The Apostle Paul knew well that his open profession of faith in Jesus Christ could cost him his life, yet with boldness he proudly proclaimed, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). Unfortunately, Barack Obama and his administration apparently do not share Paul’s courage.
On April 6, while in Turkey, Obama stated at a press conference that “we [American citizens] do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” And Obama has acted in accordance with his views!
Recently, on May 7, our National Day of Prayer, Obama refused to conduct any formal observance of the day. Although he did comply with a statute that requires him to sign a proclamation of a national day of prayer, he discontinued the practice of George W. Bush of inviting Catholics, Protestants and Jews to join at a formal ceremony in Washington, D.C., in recognition of this special day.
Before delivering an address on the economy on April 14 at Georgetown, one of the nation’s leading Catholic universities, the White House issued an order that all religious symbols on display where the speech was to be given should be covered. Even the crucifix depiction of our Lord Jesus Christ and the gold letters “IHS” above His head were hidden from view.
Our forefathers were not ashamed of their Christian faith when they came to America in 1620 in search of religious liberty. Before setting foot on Plymouth Rock, they declared in the Mayflower Compact that they had undertaken their voyage “for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye Christian faith.”
Nearly every school or university in America was founded on the Christian faith. Harvard was founded 16 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. According to Harvard’s Rules and Precepts in 1642, every student was “plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life.” Yale was founded in 1701 with the primary goal that “every student shall … know God in Jesus Christ.” Princeton was founded by evangelical Presbyterians in 1746 to preserve and spread the fervor of the Great Awakening. The nation’s first compulsory education law, adopted by Massachusetts in 1647, proclaimed that it was “one chief project of Satan to keep [children] from the knowledge of the scripture” and therefore required that parents ensure that their children learn to read and write. The most common texts in early American schools were the Bible and the Christian “New England Primer.”
Unfortunately, many of the young people who attend public schools and universities in America today are being persecuted for their profession of faith in Christ. For example, Renee Griffith, 2008 co-valedictorian at Butte High School in Montana, planned to tell her fellow graduates that during her high school experience she had learned to be a person with a purpose from God with a passionate love for Him. Her co-valedictorian expressed confidence that “the power for change is inherent in humanity and each individual” and that “we all have the framework for greatness and impact.” His humanistic faith was acceptable to the authorities, but just before the ceremony, officials ordered Renee to remove the words “Christ” and “God” from her speech and replace them with “sharing my faith” and “lived with a purpose, a purpose derived from my faith and based on a love of mankind.” She refused, and she was therefore barred from speaking at her graduation. She sued, and her case is currently before the Montana 13th Judicial District Court.
In Colorado, high school valedictorian Erica Corder mentioned Jesus Christ in her graduation speech, and her principal then ordered her to sign an apology as a condition for receiving her diploma. She sued, and her case is currently before the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
And in a Nevada high school, valedictorian Brittany McComb strayed from her script to say that Jesus had filled a void in her life, and as she said, “God’s love is so great that he gave up – gave up his only Son …,” her microphone was shut off in mid-sentence. The liberal 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled that her free speech and equal protection rights were not violated, and she is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It is encouraging that so many of our youth are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Like our forefathers, they know America is a Christian nation. Even the United States Supreme Court in the Church of the Holy Trinity case in 1892, recognized that a volume of unofficial declarations, “together with a mass of organic utterances,” solemnly declare that “this is a Christian nation.” It is a shame that our president and some of our other public officials do not share that view.
Like Paul, we must not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ and should recognize and appreciate our Christian heritage. Then, when our battles are over, we can proudly say, as did Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith!” (2 Timothy 4:7).