In a move of stunning ignorance, the Baptist General Association of Virginia recently adopted a resolution taking a back-handed slap at the Texas State Board of Education’s vote this year to restore accurate teaching of separation of church and state to social studies curriculum. For sake of reference, read the offensive language from Texas for yourself:
(G) examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America and guaranteed its free exercise by saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and compare and contrast this to the phrase “separation of church and state.”
How extreme. How terrifying. The pillars of our freedom are crumbling as we speak. Give me a break.
The BGAV, which is the “moderate” convention as compared to the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, started their resolution with:
Whereas, the Baptist principles of religious liberty and its safeguard, separation of church and state (or government neutrality toward all religions and nonreligion), are well grounded in this nation’s history, and
Whereas, the labors of Virginians, notably Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, James Madison, and the Baptist minister John Leland, were crucial in the historic events that made these two principles part of our nation’s Bill of Rights …
They then assert that ominous forces are “under way in recent decades to write and teach versions of American history that minimize and sometimes deny the historic basis of one or both of the principles named above. …” The original resolution singled out historian David Barton, “reconstructionist historians” and the Texas State Board of Education.
Fortunately, due to the courageous intervention of convention delegate and patriot pastor Joey Giles of James Square Baptist Church in Lawrenceville (near Lynchburg), the names of the “guilty” were stricken from the resolution.
In the best tradition of Samuel Davies (spiritual and oratory mentor of Patrick Henry), a Virginia Baptist preacher not referenced by BGAV, Pastor Giles challenged the convention to “vote against this attack on the character of these writers. Vote against this attack on the true meaning of religious liberty and separation of church and state. Vote against this attack because it does not reclaim our forgotten history, but instead clings to the real revisionist history.”
Do they provide one quote or reference from the above framers to affirm their case? No, they rather call on such a compelling and widely accepted historical authority as … “a 1999 article by Stephen Stookey of Fort Worth, Texas.” For you non-Texas Baptists, Stookey wrote a paper in 1999 for the Southwestern (Baptist Theological Seminary) Journal of Theology refuting a “Christian America.”
I could almost swallow the typical religious liberalism reflected in the act of these pastors if they weren’t attacking Texas from the very place the cross of Jesus Christ was planted in the sand by Rev. Robert Hunt in 1607 – and doing so in ignorance. Moreover, the notable Virginians they reference stood very firmly on the foundational role that the Bible and Christianity played in the shaping of our nation.
In fact, Gov. George Allen gave them some of that background in his executive proclamation declaring March 13-19, 1994, as “Christian Heritage Week” for their state, including:
Whereas, Benjamin Franklin … stated “… I believe the sacred writings which say that, ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’” …
Whereas, Thomas Jefferson … wrote: “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are a gift of God?”
Whereas, James Madison … advocated “the diffusion of the light of Christianity in our nation. …”
Whereas, George Mason … affirmed: “That it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love and charity towards each other. …”
No history is complete, and since none of us was there we certainly cannot see into the hearts of all these men. We can measure what they said, what they wrote and what they did. It would be disingenuous to think they lived in a Christian Utopia, because we know better.
We also know, however, that the “varied collection of orthodox Christians, nominal church attenders, Christian moralists, Deists and nonbelievers” Stookey describes stood visibly on the shoulders of a millennium of forebears who called on the Christian faith and the Bible as defense for restrained governing authority, moral law and freedom.
The Magna Carta, presented by the Barons of England to King John in 1215, opens with:
Article 1 “In the first place we grant to God and confirm by this our present charter for ourselves and our heirs in perpetuity that the English Church is to be free and to have all its rights fully and its liberties entirely. We furthermore grant and give to all the freemen of our realm for ourselves and our heirs in perpetuity the liberties written below to have and to hold to them and their heirs from us and our heirs in perpetuity.”
The first written constitution on our shores and in the history of Western Civilization that created a government was the 1639 Fundamental Orders of Connecticut – the close of the preamble stated:
… do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel is now practiced amongst us.
The defenders of the secularist Government Education Complex in the BGAV and their ilk across America no longer have free reign to strip our faith from our history, thanks to the conservative champions on the Texas State Board of Education and those who stood with them.