Many Christians today believe that there truly is a “wall of separation between Church and State” and that the Church should not get involved in any kind of “political” activity, but should instead leave that to secular organizations. Their belief is based both on Scripture and what they have been taught in the school system and general society.
The Scripture that is often cited for this belief is Matthew 22:21, which states, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Also there is Romans 13:1, which states, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are chosen by God.”
Additionally, since the early 1960s, the Supreme Court has been restricting the role that religion plays in the “public square”, based mainly on the concept of “Separation of Church and State” (which does not appear in the Constitution). This separation idea has led many churches to shy away from anything that even appears to be political, and the vast majority of the Christian community is comfortable with this stance. It is fortunate for us that this has not always been the case. We need only look at the history of early America and the mid-to late-1700s to see how different the position of the Christian community was, and the critical difference this made to the founding of our country.
After a couple of generations were born in America, there was a decline in regular church attendance. Keep in mind that 99% of America’s population was Bible-believing Christians. There were various reasons for this decline, which we won’t go into here. God, however, had a plan, and He inspired evangelists to begin what would become the greatest revival the country has ever experienced.
Once the revival had succeeded, regular church attendance again exceeded 90%, and Americans were not willing to go to war against “God’s-appointed” ruler (King George III) without clear Scriptural basis. Fortunately, God’s Word was there to help the country. Because the Protestant Reformers in the 1500s had faced similar problems going against the civil authorities in many countries who were aligned, there were many writings covering this very issue.
In the Bible there are numerous recorded instances of Christians and Jews defying government authority, when and only when that authority is not acting within God’s Law. The instances include: the Hebrew midwives defying Pharaoh when he ordered them to kill the male children, Daniel and his companions in Babylon defying the Chaldean King who ordered them to worship him as a god and, in the New Testament, Peter and James, after the day of Pentecost, defying the Jewish Leaders and continuing to preach on the Temple grounds. All of these instances had in common that God’s Law had been violated and Christians and Jews chose to follow God’s Law instead of man’s.
American congregations were advised that in order to justify a “revolution”, they must be sure that the King and Parliament were, in fact, violating God’s Law. Such justification was found in the actions of the King who had chosen to not only be the executor of laws, but gave himself veto power over any law the colonial assemblies passed. Further, he also required all Royal Judges to swear loyalty to him and to follow his decrees and not those of the colonial assemblies. He became a dictator, and therefore was acting against the will of the Americans and violating God’s Law.
The Americans had tried numerous times to reach a compromise with the King, but he refused, stating the he “was born to rule and that the colonists were born to be ruled over.” (Which is a clear violation of God’s Law.)
The Americans stated clearly in the Declaration of Independence that the King had violated God’s Law and spelled out the long train of abuses that the king had perpetrated against the Americans. The Preamble reads, in part, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (emphasis mine).Tags: Church and State, Preamble to the Declaration of Indepencence