with his condemnation of people to eternal torture?
It seems to me that fluffy bunnyism requires the removal of large chunks of texts from the Bible, as well as the total discrediting of Christian scholars such as Augustine, Luther and Calvin. The earliest Christian Church certainly believed in the literal fire pits of Hell and they were far more likely to have insight into Jesus' words and the words of his disciples. Revelations certainly seems to suggest that Hell is a place of burning. Or is it allegorical or metaphorical? And why did the emminent early Christians not realise that it was allegorical but modern scholars somehow do? Convenient, that.
LaineyDee goes a few steps towards dumping the idea of a good God and you go a few steps towards dumping Hell. That seems to suggest that my thesis is correct - you cannot have both of them if you wish to be consistent.
According to whose definition....yours?
the fact is, the Christian view of an eternal punishment visited upon us by God is not reconcilable with the Christian view of a good God
Again.......according to your definition? God is a God of love....but of judgement also. These two things do not contradict each other at all.
A simple clarification for you.... Say a father has a son.... he loves that son very much. He's given him rules to live by, teaches him the laws... but the son ignores him and murders someone. The son is put into prison and given a death penalty. Now, is that father to blame? No...the son is to blame for ignoring the law.
God the Father set up the rules and laws..... YOU CHOOSE to go to Hell if you ignore them. He doesn't condemn you.......You condemn yourself.
Your analogy is a good one except for one crucial point: there is no crime that matches infinite punishment. Therefore, such a punishment is unjust by the human definition of 'just'.
If you are saying that God is just and good according to other definitions of those terms, how do you know that 'eternity' as we define it is different according to God's definition? This could mean that eternity in heaven if 5 minutes, because 5 minutes is eternity under God's definition.
As soon as you start letting God give words different definitions from the human perspective, you allow God to be anything. 'Salvation' according to God could mean 'damnation' according to us. 'Good' can become 'evil' and vice versa.
If God does not match our definition of the word good then he is not good.
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