On Friday, June 26, 2020, Dr. Mark Wilson, the health officer of Jefferson County, Alabama, issued an order requiring all residents in the county to wear face masks when in most public settings. There are a lot of good and well-meaning people in favor of this order and a lot of good and well-meaning people who oppose it. Most of the debate between the two groups has focused on whether or not the order is necessary or helpful, but there is a much more important question that should be asked. Before we compare the costs verses the benefits of such an order, we need to ask ourselves if the county health officer has the legal authority to issue this order in the first place.
Much of the debate on the relationship between church and state has centered around the phrases “freedom of religion” and “separation of church and state.” While these phrases have a very important history and should be studied, their applicability to American government must be understood within the confines of the First Amendment. Unfortunately, the debate on this Amendment has largely focused on whether or not its prohibitions are limited to the US Congress. The real key to understanding the First Amendment lies in unlocking the mystery of the phrase “an establishment of religion.”
Conservatism is the philosophy that the wisdom of the past is still just as applicable today as it was then. Conservatism is an ancient wisdom in itself, for every age has its conservatives and liberals, and it is always the conservatives who succeed and pass their wisdom down to the next age where some new brand of liberals will rise up to challenge that wisdom once again.
Nearly 3,500 years ago, the nation of Israel faced a pandemic so deadly that it killed 23,000 men in a single day. That was 4% of the total population of Israel. All of those who contracted this disease did so by committing a capital crime, and the initial defeat of the disease was accomplished by sentencing all of the survivors to death. But that's not the end of the story.
One of the most fascinating things about the Old Testament is the fact that God established a republican government in ancient Israel. Most people today think that Israel had a standard monarchical form of government, but that was not the case. Israel (and Judah) never had a true monarchy. Throughout their history, they were always a republican nation characterized by popular elections of their rulers. (For more on this topic see my free eBook The Bible and the Constitution.)
When God established Israel’s government, He also taught the Jews how to choose the right kind of leaders. Those instructions can be found in Exodus 18:21, Deuteronomy 1:13, and Deuteronomy 17:15-20. The qualifications listed in these and other passages are not difficult. There were thousands of men in Israel who met them. God intentionally set the standard low so that the various offices could be filled. He gave the Jews a list of the barest minimum standards that would allow their government to function with good men in positions of leadership.
I wasn't planning to write this. When I heard about Trump's brave new guidance for prayer in schools, I tried to just ignore it and get on with my life. I figured that I had gotten enough of my friends mad at me for the time being and that I should just let this particular opportunity slide on by. However, I saw so many of my friends posting about how wonderful Trump was for issuing these new guidelines that I finally decided to actually read the guidelines for myself and see what all the fuss was about.
Dear Bro. Charles,
By now, you have almost certainly heard about the contention between Pastor Dan and the deacons of First Baptist Church. In fact, it would be nigh impossible for you to have missed it. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation being spread by both sides of the conflict, and I wanted to write you to ensure that you received an accurate account of the proceedings up to this time. Of course, I won’t be able to go into a lot of detail, but I hope that this overview will help you to sort out truth from fiction among all the conflicting reports that you have read.
I recently had the opportunity to listen to a debate between Mark Hall and Steven Green on the topic of the Christian foundation of America. Hall has written a book defending the idea that America had a Christian foundation, and Green has written a book in defense of the opposite view. I obviously agree with Hall, but I thought that he could have done a better job of refuting some of Green’s claims (and he probably does so in his book). Since I was taking notes anyway, I thought that I would share a few of my objections to Green’s claims.
One of the major points of contention in the discussion of America’s Christian foundation is found in a reference that John Adams made to the “general principles of Christianity.” Those who support the idea that America was founded on Christian principles often present this statement as evidence in their favor, while those who disagree with them usually respond by pointing to the context of the statement as evidence for their position. Unfortunately, most of those discussing Adams’ statement seem to be operating under the impression that it was made in a vacuum. In this article, I will attempt to provide a full analysis of Adams’ letter and demonstrate that when we consider all of the variables in their proper order, it becomes clear that this letter supports the claim that America was founded on principles that are unique to Christianity.
Ever since the Constitution was first submitted for ratification, the final clause in Article VI has been a matter of strong contention among Americans. That clause, known as the religious test clause, simply states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It is frequently claimed that this clause represents the desire of the founding fathers to keep religion out of the government and to establish a secular nation. But is that really how this phrase was intended to be used?
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)