Proverbs 22:6 reminds us: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” With that truth in mind, election season is a great time for parents to teach some basic civics to their children. After all, we are citizens of two kingdoms – earthly and heavenly (where our ultimate allegiance must be). However, God expects us to be good citizens in both.
The idea is for parents to teach their children to change the world, not be molded by it. Children learn by example, and when they are home they can watch mom and dad. As our nation prepares for Election Day, Nov. 6, parents have a golden opportunity to model the importance of voting and to teach lessons about citizenship. Go vote – and take your children with you so they can see you honor the Lord in the voting booth.
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While several states like Arkansas and Tennessee have passed laws, requiring public schools to display the official motto of the United States, “In God We Trust,” the Missouri General Assembly has taken no action on the matter, probably because there is no prohibition against Missouri schools displaying the official motto. And rightly so.
The fourth stanza of The Star-Spangled Banner, written during the War of 1812, includes, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our Trust.’” The motto first appeared on U.S. Coins in 1864 and was adopted as our nation’s official motto in 1956. It first appeared on paper currency in 1957. Congress has twice affirmed “In God We Trust” as our national motto, in 2002 and 2006.
President Barack Obama appeared confused about our national motto during a November 2010 speech in Jakarta, Indonesia, when he said, “In the United States, our moto is E pluribus Unum – out of many, one.” That Latin phrase is, indeed, written on the national seal, but it is not our national motto.
Educators should teach students the meaning of the motto. “It captures the essence of the American people’s firm belief since the earliest colonial days through the War for Independence, the Civil War, and through recent times. The American people have trusted God for this nation’s security and preservation, and no court case has ever ruled the motto to be illegal or an unconstitutional violation of church and state,” said Dee Wampler, a criminal defense attorney, author and member of Second Baptist Church, Springfield. For years Wampler has urged cities and counties to display our national motto. By writing letters and speaking before city councils, county commissions and law enforcement agencies, he has helped persuade more than 400 cities and counties to include “In God We Trust” on the exteriors of buildings, bulletin boards, in classrooms, offices, courtrooms and on law enforcement vehicles.
The phrase “In God We Trust” is not a personal declaration. Every person in America does not trust in the same God and some do not believe there is a god at all. The phrase reflects the civil foundation upon which America was founded in the same way that “one nation under God” does in the Pledge of Allegiance.
America is unique in that we acknowledge that our rights come from God, not government. Instead of the divine rights of kings, our Founders asserted the divine rights of the common man. Nearly every state constitution begins with thankfulness to God. The Missouri Constitution begins, “with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness.” When we teach civics to our children, they should understand that the laws of their state flowed from the principle that there is a God who gave mankind certain unalienable rights and that state legislators crafted laws to protect – not grant – those rights.
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Polls seem ubiquitous with every election. In 2016, the national polls were pretty accurate. The reason the media missed Donald Trump’s victory so badly is because they primarily touted the national polls, while the state polls got it terribly wrong. Hillary Clinton won the national vote (48%-46%), but she lost the state-by-state electoral vote, 303-227.
So which polls are historically the most accurate? According to the poll watchdogs at fivethirtyeight.com, the four most accurate polls over the past few elections are: Monmouth University, Emerson College, Siena College/New York Times and Marist College.
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How politically engaged are Missourians compared to other states? Missourians rank 15th for their political engagement, according to a recent survey by Wallethub.com. The District of Columbia ranked No. 1.