A Declaration of American Values
Friday, July 4, 2008– Happy Birthday America, land of the free, home of the brave. While I know that God is no respecter of persons or nations, I firmly believe that He has blessed America and given her a unique place in history that has facilitated the spread of the Gospel. Despite America’s numerous sins and failings, past and present, I remain convinced of America’s exceptionalism, uniqueness, and greatness. No other nation has done so much for so many. I agree with Lincoln that America is the last, best hope for the world (in human terms; I know that Christ is our only hope for salvation and that we can have a wonderful society like America and all die and go to hell!)
There was an interesting article in Baptist Press this morning that covered a meeting of Pro-Family Leaders in Denver. Groups represented included Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family, American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, etc., about 100 leaders in all. Apparently the conference was convened for the purpose of trying to unite behind Sen. John McCain in the presidential race and to formulate a Declaration of American Values.
While the group acknowledged that Sen McCain was not 100% on all their issues, he is the better of the two candidates for supporting the things they are concerned with. In particular his stated intention to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court stood out as a sign of hope. The two oldest justices, John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, are thought to be wanting to retire soon. They are both liberal and supporters of Roe v. Wade and would likely be replaced with liberal justices if Obama is elected. McCain would seek to appoint justices more like Alito and Roberts, both staunch conservatives.
Now there are many who would oppose the actions of these groups and would think that Christians should not organize groups for political purposes. But notice this: these groups are not churches. Focus on the Family is not a church and Dr. Dobson (who was not at this meeting) is not a minister. Phyllis Schlafly is not a pastor and Kelly Shackleford is a lawyer and head of the Free Market Foundation. So while the overwhelming majority of these folks are Christians, they are not pastors of churches representing churches.
Do those who oppose Christians organizing around issues and waging political warfare think that our simply being Christians disqualifies us from engaging in politics? Folks, this is one of my pet peeves: Christians who do not get engaged in the important moral issues of the day are no better than the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan who passed by the wounded/robbed man. For too long the church has remained uncertain, divided, and silent in the face of tremendous evil in our society. We must encourage our brothers and sisters who are called of God to minister in the political/cultural realm. I am convinced that there is no area of our culture that should be ignored by Christians. We must bring the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into every dark corner. We must be willing to face the Goliaths of our day and draw a line in the sand and say “you shall not pass!” When the church fails to look its culture in the eye and say, “Thus saith the Lord…” then we have quit one of our callings.
Yes, our top priority is Worship, then making disciples and then proclaiming the gospel to the world. But along the way we minister to those in need. Along the way we stand for truth and fight evil. Just as David fought the evil of his day with a sling and a stone, we must fight evil with the ballots we cast and the bullets from our M-4’s. We must feed the hungry and slay the terrorist, protect the environment and support businesses that employee thousands as they make the products we need.
Here is the Declaration of American Values that this meeting came up with. It is a good start, I think it could have been improved by following the example of the Declaration of Independence a bit more closely. The original Declaration included a list of grievances against King George and I think this Declaration would have been improved by something similar. I will give the link to the Baptist Press article, then reproduce the Declaration in whole.
The complete text of the Declaration of American Values, adopted at the meeting, follows:
“We the people of the United States of America, at this crucial time in history, do hereby affirm the core consensus values which form the basis of America’s greatness, that all men and women from every race and ethnicity are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We adhere to the rule of law embodied in the Constitution of the United States and to the principles of liberty on which America was founded. In order to maintain the blessings of liberty and justice for ourselves and our posterity, and recognizing that personal responsibility is the basis of our self-governing
Nation, we declare our allegiance:
“1. To secure the sanctity of human life by affirming the dignity of and right to life for the disabled, the ill, the aged, the poor, the disadvantaged, and for the unborn from the moment of conception. Every person is made in the image of God, and it is the responsibility and duty of all individuals and communities of faith to extend the hand of loving compassion to care for those in poverty and distress.
“2. To secure our national interest in the institution of marriage and family by embracing the union of one man and one woman as the sole form of legitimate marriage and the proper basis of family.
“3. To secure the fundamental rights of parents to the care, custody, and control of their children regarding their upbringing and education.
“4. To secure the free exercise of religion for all people,
including the freedom to acknowledge God through our public
institutions and other modes of public expression and the freedom of
religious conscience without coercion by penalty or
force of law.
“5. To secure the moral dignity of each person, acknowledging that obscenity, pornography, and indecency debase our
communities, harm our families, and undermine morality and respect. Therefore, we promote enactment and enforcement of laws to protect decency and traditional morality.
“6. To secure the right to own, possess and manage private property without arbitrary interference from government, while acknowledging the necessity of maintaining a proper and balanced care and stewardship of the environment and natural resources for the health and safety of our families.
“7. To secure the individual right to own, possess, and use firearms as central to the preservation of peace and liberty.
“8. To secure a system of checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches within both state and federal governments, so that no one branch — particularly the judiciary — usurps the authority of the other two, and to maintain the constitutional principles of federalism which divide power between the state and federal governments.
“9. To secure our national sovereignty and domestic tranquility by maintaining a strong military; establishing and maintaining secure national borders; participating in international and diplomatic affairs without ceding authority to foreign powers that diminish or interfere with our unalienable rights; and being mindful of our history as a nation of immigrants, promoting immigration policies that observe the rule of law and are just, fair, swift, and foster national unity.
“10. To secure a system of fair taxes that are not punitive against the institution of marriage or family and are not progressive in nature, and within a limited government framework, to encourage economic opportunity, free enterprise, and free market competition.
“We hereby pledge our Names, our Lives and our Sacred Honor to this Declaration of American Values.”