Saturday, August 29, 2009

Stand For Marriage Rally
Guest speakers include:
Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council
Dr. Kenyn Cureton, VP of Church Ministries, FRC
Pastor Chris Clark, East Clairemont Baptist Church, San Diego.
Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund
Bishop Richard Malone, Portland Diocese
Charla Bansley, Concerned Women for America of Maine
Pastor Bob Emrich, Maine Jeremiah Project
Representatives from Stand For Marriage Maine
Special video message from Dr. James Dobson

DATE: Sunday, September 13th
TIME: 6 to 8:30PM
LOCATION: Augusta Civic Center
Join us as we encourage & equip one another to
Protect and Promote Marriage in Maine.

If you need overnight accommodations, the Holiday Inn at the Civic Center has agreed to give a discount ($70 instead of the usual $109-119) if you ask for the Maine Jeremiah Project rate when you call (207-622-4751) or use this web link to make your reservations online. &_PMID=99801505

Tickets are required and may be obtained free of charge via email at
We will need you to send your name, address, and telephone number.
(we would appreciate knowing what church you attend also)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Value of our Heritage
Since starting the Maine Jeremiah Project I have been traveling around Maine talking to groups about our Christian heritage. Once in a while someone will ask something like this: "Isn't that just history?" or "Why do we care what the founders believed?" Lately, I have started quoting Karl Marx to answer such questions. Marx was at least partially correct when he said, "a people without a heritage are easily persuaded".
If you wonder how accurate the statement is, consider the phrase: "separation of church and state". It is unsettling to hear how many people think that phrase is in the Constitution of the United States. It is not. The phrase comes from a private letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptists in Danbury, CT. It was placed in popular culture by Justice Hugo Black in 1947. The phrase was quoted in the case of EVERSON V. BOARD OF EDUCATION and most of the Supreme Court's church-state decisions handed down since this case have been based on the Everson standard. The irony is that instead of recognizing a precious and important American heritage, it completely reversed it. And too few understand that sad event. It is bad enough that a justice on the United States Supreme Court demonstrated such disregard for historical accuracy, but without an understanding of our heritage, this phrase has been allowed to hinder one of our most important freedoms. It is quite common to think that the founders wanted to limit religious activity, especially as it touches anything government. But that was hardly the purpose for the First Amendment. Lest someone think that I am only giving my opinion, let's consider some history.
The Amendment required months of debate before it was adopted. James Madison introduced it in March but it was not approved until September 25th. (By the way, Thomas Jefferson was not even in the country at the time.) Much of the debate for the amendment can and should be read today. The result was that congress was prohibited from establishing an official religion, but it was forbidden to make laws that even dealt with the issue.
An early Supreme Court Justice (1811-1845), Joseph Story, (appointed by James Madison) wrote that "the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions. . ." (Commentaries on the Constitution) The larger context of the above quote is worth reading. "Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it now under consideration, the general if not the universal sentiment in America was that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation." Story was also a professor at the Harvard School of Law.
As we look for a better understanding of our religious heritage, and for that matter, the intent of our constitution, it is significant to consider other actions by the same congress that gave us the First Amendment. The same day the amendment was approved, Congressman Elias Boudinot (NJ) proposed a resolution which was approved by congress the very next day. The resolution directed a joint committee to request that President Washington "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness." By today's uncanny explanation of the First Amendment, congress was asking for a day to be set aside to thank Almighty God for affording the people a constitution that banned Him from the public mind! By the way, Washington gladly agreed and did call for a day of prayer, including prayers for God to "pardon our national and other transgressions".
We should be reminded that Thomas Jefferson (remember the man who wrote the letter to the Baptists and gave us the phrase, "separation of church and state"?) attended church almost every Sunday during his presidency. That is not shocking, until we remember that the church services he attended were held in the "hall" of the House of Representatives. The Marine band played hymns for the services. Services were conducted in the House until after the Civil War. Other Government buildings were used the same way. John Quincy Adams once described the Rev. James Laurie, (pastor of a Presbyterian Church that had settled into the Treasury Building) preaching to an overflow audience in the Supreme Court Chamber, which in 1806 was located on the ground floor of the Capitol.
And now we are told that the first amendment was meant to remove religious symbols from public property and keep school children from praying before football games? Does anyone see a connection between this beginning and the current efforts to prevent even the mention of Almighty God by public officials?
Only those who have forgotten our heritage can be so easily persuaded.