Ruling Piety & Devotion
Dr. Jay Worth Allen
One of my precious friends wondered why I had not made an effort to press forward concerning public piety - public school prayers, devotions and the like, to be precise - as governmental mandates. “Since this subject,” he said, “is so pressing in our day.” The issue is a large one, to be sure, but I can not command anyone's heart - no man has dominion over another man's faith. As significant as this subject may be, I am at best only a man with an opinion. It is therefore each man's liberty, in the Body of Christ to address the issue as he - in clear truth - feels is right. “Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows” (Romans 14:22). But here are some particulars I will attempt to address.
First of all it is very dangerous to ask a governmental agency, especially one reluctant to keep “In God we trust” on our money, to legislate spiritual behavior of any kind. If, for example, a recognized Atheist was asked to teach in your children's Sunday school concerning the redemption of the Lord, doubtless you would be the first to rise up in horror. Rightly so. Therefore to suggest that stipulated laws should be passed which would force public school teachers or public officials - who are in many cases humanistic at worst, agnostic at best - to lead our children in prayer or any religious observance is just a little incongruous.
Modern day Germany not only allows religion to be taught and prayers to be spoken in public schools, but Church and state officials work together to provide religious education to every school child who wants it. This is, in all probability an outgrowth to converse Nazism after World War II.
Any German public school, with ten or more children from the same religious tradition is required, upon the request of the parents, to supply a special teacher which will give their mandated religious instruction to the students. That sounds worthwhile at face value, but Germany now faces an unexpected problem. Seven hundred thousand Islamic students in the public schools have now requested Islamic instruction. Although the German constitution states that all religious instruction in the public schools must be based on the Bible, the previously nonexistent situation has happened. The German schools are now required (by law) to read the Koran (the Islamic Bible) as well as the Jewish and Christian Bible. Germany has a democratic government.
If we institute a law in a country such as ours (the USA) - one with a democratic system (which I hope everyone understands I am not flaking) - which would require Bible reading or prayer in our public schools and arenas, then passages from everyone's Bible would need to be read. Bureaucracies interpret the term, Bible as a very broad-minded noun.
The Koran is the Islamic Bible. The Book of Mormon is avowed as, "another Testament of Jesus Christ,” The Buddhists have a Bible. The Bhagavard-Gita, The Essential Kabbalah, The Essential Rumi, The Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Tao Te Ching are all considered Bibles by their followers. Each of these Bibles - including the Hebrew and Christian Bible - would of necessity be taught and their prayers mandated if a law was passed which requires religion to be taught and prayers to be expressed in our public parks, schools and any government sponsored sportsplex. The question then is, “Which bible?” Remember we live in a democracy. Everyone has a vote.
There is a movement which has formed in the past few years which would call for silent prayer to be observed in our public school rooms and public school functions such as football games and the like. The men of this movement love to quote, "Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attentive unto the prayer that is made in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:15). But silent prayer only opens the door to transcendental mediation and other various mystic thoughts (prayers) - giving cults the ability to enjoin themselves at the same time the Church is praying to our Father in Heaven. One of my teachers referred to this movement as “abominable silent prayer.” I agree. Public silent prayer will and does cause confusion of the deepest sort. Confusion of the mind and the spirit.
When we ask the federal government to legislate a responsibility which is ours - the Church’s - the door is then opened to every kind of problem which will follow. I am grateful for the Christian influence which is present in these United States of America, but I hope every believer understands that Christian education, instruction of and participation in Christian learning or prayer is the responsibility of the parent and not the onus of the government.
I do hope your children pray before you send them off to school each day. I hope Brooke and Alison prayed before they went off to school each day. But that hope and that pursuit is the responsibility of the parent, not the obligation of the government.
Martin Luther once said, “I can’t get anything done if I don’t spend at least two hours a day in prayer.” Dear Martin didn't spend these two hours in public.
A Very Public Prayer
A Kansas minister named Joe Wright was asked to give the opening prayer for a session of the Kansas Senate - October 2000. He offered the senators a bit more than they'd bargained for and, in fact, some of them were so offended that they walked out. He prayed:
"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness
And to ask Your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good'
But that is exactly what we have done.
We have lost our spiritual equilibrium
And reversed our values.
We confess that We have ridiculed
The absolute truth of Your Word
And called it Pluralism.
We have worshiped other gods
And called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion
And called it alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor
And called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness
And called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn
And called it choice.
We have shot abortionists
And called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children
And called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power
And called it political.
We have coveted our neighbors possessions
And called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography
And called it freedom of statement.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers
And called it enlightenment.
Search us, Oh, God, and let us know our hearts today;
Cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women
Who have been sent to direct us to the center of your Will,
And we ask it in the name of Your Son,
The living Savior, Jesus Christ.
Ruling Piety & Devotion
Published: 25 December 2009 on Freed In Christ! blogsite.
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