Category: National Heritage

America Relies on God: Public Days of Fasting and Thanksgiving During the American Revolution

god_bless_americaAs America has humbled herself before God and been obedient to His commandments, He has poured out His blessings upon this nation in innumerable ways. It was by God’s hand and for His purposes that America came into being as the world’s first Christian republic, but it was through the people who covenanted themselves with God that He was able to do His work. Almost all the people who colonized America, though they were from different denominations and Christian persuasions, embraced the Puritan doctrine of Divine Providence, seeing God in history as “directly supervising the affairs of men, sending evil upon the city . . . for their sins, . . . or blessing his people when they turn from their evil ways.”1 Looking to the Scriptures for the source of their law, both personal and civil, they firmly believed God’s blessings would come upon those who obey His commands and curses would come upon the disobedient (see Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26). This is why during times of calamity or crisis both church and civil authorities would proclaim days of fasting and prayer; and when God responded with deliverance and blessing, they would proclaim days of thanksgiving and prayer. From 1620 until the American Revolution at least 1000 such days were proclaimed by governments at all levels, and many more by various churches.2 This continued during our struggle for independence, through our first century as a nation, and, in some measure, even up until today.

The First Great Awakening Beginning in the late 1730s and continuing for about two decades, a great awakening occurred in America. This revival of Christianity set on fire the hearts of the people all over the colonies, which in turn produced a greater morality and godliness than before existed in this nation. This was quite phenomenal for virtue had always permeated America.

One example of this is attested to by historian James Truslow Adams, who said, “I have found only one case of a colonial traveler being robbed in the whole century preceding the Revolution.”3 The Great Awakening had such an impact upon the colonies that in some towns almost the entire populace was converted to Christ. Benjamin Franklin wrote of this time period that “it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”4 This revival of Christianity in the hearts of the people had “expression not merely in church attendance, but in all the activities of life.”5

Universities such as Princeton, Rutgers, Dartmouth and Brown were founded in order to supply all the colonies with learned and influential clergy. These universities produced not only Godly clergy but Godly leaders in civil government, business, and every other aspect of life. Providentially, this awakening occurred while our future Founding Fathers were young men. The men who won the Revolutionary War, formed our Constitutional Republic, and set our nation properly on course were thus equipped with the virtue, morality, self-government, and Biblical worldview necessary for their future stations.

Even the non-Christians, as Franklin and Jefferson, were affected in this way. Franklin said he “never doubted . . . the existence of the Deity; that He made the world, and governed it by His Providence;. . . that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.”6 The ideas upon which our nation was birthed — the right of man to life, liberty, and property— had their origin in God. As they originated in God, they were also secured due to His blessings upon this nation. He blessed not only individuals, but the entire nation. As America humbled herself before God by obedience to His Word and acknowledgment of her dependence upon Him for success in the Revolutionary War and the formation of the new nation, God not only provided wise and virtuous leaders, but also supernaturally intervened on behalf of the American army on many occasions. From the initial conflict with Britain, the American Colonies relied upon God.

George Washington’s words to his wife upon departure to take command of the Continental army, reflected the heart of the American people: “I shall rely . . . confidently on that Providence, which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me.”7

To punish Massachusetts for its action at the Boston Tea Party, England closed the Boston port on June 1, 1774. The response of the colonies revealed in Whom they looked for help. The Virginia House of Burgesses, in resolves penned by Jefferson, “set apart the first day of June as a day of fasting and prayer, to invoke the divine interposition to give to the American people one heart and one mind to oppose by all just means every injury to American rights.”8 On that day large congregations filled the churches. This occurred not only in Virginia but throughout the colonies. Action followed this prayer as the colonists began to voluntarily provide aid and encouragement to Boston as that city’s commerce was cut off by the British blockade. This voluntary and universal action revealed that “beneath the diversity that characterized the colonies, there was American unity.”9 The American people recognized this unity came from a common Christian bond among the people of all the colonies.

In response to the charity that flowed into the city, the Boston Gazette of July 11, 1774, responded by writing, “my persecuted brethren of this metropolis, you may rest assured that the guardian God of New England, who holds the hearts of his people in his hands, has influenced your distant brethren to this benevolence.”10 A few months later, in September of 1774, the first Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia. The first act of the first session of the Congress was to pass a resolution calling for the opening of Congress the next day with prayer by Rev. Duché. The next morning Rev. Duché did pray and read from the thirty-fifth Psalm, as Washington, Henry, Lee, Jay and others knelt and joined with him in prayer. John Adams wrote about this scene in a letter to his wife: “I never saw a greater Effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that Morning. . . . It has had an excellent Effect upon every Body here.”11

God’s involvement in the founding of America is again seen on April 19, 1775. This day marked the battle of Lexington, of which Rev. Jonas Clark proclaimed: “From this day will be dated the liberty of the world.”12 It was his parishioners who shed the first blood of the Revolution, and it was on his church lawn that it occurred. God made certain that on this day His people had proper support, for on April 19, the entire colony of Connecticut was fasting and praying. On March 22, when the Governor of Connecticut, Jonathan Trumbull, proclaimed April 19 as a “Day of publick Fasting and Prayer,” he probably did not realize the significance of that date; but the One who rules heaven and earth and directs the course of history undoubtably knew and was able to direct the humble hearts of the colonists to pray. In part, Trumbull’s proclamation asked, “that God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us, to bring us to a thorough Repentance and effectual Reformation, that our Iniquities may not be our Ruin; that He would restore, preserve and secure the Liberties of this, and all the other British American Colonies, and make this Land a mountain of Holiness and habitation of Righteousness forever.”13

Connecticut was not the only colony to lay the foundations of the War for Independence in prayer, for on April 15, 1775, Massachusetts officially proclaimed May 11 to be set apart as a “Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” — a day where all their confidence was to be “reposed only on that God who rules in the Armies of Heaven, and without whose Blessing the best human Counsels are but foolishness — and all created Power Vanity.”14 America continued to humble herself before God and show her reliance upon Him throughout the war. Frequent days of prayer and fasting were observed, not only by individuals and local churches, but also by the Continental Army, and all the newly united States of America.

Immediately after the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, they appointed chaplains to Congress as well as ordering chaplains to be provided for the army. These chaplains were paid with public funds. As God’s people and the nation humbled themselves and prayed, He moved mightily on their behalf. He gave wisdom to America to know when and how to respond to the injustices of Britain. He worked Christian character into the American people, her leaders, and her army so they could endure many hardships and not give up their fight for liberty, even in seemingly hopeless situations. He also controlled the weather and arranged events to assure eventual victory for the new nation.

One such miraculous event occurred during the summer of 1776. During the Battle of Long Island, Washington and his troops had been pushed back to the East River and surrounded by the much larger British army. Washington decided to retreat across the wide East River, even though it appeared doomed to fail. If it did fail, this probably would have marked the end of the war. Yet the God in Whom Washington and the nation trusted came to their aid. He caused a storm to arise which protected the American army from the enemy, then stopped it so as to allow the Americans to escape. He also miraculously brought in a fog to cover the retreat. In addition, He directed a servant, sent to warn the British, to those soldiers who would not understand him— German-speaking mercenaries. Thanks to God, 9000 men with all their supplies had miraculously retreated to New York. Here we see, as American General Greene said, “the best effected retreat I ever read or heard of.” This event was so astonishing that many (including General Washington) attributed the safe retreat of the American army to the hand of God.15

On October 17, 1777, British General Burgoyne was defeated by Colonial forces at Saratoga. Earlier, General Howe was supposed to have marched north to join Burgoyne’s 11,000 men at Saratoga. However, in his haste to leave London for a holiday, Lord North forgot to sign the dispatch to General Howe. The dispatch was pigeon-holed and not found until years later in the archives of the British army. This inadvertence, plus the fact that contrary winds kept British reinforcements delayed at sea for three months, totally altered the outcome at Saratoga in favor of America.16 In response to the victory, the Continental Congress proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and praise to God. In part, they stated, “Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God, . . . and it having pleased Him in His abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of His common providence, but also to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war for the defence and establishment of our inalienable rights and liberties, particularly in that He hath been pleased . . . to crown our arms with most signal success: it is therefore recommended . . . to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December, for solemn thanksgiving and praise.” They recommended for everyone to confess their sins and humbly ask God, “through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance” and thus He then would be able to pour out His blessings upon every aspect of the nation.17

This is the official resolution of our Congress during the Revolutionary War! No wonder the blessings of God flowed upon this nation. Similar resolutions were also issued by the Commander of the American army, George Washington. When Benedict Arnold’s treason was providentially discovered in September of 1780, both Congress and Washington acknowledged it was by the Hand of God.

Congress declared December 7, 1780, a day of Thanksgiving in which the nation could give thanks to God for His “watchful providence” over them. In a letter to John Laurens, Washington wrote, “In no instance since the commencement of the War has the interposition of Providence appeared more conspicuous than in the rescue of the Post and Garrison of West Point from Arnold’s villainous perfidy.”18 In Washington’s official address to the Army announcing Arnold’s treason, he stated, “The providential train of circumstances which led to it [his discovery of Arnold’s treason] affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine protection.”19

This Divine protection of the liberties of America was seen over and over again during the Revolution — at Trenton and the crossing of the Delaware; during the winter at Valley Forge; in France becoming America’s ally; during the miraculous retreat of the Americans from Cowpens; and at the Battle of Yorktown.20 Throughout all these events America consistently gave thanks to Almighty God, humbled herself before Him, and sought to obey Him in all spheres of life. This released the blessings and grace of God upon this nation which enabled America to be victorious in her struggle for freedom.

Some years later, God’s grace provided wisdom to establish the United States Constitution, and in so doing provide a Christian form of government through which the Christian spirit of this nation would effectively flow. For America to continue to be a citadel of liberty and prosperity, we must continually humble ourselves before Him who gave birth to this nation and acknowledge with George Washington in his first inaugural speech of April 30, 1789, that “no people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished, by some token of providential agency.”21

In 1787, a committee of all the states of the United States of America, gratefully looking back over all the preceding years, set apart October 19, 1787, “as a day of public prayer and thanksgiving” to their “all-bountiful Creator” who had conducted them “through the perils and dangers of the war” and established them as a free nation, and gave “them a name and a place among the princes and nations of the earth.” In that official proclamation they wrote that the “benign interposition of Divine Providence hath, on many occasions been most miraculously and abundantly manifested; and the citizens of the United States have the greatest reason to return their most hearty and sincere praises and thanksgiving to the God of their deliverance, whose name be praised.”22 God is the One who laid the foundation for America and the One Who assured her birth and growth as a nation. Apart from His continued influence, we cannot expect our nation to be maintained.

Stephen McDowell

End Notes 1. W. DeLoss Love, Jr., The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1895), 41.

2. See Love, pp. 464–514 for a list.

3. James Truslow Adams, A History of American Life, Vol. III, Provincial Society, 1690-1763 (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1927), 161.

4. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: Walter J. Black, Inc., 1932), 217.

5. Adams, p. 284.

6. The Autobiography of Franklin, p. 182.

7. William J. Johnson, George Washington the Christian (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1976, reprint), 69.

8. The Christian History of the Constitution, Verna M. Hall, compiler (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1980), 336.

9. Ibid., pp. 338-339.

10. Ibid.

11. The Book of Abigail and John, Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975), 76.

12. They Preached Liberty, Franklin P. Cole, editor (Indianapolis: Liberty Press), 39.

13. Copy of proclamation in The Christian History of the American Revolution, Consider and Ponder, Verna M. Hall, compiler (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1976), 495.

14. The Christian History of the Constitution, p. Id.

15. See Mark A. Beliles and Stephen K. McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville: Providence Foundation, 1991), 158-161.

16. America, Great Crises in Our History Told by Its Makers, A Library of Original Sources, Vol. III, Issued by Americanization Department, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Chicago, 1925, p. 211.

17. B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), 531.

18. Beliles and McDowell, 163-164.

19. America, p. 285.

20. See Beliles and McDowell, America’s Providential History, Chapter 11.

21. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson (Washington: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), vol. 1.

22. B.F. Morris, 542-543.

 

Evil at the Gate

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“Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. …They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other” (Daniel 5:1–6).

While Belshazzar the king stood there in fear, Daniel gave him the word of the Lord: “O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor…But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this” (Daniel 5:18–22).

We see here that this was not the first time God had dealt with pride in this nation. Before Belshazzar, a king named Nebuchadnezzar ruled in Babylon, and this was the word that was given to him: “This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men. They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules” (Daniel 4:17, 25–26). In other words,“Nebuchadnezzar, you have exalted yourself above the knowledge of God, engaging in practices that God has clearly forbidden. Because of the pride of your heart, your kingdom is going to be cut down. However, there will be a stump left, and it will grow again after you are humbled.”

And now Daniel was standing before the one whom he called Nebuchadnezzar’s son, saying, “Belshazzar, you are well aware of how God deals with pride! You know that you cannot deal treacherously with God and escape the consequences. Yet even knowing this, you have not humbled yourself.”

■ AMERICA’S OFTEN-FORGOTTEN HISTORY

In the formative years of the United States of America, we, too, set our hand to shameful practices which ultimately brought about the judgment of God, just as in Belshazzar’s day.

In the years when slavery became an acceptable practice, 12.5 million Africans were stolen from their homeland—mostly the young and the strong. Approximately 10.5 million survived while 2 million died en route to their various destinations due to the cruelty imposed on them. According to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 6 percent of those who survived were delivered to North America, making the numbers somewhere in the vicinity of 630,000 slaves that we attained. Most people today have no idea that even Wall Street in Manhattan was once a slave-trading post.

Tragically, thousands of slaves died because of the conditions they were forced to live in, even after arriving on the shores of America. Amputations were a common punishment for slaves trying to gain their freedom, which was actually the irony of ironies—a nation that was priding itself on freedom from tyranny became in itself tyrannical to a whole race of people that were brought to its shores. Many of the African slaves were buried without any record of who they were.

Although there were other circumstances, in great measure, slavery was the predominant issue that led to the onset of the Civil War in this country. In the war, 625,000 young people in America died—not only men but women. That was 2 percent of the American population!

In President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which took place when both slavery and the Civil War were nearing an end, he suggested that the death and destruction brought on by the war was divine retribution to America for possessing slaves. He even believed that it might be the will of God for the war to continue “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.”

As the Bible says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, whatever a man sows that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). I do not believe it is a coincidence that 630,000 slaves were dropped off in America, and later 625,000 American sons and daughters died in the Civil War. Just as thousands of the slaves died because of their cruel living conditions, 56,000 people died from starvation and disease in prison camps during the war. Many slaves were buried without dignity or any record of who they were. In the war, 40 percent of the dead were never identified; they had been left to rot in piles on the battlefield.

■ CONTINUING IN PRIDE

And so we must ask ourselves: What are we doing with the history that we know? There is no excuse for the ignorance of what we once did and how God responded in this nation. As we saw in our opening text, Belshazzar, too, was without excuse. “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this” (Daniel 5:22). Belshazzar continued in his pride and rebellion, even though he should have known that God will not be mocked.

The indictment continued: “And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold (the gods of prosperity), bronze and iron (the gods of human strength and ingenuity), wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified” (Daniel 5:23). Similarly, in America, we have praised the gods of silver and of gold. We allowed preachers to be raised up, unchallenged. Absolute charlatans came in and taught the people that somehow godliness is a means to financial gain.

“Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.” (Daniel 5:24–30).

The writing was on the wall, yet what did Belshazzar do? He got up from the table and proclaimed Daniel to be the third ruler in his kingdom! He should have turned to prayer. He should have fallen on his knees and cried out for mercy. He should have barricaded the gates. Instead, he simply decorated Daniel!

Historians tell us that the Medes and Persians were already at the gate, and they ended up entering the city without any resistance from the people within. That very night, Belshazzar was slain.

In the same way, in this hour, evil is at the gate in America! Can’t you see that the handwriting is already on the wall? We are on the verge of being given over to the godless. In fact, the godless with their value system have already largely infiltrated our society. However, we are on the verge of something much deeper and darker than anything we could have imagined.

■  IT’S TIME TO PRAY

This leaves us with one question: What will we do as the Church of Jesus Christ? We are the only ones left with the power to push back the darkness. We do not have to open the gate and allow this nation to be flooded with evil. That is, unless we become like Belshazzar and his entourage, who agreed with the word of God yet could do nothing about it. All they could do was decorate the prophet, saying, “Yes, this is a man of God. Yes, this is a word from God!” Similarly, you can read this newsletter and call me an anointed man of God; you can agree that this message is from the Lord, yet still do nothing.

However, I remind you that God said to His own people, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). We must admit that our ways have not been God’s ways—that we have pursued pleasure more than God. We must acknowledge that we have failed to be a light to this generation and turn from our wicked ways!

According to His Word, we must also humble ourselves and pray. Oh, if ever there was a time to pray, it is now! If your church does not have a prayer meeting, start one in your home! If we do not pray, what kind of country are we going to be leaving for our children and grandchildren? What kind of evil is going to invade the classroom? What kinds of laws are going to be passed obligating the Church of Jesus Christ to become partakers of this nation’s sin?

I would like you to seriously consider these things, for we are living in a moment when evil is at the gate of our nation. However, the good news is that it can still be averted in measure, for God is good and His mercy endures forever. I believe God can still touch our children; He can still touch our churches and our neighborhoods. I believe that America can still experience a third great awakening before that final day of judgment comes upon this whole world.

But I also know that there has never been a great awakening anywhere at any time in history without somebody, somewhere, praying and laying hold of God. It all begins with prayer. In the book of Ezekiel, the Lord said, “I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30). I can picture the Spirit of God going through the streets of a nation that was known for its religion. There was a deep pleading in the heart of God, for He did not want to have to judge that nation. Yet the people were probably busy, just as we are today. “I have children to tend to. I have groceries to buy. I work long hours on my job.” Everyone had an excuse, and so they remained unaware of the critical moment in history they were living in.

■ ANSWERING THE CALL

However, as the writer of Hebrews said, “I have a vision of better things in your case” (see Hebrews 6:9). I believe with all my heart that some of you reading this newsletter will take this call seriously and will not simply put away this plea from the Holy Spirit. You understand that we are living in a crisis moment, and are willing to get up and say, “I will go to the gate. I will intercede, and I will trust God for the strength to push back the plans of darkness to destroy our society!”

It is encouraging to remember that even though the Medes and Persians did take over Babylon, Daniel, because he was a righteous man, was technically transported into the next society and given much favor. He became one of the vessels God used to influence the king to sign a decree allowing God’s people to return to the Promised Land to rebuild the testimony of the Lord.

And so I challenge you now to pray as you have never prayed before. You and I have no excuse for remaining in spiritual poverty. After all, everything was accomplished for us on the cross, and the Lord has left us here on this earth as His co-laborers to win a harvest of souls. He has given us the assurance that whatever we ask, believing, we shall receive. That means we are not powerless; we do not have to merely sit as spectators, watching this godless parade flood our nation. No! We have power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (see Luke 10:19). We have the power to stand at the gates and resist evil. We have the power to believe God for a spiritual awakening. We have the power to call down heaven in order that His Name might be exalted in this generation—and by God’s grace, that is what we will do!

Carter Conlon
©2016 Times Square Church

Courtesy of:

https://www.tscnyc.org/sermon_newsletter/2016/May/2016-05_Carter_Conlon_Evil_is_at_the_Gate.html

Thomas More Law Center Continues Fight Against Common Core; Files Brief to Uphold Missouri Ruling That Testing is Illegal

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Continuing its national battle against the federal government’s attempted takeover of public education, the Thomas More Law Center, last week, filed a friend of the court brief in the Missouri Court of Appeals supporting a lower court decision that held the State’s participation and membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (“SBAC”) is illegal and SBAC itself is an “unlawful interstate compact … whose existence and operation violate[s] the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

The lower court ruling which stopped Missouri from paying over $4 million in membership fees to SBAC, is being appealed by Missouri state officials, including Governor Jay Nixon.

The original lawsuit was filed by D. John Sauer of the St. Louis, Missouri, firm Clark & Sauer, LLC in September 2014 on behalf of concerned Missouri residents and taxpayers.

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, joined with Mr. Sauer in filing a similar lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SBAC in North Dakota. A North Dakota District Judge will hear arguments next week on whether he should stop North Dakota from participating in SBAC.

The TMLC first became involved in the fight to stop Common Core in response to concerns of parents and teachers over the federal government’s control of curriculum nationwide and the standards themselves. As a result, the TMLC previously developed a Test Refusal and Student Privacy Protection Form and aCommon Core Resource Page as a general reference and guide for concerned parents and individuals.

Both SBAC and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”) were created in response to a federal Department of Education grant program designed to create academic assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments leave local schools little choice but to align their curriculum to the standards and assessment, allowing the federal Department of Education to effectively control public education.

SBAC’s state membership agreements, executed by officials in Missouri, North Dakota, and several other states, have raised concerns that state officials are handing over local educational decisions to SBAC, and by extension the federal government which violates federal statutes prohibiting the federal government—and, in particular, the federal Department of Education—from controlling educational policy, including curriculum decisions and educational-assessment programs in elementary and secondary education.

The new wave of testing ushered in by SBAC and PARCC sparked a national opt-out movement as students, teachers and administrators grapple with the heavy burden created by these assessments. The looming threat from the Department of Education of the loss of federal funding helped drive the controversy between parents and school administrators over parental opt-outs and test refusal. As a result of these parental opt outs, students across the country were  formally disciplines and subjected to “sit-and-stare” policies; refused admittance to the classroom; lost honors, class trips, and athletic participation; and were even suspended.

 Click here to read the Law Center’s friend of the Court Brief

Courtesy of https://www.thomasmore.org/

Westminster Theological Seminary President: Christians Need to Stand Up in Public Square, Politics to ‘Reclaim Judeo-Christian Heritage’

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Speaking at Westminster Theological Seminary’s second-ever “Real State of the Union” conference last Saturday, three Christian scholars stressed to attendees that it is time for Christians to faithfully stand up in the public square and reclaim America’s Judeo-Christian heritage from what has become a prominently secular society.

“I am calling on all believers to have a recommitment to the truth of Christ to speak the truth and love, to be who we are and to engage in justice by being committed to justice and seeing to it by speaking in the public square,” Westminster Theological Seminary President Peter Lillback said. “We are not forcing ourselves into a place that we don’t belong. This public square was created by this Judeo-Christian heritage that we are speaking about.”

Lillback set the tone for the day-long conference, which was held at First Presbyterian Church in Bonita Springs, Florida, with an event-opening speech providing a rundown of how America has transformed from a country that was discovered and founded on Christian values to a society that now largely mocks and ridicules Christians who act in accordance to their religious beliefs.

“We are now in a day that was much like what first century Christians faced in a pluralistic world that was antagonistic to their Christian values,” Lillback told The Christian Post. “We aren’t even beginning to pay the price that our forefathers did for their faith.”

“Yes, we will be persecuted. Yes, we will be criticized. Yes, we will be assaulted. But Jesus said, ‘Be glad and rejoice for that is what they did to the prophets before you,'” Lillback continued.

Providing an example of how the government is now treats Christians and their faith, Lillback highlighted the military chaplain who was “condemned” in December for talking about his faith during a suicide prevention class.

Lillback explained that although many secularists today claim that religion has no role in government or the public sector, America’s Founding Fathers actually intended for the country to be one where politicians and public officials are free to make decisions based on their faith.

Lillback points out that the Founding Fathers specifically included four references to God in the Declaration of Independence and opines that they are indications that more trust needs to be put into God when it comes to leading and governing a nation that is supposed to be free of tyranny.

“So its been observed that the four references to God actually reflect the very form of government that the Constitution will eventually create,” Lillback said. “There are lawgivers. God is a giver of law. There are judges. God is the supreme judge. There are executives. God is the executor of his will through providence.”

Lillback added that God is also present in the Constitution, although others might disagree. Things such as the president having the option to take Sundays for sabbath and the president having to swear on the Bible when he takes his oath of office are clear reminders of how the Founding Fathers intended for the light of God to help drive the success of the nation, and protect it from human imperfection.

“Some people have said that the Constitution is a godless constitution, but it’s actually remarkably Christian in many ways,” Lillback asserted. “The most Christian element of all the Constitution is the lack of trust in human nature. All the ways in which there are checks and balances and there are different branches of government and the severance of power. Those are a recognition that man has basically corrupted and he will be even more corrupted when he has power.”

Lillback further explained that Christianity was a crucial part of public education and helped fuel the country’s Judeo-Christian morals up until the 1890s, as half of the boards of public universities were comprised of clergymen.

“When you get to the 1890s with the Holy Trinity case, you get to the highwater mark for Judeo-Christian value structure. But at this point, this is where we begin to see the movement from the very highest levels beginning to de-christianize the Universities,” Lillback said. “They began to push theological and seminary studies out of the universities and replaced it with the study of religions. Over time, it becomes more and more committed, not to deism but ultimately a form of practical atheism to where atheism became the prevailing view of our universities. That begins to take hold in the progressive era in the early 1900s.”

Harry Reeder, senior pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, followed Lillback’s historical rundown with his speech on the “downward spiral of the culture.”

Secular viewpoints became dominant in America in the later half of the 20th century and now 21st century pluralistic and post-modern culture has created hostility towards the same morals and values that America was founded on.

Following Reeder’s lecture, Bruce Waltke, a reformed evangelical professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, told the audience that Christians and the church need to be far more active in politics than they currently are.

“[Waltke’s] Impact has been enormous. In studying the Proverbs, he has come to the conclusion that the church ought to be far more involved in the public square and the political activity if we take the teaching of the Proverbs seriously,” Lillback explained. “I think it is quite a statement for a Biblical theologian, because he is moving out of his normal sphere to say, ‘These principles really do matter for what we are doing as a country.'”

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/news/westminster-theological-seminary-president-christians-need-to-stand-up-in-public-square-politics-to-reclaim-judeo-christian-heritage-134789/

The Greater Need for Spiritual Liberty: Freedom From Every Form of Captivity

By Tim Rowe

Our country is in desperate need for the spiritual sons and daughters of liberty to once again rise up in the spirit of sacrifice and bravery that this country was founded upon and move forward for God with a relentless passion to bring spiritual liberty to our land. We are called of God to go forth to a dying world and open their eyes, turning them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God and offer them a place of honor among the sanctified.

The clarion call that heralded forth the ministry of Jesus Christ should ring loudly in our soul.

Luke 4:18 (Message Bible)

God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

The times are desperate. The times are urgent. The times are perilous. The sons and daughter of liberty must act now and go forth led by their glorious Lord into the valley of human need and set the captive soul free and bring His salvation, power and glory into every town, city and state. We must crush the idols of the heart and shine as lights in the darkness of this world as we hold forth the Word of Life. We all have a sphere of influence that we live in and thus we should begin our work as ambassadors for Christ in our homes, our families, our neighborhood, our jobs, and our communities and then branch out from there.

In the 1760’s, during the years right before the Revolutionary War, a group of brave men formed the Sons of Liberty to resist the unjust actions of the British Empire and move toward independence. They were bold in the face of impossible odds and spoke out of a heart that had a deep passion for liberty as a God given right. They were often just ordinary men, but the energy of their conviction gave them a great position of importance in the founding of this country.

Ray Steadman-Spiritual Warfare

God has issued to each of us a bugle call to intelligent combat. It is a call to us to be men and women of God, to fight the good fight, to stand fast in the faith, to be strong in the Lord in the midst of the battle, in the midst of this dark and evil world.Those who ignore this call and the battle that rages around them are doomed to be casualties. We cannot remain neutral. We must choose sides. We must align ourselves with the forces of God, the forces of good. We must answer the bugle call, we must put on our armor and stand our ground or the battle will roll over us and in our defenseless, bewildered state, the forces of evil will trample us into the dust of the battlefield.

It comes as a shock to the new believer that the Christian life is a battleground and not a playground. We are at war.

The truth is that very few Christians grasp the value and necessity of spiritual combat.

“The Lord is a warrior” (Exodus 15:3):

The Lord will go forth like a warrior,

He will arouse His zeal like a man of war.

He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry.

He will prevail against His enemies. (Isaiah 42:13)

Warrior, hear the Lord’s marching orders for your life: “Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am a mighty man’ “(Joel 3:9-10).

We must approach our service as sons and daughters of spiritual liberty and our position on the front lines of battle with great zeal, passion, fervor and excitement. How exciting to be called into the service of our God!

Romans 12:11 (NIV): Never be lacking in zeal. Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Amplified: Never lag in zeal and earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.

When 56 brave men stood forth with great passion and committed an act of high treason by signing the Declaration of Independence, they were signing their own death warrant.

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of the Revolutionary War.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis, had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire, which was done. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home after the war to find his wife dead, his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. There were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

What has the gospel cost you? Has our level of sacrifice for the gospel even come close to the sacrifice of these 56 signers who we celebrate today for without their incredible act of courage, there would be no United States of America.

52 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were devout, committed Christians and the other four believed the Bible to be divine truth and believed in the God of Scripture. Immediately after the Declaration was signed, Continental Congress ordered 20,000 Bible for the people of this nation.

As the 56 signers of Declaration were critical to the founding of the United States of America, we are critical to the healing of our land which is full of idols and whose heart has turned away from God on so many levels.

II Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We must first call upon God, humble ourselves, turn from all wicked ways or sins in our heart, pray and seek God’s face, then He can move in the great task of healing our land.

I Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV): I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

A spiritual warrior must first establish his heart toward God. Beloved, hear the heart of our Lord beckoning you to union with Him in every corner of your soul This is a commitment that must charge out of our hearts and mouth at the dawn of every new day. Joshua, at the end of his long life of faithful service to God, still renewed this commitment, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). In Nehemiah 12, we read of the walls of Jerusalem being dedicated with gladness and hymns of thanksgiving. The warrior must joyfully dedicate all that he is to all that God is. Before we count ourselves as warriors, let us check our foundation for the marks of true dedication. These marks are gladness, thanksgiving and zeal to follow the Lord of Hosts wherever He may lead.

“WHEN YOU GO OUT TO BATTLE”

DEUTERONOMY 20:1

The Deuteronomy passage is clear. Before we can be warriors for God, we must be established as lovers of God. “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:11). Purpose in your soul right now to draw your heart to God before you draw your sword for Him.

We can sleep when we get to heaven. We should move, push and go forward with great devotion like an athlete to point of agony. That is the commitment required to live as a Christian. When are you going to pull out all the stops and burn for God and the Lord Jesus Christ? When is God going to be your love, your passion, when is he going to be the excitement of your being. When is He going to be your living experience?

Don’t just play it safe your whole life. Look at Matthew 25 and the parable of the talents. Do you think Jesus was trying to tell us something?

Bolt out of every oppressive circumstance and draw strength from your God by desperate prayer and fierce devotion. Don’t be weighed down by yesterday’s failures or tomorrow’s burdens.

So often our heart cries out: I AM NOT THE ONE, THIS IS NOT THE PLACE, NOW IS NOT THE TIME. Yet this is not true, as you are the one, this is the place, now is the time. God needs you desperately on the battlefield. We should take to the heart the words of God uttered by the King David:

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. . . .

For by Thee I can run upon a troop;

And by my God I can leap over a wall…. He trains my hands for battle,

So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze…. I pursued my enemies and overtook them,

And I did not turn back until they were consumed.

I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise; They fell under my feet.

For thou hast girded me with strength for battle;

Thou hast subdued under me those who rose up against me.

(Psalm 18:2, 29, 34, 37-39)

This July Fourth let’s take more to heart then simply fireworks, food, and time off of work. Our heart and soul should take strong note of the words of a son of liberty and patriot at one of the most trying times at the dawning of America. Imagine these words bursting forth from the pulpit at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775.

They tell us, sir, that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable — and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

Patrick Henry – March 23, 1775

ADF: Atheists’ lawsuit against national motto should be thrown out

In God we trustNEW YORK — Alliance Defending Freedom filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit Thursday in support of the use of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on U.S. coins and currency. Last February, a group of atheists filed a lawsuit against the federal government that claims the use of the national motto on money is unconstitutional even though it is a practice that has deep roots in American history and federal courts have repeatedly upheld it as constitutional.

The Alliance Defending Freedom brief explains that merely being offended is not a sufficient legal cause (known as “standing”) on which to file a lawsuit attacking the national motto.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to abandon their religious heritage simply to appease someone’s political agenda,” said Litigation Counsel Rory Gray. “Courts have repeatedly ruled that the national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ is constitutional and can be used on U.S. currency, and that is the correct conclusion. In addition to the fact that numerous courts have already rejected the lawsuit’s claims, those bringing this suit can’t do so simply because they are offended by a historical phrase.”

As the Alliance Defending Freedom brief filed in Newdow v. United States of America explains, the government’s expenditure of tax dollars to create coins and currency is “a secular government function” that does not further any religious ends. The brief also notes that “ideological frustration” or “subjective feelings of offense and alienation” are not legitimate reasons to file a lawsuit. “Federal courts are not forums for the ventilation of public grievances,” the brief says.

“The emotional response of offended atheists does not amount to a violation of the Establishment Clause,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “This lawsuit is based on a deep misunderstanding of the First Amendment. It should be dismissed.”
Joseph Ruta, one of nearly 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom, is local counsel for ADF.

Missouri Mayor to Install National Motto ‘In God We Trust’ Inside City Buildings

st-peters-moCity buildings in St. Peters, Mo., will begin displaying the national motto “In God We Trust” in April – a decision alarming to atheists who believe the motto is unconstitutional.

Inspired by similar efforts throughout the nation, St. Peters, Mo., Mayor Len Pagano and members of the Board of Aldermen had voted (five voting yes and three absent) on Jan. 10 to approve the display.

“When I heard this idea at the National League of Cities conference, I thought what a great way of showing patriotism,” Pagano said. “I have found that it’s something the community at large thinks is the right thing to do, and we are leading the way by being the first city in St. Charles County to display ‘In God We Trust’ in city buildings.”

On March 12, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent a letter to Pagano and the Board of Aldermen asking them to honor the “constitutional principle of separation between church and state,” and to reconsider their decision to display In God We Trust in five city buildings, including St. Peters City Hall, the aldermanic chambers in the city’s justice center and the municipal courtroom.

Dan Barker, co-president of the Wisconsin-based FFRF, a nonprofit organization that represents atheists and agnostics, told The Christian Post that his organization sent out 2,500 letters last year challenging the display of religious messages on city property.

“What is their intent,” asked Barker, who believes St. Peters’ mayor must have a religious agenda behind his actions. “Because of all the things that the city has to do, why would they do that?”

In Barker’s opinion, the city can recognize that religion is part of people’s lives in the community, but he also believes it has no place in city business.

Barker said that lawsuits challenging the use of the motto In God We Trust on city properties have increased in number in recent years. Although his group cannot litigate every case, Barker said they could file a complaint against the city of St. Peters, but instead they’re waiting to receive a response from Pagano’s office.

On Feb. 1, FFRF filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York claiming the motto In God We Trust violates the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

In the letter to Pagano from Annie Gaylor, co-president of FFRF, she claims: “Statements about a god have no place in government buildings. Elected officials should not use their government position and government buildings as a place for promoting their religious views.”

She continues, “More than 638,000 Missouri adults identify as non-religious (American Religious Identification Survey 2008). Aldermen are elected to represent all residents of St. Peters, including those that do not believe in a monotheistic god or any gods.”

“Additionally, it does not inspire confidence that city officials apparently feel ‘In God We Trust’ must be displayed at the municipal courthouse and in the Board of Aldermen meeting room in order for you to make the right civic decisions.”

“The history of the motto, ‘In God We Trust’ evidences no secular purpose; on the contrary, the motto was first adopted during the Cold War as a reaction to the purported ‘godlessness’ of Communism. America’s original motto was purely secular, i.e., ‘E Pluribus Unum’ (‘out of many, one’), which was selected by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.”

According to In God We Trust – America, the national motto is displayed in over 300 cities. The national movement, founded by Bakersfield City Councilmember Jacquie Sullivan, aims to get the motto in as many cities throughout America as possible.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/missouri-mayor-to-install-national-motto-in-god-we-trust-inside-city-buildings-92451/#UtUa0RZTb5TiySbJ.99