Years ago I took my twin sons fishing at the Ross Barnett Reservoir just north of Jackson, MS. John and Jerry were in the third or fourth grade at the time and none of us were experienced fishermen, but we were with our church group and decided to try our luck at being anglers.
We were getting nowhere quick and very much at the point of giving up our fishing expedition in favor of a game of horseshoes or badminton. All of a sudden Jerry’s rod bent into a rainbow-like arc giving evidence of a significant catch. We rushed to his side and he was trying to reel in what seemed to be a trophy fish. We soon realized that he had at least a 10-pound bass on the line. A crowd had gathered to see the mighty struggle being fought by the future Bassmaster Classic Champion.
Jerry managed to get this huge, beautiful, sparkling fish onto the rocks at his feet. We were all gasping in disbelief and wonder that a 9-year-old boy could land such a magnificent creature. As I reached down to get the amazing bass that was soon to become a taxidermist’s project, the fish twisted and turned, got off the hook and flipped back into the water.
I thought, “If I had moved faster, I might have been able to get the fish before it made its exodus from the rocks and re-entry into the water.”
But the fish was gone forever. It would have been bad enough for me to have caught it and lost it, but I felt so bad for my son. His euphoria quickly turned to disappointment. His glee turned to gloom. He had it, but lost it.
That is just about how I feel about our liberty as we prepare to celebrate our 240th year of independence as a nation. I rejoice in almost a quarter of a millennia of freedom in America, but it seems like our liberty is so fragile and almost like that bass on the rocks – about to slip away.
And I don’t hate it for myself, but for my children and grandchildren and those who will receive our inheritance. I doubt it will be as bright and blessed as the inheritance we received from our parents and grandparents.
Oh, our future generations may have it as good financially, because my parents came out of the Great Depression and we grew up in rather poor circumstances. But our children and grandchildren cannot possibly understand the spiritual bounty and blessings of life in America 50 years ago. Faith was alive, revival was a reality, and most churches were filled with excited Christians.
Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby, wrote a book several years ago entitled Faith in America. In that book he articulated five important truths: “(1) everyone has a worldview, (2) our Founding Fathers came from a biblical worldview, (3) their intention was that America would be a Christian nation, (4) there are good reasons to believe the Bible, and (5) biblical guidelines are good for a society.”
In chapter ten of Green’s book he writes about “how far things have moved away from our Founder’s original intentions.” For example, Benjamin Rush was a distinguished physician and, at age 31, the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence. He insisted that the Bible should be used as the textbook in public schools, stating, “Christianity is the only true and perfect religion; and that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obey its precepts they will be wise and happy.”
Today the Bible is denigrated in many public schools and institutions of higher learning. In fact, we have systematically removed prayer from our schools and as a result of the Schempp decision in 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States was unconstitutional.
We have systematically removed God and His Word from public life in America. Undoubtedly, there is a casual relationship between taking prayer and Bible reading out of our schools and the downward trend spiritually and morally in this nation.
Carol Brooks, editor of two inspirational web magazines, explains, “As we see it, the court ruling to remove prayer from the school system was nothing more than the ‘official’ stamp on the removal of God from a very crucial part of our society. It was simply one large step among many small ones, which has contributed to the moral spiritual disintegration of the U.S.
“It was a flying leap across the narrow chasm separating a God fearing moral country and the chaotic ‘everything goes’ situation we find ourselves in today. The message the Supreme Court sent to the country that fateful day was that it was okay to ‘remove’ God from His rightful place. They were simply another, very effective, tool in Satan’s hand.”
As previously mentioned, like the bass that jumped back into the water, I sense that our freedoms are stealthily slipping away.
When I read George Orwell’s book 1984 in college I thought he was bordering on lunacy with his preposterous predictions. Today I think he was a prophet, not in the biblical sense, but in a very practical sense. He imagined a future where speech was greatly restricted.
To Orwell the language of the totalitarian state he imagined was called “Newspeak”, and it bears an amazing likeness to the political correctness we are seeing in America in 2016.
Maybe our speech is not restricted so much as of yet, but I think it is often ridiculed and maligned. If you don’t agree with current leadership or whoever has the platform you are marginalized and discredited.
What is next?
It seems logical to assume that after the ridicule and marginalization comes the actual restriction. It hasn’t happened as of this editorial and until it does I am going to thankfully celebrate our Independence Day at least one more time.