God is in TroubleGod is in trouble again, at least in Kentucky. Read the story here.

Seems some atheists are afraid for their safety (at least in Kentucky). They are suing the State of Kentucky to overturn recent Kentucky legislation “stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.” In addition to seeking to have the legislation overturned, the plaintiffs are seeking financial damages, saying they “suffer anxiety from the belief that the existence of these unconstitutional laws suggest that their very safety as residents of Kentucky may be in the hands of fanatics, traitors, or fools.

KentuckyhomelandsecuritybrandingAt issue are two clauses inserted in a floor amendment by state Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, and approved by lawmakers. One clause says the “safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God” and cites statements to that effect by Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. A permanent plaque quoting that text is posted at the state’s Emergency Operations Center, as required by the clause. The other clause, listing the executive director’s duties, begins with a requirement to publicize “the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”

These atheists have suffered “somatic discomforts, and mental pain and anguish, from the knowledge that they are made to feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who share the belief in a god that is required by the challenged statutes.” Rabbi David Saperstein, national director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued a statement saying the law amounts to religious discrimination because the Homeland Security office’s director is required to credit “God’s power as protector of the state.”Security by God

Edwin Kagin, a Boone County lawyer and the national legal director of American Atheists, said he was appalled to read in the Herald-Leader last week that state law establishes praising God — and installing a plaque in God’s honor — as the first duty of the Homeland Security Office. “This is one of the most outrageous things I’ve seen in 35 years of practicing law. It’s breathtakingly unconstitutional,” Kagin said.

The requirement to credit God for Kentucky’s protection was tucked into 2006 homeland security legislation by state Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, a Southern Baptist minister. “This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky,” Riner said last week. But state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, said Homeland Security should worry about public safety threats instead of preaching religious homilies. “It’s very sad to me that we do this sort of thing,” said Stein, a frequent critic of efforts to mix religion and government. “It takes away from the seriousness of the public discussion over security, and it clearly hurts the credibility of this office if it’s supposed to be depending on God, first and foremost.

Most everyone on the web is siding with the atheists. After all, it does seem stupid to depend upon “God’s power as the protector of the state”.  God doesn’t even have a gun. He didn’t do anything to stop the terrorists on 9/11, so why should we depend on Him now?

proclamationofgodsthroneI thought it was most interesting as well as a sign of the times that a Jewish rabbi (David Saperstein) would object to being required to credit God’s power as protector of the state. If anyone should know God’s ability to protect, it should be those familiar with the history of Israel.

In Deuteronomy 32 we find Moses singing his Song to Jehovah God who delivered the Jews from Pharaoh. He is on the verge of bringing them into the promised land and has set before them blessing and cursing. Whichever they receive depends upon the God they chose to obey. The Song of Moses has four distinct divisions: the character of God (Deut. 32:1-4); the kindness of God to His people (vv. 5-14); the faithfulness of God to chasten His people (vv. 15-25); and the vengeance of God against His adversaries (vv. 26-43). The song traces God’s dealings with Israel and is a concise review of the nation’s history, from their wilderness sojourn to the judgments in the end times. It has both historic and prophetic aspects.

I believe Deuteronomy 32 verses 34-43 speak directly to this issue of ultimate protection. When God chastens His people because of their infidelity to Him and His Law, He allows adversaries to come in and exact the judgment God has ordered. This happened many times in the course of Israel’s history. You can read about it in Judges, the Chronicles, the Kings. Much of the Prophets is devoted to warning Israel and Judah about their waywardness and the judgment to come.

However, God warns in 34-35 that even though He would let enemies execute judgment on Israel, He would still hold those enemies accountable for their wickedness and repay them for their evil. (cf 41, 43). Even these who would have conquered God’s people are not safe from the judgment of God. God’s power is absolute. He controls events upon His people, and he controls events upon those he uses for judgment.

In verses 36-38 God says he will have compassion on Israel in judging their enemies. The statement in verse 36 “The Lord will judge His people” means that He would judge for them (i.e., vindicate them). However, Israel would not experience His compassion till they relinquished all trust in their own efforts (when… their strength is gone) and in the false gods in whom they took refuge. Moses ironically called on Israel to turn for help to the false gods, knowing, of course, they would be unable to help Israel.

In verses 39-43, God says His goal in judging Israel was not to annihilate her. It was to bring her to the point where she understood that there is no god besides the Lord Jehovah and that He alone has the power over death and life (verse 39). When in verse 40 he refers  to raising His hand, He is taking an oath. He is saying in verse 41 that he will use the enemies sword to carry out His justice. God will then take revenge on his enemies and repay those who reject Him.

Dwell in SafetyLeviticus 25:18 says “So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety.” Safety is the Hebrew word בֶּטַח, (beṭaḥ). It means ‘securely’. In its first occurrence beṭaḥ emphasizes the status of a city which was certain of not being attacked: ” … Two of the sons … took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males” (Gen. 34:25). Thus the city was unsuspecting regarding the impending attack. In passages such as Prov. 10:9 beṭaḥ emphasizes a confidence and the absence of impending doom: “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known [faces certain judgment].” Israel dwells in security apart from any possible doom or danger because God keeps her completely safe (Deut. 33:12, 28). This condition is contingent on their faithfulness to God (Lev. 25:18-19). (Vine’s)

This hope in the safety provided by God is not naive wishing, but a confident expectation. Unlike the pagan religions where anxiety was the rule, the Hebrew religion knew a God whose chief characteristic was faithfulness and trustworthiness (Deut. 33:28; 1 Samuel 12:11; Psalm 27:3). This contrast between anxiety and confidence becomes all the more striking when one recalls that the pagan was never left without mechanisms whereby he felt he had some control over his destiny, while the devout Hebrew knew himself to be utterly without personal resources. In general, the Old Testament contrasts the validity of that sense of confidence which comes from reliance upon God with the folly of any other kind of security. It is made plain that all such trust will end in disgrace and shame, whereas those whose hope is in God alone will be delivered from their enemies (“In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.” Psalm 22:4 ) —(Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)

So a rabbi that refuses to credit God’s power to protect is not a rabbi of Jehovah God. He must follow another god. He must teach another bible.

American’s who refuse to credit God’s power to protect are doomed to experience the judgment of God, who in His mercy works all things to bring His created beings into a loving relationship with Him.

Of course, we refuse to acknowledge God’s power and authority to judge, so we might as well refuse to acknowledge His power to protect. Only time will tell. However, I believe with all my heart that the words of Psalm 2 are being set in motion:

Psalms 2:10-12 (NLT) Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities— for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

ps4_8blueAs for the mudpreacher and Tom Riner, we will sleep like babies, because Psalm 4:8 is our pillow: “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” Sleep Like a Baby

Even if they do away with this provision in Kentucky’s Homeland Security Act, I doubt that atheists will sleep any better. Only fools say “No” to God!

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Comments
  1. Shih Tzu says:

    The issue in this case is not whether atheism is correct or wise or anything like that. The issue is whether the government, which serves and represents all Americans, should be endorsing one particular religion. Would you be comfortable with the Kentucky department of Homeland Security putting up a plaque that said, for instance, “The state of Kentucky recognizes that, ‘God’ being a nonexistent fairy tale, it is incumbent on every citizen to work toward the safety of the state.”? How about “The security of all citizens of Kentucky is owed to the divine protection of Muhammed, peace be upon him.”? May I trust that it is clear how outrageous and unconstitutional those statements would be?

    The lawsuit is not an attack on Christianity, it is a defense of secular government. Inasmuch as keeping religious endorsements out of government is in the interests of all citizens, Christian and non-Christian alike, the atheists in this case are in fact standing up for the rights of Christians.

  2. mudpreacher says:

    I realize the issue is one of the “wall” of separation between state and religious liberty. What I object to is the dramatic shift in thinking that has taken place over the last 50 years. We have gone from a nation ‘under God’ and from ‘in God we trust’ to a confused bunch of post moderns AFRAID to admit that God is El Gibbor, the Almighty One. We have abandoned the God of our Fathers and replaced him with a plastic god in need of Viagra. We will only be strong if we somehow manage to return to honoring Jehovah God. The more inclusive and tolerant we become, the weaker ethically, morally and economically America becomes. God is our Protector, whether we acknowledge Him or not.

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