When Freedom Was King
When the sun broke over the frosty city of Washington yesterday, light caught the stony silhouette of a man. Arms crossed, the towering likeness of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. emerges out of granite, as unflinching as the leader himself. Like a centurion, he stares straight ahead, eyes fixed on another monument of freedom: the Jefferson Memorial. Like a faint echo, the wind whips around the words etched in the rock at his back, as relevant as ever, “We shall overcome.”
Fifty years after an assassin’s bullet silenced the voice that boomed from Alabama to the Reflecting Pool, America still leans on the legacy he started. The challenges that marked Reverend King’s day have changed, but the struggle for unity continues. Fortunately for our nation, the fire for justice lit by a young and passionate pastor burns on.
Leaders on both sides still reach back into history, combing the examples of King for insight on the deep divides of our time. In him, they have a map to the “higher destiny” the young preacher so often invoked. Just last week, President Trump paid homage to the timeless civil rights leader, signing a measure to dramatically expand Reverend King’s birthplace to a National Historical Park. Surrounded by Dr. Alveda King, the late leader’s niece, and others, the president made sure Reverend King’s story is preserved for generations to come. As a companion piece to that overdue tribute, Trump also signed the African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017, which gives more prominence to civil rights landmarks, and the 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act that marked the arrival of the first Africans to the colonies in 1619.
When he issued his Martin Luther King Jr. Day proclamation, FRC’s Ken Blackwell and Dean Nelson were on hand to commemorate the occasion. “This year,” President Trump vowed, “we will not remember Dr. King’s slaying as the ending but as a beginning — as a moment when his truth rose stronger than hatred, and his cause larger than death; as a moment when he called to new life with his Creator, before whom all men shall one day stand in equal rank bearing with them no riches but the content of their character.”
“If we keep this conviction at the center of our every word and action, if we look upon out countrymen as brothers with a shared home and a common destination, then instead of meaningless words rolling off of our tongue, we will truly create one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In three days, tens of thousands of Americans will spill into the streets of the National Mall that first heard Dr. King’s dream, hoping for a “more noble expression of humanness” for the unborn. They will march, as he did, for a revolution of dignity. “I really believe that if my uncle were here today,” Alveda said wistfully, “he would encourage us to find solutions to the problems, even women’s problems, and all problems, without having to do violence to babies in the womb… He said the Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the futures of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety. Abortion, of course, forces us to do exactly that.”
On Friday, pro-lifers will walk his same path in a peaceful protest of one of the greatest atrocities of our time. Each step will be lit by the torch of freedom King carried and powered by his belief “that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Originally published here.
Doubting Thomas: Libs Take on Jefferson’s Legacy
When Americans celebrate Religious Freedom Day today, not everyone will be happy about it. Liberals are already blasting the tradition that honors the 1786 signing of one of the most influential documents in American history: the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. Now, more than 230 years into the tradition that sparked a revolution, the Left is ready to recast history.
In Salon, hardly the bastion of conservative thought, Paul Rosenberg tries to persuade readers that freedom is the oppression, insisting that when Christians talk about religious liberty, it’s really just code for “theocratic supremacism of their own religious beliefs inscribed in government.” Taking aim at FRC in particular, Rosenberg points to Frederick Clarkson, who insists that our Church Ministries team has been “empowered to advance a dangerous suite of theocratic and persecutory policies” (while producing absolutely zero evidence to the effect). Instead, he talks suspiciously about our Culture Impact Teams (CITs), our network of on-the-ground activists in churches across America. Operating under the authority of the church’s leadership, CITs serve as the command center for a church’s efforts to engage the culture.
As even Rosenberg admits, our manual for these teams “certainly played a role in … 2016,” “serv[ing] as the foot soldiers of a formidable political army.” They are, he worries, “Exhibit A for showing not only that this ideology is shaping national policy but it is directly related to how leading organizations of the Christian Right plan to continue building their base into the future.” It’s ironic. One minute the Left is rushing to write our obituary, and the next, we’re powerful enough to create a theocracy!
According to this far-Left fringe, evangelicals are dangerous because they’re trafficking in lies about the core value that brought the founders here in the first place. It’s a myth that America was founded as a Christian nation, Rosenberg argues, pointing to the third president as one who lacked “a Christian worldview.” In fact, he goes on, “The religious supremacism inherent in Christian nationalism is repulsive to most people,” he claims (wrongly). “I think if we got serious about taking Jefferson and Madison’s foundational ideas of religious equality under the law into the 21st century, Christian nationalism would crumble.” Our own Constitution closes with the words “In the year of our Lord, 1787.” That’s a reference to Jesus! The signers not only embraced Christianity, they anchored our most important document in it.
Thomas Jefferson, meanwhile, was so proud of writing the Virginia Statue of Religious Freedom that it’s included on his tombstone! Does that sound like someone who doesn’t believe in expressions of faith? “No nation,” he said, “has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be.” That’s a far cry from the Jefferson liberals are trying to invent, a man intent on divorcing government of all religion.
Before President Trump, Jefferson would barely recognize his country. The government, once the guardian of liberty, became the aggressor against it. The government trampled our consciences with health care mandates, silenced our chaplains with radical marriage policy, and expelled churchgoers from public service. In eight years, we became a people afraid to pray, teach, practice medicine, or even manage a business without fear of government backlash.
Yet still, in a bizarre twist, the same forces out to distort our First Freedom are capable of warning about its plight. “Religious freedom is not a lovely antique,” Rosenberg closes out his long tirade, “a family heirloom or relic of a bygone era. It is a dynamic, progressive value that underlies every other constitutional freedom we have — and it is under siege.” Of course, he neglects to mention that it’s under siege by his movement’s own ideologues! His problem and the problem of the Left is that they misunderstand the concept. Their tolerance for religion stops at the church’s front doors. That was never how the framers intended it.
“To those who cite the First Amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life,” Ronald Reagan argued, “may I just say: The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.” Thank goodness that we finally have a president who understands that — even if the Left does not.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council.