Note: This is the second part of Randy Conover’s column.
Things went along with only relatively small bits of power assumed by the Federal courts through the 1800s and into the first half of the 1900s. During this time, the Federal courts tended to rely solely on the clear and simple wording of the 1st Amendment, referring to the “separation” idea in only two cases. Then in 1947 Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court stated: “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” This ruling came from a misinterpretation of meaning and ignoring of the history surrounding Jefferson’s use of the phrase in his Danbury response letter. No such reference to a separation wall is found anywhere in the Constitution. This was yet another court power grab! Since then, 1st Amendment cases have numbered in the thousands. In the decisions on these cases, the courts have become much more likely to cite the “separation” idea than they are the actual words of the 1st Amendment as explanative reasoning behind each decision.
“Under the old system the question was how to read the Constitution; under the new approach, the question is whether to read the Constitution.” (Edwin Meese, III, 1986)
This change in philosophy behind judicial decisions beginning with the Everson case, grew in intensity. During the early1960s, the courts openly repudiated the Biblical,” natural law”-backed decisions which had served the nation so well since the time of the Founders. Moral relativism had become mainstream in a number of academic disciplines, including education and law. Modern judicial decisions are not to be based upon God-given “natural law,” the State replaces God as author of law, and since society is evolving judges must guide the law in similar evolution (hence the idea of a “living, evolving Constitution”). Case law written by judges has replaced strict interpretation of the Constitution, with an increasing judicial reliance upon the judge’s “feelings” on an issue. Interestingly, this period’s beginnings coincided with President Johnson’s Great Society (beginning of the current welfare state), U.S.S.R’s Khrushchev threatening the U.S. before the U.N. with the words “We will bury you!” (escalation of the Cold War), and the rise of the Protest Generation (hippies, drugs, etc.). Since this philosophical change away from God’s natural law, relativism has resulted in drastic and unacceptable changes in national levels of morality, criminal behavior, education, and family stability far outstepping the national growth of population. The abandonment of Biblical-based natural law has not produced national improvement or prosperity, but has created the beginnings of national decline. The Bible addresses this:
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17 KJV)
“The day is coming when your pride will be brought low and the Lord alone will be exalted. In that day the Lord Almighty will punish the proud, bringing them down to the dust.” (Isaiah 2:11-12 NLT)
God has so acted before, against those who have turned from Him:
“But Israel soon became fat and unruly; the people became heavy, plump, and stuffed! Then they abandoned the God who had made them; they made light of the Rock of their salvation. They stirred up his jealousy by worshiping foreign gods; they provoked his fury with detestable acts…You neglected the Rock who had fathered you; you forgot the God who had given you birth. The Lord saw this and was filled with loathing. He was provoked to anger by his own sons and daughters. He said, “I will abandon them. I will see to their end! For they are a twisted generation, children without integrity. They have roused my jealousy by worshiping non-gods; they have provoked my fury with useless idols. Now I will rouse their jealousy by blessing other nations…” (Deuteronomy 32:15-16, 18-21 NLT)
But, it’s not too late for us if we return to the ways of the Founders and God’s natural law:
“What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would accept the Gentiles, too, on the basis of their faith. God promised this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” And so it is: All who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.” (Galatians 3:8-9 NLT)
Please stand against those serving evil within our great nation. Rise up boldly and work to restore the God-inspired ideals of our Founders. Pray for guidance in this, and for God’s help and forgiveness. Remember God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Randy Conover is a retired educator. He lives in Clermont County.