To help heal the nation, turn to prayer

January 24, 1995|By Dale Wonderly

HOUSE SPEAKER Newt Gingrich seems resolved to usher in a constitutional amendment permitting prayer in public schools, but he's getting few "amens" on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole calls a school prayer bill a "back burner" issue.

During the 1950s, when I was a student in Baltimore County public schools, each day we read a Bible passage and said a prayer. Usually, selected readings were taken from the Old Testament book of Psalms. These devotionals were not intended to be a religious or Bible learning experience, but rather a daily reminder of an omnipresent God, overseeing our lives.

Today, any proposed prayer amendment faces seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Some citizens may accept the "moment of silence" option, while many others question the necessity of resurrecting school prayer.

If you put a frog into a pot of hot water, it will sense the danger and hop out immediately; but, if you put the same frog into a pot of cold water and very gradually add heat, it will continue to swim around until scalded to death. Thirty-two years after Madalyn Murray O'Hair's triumphant ouster of God from our classrooms, our "freedom of religion," like that frog in cold water, has been imperceptibly redefined as "freedom from religion." Many Americans are oblivious to the change.

Subtly, the religious privileges we have taken for granted are vanishing. This is especially evident from a Christian perspective. For example, across the nation, Christmas nativity scenes have been evicted from state house lawns. The Ten Commandments, once prominently displayed in our schools, have been replaced with "situation ethics." High school Bible study clubs are now taboo.

One Baltimore radio talk show host advocates the removal of "under God" from our Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" from our currency. Perhaps he feels our chaplains in the military should be dismissed, too.

America is approaching a spiritual crossroad and a fundamental decision must be made: As a nation, are we going to recognize the sovereignty of God? If so, whose or what "God?" Like it or not, there is no "generic" supreme being applicable to all persuasions.

Our Bill of Rights assures all Americans the freedom to practice the religion of their choice. Yet the constitutional Framers who secured this right, also acknowledged in the Constitution that these rights are endowed to us by our "Creator." Who is this "Creator?" He is the God of the Bible. These sacred Scriptures have been an indispensable appendage of our nation since its inception. Much of our written common law is based upon biblical ethics. Since George Washington, our presidents have taken the oath of office with their right hand on the Bible. Clearly, the "God" of our forefathers is the God of the Bible.

Throughout its early biblical history, the nation of Israel was continuously at war. Whenever the Israelites would turn from God, they would lose battle after battle. When they repented and looked again toward God, he would bless them with victories. On June 17, 1963, by an 8-to-1 margin, the Supreme Court expelled God from our nation's schools. Within six months of this momentous decision, our president would be assassinated, and we would become fully engaged in a hopeless war in Vietnam.

Eventually, we would be kicked out of Vietnam, with our tail between our legs, bearing more than 50,000 killed Americans. Was all of this because we chased God out of our schools? Only God knows. But this much is certain: America has been losing her blessings ever since.

Today, we face the glut of illegal drugs, violent crime, welfare fraud, moral decadence and the breakdown of the family. The prosperity and security we once enjoyed as a nation is eroding.

Is there a correlation between our national ills and our rejection of God? I believe so. Our nation needs healing. Prayer may be the answer. Prayer however is useless without a willingness to acknowledge God's presence, and according to Psalms 14:1, our failure to do so, will label us as "fools."

Dale Wonderly writes from Randallstown.

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