So I get asked a lot why should Christians be involved in politics. And I always like to give a biblical answer. In I Timothy 2:1-4, listen to what Paul said. He said, “Therefore I exhort, first of all…” that means this is a place of priority, “that supplications prayers intercessions and the giving of thanks be made for all men.” Now listen, he says “for kings, and all who are in authority, so that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior, who desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” A couple things that are really important here. First of all, it’s a priority that we pray for and intercede for kings. That means politicians and governments and all who are in authority. And then beyond that, he says the reason we’re doing this is so that we can lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. In other words, our witness our testimony, and our prayers are there so that it benefits our lives.
“So the nation that walks the closest to the Word and the will and the ways of God is going to experience the goodness of God.”
And so we want people to answer the call, to pray, to witness and to be involved in government and politics, and to let God’s light shine in every institution. Remember this friends– government is God’s idea. It was God himself who set up government, and specifically speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ what did God say through the prophet Isaiah? He said this, “the government shall rest upon His shoulders.” Government is God’s idea, and he invites us to participate in it so that righteousness can rule and reign and that righteousness will then exalt whatever nation follows after the heart and mind of God.
Now, one of the ideas that generally discourages Christians from getting involved in government, is the idea of Separation between Church and State. I hope that you know that this is one of the most misunderstood and abused phrases in America today. These five simple words have wreaked havoc on the church and American culture. Now I’m not going to ask you to raise your emoji hands on your computers or cellphones, but I’ve done this enough in private conversation and seen people’s shocked faces: if I was to ask you how many of you think that the phrase separation of church and state is in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States or for sure the Bill of Rights– if I was to ask you to raise your hand if you believe it’s in one of those three documents or all of them, you would be shocked how many people would raise their hands and say “well of course it is… of course it is…”
I have news for you friends—out of the three documents mentioned, it’s in zero of them. The phrase separation between Church and State is not in the Declaration of Independence, it is not in the United States Constitution, and it is not in the Bill of Rights. The core issue with this phrase today is that it has been ascribed a legal power that it was never intended to have. We need to take an accurate look at our nation’s history and the origin of this phrase, so that we can be further equipped to be passionate servants of Jesus Christ in the nation that we live in, in the time that we live in. Now listen, this is an issue about the church which is our territory and if we do not understand the truth of the matter it causes us to become silent and ineffective, when in fact we are called to be the salt and the light in our nation.
So, let’s start by just asking the question “what role did Christianity play in the forming of the United States of America?” Well in order to answer this question, we must go all the way back to 1620 when the English settlers arrived on the Mayflower, and upon landing got off the boat and made a compact that marked this nation.
This document is referred to as the Mayflower Compact of 1620. It’s not long. I would encourage you to go ahead, look it up and read it, as it’s easily accessible. But just to give you a taste of the nature of this document, it starts off by saying “in the name of God…” and continues “by the grace of God…” and then continues “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian religion…”
“You see, in 1620 when the English settlers first landed on the shores of Cape Cod, here’s what they said in essence: “We are here to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring God glory, and we intend on doing it by the grace and power of God, and in the name of God…” Friends, this is the beginning of our nation.”
Here in this first amendment were the 16 words that changed a lot in America regarding the interactions between the state and the Church—heavily influenced by Jefferson’s document the “Statute for Religious Freedom.” The first amendment, coupled with Jefferson’s later message to the Danbury Baptits was truly the beginning of what would be a two centuries-long misunderstanding concerning the phrase, “Separation of Church and State.” This first amendment said, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That’s it. These 16 words basically said, “Congress shall not establish any formal Christian government or any religion for that matter in the United States, and we are not going to prohibit the free exercise of any religion either.”
“The first amendment secures the freedom of religion, for religion, and from religion so long as you don’t prohibit or infringe upon the practice of my own religion.”
This is what these 16 words mean. 11 years later, in 1802 in Danbury Connecticut, the Danbury Baptists write a letter to then-President Thomas Jefferson. In their letter, they share their concerns about being the minority religion in America. Thomas Jefferson as the president of the United States responds to the Danbury Baptists in 1802. He begins his letter to the Baptists by referencing the first amendment adopted by the constitution only 11 years earlier saying, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people, which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” And there you have it. This is where the phrase separation of church and state comes from. President Thomas Jefferson’s response to the concerned Danbury Baptists reassures them that even though they are the religious minority that they need not fear the ability to exercise what they believe. He goes on to quote the first Amendment saying, “Hey there’s going to be no established Christian denomination in this nation; that’s not going to happen. We want you to be at ease knowing there is going to be no one who is going to prohibit you from practicing your Baptist practice.” If this reassurance from Jefferson were not enough, he goes on and ends his letter by saying, “I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.” President Jefferson believed deeply in this wall of separation between Church and State but assured the Baptists that their beliefs would not be infringed upon and that he deeply respected them.
With this clear understanding of the first amendment and its protections as well as what it means, it is easier to see the abuses of the phrase from organizations like the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation). This non-profit organization is ran by Co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Gaylor. Dan a former minister and evangelist turned free-thinker and Annie Gaylor a third-generation free-thinker. Free-thinker is simply another phrase synonymous with atheism. Free-thinkers buck the idea of having any deity of any kind as master, and believe the self is most free when free to do or think anything. This “free-thinking” as they call it, is not what it sounds like. It’s not in love with the idea proposed by the first amendment and President Jefferson’s reassuring words to the Baptists. It does not believe in freedom “of,” or “for” religion. In fact, the only thing it believes in is Freedom “from” Religion not only for themselves as it pertains to America—no, but America ought to be free of the invasive, offensive idea of religion, period. Organizations like this one are not out to protect the first amendment, but to destroy it and in destroying it, they are trying to redefine phrases like the separation of church and state. Because if they can, they believe they can “according to the constitution, drive religion right out of America” while in reality the constitution, rightly interpreted, makes no such allowance and in fact protects such a thing from happening in America. There is so much evidence and proof for the Christian founding of our nation. Anyone who tries to deny it or pervert it isn’t just stupid, no, I promise you the issue is they have another agenda completely and that is to kick God out of our country once and for all. Make no mistake about it this is not intellectual this is spiritual in nature, and it is a lie to the core. Those five words: Separation. Between. Church. And State. have become the basis for organizations like Freedom from Religion. And now, being taken out of context, it’s being weaponized so that there are no more prayers in school functions, no Bibles allowed, no reports on Jesus Christ, no “under God” in the pledge, no “In God We Trust” on our money or our national motto, no nativities on government property, no crosses on government property—all because of a massive misunderstanding and many times intended misuse of 5 simple words: the separation of church and state.
When we ask the question then, “Should Christians be in involved in politics,” you will hear much of Christendom screaming “but the church was never meant to be involved in the affairs of the state, have you never heard of the separation of church and state?” This is a farce and we need to call it what it is. This belief is nowhere near the original intent of the private, non-binding, non-legal letter written by Jefferson to the Baptists—period, nor is it biblical. And yet, it’s been said to be as such, so often with such authority and such conviction that I’m afraid the Christian community has been silenced from speaking into government– by this very lie. And because we have believed it so long, we think we don’t have a voice because of the separation of church and state. We are like clueless robots, marching to the beat of the enemy’s drum and on the verge of losing our country. It is godless and it has to stop. Kicking religion out of government is just the beginning. It will not be enough for the government to be free from religion and its influence. As we’ve seen in the last few years it’s not only the government that wants to kick religion out of America, it is Schools discriminating against and suppressing the faith of its coaches and teachers, bakers being taken to court for making decisions based on conscience, pastors being fined and taken to court on account of their keeping their churches open, businesses firing employees for so-called “dissonance” and refusing to vax according to their religious beliefs. If you think the government is the only institution trying to kick religion out of America, think again. Government is just the whip by which all religious freedoms you and I exercise in every social institution will be run off with. How? By twisting concepts like that of separation of church and state for their own profit. Because the enemy knows that when America ceases to be good, America will cease to exist. And America can only be good, if good people continue to find the courage to allow the good news to influence everything they do, including the policy-shaping our nation.
Again, I get asked a lot why Christians should be involved in politics. And I always like to give a biblical answer. The nation that walks the closest to the Word and the will and the way of God is going to experience the goodnessof God. Who doesn’t want to experience the goodness of God? And yet the question remains, “how can a nation walk so closely to the Word, will, and way of God and therefore experience the goodness of God if they do not know or understand what they are reading about Him?” If we aren’t called to be public servants in government, surely, we are called to tell them of God’s Word, will, and ways.
It is interesting that one of the most peculiar accounts of helping someone better understand the ways of God occurred shortly after the church was born, and ironically enough between a chief government official serving on the court of the queen of Ethiopia and Philip the evangelist. Luke recounts that “there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet, Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:27–31). Sometimes the aridest, driest places are the most in need of the good news. Many have called Washington and the government a swamp, maybe some would even call it a valley of dry bones. But aren’t those the very places the Lord wants to reach? Whether Philip and the political official at Gaza, Paul at Caesarea Maritime and Rome with the highest of government officials giving his testimony, Timothy pastoring in Ephesus where the temple Artemis stood, or Jesus testifying before Pilate–Unless good people step into government and politics to influence and guide policy how will this nation ever understand the Word, the will, and the ways of God and know how to apply them to the ills influencing our nation? Beloved, it’s time to rightly understand what was meant by the separation of Church and state, overcome the lies culture would have us believe and get involved—for the King and His Kingdom.