Render Unto Caesar, US Constitution and Bill of Rights
by Art Schnatterly
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“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)
The statement has had a profound impact on the relationship between people of faith and our secular governance. In this blog, we’ll take a look at one of the greatest documents of all time, the Constitution of the United States. If you not read it or need a review, please go to the link.
In recent decades many have, quite successfully in many cases, attempted to take God out of our secular governance and collective public life. This is known as “separation of church and state.” Some have even gone so far as to deny that God even played a role in the founding of this great nation. This is known as “revisionist history.”
This would be quite shocking to our founding fathers and many of the original colonists. Religious freedom played a central role in the colonization of North America. Our founding fathers, even those we would not define as “Christian,” acknowledged the role of a “Supreme Being” in the formation of this country and its form of governance.
The constitution itself establishes and defines our central government. The governance of the USA is unique in all the world. In the first three Articles of the Constitution the three branches of our federal government are defined (Legislative, Executive and Judicial). This is known as “separation of powers.” The remaining Articles define such things relationship among the states, of the states to the central (federal) government, the role of the central government and citizenship.
The original Constitution does not define the rights of our citizens.
The Bill of Rights
The American Revolution occurred because of repression of individual freedoms of the colonists by the British Crown. In many ways, this repression paralleled the oppression of the Jews in Judea under Roman rule. In order to assure that the central government did not become oppressive, one of the first Acts of Congress was establishment of what is known as the ” Bill of Rights .” This enumeration of the rights of individual citizens is also unique among the nations.
The First Amendment
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
This all important declaration of individual rights was intended to guarantee “freedom of religion.” The citizens of this country were to be free to practice their religions beliefs, whatever they may be, without interference or repression by the government.
From the very beginning some have interpreted that as “freedom from religion.” Based to some significant degree on Jesus’ statement we have seen the rise of “separation of church and state.” In the extreme, this says that religion, the acknowledgment of the role of a Supreme Being (God) in the founding of this country or in any public way in our governance was to be banned.
This has led to such things as banishment of prayer in public schools and events to removal of plaques listing the 10 Commandments and crosses on public lands.
What does the Bible tell us?
The Bible tells us that ALL governments are ordained by God. This is acknowledged in our founding documents and by the biographies of our founding fathers. (See the blog series One Nation Under God: America.
This is the heritage of the United States of America and of her citizens. The only way to retain this heritage is to know and understand our history and to be diligent in preventing its destruction through revisionism.
If you are not a citizen of the USA, what role does Matthew 22:21 have in how your country is governed? All comments and discussion of this critical issue are deeply appreciated.
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