Pastor John Hagee, senior pastor of San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church, is making People for the America Way very angry with some comments about atheists.
Here’s what he said in a talk captured on YouTube by the group: “This nation was not built for atheists or by atheists. It was built by Christian people who believed in the Word of God. To the atheists watching this telecast, if our belief in God offends you, move. There are planes leaving every hour on the hour, going every place on planet earth. Get on one, we don’t want you and we won’t miss you, I promise you.”
That may sound harsh, coming from a Christian minister of a mega-church with 20,000 members.
But let me take what Hagee said a step further.
Atheists can’t be real Americans in the truest sense of the word – and People for the American Way should be renamed People for the un-American Way.
Let me explain why.
America was founded on a creedal statement. It can be found in the Declaration of Independence:
“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; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Thus, America was founded on the principle that the Creator God endowed men with certain unalienable rights. This statement formed the basis of self-governance in a world ruled by kings and tyrants. It is the principle that set America apart from the rest of the world.
It’s important to note that the founders – and most of the 2 million people living in America at the time of the founding – were Christians who believed in the One True God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They weren’t referring to any other god. They rejected Allah. They rejected paganism in all its forms. They rejected atheism.
America was thus founded as a Judeo-Christian nation, tolerant of other views, but with the understanding that only a moral people governing themselves to the best of their ability under God’s eternal laws were capable of maintaining the liberty established uniquely under this covenant.
While I know some atheists and agnostics who live in America as productive citizens and don’t try to impose their views and their will on others, that’s exactly what groups like People for the American Way do.
They seek a fundamental transformation of America away from the principles and the creed that set it apart.
Likewise, at the end of the day, anyone who doesn’t believe in the Creator God of our founders is, at best, enjoying the blessings established by that national creed without acceptance of it.
There’s an old saying: “America: Love it or leave it.”
And never before in our history has that adage made more sense.
There are lots of places one can live in this world. If you want to live under Islamic Shariah law, there are plenty of countries to choose from. If you want to live in a secular society, you can take your pick of dozens of nations. If you want to live as a Hindu, India awaits you. If you want to live as a Buddhist, take your pick of Buddhist countries. If you want to live in an officially atheist nation, move to China or Cuba or North Korea.
But if you want to live in the freest nation on earth, understand why it has been that way for 230-plus years. It’s because of the principles of self-governance that only work in a society of responsible, moral people accountable to the teachings of the One True Creator God found in the Bible.
The day Christians and Jews are outnumbered in America by non-believers is the day the American Dream dies.
So, I’m with Hagee.
The day before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail. He said: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”
John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence said: “Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
Another signer, Benjamin Franklin, wrote in 1790: “Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see.”
These men had markedly different perspectives on religion.
But they all recognized one thing – man cannot freely govern himself without accountability to God.
Ultimately, the only alternative is government tyranny of one form or another.