The Trumpet Herald
Giving the trumpet a certain sound
Campaigning for the Ten Commandments
(CNSNews.com) - After weeks of protesting the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, several Christian groups are conducting a five-state "Save the Commandments Caravan" tour. It will conclude at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5 and 6. . . .
The caravan includes a lighted mobile billboard of the Ten Commandments, an actual-size replica of the Montgomery Ten Commandments monument made by the original artist, five lead vehicles identified with Ten Commandments graphic images and eight clergy organizers of the Ten Commandments events that were held in Montgomery. ("Ten Commandments Caravan Headed for Washington," townhall.com, 9/29/03)
Under the watchful eye of Supreme Court marshals, thousands of Christians rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court building Monday to urge the unrestricted public display of the Ten Commandments and to voice anger over the loss of freedom to acknowledge God and celebrate America's religious heritage on public property.
Rev. Rob Schenck, one of the main organizers of the "Spirit of Montgomery - Save the Commandments Caravan," says the purpose of the rally was to voice the discontent of the vast majority of Americans who oppose limitations on their religious expression, and to challenge the Supreme Court and Congress to take action in restoring that freedom in the United States. . . .
One speaker noted which of the Ten Commandments was on her mind:
"Kids are killing kids -- why? Did you ever stop to think it might be because they never were told 'Thou shalt not kill'? Corporate America, notorious for stealing and lying and taking because of their greed -- Did it ever occur to you that those in corporate America maybe never were told 'Thou shalt not steal?'" Rios said. ("Caravan Camps on Court's Steps for Religious Freedom Rally," ("Caravan Camps on High Court's Steps to Rally for Religious Freedom," AgapePress.org, 10/7/03)
We like the Ten Commandments. We think people should obey them. We are concerned that governmental authority will be brought to bear to restrict the religious liberty of a minority, perhaps in the name of protecting the religious liberty of the majority. And of course, perhaps the greatest support for the Ten Commandments would be for Christians to live by them (including the fourth commandment which is conspicuous because of widespread disregard and rationalization to Sunday observance).
Jesus' message originally given in the context of foot-washing comes to mind:
"If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." (John 13:17)
Episcopalians Move Toward Split
The Episcopal church in the United States appears to be moving toward a split over the selection of a bishop who is an openly practicing homosexual. A recent news article reported on a major meeting (2600 attendees and up to 10% of its clergy) of those opposed to the selection:
The Vatican has publicly endorsed US Episcopalian hardliners gathered in Dallas to plan the breakup of their liberal national church.
In a surprise letter from Rome on behalf of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Catholic enforcer of doctrinal purity, wrote to the organisers praising their stand. Support has also come from one of Britain's most respected evangelicals. . . .
There were standing ovations when the cardinal's letter was read out, and also for a message from John Stott, the London-based octogenarian former chaplain to the Queen. Mr. Stott is revered in evangelical circles around the world as one of their modern founders, so much so that he is occasionally called the evangelical pope. . . .
Bishop Frank Griswold, primate of the church, who supported Gene Robinson and will attend next week's meeting in London, has thanked his bishops for their great grace in unsettling and uncertain days: "Whatever the outcome may be ... I hope all of us might move beyond a spirit of condemnation and reaction." ("Vatican eggs on Anglican split in US," The Guardian, 10/10/03)
As noted in previous Trumpet Herald issues, we are alarmed at the substance and meaning of the action of the Episcopal church in appointing a homosexual bishop. We also note that the political power resulting from churches uniting on courses of action has the potential for abuse.
When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result. (The Great Controversy, p. 445)
Faith Based Initiatives Quietly Advance
A recent article in World magazine reported that although major news sources seem not to have noticed, President Bush's "Faith-Based Initiative" has been moving forward through executive orders that effect regulatory changes.
Late last month the Bush administration, thwarted in Congress, accelerated the regulatory revamping that will allow more religious groups to compete for government grants-and most media outlets hardly noticed.
The amount of money involved is potentially huge. The Department of Health and Human Services finalized regulations giving faith-based organizations access to nearly $20 billion in HHS grants related to welfare, substance abuse, mental health, and community services. New regulations within the Department of Housing and Urban Development will make faith-based groups eligible to compete for $8 billion in HUD grants. . . .
The danger that some conservatives see in all this, of course, is that the federal grants system still centralizes power in Washington. Tax credits and vouchers would decentralize funding by empowering direct givers and receivers of aid. But Republicans are not immune to the pleasures of speaking softly while carrying a big pork barrel. ("Beneath the radar," World, 10/11/2003)
It seems to us that Christian organizations should usually (though not always) respectfully decline the "barrel of pork." A distinction might be appropriate between outright gifts and contracts for social services. Money can be a very corrupting influence, especially when the money source does not share the religious principles of a particular religious institution. The words of the Apostle Paul come to mind:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (2 Cor. 6:14, 15)
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