There seems no end to the cacophony of liberals in the media demanding that there be no biblical influence on government. One of the most recent is David Rosman, columnist for The Missourian in Columbia, in his column, “Forcing religion into government is wrong.” To make his point, Rosman cites two instances where it was apparently attempted. The first was Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia requesting a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The church wanted to resurface and thus improve the safety of its preschool playground by participating in the “Scrap Tire Program.” The other was an editorial appearing in The Daily Tribune in Columbia expressing opposition to same-sex marriage.
The headline mischaracterizes what actually happened in both cases since neither was trying to “force” anything on the government. Rosman believes the Eighth U.S. Court of Appeals in Kansas City was correct in upholding a lower federal court ruling against Trinity Lutheran. Indeed the Missouri Constitution prohibits public funding of churches and religious activities and as a Baptist, I would generally agree with Rosman that the church and state should remain separate when it comes to taxpayer dollars. However, as Judge Raymond Gruender cited in a partial dissent, “school children playing on a safer rubber surface made from environmentally friendly recycled tires has nothing to do with religion.” It is hard to see where the government is being forced to establish a national religion in Trinity Lutheran’s request. Any public or even “secular” private entity could qualify for the grant, thus discriminating against Trinity Lutheran simply because it is a church.
What Rosman overlooks is the Christian’s responsibility to be a good steward with what God has provided as well as demonstrating one’s faithfulness to God by bringing a biblical influence upon the very government God ordained for our own good and His glory. He seems to ignore that Christians in America have the same rights as everyone else – and that includes appealing to “Caesar” for redress of grievances just as Trinity Lutheran did.
In his critique of the editorial supporting traditional marriage, Rosman interjects slavery into the issue, making the absurd claim that the Bible condones slavery. The Bible acknowledges that slavery was a reality, especially in the ancient world, but in no way condones it. It offers instructions to slaves and masters, but slavery was a result of human sin. God did not create humans to be slaves, but to serve Him freely. Even in slavery, the Bible says the slave’s identity is to be found in their union with Christ by faith, by which they are the children of God. Has such a view been distorted by men? Yes, also a product of sin.
Rosman cites the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, a discredited example of how America was in no way founded as a Christian nation. Rosman, like evolutionist and atheist Richard Dawkins — in his book, The God Delusion — cites a passage in Article 11 that states, “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion … .” He and Dawkins conveniently overlook that the Treaty pertains exclusively to the federal government – not to state governments or the rest of America’s social or political institutions. As attorney and historian John Eidsmoe points out, the government is not the nation. In adopting the First Amendment, the Founders clearly intended that there be no established religion at the national level, but they left the states free to have their different establishments at the state level.
Rosman, of course, overlooks many other treaties that refute his view. For example, the Treaty of Paris of 1783, negotiated by Ben Franklin and John Adams is a foundational document for the United States. By this treaty Britain recognized America’s independence. The Treaty begins with the words, “In the Name of the most holy and undivided Trinity … .”
Rosman claims that actions like those taken by Trinity and views opposing same-sex marriage indicate that “the Christian religious right are nervous about losing their stranglehold on our government.” Mule muffins! Christians are not interested in controlling government, but we are interested in influencing it because God’s way is the best way. Our motivation is for influence,≠ not for fame, fortune or power, but rather out of love for all. A government, void of Christian influence, is ripe for corruption and tyranny. It was President John Adams who said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”