Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Return to State Churches?

I received a comment here today that helped to fill in some details on the starting point for the idea of an 'apostolic church' and I would like to share it with you, as well as some thoughts.

As a Christian fundamentalist, I am often assumed to be a conservative and a warrior against that most unholy of unholies - the separation of Church and State. Instead, the idea that a majority of people would decide my spiritual allegiance - or even attempt to - terrifies me. Among other reasons, this fear fuels my interest in such groups as the New Apostolic Reformation and Joel's Army.

Here is the comment,

Um, hello? Did I miss something here? This is an obviously godly prophecy. God would be bringing “BACK” what the liberals have stolen from America. The apostolic government with an apostle over every state is bringing ‘back’ what was established at the beginning.

This is just how the government of the USA was meant to be. In fact it is exactly how it started. Each of the original 13 states had an official church. This is the very reason why the first amendment was ratifed…to keep ‘CONGRESS’ from showing respect of one state’s church over another. Read your history. This is very disturbing that one would be ‘against’ God bringing America ‘back’ to its roots? The very principle roots that made us the greatest nation on earth.

Unless God does this…we will fall and go into a depression. The very reason behind our recession is the nation’s backsliden and liberal defiances of God.

We need to be brought ‘back’ to what made us prosperous….GODLINESS

The commenter fails to note many thing from American history. First, the 1797 Treaty with Tripoli Article 11, which in part states,

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries

Moving to the topic of 'official state churches', we find according to the ARLU, only 9 of the 13 states had 'official state churches' as of 1776. (Note, not one actual bible publisher though). At the time of the adoption of the First Amendment in 1791, four of the fourteen states recognized an official state church. By 1833, these last vestiges of colonial America was deestablished in Massachusetts. What the commenter above fails to note, however, is the incorporation views of the 14th amendment (1868) and the clause in the Constitution that ensure that the U.S. Government will guarantee a republican form of government. (Section IV, Article IV) It is clear from history that a 'republican form of government' cannot - must not - include forced and established religion. It simply destroys both.

According to David J Van Deusen

Then and now where official state churches exist, members in good standing of the official state church might be the only ones who could vote or own property. Children of other churches and nonbelievers could be taken away. This is what our founding fathers wanted to prevent when they wrote the establishment part of the First Amendment.

Virginia led the way with its Declaration of Rights, which was enacted in June of 1776. Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey soon followed, and in 1777, New York, North Carolina and Georgia disestablished their respective churches. Massachusetts, as stated before, waited until 1833. It must also be remembered that colonial America had for itself a tradition of an official church, so being appendages of the Crown, it was only natural for such fruits to follow. It is apparent, however, that with the rebellion against the Crown, came the rebellion against organized religion.

The members of the New Apostolic Reformation intend to reestablish 'state' churches with their own 'apostles' by 2012 (which in part helps to understand their motivation for Sarah Palin). As the commentator has stated, this was the original idea, yet we find that upon the lifting of the yoke of the Crown, so also was lifted the vestments of the pulpit. The original ideas of the Founding Fathers did not include what groups like the NAR and Joel's Army have in mind; as a matter of fact, it more clear that those who shed blood at Saratoga, Bunker Hill, and Yorktown would find it down right fearful to hear those like J. Lee Grady and others speak of a new 'apostolic government' like 'the original' states.

The commenter freely notes that the Establishment Clause was directed towards Congress while hypocritically calling for a return of the government of the United States to a religious foundation.

It should be noted as well, that in many areas we have moved past the original (specific) intent of the Constitution. What is known but not discussed often is that 'people' (see Article 1, Section 2) does not include the 'people' that we claim today. Today, we recognize that you must be a citizen and 18 years old to vote. The original intent of 'people' were white, male, property owners. This is made clear with the language in Section 2 of the same article in relation to the 'person' free and or other wise. The original intent of the Constitution designed that those enslaved would serve as three-fifths of a person in the Census. As well, the relation between the states and the Federal Government has changed significantly as well.

The idea that 'the original' intent was to preserve 'state' churches is a seminal idea of fascism.

9 comments:

Phil Johnson said...

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Whoooopie!!!
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I checked out your references. Bonnie Jones' Dream is a great example of what happens when people allow themselves to be led by voices and other "signs" that support their particularist view of reality.
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When do the men in white coats come to take care of these basket cases?
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J. L. Watts said...

If they need the gas to drive the white vans, I would oblige.

Phil Johnson said...

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Here's the Bob and Bonnie Jones site:
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http://www.bobjones.org/

J. L. Watts said...

Thanks for the link.

Brian Tubbs said...

J.L., I think you have written a great critique of the extreme "Christian Right." Well done.

Brad Hart said...

J.L.:

Count Brian's praise as a serious compliment. Normally he is one hell of a good defender for the C. right. Usually the average anti-Christian is literally thrashed to pieces by Mr. Tubbs. =)

J. L. Watts said...

Brian, Brad, thanks for the compliment.

Phil Johnson said...

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Watts has opened up an entire area of interest for me and the references show how much America needs to fear the self righteous among us***.
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*** The Self Righteous Among Us (This is nothing personal to this blog site; but, directed at the entire American culture.)

J. L. Watts said...

Amen to that Phil.