“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord….” Psalm 33:12
There is no question that patriotism in our land has increased immensely since the 9/11 terrorist attack upon our country. Yet, in the very midst of such intensified loyalty, just last month the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, one of the most liberal in the nation, and whose decisions are often overturned, ruled that the words “under God,” added to the Pledge of Allegiance by Congress in 1954, violated the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. The decision stemmed from a lawsuit by a California father, a San Francisco doctor and atheist, who was annoyed and offended that his daughter had to listen to her second-grade classmates recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
So, he was personally offended by the mention of the name of “God.” Personally, I am offended every time an unbeliever uses the name of God in vain, a rampant occurrence in our society, the most noticeable being on the airwaves of television! Recently, one morning while sitting on my deck reading, I was interrupted by the use of the Lord’s name in vain by little children passing by my home on the way to their elementary classes just down the hill. Oh, how my heart ached, to think that they no doubt use such language even in the home without reprimand. If I were to bring a lawsuit against society for using God’s name in vain, I wonder how far it would get?
Yet, in spite of this small, but growing segment of our beloved nation, how refreshing to hear “from sea to shining sea” of the many acts and demonstrations of patriotism as we recently observed the 226th birthday of the United State of America! At a special ceremony at Disney World, 500 immigrants from 89 different countries became citizens of the United States, and in the process, recited fully the Pledge of Allegiance. I commend immigration Judge Roberto Morena for saying to a loud round of applause, “And I don’t believe ‘under God’ should be looked at by a judge so callously.” On Philadelphia Independence Mall, the nation’s birthplace where I have had the privilege of visiting, the city, as usual, conducted its annual “ringing” of the bell. In San Francisco, Jeffrey Orth, known to San Francisco commuters as the Flag Man, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge waving an American flag, applauded with honks and flag-waving from the passing cars. President Bush celebrated Independence Day by traveling to Ripley, WV (population 3,400), where he addressed some 8,000 flag-waving Americans chanting “USA, USA, USA” as he entered the Courthouse Square. When together they recited the Pledge of Allegiance, they shouted out the words, “UNDER GOD!” Wow! I wish I could have been there. In his address to this grass roots community of America, President Bush stated very clearly that he rejected a federal court ruling barring references to God in the Pledge of Allegiance, telling the cheering crowd that “no authority of government can ever prevent an American from pledging allegiance to this one nation under God!”
Now a word to those of us who are proclamators of the Gospel of Christ. I believe with all of my heart that Independence Day should have a very special place in our churches and among our congregations. What we may not be able to do in our public schools, civic arenas in our local communities, and other platforms of society, we can do in our churches. We can encourage our people to give praise to God for the liberty that we have; we can rally our children and youth together to sing the great patriotic hymns of the church and proudly salute both the American and Christian flags; we can exhort our people to be good citizens following the commands of Scripture and praying for those in authority over us; we can revive the tradition of our choirs presenting patriotic concerts and musicals, something that seems to have been minimized in many of our churches as of late; we can challenge our people to “stand up” and be counted through the appropriate avenues available to us as citizens of the USA; we can preach the patriotic texts of Scripture inspiriting our people with the truths, treasures and trustworthy proclamations of His Word. We can raise the banner high in our cities, towns, villages and burgs, that there is a God, that we believe in Him, and we will live by His commands.
In New York Harbor stands the Statue of Liberty, a monument of freedom, wearing a crown with seven spikes that stand for the light of liberty shining on the seven seas and seven continents, cradling a tablet bearing the date of the Declaration of Independence in her left arm, her uplifted right hand a glowing torch guiding the way, and at her feet, a broken chain that represents tyranny, or unjust rule. Inscribed on a bronze plaque placed on the interior wall of the pedestal, are these words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” The monumental banner of the church is the Cross, Calvary’s tree, where our blessed Savior, with open arms, says, “Come unto Me, all you who labor are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for! I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). Those who deny that there is a God, are those who need Him most, and often inwardly, are seeking for that which will give them peace and purpose. It is for this reason that Bible-believing churches have been planted across the land. We must remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing! Independence Day is just another opportunity to present the true freedom that is available through confession of sin and faith in Jesus Christ, his death, burial and resurrection (Romans 10:9-10). Yes, God bless America – one nation UNDER God!
By: Maynard H. Belt
Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches
Reprinted with permission from THE BARNABAS FILE, Volume 2, Number 20, 7/5/02