Sure, legislate faith! (As long as it’s mine)

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, January 25, 2014

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Well-meaning people in two nearby Texas cities, including Paradise, have now declared 2014 to be the “Year of the Bible.”

Please don’t read this as anti-Bible, anti-Paradise or even anti-city council. I’m none of the above.

Bob Buckel

Bob Buckel

I can’t help but wonder, though, how city councils will respond if next year a Muslim group approaches them with a petition to declare 2015 the “Year of the Koran.”

What if the Latter-Day Saints come with a request for the “Year of the Book of Mormon”? Or perhaps there’s a Buddhist enclave in Paradise, as there is in Newark, and they respectfully suggest 2016 be the “Year of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.”

Or what if an atheist walks in with a request for the “Year of ‘The Age of Reason’ by Jean-Paul Sartre”?

This is a can of worms Americans ought not to open.

Certainly, if you’re a person who seeks to base your life on Biblical principles, there is much in popular culture to deplore. Public behavior, music, clothing and language explore new depths daily, and movies and television shows often celebrate what the Bible labels as sin.

So if you’re elected to, say, a city council, and everyone knows you’re a Christian, then it’s natural to assume everyone approves and supports your faith. You may be right – or it just may be that they appreciate the kind of person your faith prompts you to be.

But if any of that translates into an urge to put your faith into the statute books, please lie down until that feeling goes away.

It was faith that brought Pilgrims to this continent and led them to set up a system of government where people could worship (or not) as they chose.

Many of our founders were people of faith. That faith enlightened them and guided them as they set up a system of government where faith could flourish – everyone’s faith.

The same freedom that protects a Christian’s right to worship protects an atheist’s right not to. Freedom assures that Jews can go to the synagogue on Saturday, Muslims can bow toward Mecca three times a day and I can go to church on Sunday.

When it comes to defending freedom of religion, we’re all on the same side.

Christianity has in fact flourished in the light of freedom. Given an opportunity to choose without coercion, the threat of public ridicule or – God forbid – the heavy hand of the law, many people do choose Jesus.

But if it’s not a choice, freely made, it’s meaningless.

I strongly believe Christians should work to influence their culture – not through law, but through allegiance to a higher law.

Do we truly believe the mighty arm of God needs the flimsy hand of government to hold it up? Have a little faith!

Government is not here to raise your children, stop your drinking, heal your marriage, mend your broken heart or forgive your sins – or even to direct you where to turn for those kinds of things.

How about making sure the water’s clean, the food is safe and my garbage gets carted away? Moral guidance is the last thing I want from my government.

In a democracy, everyone has a vote. Maybe here, now, people who share my faith are the majority – but who’s to say whose faith will be in the majority 10 years, 20 years, 50 or 100 years from now?

If Christians in the U.S. today establish the precedent that faith can and should be written into law, what will our children and grandchildren do when successive generations follow that precedent?

Maybe they’ll have to flee to a country that understands and practices religious freedom. If they can find one.

Bob Buckel is editorial director of the Wise County Messenger.

6 Responses to “Sure, legislate faith! (As long as it’s mine)”

  1. Rusty White says:

    If some would practice and their actions reflected what is taught from the “BOOK” of their supposed faith, we would all be better off! Only a fool or an uneducated person claiming to have knowledge of “faith” would try and force it upon any other, this act in it’s self goes against the very teaching of the faith they claim to follow, does it not?

    “IF” your faith and “HE” is all powerful and knowing, how is it “HE” would bless those claiming to be acting in “HIS” teaching and name to force their worldly belief and self- serving agendas upon any others?

    When it comes to our “publicly” tax funded institutions, do you really believe those tax dollars only come from those of “your faith”? Show all of us where in the “BOOK” and our Constitution it gives “special” acknowledgment and status to one faith or no faith over any others, much less to be used as a weapon against his flock! As for our schools I send my tax dollars and children to be taught the “academic” skills they will need to succeed in life, morals and faith “IS NOT” part of “”ANY PUBLIC SERVANTS AT ANY LEVEL” business or acceptable, PERIOD! Stay with teaching “common sense”, honesty, fairness, equality and I can accept that, as far as faith goes, “not your place nor your business”, PERIOD!

    Is there anyone that actually believe only those of their supposed faith have sacrificed their lives for this country? Right now our nations sons and daughters are sacrificing their lives in other countries to stop those from forcing their “supposed” faith and self-serving agendas and beliefs in to laws over all others, how on earth can anybody think the same would be acceptable here at home????

    Is the following saying not true,
    People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on “your” road, does not mean they are lost! (Dalai Lama)

  2. Our founding fathers get misquoted so often.
    I can’t help but wonder what Jesus would do about this. I think those of us who know Him, already have a pretty good idea. 🙂

  3. This subscription is in my wife’s name, but I am John.
    I’ve read this fellow’s column for some time now, and enjoyed it, until now.
    He seems to contradict himself, especially when looking at past articles.
    I expect now, in the name of freedom, he will be taking a break several times a year to let people of other religions use his column to express their views? Freedom of the press, and all that jazz?
    I hope other Christians don’t decide to keep their light under a basket for fear others will talk of their religions too. True freedom is for anyone who wants to declare this the year of their religious book. It is not a law. It is a deep rooted courage in expressing their beliefs. Shutting up now.
    John Barnes

  4. Rusty White says:

    Cheryl and John,

    I think it is great you have a faith that fulfills your needs, and I will continue to fight so each and everyone of us has the same rights! “BUT” I also will fight against those who attempt to force their faith in to our laws, schools, publicly tax funded institutions and upon my children, NOT THEIR RIGHT OR PLACE!

    While it is true in this country those before us and those sacrificing now, are doing it so we can “ALL” have equal rights and individual freedoms! They didn’t and don’t sacrifice for one belief over another, or so “anybody” can self proclaim special status, right? While it is true one can believe as they wish, it is also true “all” others have the right to be “free from” others religious beliefs, right?

    To each their own, while we all shine our own lights to find the right path in life!:)

  5. says:

    Cheryl and John,
    I just now saw this, but I’d be happy to engage you in a conversation about faith. For starters, I’d like to say that no, I won’t be turning my column over to others who might wish to express a different faith. It’s my column. Others are already free to do that in the Messenger, through a letter to the editor, as long as their purpose is not to ridicule the faith of another, which you will never see me do. But I think you miss the point. There’s a distinct difference between a private individual expressing faith in a privately-owned newspaper, read solely by people who choose of their own free will to do so, and a governmental entity like a city council expressing faith. That’s the point I was attempting to make – apparently not successfully. Feel free to continue this conversation via this page or by email. I’m at bbuckel@wcmessenger.com. Thanks!

  6. Bill Moore says:

    Being Saved, and saying you Have Faith are two different things. Being “Churchy-Church,” or a Wise County, Good Ol Boy, have nothing to do with knowing the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.
    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father except by me.”
    Somehow most of America got the idea that all they have to do to be a “CHRISTIAN” is show up at church at least once a week. And for some, only on Easter and Christmas.
    Jesus aid, “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN.” Are you? If you truly ARE NOT, you aren’t SAVED; Jesus’ words, not mine.
    Jesus also said that you must become as a small child to enter Heaven. To have the Faith and Assurance of a small child that trusts the Father.
    Are you BORN AGAIN? 🙂


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