Tag Archives: bob unruh

Thoughts on the 2014 National Day of Prayer and a Big Reason to be Thankful

norman-rockwell-freedom-of-worship-2

Friends, I am traveling today and it is indeed the National Day of Prayer and the sinner that I am, I am always in need of prayer. Just to let you know that I do pray contrary to what some may think, I had good reason to pray today. Somehow on the trip I dropped my wallet and when I got to my mid way stop in Baltimore I didn’t have it. Near panic ensued as I looked everywhere I had been in the BWI terminal as well as called back to Norfolk where I departed.I saw my entire life flashing in front of my eyes and wondered if an identity thief was going to take me for everything I have before I could cancel all of my credit cards, not to mention the pain of getting new military ID and drivers license. I felt so incredibly stupid.

Finally after contacting the Staff College it looked like I was going to be heading home and missing the conference that I really needed to attend. A lady sitting near me took pity on me and gave me $20 so I could at least eat. I was grateful. After talking with our travel people I went to the desk agent at the Southwest gate where my Houston flight was to depart from and asked them what to do since I had no identification. They put my name in their computer and found that their gate agents in Norfolk had found the wallet. The young man at the gate worked with everything to not only get me back to Norfolk but, to arrange to get me my wallet and on another flight to get me to Houston late tonight. It was positively amazing. 

But what was really cool was that people who I didn’t know, who I don’t know if they are Christians, or any other religion or in fact if they had any faith at all stepped in to help me. I do not know or care what their political affilation, religion, Alma Mater is, or even if they are Los Angeles Dodgers fans. Someone turned in my wallet in Norfolk rather than making off with it. The airline personnel of Southwest Airlines went  above and beyond the call of duty to help me and to calm me, and yes I did need calming.

Other people, security and TSA at BWI and Norfolk tried to help. Then there was the kind lady who gave me $20. Since I routinely give to panhandlers because I have been poor before her act of kindness was quite touching. What is cool about this experience was that a bunch of good people cared about me. Like I said I don’t know any of them but they were wonderful and I am thankful, not just to God, but to the decent human beings who whatever their motivation were wonderful.

It will be a lot longer travel day than I had planned but my misadventure has shown me that we still have a lot of good and kind people in this country and that is something to celebrate.

Since I needed calming I was able to get me a big beer and now with that in hand waiting for my flight I give you my thoughts on the National Day of Prayer. I actually wrote this article last year, but since most people seem to think that the day is for the right wing political hacks at the “National Day of Prayer Task Force” founded in by Shirley Dobson in 1982, here is the real story. As the late Paul Harvey would have said “the rest of the story.”

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.  The liberty I contend for is more than toleration.  The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” John Leland

Today was the National Day of Prayer. The event was established by President Harry S Truman in 1952 was designed to mark the common freedom that we have as American citizens.

I am a big fan of religious liberty and critic of those that desire to establish any religion as the official religion of the country and in doing so suppress the rights of others. An attempt was made in the North Carolina State Legislature early this year to establish the right of the state to establish a religion in complete disregard of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Carolina. Part of the text of that bill, which was killed in committee stated:

“The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

I do feel that there are those that want to use such occasions as today’s observance of the National Day of Prayer as a means to establish their religion, as the law of the land. However, if we actually look at our history such is not the case and was never the intent of our founders or those that established the National Day of Prayer.

harry-truman1

President Truman’s proclamation stated:

“Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Friday, July 4, 1952, as a National Day of Prayer, on which all of us, in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts, may beseech God to grant us wisdom to know the course which we should follow, and strength and patience to pursue that course steadfastly. May we also give thanks to Him for His constant watchfulness over us in every hour of national prosperity and national peril.”

Ronald Reagan eloquently stated the purpose and significance of the National Day of Prayer in his 1983 proclamation which in part read:

It took the tragedy of the Civil War to restore a National Day of Prayer. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”

Revived as an annual observance by Congress in 1952, the National Day of Prayer has become a great unifying force for our citizens who come from all the great religions of the world. Prayer unites people. This common expression of reverence heals and brings us together as a Nation and we pray it may one day bring renewed respect for God to all the peoples of the world.

From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received divine guidance as it pursued the course of history. This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, May 5, 1983, National Day of Prayer. I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together on that day in homes and places of worship to pray, each after his or her own manner, for unity of the hearts of all mankind.

President Reagan’s 1983 and subsequent proclamations stood firmly in the American tradition of Civil Religion and was decidedly non-sectarian.  It acknowledged that our citizens “come from all the great religions of the world” and called on Americans to gather on the day “in homes and places of worship to pray, each after his or her own manner, for unity of the hearts of all mankind.”

While the American religious tradition is highly Christian and even more so from the Reformed tradition this has always existed in tension with a decidedly secularist philosophy embodied by many of the Founding Fathers who were very careful to recognize the importance of religion but at the same time both sought to protect religious liberty by NOT enacting laws to establish a particular religion nor to entangle the government in the affairs of religion which could in their view be detrimental to true religious liberty.

In fact both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were very careful about proclamations and ensuring that government was not favoring any particular religious body. Jefferson wrote to Reverend Samuel Miller in 1808 that:

Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it. …civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.”

Madison who was the author of the Bill of Rights and included religious liberty in the First Amendment in support of Virginia Baptists who were under pressure from those who were determined to make and keep the Episcopal Church as the state religion of the commonwealth. Madison wrote to Edward Livingston in 1822 that:

“There has been another deviation from the strict principle in the Executive Proclamations of fasts & festivals, so far, at least, as they have spoken the language of injunction, or have lost sight of the equality of all religious sects in the eye of the Constitution. Whilst I was honored with the Executive Trust I found it necessary on more than one occasion to follow the example of predecessors. But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere designations of a day, on which all who thought proper might unite in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith & forms. In this sense, I presume you reserve to the Govt. a right to appoint particular days for religious worship throughout the State, without any penal sanction enforcing the worship.”

President Obama’s 2013 Proclamation for the National Day of Prayer stands in line with the founders as well as that of Presidents Truman and Reagan. It calls Americans to join with him to:

Americans have long turned to prayer both in times of joy and times of sorrow. On their voyage to the New World, the earliest settlers prayed that they would “rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work.” From that day forward, Americans have prayed as a means of uniting, guiding, and healing. In times of hardship and tragedy, and in periods of peace and prosperity, prayer has provided reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose.

Prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support. In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone. Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness.

All of us have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Our laws protect these God-given liberties, and rightly so. Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship.

On this day, let us remember in our thoughts and prayers all those affected by recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, and the explosion in West, Texas. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow Americans. Let us also pray for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform and their families who serve and sacrifice for our country. Let us come together to pray for peace and goodwill today and in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2, 2013, as a National Day of Prayer. I join the citizens of our Nation in giving thanks, in accordance with our own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy, and protection.

However, no matter how similar President Obama’s proclamation is to those of President Reagan or Truman or for that matter any other President with the exception of President George W Bush, he is attacked by people on the extremely partisan political right World Net Daily columnist Bob Unruh and others for supposedly “cleansing the day of prayer of Christianity.”

The fact that Unruh and others like him routinely engage in this behavior makes me tired. The real fact of the matter is that most of the men who helped establish the freedom of religious faith and practice in this country were decidedly not very Christian and determined not to repeat the tragic mistakes of European nations which had both established state religions or churches and had on numerous occasions entered into bloody warfare to ensure that their religion came out on top.

But for them that is par for the course. Unruh and so many others are such strong advocates for a Christian Theocracy, something that it is perfectly obvious to me that they have no understanding of history, our Constitution or the ideals of our founders. It is a common theme that runs through all that they do. I have written about them many times before so I won’t go into gory detail today. I’d like to but I won’t, if you want to find my articles just search under the term “religious liberty” or look on my Civil Rights or Faith and Life pages.

treatyoftripoli1

Our founders were so opposed to the idea of a State Religion that in one of the first treaties entered into with another nation, the Treaty of Tripoli of 1796 drafted by the future President John Adams noted in Article 11:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, — and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

thomas_jefferson_rect1

Jefferson wrote in the Virginia Act for the Establishment of Religious Freedom:

Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. 

Madison wrote:

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?”

John Leland, leader of the Virginia Baptists who were being persecuted by Episcopalians intent on re-establishing themselves as the official State Religion of Virginia became involved in the fight for religious liberty in the newly independent colonies wrote:

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.  The liberty I contend for is more than toleration.  The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.”

Leland heavily influenced both Madison and Jefferson in crafting the Virginia statement on religious liberty and the First Amendment. Toward the end of his life Madison wrote:

“The settled opinion here is, that religion is essentially distinct from civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both; that there are causes in the human breast which ensure the perpetuity of religion without the aid of the law; that rival sects, with equal rights, exercise mutual censorships in favor of good morals; that if new sects arise with absurd opinions or over-heated imaginations, the proper remedies lie in time, forbearance, and example; that a legal establishment of religion without a toleration could not be thought of, and with a toleration, is no security for and animosity; and, finally, that these opinions are supported by experience, which has shewn that every relaxation of the alliance between law and religion, from the partial example of Holland to the consummation in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, &c., has been found as safe in practice as it is sound in theory. Prior to the Revolution, the Episcopal Church was established by law in this State. On the Declaration of Independence it was left, with all other sects, to a self-support. And no doubt exists that there is much more of religion among us now than there ever was before the change, and particularly in the sect which enjoyed the legal patronage. This proves rather more than that the law is not necessary to the support of religion” (Letter to Edward Everett, Montpelier, March 18, 1823).

I am all in on religious liberty including the rights of people that are not Christians to practice whatever faith or non-faith that they please. This is the freedom that our founders fought to bring forth in this land.

Today we celebrated the National Day of Prayer and I had the privilege of leading our prayer at our facility. I have included that prayer here:

Loving God, we thank you for the privilege of living in this country where our founders were wise enough to neither establish nor forbid any religious practice. We thank you that as the beneficiaries of the wisdom handed down by these men that we have the liberty to believe and practice our faith in the manner that we see fit and that whether Christian or Jew, Moslem or Wiccan, Buddhist or any other faith represented in our land that we have this freedom. We thank also thank you for the freedoms granted to all, the freedom to believe, practice and even not believe as our conscience dictates and that Congress can enact no law to either establish a state religion nor prevent the free exercise of the beliefs of any citizen. 

For the wisdom and the foresight of these fallible men whose actions redound to us we give you thanks.  We pray this in your Holy Name. Amen. 

So as the time draws near to go to bed and I offer my night prayers for all, I do wish you the peace and freedom that so many Americans have fought and died to maintain.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

 

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Filed under christian life, civil rights, faith, laws and legislation, News and current events, Religion

Thoughts on the 2013 National Day of Prayer

norman-rockwell-freedom-of-worship-1

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.  The liberty I contend for is more than toleration.  The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” John Leland

Today was the National Day of Prayer. The event was established by President Harry S Truman in 1952 was designed to mark the common freedom that we have as American citizens.

I am a big fan of religious liberty and critic of those that desire to establish any religion as the official religion of the country and in doing so suppress the rights of others. An attempt was made in the North Carolina State Legislature early this year to establish the right of the state to establish a religion in complete disregard of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Carolina. Part of the text of that bill, which was killed in committee stated:

“The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

I do feel that there are those that want to use such occasions as today’s observance of the National Day of Prayer as a means to establish their religion, as the law of the land. However, if we actually look at our history such is not the case and was never the intent of our founders or those that established the National Day of Prayer.

harry-truman

President Truman’s proclamation stated:

“Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Friday, July 4, 1952, as a National Day of Prayer, on which all of us, in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts, may beseech God to grant us wisdom to know the course which we should follow, and strength and patience to pursue that course steadfastly. May we also give thanks to Him for His constant watchfulness over us in every hour of national prosperity and national peril.”

Ronald Reagan eloquently stated the purpose and significance of the National Day of Prayer in his 1983 proclamation which in part read:

It took the tragedy of the Civil War to restore a National Day of Prayer. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”

Revived as an annual observance by Congress in 1952, the National Day of Prayer has become a great unifying force for our citizens who come from all the great religions of the world. Prayer unites people. This common expression of reverence heals and brings us together as a Nation and we pray it may one day bring renewed respect for God to all the peoples of the world.

From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received divine guidance as it pursued the course of history. This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, May 5, 1983, National Day of Prayer. I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together on that day in homes and places of worship to pray, each after his or her own manner, for unity of the hearts of all mankind.

President Reagan’s 1983 and subsequent proclamations stood firmly in the American tradition of Civil Religion and was decidedly non-sectarian.  It acknowledged that our citizens “come from all the great religions of the world” and called on Americans to gather on the day “in homes and places of worship to pray, each after his or her own manner, for unity of the hearts of all mankind.”

While the American religious tradition is highly Christian and even more so from the Reformed tradition this has always existed in tension with a decidedly secularist philosophy embodied by many of the Founding Fathers who were very careful to recognize the importance of religion but at the same time both sought to protect religious liberty by NOT enacting laws to establish a particular religion nor to entangle the government in the affairs of religion which could in their view be detrimental to true religious liberty.

In fact both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were very careful about proclamations and ensuring that government was not favoring any particular religious body. Jefferson wrote to Reverend Samuel Miller in 1808 that:

Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it. …civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.”

james_madison

Madison who was the author of the Bill of Rights and included religious liberty in the First Amendment in support of Virginia Baptists who were under pressure from those who were determined to make and keep the Episcopal Church as the state religion of the commonwealth. Madison wrote to Edward Livingston in 1822 that:

“There has been another deviation from the strict principle in the Executive Proclamations of fasts & festivals, so far, at least, as they have spoken the language of injunction, or have lost sight of the equality of all religious sects in the eye of the Constitution. Whilst I was honored with the Executive Trust I found it necessary on more than one occasion to follow the example of predecessors. But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere designations of a day, on which all who thought proper might unite in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith & forms. In this sense, I presume you reserve to the Govt. a right to appoint particular days for religious worship throughout the State, without any penal sanction enforcing the worship.”

President Obama’s 2013 Proclamation for the National Day of Prayer stands in line with the founders as well as that of Presidents Truman and Reagan. It calls Americans to join with him to:

Americans have long turned to prayer both in times of joy and times of sorrow. On their voyage to the New World, the earliest settlers prayed that they would “rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work.” From that day forward, Americans have prayed as a means of uniting, guiding, and healing. In times of hardship and tragedy, and in periods of peace and prosperity, prayer has provided reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose.

Prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support. In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone. Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness.

All of us have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Our laws protect these God-given liberties, and rightly so. Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship.

On this day, let us remember in our thoughts and prayers all those affected by recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, and the explosion in West, Texas. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow Americans. Let us also pray for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform and their families who serve and sacrifice for our country. Let us come together to pray for peace and goodwill today and in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2, 2013, as a National Day of Prayer. I join the citizens of our Nation in giving thanks, in accordance with our own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy, and protection.

However, no matter how similar President Obama’s proclamation is to those of President Reagan or Truman or for that matter any other President with the exception of President George W Bush, he is attacked by people on the extremely partisan political right World Net Daily columnist Bob Unruh and others for supposedly “cleansing the day of prayer of Christianity.”

The fact that Unruh and others like him routinely engage in this behavior makes me tired. The real fact of the matter is that most of the men who helped establish the freedom of religious faith and practice in this country were decidedly not very Christian and determined not to repeat the tragic mistakes of European nations which had both established state religions or churches and had on numerous occasions entered into bloody warfare to ensure that their religion came out on top.

TreatyofTripoli

Our founders were so opposed to the idea of a State Religion that in one of the first treaties entered into with another nation, the Treaty of Tripoli of 1796 drafted by the future President John Adams noted in Article 11:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, — and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

thomas_jefferson_rect

Jefferson wrote in the Virginia Act for the Establishment of Religious Freedom:

Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. 

Madison wrote:

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?”

leland-1-1

John Leland, leader of the Virginia Baptists who were being persecuted by Episcopalians intent on re-establishing themselves as the official State Religion of Virginia became involved in the fight for religious liberty in the newly independent colonies wrote:

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.  The liberty I contend for is more than toleration.  The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.”

Leland heavily influenced both Madison and Jefferson in crafting the Virginia statement on religious liberty and the First Amendment. Toward the end of his life Madison wrote:

“The settled opinion here is, that religion is essentially distinct from civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both; that there are causes in the human breast which ensure the perpetuity of religion without the aid of the law; that rival sects, with equal rights, exercise mutual censorships in favor of good morals; that if new sects arise with absurd opinions or over-heated imaginations, the proper remedies lie in time, forbearance, and example; that a legal establishment of religion without a toleration could not be thought of, and with a toleration, is no security for and animosity; and, finally, that these opinions are supported by experience, which has shewn that every relaxation of the alliance between law and religion, from the partial example of Holland to the consummation in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, &c., has been found as safe in practice as it is sound in theory. Prior to the Revolution, the Episcopal Church was established by law in this State. On the Declaration of Independence it was left, with all other sects, to a self-support. And no doubt exists that there is much more of religion among us now than there ever was before the change, and particularly in the sect which enjoyed the legal patronage. This proves rather more than that the law is not necessary to the support of religion” (Letter to Edward Everett, Montpellier, March 18, 1823).

I am all in on religious liberty including the rights of people that are not Christians to practice whatever faith or non-faith that they please. This is the freedom that our founders fought to bring forth in this land.

Today we celebrated the National Day of Prayer and I had the privilege of leading our prayer at our facility. I have included that prayer here:

Loving God, we thank you for the privilege of living in this country where our founders were wise enough to neither establish nor forbid any religious practice. We thank you that as the beneficiaries of the wisdom handed down by these men that we have the liberty to believe and practice our faith in the manner that we see fit and that whether Christian or Jew, Moslem or Wiccan, Buddhist or any other faith represented in our land that we have this freedom. We thank also thank you for the freedoms granted to all, the freedom to believe, practice and even not believe as our conscience dictates and that Congress can enact no law to either establish a state religion nor prevent the free exercise of the beliefs of any citizen. 

For the wisdom and the foresight of these fallible men whose actions redound to us we give you thanks.  We pray this in your Holy Name. Amen. 

So as the time draws near to go to bed and I offer my night prayers for all, I do wish you the peace and freedom that so many Americans have fought and died to maintain.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under faith, History, laws and legislation, Lies of World Net Daily, Religion

More Lies and Distortions from WorldNet Daily’s Bob Unruh

Note: It has been a good number of months since I have addressed the Lies of WorldNet Daily and it’s leadership Joe Farah and his designated hit man Bob Unruh. I stumbled across an article yesterday evening when my curser hit the Worldnet Daily link on my “favorites.” I seldom go there unless I think that they might be getting crazy, but this was accidental, or if I was a Calvinist possibly God’s will. Unfortunately late last night I saw an attack on a fellow officer by this influential “Conservative Christian” website.  The attack was gratuitous and directed at an officer currently serving in Afghanistan Major Brian Stuckert who as part of a military education course published a monograph which is in the public domain entitled “Strategic Implications of American Millennialism.” As I mentioned the last time that I wrote against something that Unruh and WND published that I would limit myself to military issues as I do in this article.  I try to ignore the folks at WND but feel in this case that that are again in the process of attempting to stir up opinion against an officer who has done nothing wrong but to disagree with their political-religious ideology. While the folks at WND and those like them have every right to their opinions an beliefs, which are defended by those of us in uniform, they are way out of line in this article and owe Major Stuckert an apology. Unfortunately the WND leadership doesn’t do this as is evidenced in their past treatment of the Commanding Officers of Gordon Klingenschmitt. These men have no honor and stoop to the basest means to attack those that disagree with their narrow point of view. Some will not like what I write. That is fair, I do not claim to be infallible not do I practice censoring those that disagree with me. But I will not let a fellow officer who is serving in a combat zone be the subject of an egregious attack by the folks at WND. If it were an attack by a “liberal” website I would feel the same way. The fact that it is a “conservative” website which claims to “support the troops” that attacks Major Stuckert and other military officers who disagree with their point of view only makes me angry.  Now to my response:

Just when you think it is safe to go in the water and just enjoy the Christmas season Joe Farah and the good folks at Worldnet Daily come out with another whopper to attempt to whip people up against those in the military with differing opinions than that of their own.  Written by noted propagandist Bob Unruh who helped spin the lies of former Navy Chaplain, defrocked Evangelical Episcopal Priest Gordon Klingenschmitt into a frenzy that had many Christians believe that the Navy was attempting to muzzle Klingenschmitt’s religious rights, the article takes aim at an monograph written by Army Major Brian Stuckert ( the link to Stuckert’s monograph is here: http://www.wnd.com/files/Millennial.pdf ) for the Advanced Military Studies program. Officers who attend courses such as this are often required to produce a research paper on a subject that deals with political, military and foreign policy topics to include how social, ideological or religious can impact military operations at the strategic and operational levels including effects on foreign policy and diplomacy.  The Worldnet Daily article is linked here:   http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=119315

Unruh in his usual manner has manipulated the facts to make it appear that Stuckert and the Army is attempting to silence what Unruh calls “Evangelical beliefs.”  In fact the title of the article U.S. Army Major: Lose evangelical Christian beliefs” is a straw man intentional thrown out by Unruh to chum the waters so to speak.  Unruh takes a research paper which he does not agree with and demonizes the writer.  These papers are akin to any research paper done for a graduate level academic program. They reflect the opinion of the author and not the institution.  Like all papers of this type they have to be evidenced based, in other words the author has to have data to show that his hypothesis and conclusions actually are not simply whims but have impact in the world in which the writer serves and for the topic that he or she addresses.  One does not have to agree with them and in fact in the future other officers might actually write articles to refute what Stuckert says.  This is an academic program and as such differing points of view are sought.

Instead of just leaving this be both Unruh and undoubtedly Joe Farah is using this article to again whip up the faithful against any idea that might contradict their political-religious views.  Stuckert has criticized the foundational philosophy of the Worldnet Daily leadership that of Pre-millennial Dispensationalist theology which does have very real foreign policy implications for the United States.   As such Stuckert’s article is important because it draws attention to how Pre-Millennial Dispensationalist effects how many Americans view the world and international relations to include how such beliefs can influence policy making.  Stuckert’s premise is found in his abstract:

“Since the beginning of the Republic, various forms of millennial religious doctrines, of which dispensational pre-millennialism is the most recent, have shaped U.S. national security strategy. As the dominant form of millennialism in the U.S. evolves, it drives changes in U.S. security policy and subsequent commitment of the instruments of national power. Millennial ideas contribute to a common American understanding of international relations that guide our thinking irrespective of individual religious or political affiliation. Millennialism has great explanatory value, significant policy implications, and creates potential vulnerabilities that adversaries may exploit.”

This is a fair characterization of the effect of pre-millennial dispensational theology on American national thought.  Thus it is fair to examine its effect on current policy both foreign and domestic.

Instead of taking Stuckert’s observations and critiques for what they are Unruh and his co-conspirators turn this into a conspiracy of people in the Army and government against true Christians. In the usual manner Unruh quotes someone that he agrees with on the article: Unruh quotes John McTernan a writer on Biblical Prophecy who says that Stuckert’s article is “the most dangerous document to believers that I have ever read in my entire life” and “After reading this document, it is easy to see the next step would be to eliminate our Constitutional rights and herd us into concentration camps.”

I am sorry, this is beyond reason: “eliminate our Constitutional rights and herd us into concentration camps?  That is nothing more than propaganda. In fact it is delusional paranoia designed implicitly to scare people and move them further into WorldNet Daily’s orbit turning good people against honest and decent military officers.  Unruh did this with Klingenschmitt in grand fashion through character assassination of Captain Carr, Klingenschmitt’s Commanding Officer on USS Anzio and Captain Pyle, the Commanding Officer of Naval Station Norfolk.  This got so bad regarding Captain Pyle, a conservative evangelical Christian of the Assemblies of God denomination that he was ostracized by his own church and demonized by the Christians who were the closest to his theological views.  It was shameful; people still believe the lies about Klingenschmitt spewed by the WorldNet Daily crowd.  Now they attack an Army Major who is serving in combat in Afghanistan.  Such conduct is beyond crude and unseemly, it is dishonest, disingenuous and dishonorable.

Unruh, no stranger to such behavior ends his article with a totally unrelated reference to the terrorist who killed 13 and wounded many others at Fort Hood just a month ago.  Major Stuckert’s article was published in 2008 and has nothing to do with the actions of Major Hasan.  The implication is that Stuckert supports the traitorous terrorist Hasan. This is another disingenuous attempt to link someone who disagrees with them with terrorists or other extremists.  Such behavior by alleged “journalists” is simply dishonest and to use a term from American history is “Yellow Journalism.”

The conduct of WorldNet Daily and in particular Bob Unruh is shameful and shows none of the graces associated with true Christian faith. Lying and mischaracterizing what others say and demonizing them in apocalyptic terms is not Christian behavior. It is crass cynical propaganda and WorldNet Daily is one of the worst offenders around.  Unfortunately these people are vicious in their attacks.  The article talks of “losing evangelical beliefs” however many evangelicals either oppose or have out rightly condemned pre-Millennial Dispensationalist as heresy. Yet many pre-millennial dispensationalists, especially the type found at WorldNet Daily effectively write off all evangelicals who do not hold to one of their several Rapture theories: “All people who believe the Bible believe in a Rapture” Mark Hitchcock “What Jesus Says About Earth’s Final Days” (p. 96).  This is just one example of how this camp views other Christians. If you do not believe in the Rapture as they define it you do not believe the Bible. The deduction is that Christians believe the Bible, you disagree with the Rapture, and you don’t believe the Bible and are thus not a Christian.

Even Prominent Evangelicals such as A. W. Pink (1886-1952) have disagreed with the tenants of Dispensationalism:

“Dispensationalism is a device of the enemy, designed to rob the children of no small part of that bread which their heavenly Father has provided for their souls; a device wherein the wily serpent appears as an angel of light, feigning to “make the Bible a new book” by simplifying much in it which perplexes the spiritually unlearned. It is sad to see how widely successful the devil has been by means of this subtle innovation.”

Many conservative Christian churches and individuals do not hold this position; in fact to take the view of Unruh is to assume that Stuckert is attacking Evangelical Christianity.  Stuckert is not doing so, he is simply critiquing one of several competing Christian Eschatological theories and how its influence helps shape US foreign policy and the worldview of many Americans.  He asserts that such beliefs when not recognized by those that propagate them can leave the United States vulnerable to our enemies, nothing more, nothing less. In fact Stuckert is careful to differentiate the various factions in what is considered by some radical secularists to be a monolithic “Evangelical” movement.

“Millennialism, and especially dispensational pre-millennialism, derives in large part from extraordinary literalism of even the most figurative passages of the Bible. In America, literalism in biblical interpretation is most closely associated with fundamentalism. Theologically, it is best to begin a discussion of American millennialism with a brief review of fundamentalism as the term applies to the contemporary American religious tradition. Fundamentalism is a frequently misunderstood term in America. Although it has connections to each, fundamentalism is distinct from evangelicalism, the charismatic movement or conservative Christianity in general. Fundamentalism is also poorly understood when we attempt to define it as a personality style, a form of militancy, or a particular worldview.” (Stuckert pp. 6-7)

Stuckert is fair in this; to not admit that religious, ideological or philosophical views do not serve is “filters” as McTernan and Unruh seem loathe doing is simply wrong. To understand the prism of how religious, ideological and other beliefs can influence worldview and decision making is important. This is what Stuckert does as pre-millennial dispensationalism is one of the major shapers of American thought; not only for Fundamentalist Christians but anyone who follows the popular fictional writings of Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series.

Stuckert continues his monograph by discussing the importance of how Christian Fundamentalists view the Bible and the influence of pre-millennial eschatology on American political thought and foreign policy.   Since the popularized version of this eschatology influences the way that many Americans view the world it is appropriate that the effects of it be analyzed by those who study foreign and domestic policy. In his summery and conclusions Stuckert makes an erudite observation that is lost on many people:

“Because religion in America directly impacts policy, military leaders and planners must learn to recognize the tenets and implications of American millennial thought. Millennialism has always been a feature of the American culture and has shaped not only the objectives of U.S. government policy, but also the way in which we interpret the words and actions of other actors on the international stage. Millennial ideas contribute to a common American understanding of international relations that guide our thinking regardless of individual religious or political affiliation. Millennialism has great explanatory value, significant policy implications, and creates potential vulnerabilities that adversaries may exploit. By gaining insight into and embracing intellectual honesty where our own prejudices and proclivities are concerned, we can greatly improve the quality and clarity of our decision-making.” (Stuckert pp. 58-59)

Unruh “cherry picks” what he wants from Stuckert’s monograph in order to paint Stuckert as some kind of anti-Christian officer.  The use of McTernan’s claims to buttress his article shows how biased that Unruh as since McTernan’s livelihood is based on writing books and speaking about Bible prophecy from a pre-millennial dispensational point of view.  He claims to be a “student of American history” but has no academic credentials save a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University in an unnamed field. He has no military experience, no education in military or political theory other than what he may have learned on his own “study” and is in no position to be a legitimate critic of Major Stuckert’s work.  McTernan claims that the “last third (of Stuckert’s work) is an interpretation of Bible belief on world events. “This report blames all the world evils on believers! World peace would break out if it were not for Bible believers in America.” In fact it says no such thing.  It is not a “report” as McTernan calls it, but simply the equivalent of a graduate level thesis. This is nothing but a hit piece on a fellow officer who disagrees with McTernan and the crowd at WorldNet Daily.  McTernan talks about an argument that he had with Colonel Stefan Banack of the School for Advanced Military Studies who McTernan attacks:

“The conversation was extremely heated between us, and he hid behind the freedom of speech to produce it. He refused to let me write an article to refute this attack on Bible believers. He refused to tell me what this study was used for and who within the military was sent copies. I believe that it represents an official military view of Bible believers as Col. Banack said there was no study or article refuting this one.”

The fact that these papers are in the public domain and on the center’s website makes no difference to McTernan. He attempts to paint this is a some kind of conspiracy against Evangelical Christians when in fact it is the equivalent of an academic thesis in a Masters Degree program.  The fact that he says that Colonel Banack “hid behind the freedom of speech to produce it” sends a chilling message. Freedom of speech for McTernan goes only for McTernan not for those who disagree with him. Likewise McTernan uses the refusal of Colonel Banack to allow him to “refute this attack on Bible believers” is a red-herring. The School’s academic publications are for students to publish not for people with no standing in the military to use the platform to propagate their beliefs.  Mr. McTernan to my knowledge is not a student at the Advanced Military Studies program and would not be using the forum for actual academic debate but to advance his own cause which he does on his own website without any restriction.

So once again WorldNet Daily drops a whopper on its readers and attacks the character beliefs and academic thought of a military officer. Their conduct in this is much more like the Taliban and the Iranian Ayatollah’s than anyone who claims to value the right to freedom of speech and religion as they do. Like the early Puritans who came to the New World for “religious freedom” the only religious freedom or freedom of speech that Unruh, Farah and other like them value is their own. Those who dissent from their narrow understanding of eschatology stand condemned as do those who ask legitimate questions about the policy implications of their belief system. If they were ever to be in a position to impose their beliefs in this country men like Major Stuckert and probably yours truly would be persecuted.

Although I am but a “pip-squeak” in comparison to the WorldNet Daily behemoth but I cannot let a fellow officer who is serving in harm’s way be the subject of a gratuitous attack by these people. May God keep Major Stuckert and those he serves with in harm’s way safe and may they accomplish the mission that they have been sent to do.  As far as WorldNet Daily goes…I hope that they continue to have the freedom to speak in the manner that they would deny to those who disagree with them, especially those who serve in the uniform of the United States of America in harm’s way.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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