Summary: There is a rumor going around our nation about something called the "separation of church and state." What does that phrase mean? Are we a nation whose God is the Lord?
Rumors can be devastating to people and their lives.
I remember when I was a teenager. My father injured his foot. I don’t think he broke it, I think he just sprained it. But I do remember that he could not go into the office for several days, so instead, he just set up an office at our house. We had a very large foyer, and Dad had a desk moved in for the receptionist and another for his secretary, and he had an office set up for himself in the living room.
Now, we were living in a small town, and nothing we ever did ever went unnoticed by the townspeople. People noticed that my father was not going into the office, and they also noticed that there were lots of people going in and out of our house.
So rumor had it...that my father, who was the general manager of the town’s only textile mill had been fired.
Now, just a few weeks earlier, there had been some renovation work at the community center, which was owned and operated by the mill. Uncovered in the work was a cornerstone that contained a time capsule. Inside the time capsule were programs for a Fourth of July celebration, a newspaper, and several nostalgic items of that sort.
But ... rumor had it that there had also been a bar of gold. Everything in the time capsule had been put on display in the town library, except for the bar of gold. That’s when people figured out why my father had been fired. He’d stolen that bar of gold and refused to give it back to the company, so he’d been fired.
Well, a few days before Dad’s foot healed, we built a fire in the fireplace, and my Mother tired to burn some boxes to get the fire built up real good. The boxes, however, had been treated and didn’t burn very good, but pieces of the paper went up into the chimney and out onto our yard. We rushed outside and it looked like fireworks were going off from our chimney. Townspeople tended to notice this, and pretty soon, rumor had it that my mother had tried to melt the bar of gold into smaller pieces of jewelry that the police would not be able to identify.
My father went back to the office and the rumors died down, and we often laughed about how ridiculous they were.
William James, a father of American psychology, said that there is no idea that is so absurd that if repeated often enough, people will not believe.
Adolph Hitler once said that if you tell any lie long enough, often enough, and loud enough, people will come to believe it.
On this weekend of the Fourth of July, I want to deal with a rumor that has inflicted great harm to our nation. It is the rumor of the concept of the "separation of church and state."
People take this concept very seriously, and it has been in the name of the separation of church and state that attempts have been made to remove every vestige of religion from our schools and from all public ceremonies and places. Supreme Court decisions of 1963 and 1964, which said that prayer could not be required, have evolved to be understood as prayer cannot be allowed. Similar court decisions of the 1940’s and 1960’s said that learning faith could not be a required subject, and now many understand that as a prohibition against even mentioning philosophy and religion in a classroom.
I’m sure you know that our church owns and operates the Sunrise Christian Academy. It is a ministry of our church. When I came here 7 years ago, I suggested that I should meet with the students once each week so I could lead a little worship service with them, have prayer, give a devotional – but to my surprise I was told I couldn’t do this. When I asked why, I was told that we weren’t allowed to do have prayer in school – that it was against the law because of the “separation of church and state.”
You know, we misunderstand that concept of the separation of church and state – it is not to protect the state from the church. The church can have a voice in the affairs of the state just like any other group in this country.
Separation of church and state means just the opposite – it means we in the church are protected from the state, and that the state cannot inflict its will upon our faith.
The state cannot tell a private Christian school that we cannot pray – and for the past 7 years, one of your pastors meets weekly with the students of your Sunrise Christian Academy to lead in prayer and a devotional.