Today's lesson will breach the paradigm that "Religion and Politics don't mix". This teaching will mix them.
The scripture for my lesson today is drawn from Leviticus 4:22, from today's Parsha: "When a leader sins and inadvertently does something against any of the mitzvot of Adonai concerning things which should not be done, he is guilty."
Chapter 4 of Leviticus tells us that inadvertent sin must be atoned for. And Leviticus further tells us that inadvertent sin does not affect just the individual, but the whole community.
Leviticus 4:13 If the entire community of Israel inadvertently makes a mistake, with the assembly unaware of the matter, and they do something against any of the mitzvot of Adonai concerning things which should not be done, they are guilty.
Two observations: First, everyone was expected to keep the mitzvot - including the leadership, and I'm not talking about just the spiritual leadership, but the political leadership as well. Second, the phrase "concerning the things which should not be done", means the people understood the source of the authority about what should and should not be done. That authority, is of course, Adonai, our God.
Now, I will lay something heavy on you: When the leaders of our Nation sin, you are guilty. Not of sin necessarily, but of not ensuring the proper leader was elected. See Leviticus 19, Verse 17: "Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly, so that you won't carry sin because of him."
This scripture is telling you, don't allow yourself to sin because of something your neighbor has done, but go to your neighbor and rebuke him for his actions.
When was the last time you rebuked your state or federal representative for something he did wrong? But I bet you've harbored anger toward them for something they've done. I know I have! Even if you didn't vote for the guy, he represents you too! I know you don't have sole responsibility to elect our leadership; but our community does have the responsibility to elect leaders from amongst a pool of the best candidates, selecting only those who are God fearing, moral, and righteous - which, as we all know, is nearly impossible these days!
So, I think when we elect a leader and that leader sins, we are guilty too. The problem is you have allowed yourself to be told otherwise. You've been told that religion and politics don't mix. And you bought it! It's a lie and we are, today, paying the price for accepting and repeating that mantra.
The first thing we did is, we allowed God to be removed from our society. We've allowed the historical origins of our Nation to be hidden and downplayed. For instance, let's concentrate on the year 1962. 1962 is now so long ago that we have forgotten the dreadful event which removed God from our schools - and boy, are we paying for it, today! Because of it, God has lifted his hand from our nation for our nation's sins.
What happened in 1962? In 1962 we allowed arbitrary law to become the rule of our land, rather than insisting that God's law be the law of our land. Before I tell you what happened in 1962, let me give an example of the way it was for the century and a half before 1962:
In 1892, there was a court case, the Church of the Holy Trinity vs. the United States: You see, in 1887, the Church of the Holy Trinity in New York employed a clergyman from England as its pastor. That employment was challenged by the United States Attorney General's office as a violation of the law. There was an 1885 law which stated it was unlawful for any person or business to encourage the importation of any alien or foreigner to perform labor or service of any kind. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court. And the Court concluded that only an "absurd" application of the Constitution would allow a restriction on Christianity. They said: "No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people. . . . This is a Christian nation." And in making this judgment the court cited 87 precedents!
The Court's historical discourse in this case was several pages long, citing these 87 precedents until finally summarizing its findings:
"There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. While because of a general recognition of this truth the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, it was decided that, "Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law . . . not Christianity with an established church . . . but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men."
This is the way it was. The Supreme Court always cited precedence to rule on current cases.
Now, back to 1962 for the event we have all forgotten. The Court ruled in the case of Engel vs. Vitale that: "the State's use of the Regents' prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State."
Here is what they ruled against: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessing upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country."
You see, the Board of Education in Hyde Park, New York, had directed the School Principal of the Union Free School District No. 9 to say that prayer in each class at the beginning of each day.
Ten families objected to that prayer, and so, the simple school prayer, suddenly became "unconstitutional" and the eradication of God from public institutions began. And get this: In that 1962 ruling, for the first time in American history, the court cited no precedence. I don't believe this was an oversight. They knew the precedence. But the precedence did not support their evil ruling. And the systematic eradication of anything of God, for God, or about God began.
That simple, non-denominational, prayer became evil, and the good things it conveyed, became bad.
Isaiah 5: 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who change darkness into light and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter!
And we allowed this to happen. I'm talking about the community "we", the proverbial "Christian majority" in this country.
But, you say: "We had nothing to do with it; it was the courts!" Well I beg to differ. Are we or are we not part of the community? Are we or are we not the majority? Do we or do we not have a Constitutional Republic form of Government?
What does our form of government have to do with it, you ask?
Well, a Constitutional Republic allows the people to freely elect those who would both enact and enforce the laws of the land. It does not allow the people to directly enact or enforce either law or policy. This is true. But you do elect representatives to act on your behalf.
Let me go back to the 1962 ruling. The court cited that because of the Separation of Church and State, the government needed to be separated from Christian principles. Let's re-read the ruling: "the State's use of the Regents' prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State." BA-LON-EY!
Where in the Constitution of the United States is the phrase "separation of church and state"? I happen to have a copy of the Constitution here. Let me read from the First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
That is the entire 1st Amendment. Where, in what I just read, did you hear ANY words stating "separation of church and state?"
Let me reread the pertinent part: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
This means that Congress shall not establish a "U.S." religion. It means that Congress shall not REQUIRE a particular, national religion.
Now listen very carefully. The First Amendment of our Constitution is not there to protect Americans from religion. It is there to protect religious Americans from the government! This, is why this country was formed.
When the 1962 Supreme Court ruled in the case of Engel vs. Vitale, we had TWO grievances to air! The restriction of our freedom to pray in school and respect the authority of God, AND the vicious twisting and misinterpretation of our Constitution!
I want to give you just a small history lesson to remind you that our country was formed on religious grounds and that our nation was formed from Judeo-Christian roots:
Our country was formed on this need for the people to be protected from the government! Specifically from the King and the Church of England! At the risk of oversimplifying, the people in England and the English territories had a problem with the King and the Church. Let's read from the Magna Carta. The year is 1215, there is not yet any Colonial America:
KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honor of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers (followed by a long list of dignitaries): FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.
It goes on with many rules to control abuses by the King and Bishops, and concludes with:
"IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever."
Many hundreds of years of oppression and agony still followed and the unresolved conflicts with the King and the Church of England caused the first colonization of what would later become, our United States. I will now read from The Mayflower Compact, the year is 1620, and it is so short I wish to read it entirely:
"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."
So, in the Mayflower Compact, we learn that the first colonists to what would become the U.S., were rooted in the intent of the advancement of the Christian faith, and from the previous history, we understand the need was driven by the abuses of the King and the Church of England.
Now, let me leap ahead 150 years to the Virginia Declaration of Rights. The date June 12, 1776:
Article 16: "That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other."
And now the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, when our country came into existence:
"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation."
"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"
The Declaration then goes on to list the egregious oppression of the King of England and then concludes:
"WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
And now I quote from Patrick Henry, who lived from 1736 - 1799; you know him, he is most famous for his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech. He hails from Hanover County, Virginia and was a prominent figure in the American Revolution. Along with Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine, he was one of the most influential advocates of the American Revolution.
He said: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ."
And John Jay, our nations first Supreme Court Justice: "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
And finally: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports - And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion - reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." Who might have said that? George Bush? Teddy Roosevelt? Bill Clinton? No, it was George Washington!
So, is there any doubt that our nation was founded on God and that our founding fathers expected God's values to rule this country?
You see, America's Founders, for the first time in human history, established not just a religious ideology and not just a political system, but an entire culture upon fundamental Judeo-Christian concepts. For the very first time in the history of the world, a nation - our nation - was founded not only upon the idea of a Supreme Creator and Authority of Law, but just as important, this new nation of 1776 acknowledged and appreciated the uniquely Judeo-Christian idea of individual human liberty. In the new country, no king and no established church would stand in the way of human liberty, human dignity, or human progress.
The original American political system was based upon the promise of the rule of law - not upon the rule of man, or any group of men. The only legitimate law was recognized as the Law of Nature and Nature's God, to quote the Declaration of Independence.
And I dare say that your political representatives who do not or will not comprehend the Laws of God are, in my opinion, illegitimate "leaders." And American voters who elect these illegitimate "leaders" can claim only the least characteristic of Patriotism, that of "I voted".