“Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberality, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government.
“There are only two main theories of government in our world. One rests on righteousness and the other on force. One appeals to reason, and the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in the republic; the other is represented by despotism.
“The government of a country never gets ahead of the religion of a country. There is no way by which we can substitute the authority of law for the virtue of man.
“Of course we endeavor to restrain the vicious, and furnish a fair degree of security and protection by legislation and police control, but the real reform which society in these days is seeking will come as a result of our religious convictions, or they will not come at all.
“Peace, justice, humanity, charity — these cannot be legislated into being. They are the result of divine grace.”
Those are the words of our 30th President Calvin Coolidge.
As I write this column, the federal government is on shutdown, both sides blaming the other for the stalemate that has closed “non-essential” working of the government. If you are wondering how we got here, just read the first two paragraphs again.
Our second president, John Adams, warned, “There is no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” He went on to say, “Our constitution was only made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
What we are seeing today in our country is not primarily a problem in politics but a problem of our hearts. The further we drift from the Judeo-Christian principles upon which our country was founded, the more our freedoms will erode.
They have to; as the human heart becomes more and more unrestrained by religious and moral conviction, we are forced to rely on legislative restraints to address the problem.
Our fourth president, James Madison, the framer of the Constitution, said “We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of the government, far from it. We have staked the future of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
Now, civil liberty groups have been extremely uncivil in their desire to remove any hint of religious faith (at least Christian religious faith, because I don’t see them stepping to the plate to oppose the push of Muslims to function under Sharia law, nor do I see them opposing the fact that Muslims are allowed to pray in our public schools — so much for separation of church and state they claim to champion).
The outcome of all of this is exactly what we are seeing. As we force the Ten Commandments into closets everywhere (Lord forbid that they should be seen in a public place), we find all sorts of perversions tumbling out of closets: increased violence, child abuse, robberies, thefts and the list goes on.
Our first president, George Washington, said “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in the exclusion of religious principle.”
Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, said, “The reason that Christianity is the best friend of government is because Christianity is the only religion in the world that deals with the heart.”
John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.