Prayer Targets: James Madison & Religious Liberty; Liberal Religious Tests; Health Care; Jail Time
September 20, 2017
If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
Dear Praying Friends,
James Madison (1751-1836) served as Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson and as the 4th President of the United States. While he was only 5'4" tall, he towered as a statesman. Called "Father of the Constitution" and "Father of the Bill of Rights," many are yet unaware of his role in securing our first freedom -- religious liberty. Here are excerpts from a highly regarded popular history.
[At age 25] Madison was chosen as a delegate to the Virginia Convention of 1776, which within a month, made two crucial decisions: On May 15, it instructed the Virginia delegates in the Continental Congress to declare for independence from Great Britain, and on June 12, it passed the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which established fundamental guarantees of personal liberty and later became the model for the Bill of Rights... Madison prompted a subtle but important change in the wording of one key passage. While [George Mason's] draft called for "toleration" of religious dissent, Madison prevailed on the Convention to broaden the passage's reach by declaring that "all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience." The change had enormous implications...
Madison was the youngest delegate to the Continental Congress, which carried on the war effort and, after many delays, in 1781 established through the Articles of Confederation a government for the United States of America... Madison returned to Virginia and was promptly sent to the House of Delegates. There he undertook passage of several key bills written by Jefferson in 1779-1780 but left... to languish. At the behest of Jefferson, Madison introduced a bill providing for complete separation of the Anglican Church from its ties with the state and banning any future connection between the state and all religious institutions - [failing initially he ultimately succeeded].
On the national scene, Madison... beseeched all the states to send delegates to Philadelphia for a May meeting to consider ways and means of "revising" the Articles of Confederation... the real motive being to scrap the Articles and come up with a totally new plan. Madison created a plan that had three branches of government (legislative, judicial, and executive), and a Congress empowered with broad powers to tax, declare war, and pass laws for "the general welfare." This plan became the blueprint for a constitution... Among the fifty-five delegates were men who wanted broad, almost authoritarian power to be conferred on a central government. Many supported retention of state sovereignty... A few... might have even favored a monarchy.
Madison's Virginia Plan... suggested representation proportionate to population. Delegates from the small states balked and... supported the New Jersey Plan, which retained the Confederation system of one state, one vote. Finally, Connecticut delegates proposed... a compromise, which incorporated both plans in a two-chambered legislature... Thirty-nine delegates signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787... Each state had to ratify it for the Union to survive, but the Constitution would become effective after nine states gave... approval... Friends of the Constitution struggled to reach the needed ninth state... The lack of a bill of rights [gave]opponents a strong talking point...
At the Virginia Ratification Convention in June 1788, Madison... promised to press at the earliest opportunity for a series of amendments protecting individual freedom. True to his word, he later led the fight for the Bill of Rights.
During his four terms in Congress, Madison... was the floor leader for important legislation. When other congressmen seemed indifferent to promises for a bill of rights, Madison served notice and forced a vote. Ten of his original fourteen proposed amendments survived the ratification process. The Bill of Rights was finally adopted in December 1791.
Madison's friendship with Secretary of State Jefferson grew [close]... When Jefferson entered the White House in 1801, Madison became his Secretary of State. A congressional caucus nominated Madison [and he became President in 1809]. (Michael R. Beschloss, Vincent Buranelli, Robert Rutland. "James Madison, The Nation Builder," American Heritage History of the Presidents)
We may owe our religious liberty largely to the efforts of James Madison. Biographer Ralph Ketcham wrote, "There is no principle in all of Madison's wide range of private opinions and long public career to which he held with greater vigor and tenacity than this one of religious liberty" (read more). But that liberty, long considered the bedrock of all our liberties, is fragile today. Many of our state governments and municipalities are ignoring federal and state religious liberty measures to egregiously punish individuals who refuse to submit themselves and their families to outrageous laws and ordinances, especially ones that demand they bend their religious beliefs and violate their consciences to comply with the LGBT agenda as well as pro-abortion policies and practices.
Religious Tests for Judges and Political Appointees? The hostility toward the president and those whom he nominates for the federal bench and to the administration has crossed over into unconstitutional religious discrimination by seasoned members of the U.S. Senate. Most recently, Senators Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) crossed the line in their Senate Judiciary Committee grilling of Amy Coney Barrett, a Notre Dame Law School Professor nominated by President Trump to a vacancy on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Seemingly, these senators did not learn from an incident in July, when Senator Bernie Sanders famously erupted and fumed in his grilling of Russell Vought, a devout Christian who was nominated by President Trump to be Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The thinking behind these senators' questions is clearly the imposition of a religious test. Indeed, their questioning suggests not just a constitutional irregularity, but an anti-orthodox Christian bias. Their line of reasoning would disqualify every faithful, Bible-believing Christian from serving in public office. What Jesus declared in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me," is central to the Christian faith. So is John 3:16-18.
The assaults by these senators seem not just to have been improper and unconstitutional lines of inquiry, they were direct assaults on the faith of the subjects. Moreover, by his words and spirit, Sanders' tirade went even deeper, cutting to the core of the subject's profession of faith. This is not only a violation of everything the Founding Fathers intended to guide our selection of public servants, but it may represent the first steps toward a future America that forcibly erases all traces of Christianity out of public life.
American Christians must take Ephesians 6:10-20 seriously. We must fight with all the spiritual, natural, and political weapons we have. We must pray, speak out, and make our voices heard (those who oppose us certainly do). We ought to use social media, letters to the editors, and comments on online articles, and we must use the political clout God has given us in this nation. Had our Founding Fathers not poured out their lives for us, America would not be free and we would likely not enjoy religious liberty that we do today. If we do not employ all our God-given tools to keep it, our children may not enjoy that freedom in the not-so-distant future (see "Until Her Dianne Day"; Feinstein Doubling Down; "Religious Tests: The Fine Line"; USA: Hostile Territory for Religion; Durbin Video; Bernie Sanders in July; Sanders Video).
- Lord, you see the growing anti-Christian rhetoric not just by extremist political activists, but by elected politicians and by agencies of state and local governments. You see the oppression against faithful believers. Intervene, Lord, to protect your people. Stir your people to stand up to their oppressors and proclaim the truth of our religious liberty, protected by the First Amendment! May your people wrestle principalities and powers, using the tools and gifts with which you have equipped them. May they never compromise their faith, whatever the cost. Correct Lord, those who have crossed the line, violated their Constitutional oaths, and persecuted your people. Raise up faithful men and women to run for and hold public office. Make them statesmen like the Founders. Agreeing with Paul in 2 Th 3:1-5, may we pray for all who are standing for truth, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. May we be confident that the Lord is faithful, who will establish us and guard us from the evil one. May we be obedient to the Lord and may He direct our hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ. (Jdg 2:16,18; Pr 28:4; Acts 4:23-31; Eph 6:10-20; 2 Th 3:3; 2 Timothy 4:17)
The Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill -- Just days remain until the deadline for any health care bill to be finalized via reconciliation. Reconciliation will ensure the enactment of provisions that end taxpayer funding of abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. Other horrors that have characterized Obamacare will also be discontinued. Everyone is weary of this saga, but this major step to aright our health care system is doable. Conservatives back it and the president promises to sign it. Christians and conservative-minded Americans must arise to insist that their senators pass the bill (see Pro-Life; Last Best Chance; One Senator Away; Provisions; Paul, Murkowski, Collins, Paul; GOP Gets with the Pro-Graham; What if we fail?).
Finally, 1) Please keep praying that the SPLC will be seen for what it is. Visit the new website SPLC Exposed to learn more. Use it and pray as the Lord leads you. 2) Voters in Charlotte, N.C. have ousted the mayor who instigated the transgender "bathroom bill" that provoked HB2 and troubled North Carolina and the nation for two years, but pray for the upcoming city elections in November. 3) Officials at California nursing homes could go to jail if they fail to refer to transgender persons by their preferred pronouns under a new law passed by both houses of the legislature last week. 4) Pray for rebuilding and relief efforts in the wakes of Harvey and Irma; for those in the path of Maria and for Central Mexico, devastated by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake Tuesday. 5) The annual, hugely successful See You at the Pole (SYATP) nationwide prayer meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 at 7:00 AM. Students and teachers will freely gather around the flag poles at public, private, and home schools across America and beyond to pray for their schools and nation. Find out more HERE. As always, thank you for praying!