Has your life been altered by the “Great Shift?” Francis Schaeffer, a noted theologian in the 70s and early 80s, wrote insightfully about what we face in our American culture today. He called attention to the dangers of the “Great Shift” that has taken place in our nation. Schaffer referred to the founding of the United States as one based on a Christian consensus. By this he did not mean that everyone in America was a devoted Christian and living all aspects of their lives according to Christian principles, but rather the nation accepted a national morality from which its culture and norms for societal behavior were deeply influenced and shaped by Christian values.
A stroll down history lane bears Schaeffer out. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian, came to America in 1831 to see how the new nation was faring under its republican form of government. He observed, “Religion in America … must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates it (Democracy in America).
Some sixty-seven years after the drafting of the Constitution, Congress issued a statement in a House Judiciary Committee report clearly showing that separation of church and state was neither a practiced policy nor something even considered:
At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged. . . . In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity. . . . That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.
(House Judiciary Committee report, March 27, 1854)
We often hear the words, “religion and politics don’t mix.” A Congressional committee in 1854 disagreed with that concept of thinking. The Founding Fathers believed that religion and politics did mix and wanted it to be so. Jefferson penned the words in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” There words were revolutionary and helped launch a revolution. The Founder believed that rights were given to them by God and that whatever political system ruled them should respect those rights. They believed the King of England did not respect them. Our Founders sought to establish a new nation that would respect and protect God-given rights. This links religion directly to politics. The intend of the Founders was to have a nation that would embrace Christian morality which they saw as an asset for a nation’s success.
In an address to the military in 1798, John Adams stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” It is clear this esteemed Founding Father did not want religion and politics separated. The Christian consensus was alive and well through the 1950s. In 1954 we added “One nation under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance and in 1956 we approved the motto of “In God we trust” which appears on our currency.
But sinister plans were afoot in our nation by forces that saw no benefit to their agenda in a Christian consensus. In 1962 a major volley was fired by anti-Christian forces as the Supreme Court declared prayer in school unconstitutional. This was opposed by 79 percent of the people in the country. It is hard to ascertain how up until 1962 there were not any wise politicians or judges, who would note that prayer in public schools was unconstitutional. You would think if the Framers of the Constitution wanted prayer unconstitutional, they would have demanded such when the document was ratified and immediately enforced it.
On the contrary, they encouraged the teaching of Christianity and prayer in public schools from the nation’s beginning. Dr. Benjamin Rush signed the Declaration of Independence and led the efforts to ratify the Constitution in 1788 in his state of Pennsylvania. Regarding education he said, “The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object of all republican governments” (On the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic, 1806).
The 1962 Supreme Court decision to ban prayer from schools was clear evidence of the Great Shift that Schaeffer described. Our nation was shifting from a country whose moral moorings were based on Christianity to one centering on humanism. For all practical purposes, humanism is a synonym for atheism. It makes man the center of all things. It believes that the material world and life came about by accident, not by a Creator. In humanism there are no moral absolutes. It believes morality is relative. Since there is no Creator, then rights of citizens come from government, and not from a non-existing God. The result of relative morality is that culture becomes more indecent. Humanism doesn’t have the word “decency” in its vocabulary. The evidence of the Shift is all around: abortion on demand, same sex marriage, leniency toward criminals, legalization of pornography, promoting sexual immorality in the public school, increased use of illegal drugs and the legalization of some illegal drugs. The online media innovator, the late Andrew Brietbart, said that politics follows culture, which means we can expect to get leaders for our nation who are just like the culture. That spells tragedy for a nation whose culture is missing a Christian influence.
The founders desired Christianity to shape the culture of our nation. Ever since the Great Shift, it is not happening. When statistics show that only 18 percent of millennials attend church, it reveals how ineffective churches and Christianity are in the nation today. We are losing the cultural war. Progressive Christianity is seeping into the nation including evangelical churches and colleges. We must push back. Elections are important because whoever runs the nation creates either a helpful or hostile atmosphere for the advancement of the Christian message.
Today a Christian cannot look at the political scene and take a neutral position. That may have been true decades ago, but it is not true now. There are those who take absolute moral standards established by God as presented in the Bible and regard them as political issues. They demand that citizens see them as such. Abortion, same-sex marriage and gender re-identification are the major three. A Christian cannot please the Lord by taking a tolerant neutral position on these three items. To do so is to stand against the Word of God. Author Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn in his book Leftism writes about humanism as it starts to take control of a nation, “… religion is then removed from the market place and the school, later from other domains of public life. The state will not tolerate any gods besides itself.”
The prophets of the Old Testament were not neutral. They spoke truth to power when kings took the nation of Israel on an evil path away from God’s covenant. Jesus was not neutral with the Jewish religious leaders as he confronted their corruption of the faith and exploitation of the people. When the moral standards of God are repudiated, be it by a school system, a corporation or a political party, Christians cannot be neutral. They must oppose it and take resistant action.
This is an election year and Christians need to realize an important weapon they have in the cultural war is their vote. Christian voters need to diligently vet candidates and their party. They must take a determined stand and defend the moral absolutes established by God and not vote for any party or candidate whose platform and proposed policies support abortion, the gay educational agenda in schools and transgender advocacy. Makes no sense to say you are pro-life then vote for those who endorse death.
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
When the wicked rule, the people groan,
Proverbs 29:2 (NIV)
Scripture from the New International Bible