It is Holy Week. This Sunday is Easter, a day of ultimate significance for Christians. This week is also significant for another reason. President Obama has said that Christian is no longer an adjective that should be used to describe America. Rather, he has chosen to use the word secular to describe the United States. Many would say that America has been more secular than Christian for some time, but the President has added his name to that list by his remarks in Turkey. In a news conference with the President of Turkey, President Obama stated, “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” Here is the quote in context from the AP as reported in the April 6 edition of the Boston Globe:
“Obama recognized past tensions in the U.S.-Turkey relationship, but said things were on the right track now because both countries share common interests and are diverse nations. ‘We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation,’ he said at the news conference. ‘We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.’
He said he believes that “modern Turkey was founded with a similar set of principles.”
In this same news conference President Obama went on to say that in both Turkey and the United States “what we are seeing is that promise of a secular country that is respectful of religious freedom and respectful of the rule of law….” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIVd7YT0oWA)
Perhaps coincidentally, the cover story of the April 13 issue of Newsweek magazine is entitled “The Decline and Fall of Christian America.” In the text of the story is this statement:
“There it was, an old term with new urgency: post-Christian. This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory.”
President Obama defines America as a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values. That is another way of saying that we are bound by a common ideology (except, of course, when ideology conflicts with facts, as in the case of justifying embryonic stem cell research). But since we do not consider ourselves to be Christian, where do these ideals come from? At the moment, few are willing to ask this question. One thing is for certain in present day America: the Bible must not be the source of our commonality and our ideals.
Polling data from Newsweek suggests that God is less of a force in American politics than in the past. Thankfully, polling data does not determine reality–God does. Man may choose to dismiss the power and rule of God in this world, but he does so at his own peril.
Christian parent, what does this mean for you? For one thing, it is important to acknowledge that the American government, at least for the immediate future, sees God and the Christian worldview as a hindrance rather than a strength. It claims that we ourselves must determine what is the best morality and lifestyle. The time for the Bible has passed. This is now a country of human ideals, whatever they may be and wherever they may lead us. You are raising your children in an environment that is hostile to God. The executive branch of government has cut ties with the idea of dependence upon God. Yes, I know the twenty dollar bill still says, “In God We Trust.” But this is a notion, according to our President, that we must no longer believe.
Where does this leave you as a Christian? First, realize this shift has occurred. Second, remember that God is still God. He is still the God of Colossians 1, in whom all things hold together. Third, continue to pray for our leaders and President Obama, as I Timothy 2 directs. Fourth, be respectful of our leaders and our President. They serve at God’s pleasure. These four points are the basics.
Parents, you must train and prepare your children to live in a country that is openly antagonistic to Christianity. President Obama’s comments may seem benign to the press, but it is not the press that matters. The President is saying that he can rule without the assistance of the God of the Bible. This is an open challenge to God himself. Newsweek may think that God is less of a force than he used to be–but they have not consulted God on the matter. His word is a more reliable means of discerning reality than polling data is or ever will be. Such cavalier dismissals of God and his power are arrogant indeed.