The culture front has been filled with bad news recently. Recent polls show that some 55 percent of Americans now say they support same-sex marriage, the highest number since Gallup began polling on the issue in 1996, when 68 percent were opposed. America is clearly following the lead of many other Western nations, including Canada and the United Kingdom, where such marriages are already legalized.
In recent months judges have struck down state-approved bans on same-sex marriage in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Virginia. Activists have filed lawsuits in all states with same-sex marriage bans, so this list will grow longer in the coming months, no doubt soon reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.
Earlier this year, "a narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld decidedly Christian prayers at the start of local council meeting . . . declaring them in line with long national traditions though the country has grown more religiously diverse" (Associated Press, May 6). This seems like a positive, until it's realized that the 5-4 decision could easily have gone the other way—and, with the appointment of more liberal justices, still could in the near future.
Drastic changes in society
Things have changed drastically in America since the Supreme Court outlawed prayer and Bible studies in public schools in the early 1960s and declared abortion legal in 1973. (Be sure to read "Silencing God's Children".)
Over these same decades, morality has plummeted throughout the world and in the United States. Commentator Mychal Massie remarks: "They took away 'thou shalt not kill' and 'honor thy father and mother' and replaced it with school shootings, abortion and homosexual sensitivity. With God out of schools, school crime has increased 700 percent, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence" ("God, Not Crime, Barred From Schools," WND.com, August 4, 2014).
Yet the decline began earlier, often traced to the horrible aftereffects of the world wars of the 20th century—where the many millions slaughtered and attempted genocide led untold numbers of people to view life as cheap and as a godless scramble to do what you want while you can.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of World War I. In the wake of that epic conflict America, Canada and Britain devolved into the "new morality" of the Roaring Twenties. But it wasn't the war alone that led people to cast off their moorings. Other factors were already taking their toll.
Since the beginning of the 1900s, the United States and other Western nations saw the rise of progressivism, with politicians attempting to lead society gradually into utopian dreams of one-world socialism in which God is ultimately excluded. This was built in large part on the introduction in the 1800s of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and the social implications of minimizing or eliminating God's role as Creator and seeing man as just a more highly evolved animal—a philosophy of meaninglessness enabling liberation from Judeo-Christian morality.
Today the Western world is reaping what has been sown in rampant atheism, communism and immorality—with some trends and practices lowering us to depths not seen even in the debauched pagan societies of ancient times. The nations of the world are thumbing their noses at God—including America. Who would have thought that this country founded as a shining city on a hill would be projecting such godlessness today?
Overturning traditional values
In a new 2014 book titled God Less America (there is a faded B before "Less" on the cover), Fox News radio commentator Todd Starnes has compiled many recent news stories showing the attack on traditional values and the expulsion of God from public life in the nation today. It is an eye-opening and disheartening read.
After mentioning that well-known evangelical pastor Rick Warren told him that he thought religious liberty would become the civil rights issue of our generation, Starnes paints this disturbing panorama:
"Imagine the implications. Imagine what the future might look like for people of faith. Could it be that one day the pastor of the local First Baptist Church will be arrested for preaching hate? Could it be that one day police will turn hoses on little Christian boys and girls as they sing 'Jesus Loves Me' at vacation Bible school? Is it possible that Christian business owners could one day be forced to close down for refusing to violate the tenets of their faith?
"Will evangelical college students be denied entry into science and psychology programs because they believe in creationism? Will chaplains be thrown out of the armed forces if they pray in the name of Jesus? Will evangelical organizations be labeled domestic hate groups for defending the traditional definition of marriage?
"The perfect storm is brewing. The White House is waging an all-out assault on religious liberty. Public schools are indoctrinating our children with the gospel of secularism. Hollywood is spewing toxins into our homes. The soundtrack of our lives is a pulsating mix of sex and violence and filth. The American family is in ruins. What was once wrong is now right and what was once right is now wrong" (p. 3).
Alarmingly, some of these things are already happening. The awful fact is that a war is being waged against the Creator God in the public arena—and ultimately in the spirit realm and the minds of people. We must take warning in what is happening around us—and in our own affected thoughts and beliefs! Moreover, let us be among those "who sigh and cry over all the abominations" in the society around us, looking to God's deliverance when His judgment comes (compare Ezekiel 9:4-10)—for it will come.
Growing hostility toward Christian faith and morality
According to a 2012 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, religious affiliation in America has dramatically dropped, especially among the young. In 1972, 7 percent of U.S. adults had no religious affiliation. As of 2012, the figure has almost tripled to one-fifth of the adult population—and 32 percent for adults under age 30 ("'Nones' on the Rise," PewForum.org, Oct. 9, 2012).
The Pew survey further showed that 73 percent of these people with no religious affiliation support gay marriage, and 72 percent of them support legalized abortion.
These changes go hand in hand with increased demands for overturning traditional morality. Former Arkansas governor and U.S. presidential candidate Mike Huckabee wrote in the forward of Starnes' book: "In recent years militant special interest groups have made it their goal to co-opt our religious liberties and force industry and government to go beyond tolerance of their views and demand full approval of them. Anyone who believes otherwise is told to shut up. We've become a society that obsesses over tolerance and acceptance of everyone—except God" (p. xi, emphasis added throughout).
600 examples of government hostility to religion
A joint report by two religious freedom groups, the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute, has documented "more than six hundred recent examples of religious hostility" (Starnes, p. 208). Some of these and others are noted in an article titled "Persecution of Christians on Rise—In U.S." on the WND.com (formerly WorldNetDaily) website (Michael Carl, Sept. 17, 2012). Here are several examples, as listed in the article:
" • A federal judge threatened 'incarceration' to a high school valedictorian unless she removed references to Jesus from her graduation speech.
" • City officials prohibited senior citizens from praying over their meals, listening to religious messages or singing gospel songs at a senior activities center.
" • A public school official physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.
"• Following U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' policies, a federal government official sought to censor a pastor's prayer, eliminating references to Jesus, during a Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans at a national cemetery . . .
"• The U.S. Department of Justice argued before the Supreme Court that the federal government can tell churches and synagogues which pastors and rabbis it can hire and fire . . .
"• Through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the federal government is forcing religious organizations to provide insurance for birth control and abortion-inducing drugs in direct violation of their religious beliefs. [This has been halted for now by a recent Supreme Court ruling.]
"• The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs banned the mention of God from veterans' funerals, overriding the wishes of the deceased's families.
"• A federal judge held that prayers before a state House of Representatives could be to Allah but not to Jesus."
In the same article, American Center for Law and Justice senior counsel David French cites a particularly appalling example —"attempt[s] to ban any mention of God from historical markers, monuments or even museum exhibits . . . This represents an effort to whitewash God from American history and change our national identity."
Government vs. traditional religious values
A number of observers have cited examples of hostility to traditional American religious values by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. In April 2009, he put forward three nominees for U.S. ambassador to the Vatican who were pro-abortion—all of whom were not surprisingly rejected (The Guardian, April 14, 2009).
In February 2011, he directed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (in which same-sex marriage was not recognized by the federal government) against legal challenges. And in July 2011, he allowed homosexuals to serve openly in the military, ending restrictions that had been in place since the founding of the nation. Newsweek magazine showed him on its cover with a rainbow halo over his head and lauded him as "The First Gay President" (May 21, 2012).
Under the Obama administration, a Minnesota widow living in a government-funded apartment complex "was told she could not pray, read her Bible, or have private discussions of a religious nature in the commons area of the complex" (Starnes, p. 10).
In September 2011, the U.S. Army issued new guidelines for Walter Reed Hospital that read, "No religious items (i.e., Bibles, reading materials . . .) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit" (though the policy was rescinded after it was reported to the House of Representatives).
Furthermore, "two Baptist chaplains said they were forced out of a Veterans Affairs chaplain training program after they refused orders to stop quoting the Bible and stop praying in the name of Jesus" (Starnes, p. 152). (Read more in "Banning the Mention of God in Public Life".)
Yet while government leaders attempt to push God and the Bible out, they welcome and finance alternative religion. The U.S. Air Force Academy in 2011 "dedicated an $80,000 outdoor worship center—a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with propane fire pit—high on a hill for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of 'Earth-based.' Those include pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths" ("Air Force Academy Adapts to Pagans, Druids, Witches and Wiccans," Los Angeles Times, Nov. 26, 2011).
The anti-Christian trend is not just in America. "A dispute over whether government can require Catholic schools to teach Wiccan and pagan rites as equal to the Ten Commandments and the resurrection of Jesus is heading to Canada's highest court" (Bob Unruh, "Christians Ordered to Teach Wiccan, Pagan Rites," WND, March 11, 2014).
Frighteningly, preferential treatment is now being given to Islam in numerous ways (see "'One Nation Under Allah?'").
Christian values now the lunatic fringe?
It's beyond disturbing how the great numbers of Americans still embracing the nation's traditional Christian values have been not merely marginalized but relegated to a lunatic fringe—by liberal activists, by the mainstream media and now by the U.S. military.
For an instance of the latter, "a group of Army officers was advised to monitor soldiers who belong to what were considered to be anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigration organizations, according to a military e-mail. The e-mail was sent by a lieutenant colonel at Fort Campbell in Kentucky to three dozen subordinates, warning them to be on the lookout for any soldiers who might be members of 'domestic hate groups.'
"Among the groups the Army listed are well-respected organizations such as the Family Research Council, American Family Association, Atlas Shrugs, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The Army listed the groups alongside actual extremist and hate groups such as the Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and other supremacist groups" (Starnes, pp. 140-141).
In April 2013, Pentagon officials met with Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and others of his organization to discuss a policy introduced in 2012 called "Air Force Culture, Air Force Standards," which requires "government neutrality regarding religion." The Family Research Council's president, Tony Perkins, asked the obvious question: "Why would military leadership be meeting with one of the most rabid atheists in America to discuss religious freedom in the military?" (quoted by Starnes, p. 150).
Weinstein said that U.S. troops who proselytize "are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished . . . 'We would love to see hundreds of prosecutions to stop this outrage of fundamentalist religious persecution.' He compared the act of proselytizing to rape. 'It is a version of being spiritually raped, and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian predators,' he told Fox News" (Starnes, pp. 149-150).
Weinstein claims thousands of Protestants among his organization's ranks and says they are only going after fundamentalists—of all faiths—stating: "As soon as we find a fundamentalist Muslim, atheist, Jewish person, or anybody else, we will be happy to fight them . . . but so far they have been few and far between" (pp. 151-152). Really?! Does he actually expect us to believe that Protestant Christian churches are chock full of fundamentalists while Muslim fundamentalists are rare? This is clearly dishonest.
Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk was fired when he could not agree that those who object to gay marriage in their thoughts are guilty of discrimination. Monk said that while homosexuals are coming out of the closet, "Christians have to go into the closet . . . We are being robbed of our dignity and respect. We can't be who we are" (quoted by Starnes, p. 157). (Read "Government and the Gay Agenda"). And this comes on top of many other societal wrongs (see "A Flood of Immorality".)
Our place in the war
"In a recent foreign-language interview," reported WND chief editor Joseph Farah, "Roman Catholic Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the highest court at the Vatican, spoke the truth when he said Obama's policies 'have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization'" ("The Answer to Obama's War on Christianity," WND, Mar. 27, 2014).
Farah goes on to comment: "I believe Obama and the agenda he personifies have used abortion and homosexuality as battering rams against the Christian faith. For the proponent of unlimited government, God is truly the enemy because He is the author of liberty. He is the enemy because no one must serve a higher god than government. Men have been placing themselves in God's place, divining right from wrong, since the Garden of Eden. There's nothing new under the sun. It always leads to one end—disaster, catastrophe, death, destruction, misery, hopelessness.
"Obama can scarcely take all the blame for our arrival at this ungodly destination. Believers are more responsible. They let it happen. They continue to allow it to happen. They have the power to direct the nation in a reverse course—just as the children of ancient Israel had the power. It's still there for us today. All that is required is that believers follow the prescription God gave us in 2 Chronicles 7:14."
In this powerful verse, God assures us, "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
So the answer is of course national repentance—a drastic change in our thinking and behavior to turn to our Creator and His laws. But that does not begin nationally. Each of us has been enlisted in the war against God individually—and each of us must repent personally.
This is by no means a new war. It goes back to Satan's initial rebellion against God—when he led a third of the angels in revolt. It continued in the Garden of Eden, when Satan as the serpent misled and corrupted the first human beings—taking captive God's precious creations to make a mockery of God.
Satan has done the same with America—a nation God has often blessed and protected—leading it repeatedly into the depths of depravity as part of his vile assault on God and His ways.
And he still does the same with all humanity. The confusion, the irrationality, the constant conflict, the mire of immorality—it is all under the deception and sway of the ruler of this world, the god of this age, Satan the devil (John 12:31; John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4). All mankind has been in "the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:26).
So much of the bizarre political rhetoric we hear in the world is not the product of a sound mind, but is the manifestation of spiritual warfare—the screeching of demons fighting both one another and God through their unwitting proxies on the world stage.
And we must understand that we also have not been immune. God's Word says of all of us that "there is none righteous, no, not one . . . They have all turned aside" (Romans 3:10-12). It further assures us that "the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God's law, for it is unable to do so" (Romans 8:7, Holman Christian Standard Bible).
We need a new mind from God to help us overcome the hostility toward Him that has become ingrained in our thinking—and thankfully God does provide us with the needed spiritual help when we repent!
Yet even with believers, Satan still strives to use us in his war against God. He can't destroy us outright, so he tempts us to corrupt ourselves. And what a shame it is when he succeeds in this, cackling with glee at his ability to capture the height of God's creative work and use it to mock God and His ways!
Let us never be among those of whom it is said: ". . . who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32).
But if we have so fallen, the answer is still to humble ourselves in repentance—returning to God for His help and forgiveness. He will empower us to extricate ourselves from wrong ways to instead fight on His side—to be "a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3).
This is not a physical fight but a spiritual one, battling the evil spiritual forces around us (Ephesians 6:12)—and the wrong thoughts arising from our own carnal or fleshly nature: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
In the war against God, there is no question about who will ultimately win. Almighty God will win. The question is, whose side of the war will we be fighting on? And will we endure?