Samuel Chase; International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
October 30, 2019
The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1)
Dear Praying Friends,
Dr. Kenyn Cureton (bio) is FRC Vice President for Christian Resources with a mission to equip Christians to become “spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives” (i.e., SAGECONS). VP for Church Ministries for 13 years, Kenyn helped Tony grow Watchmen on the Wall, FRC’s nationwide church outreach, from 1,800 to over 40,000 pastors and churches. Before FRC, Kenyn was Vice President for Convention Relations for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). A New Testament scholar and pastor for 20 years, he served most recently as Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Lebanon, Tennessee. Dr. Cureton’s love is the study, preaching, and teaching of American history from the perspective of God’s Providence. These are excerpts from his powerful 366-day devotional, Lost Episodes in American History:
Born on April 17, 1741, Founding Father Samuel Chase was the son of an Anglican minister. Chase became an attorney, politician and jurist. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from Maryland. He also served as Chief Justice of the State of Maryland (1791) and was appointed by President George Washington as an Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court where he served until his death (1796- 1811).
An ardent Federalist, Chase was known for his open partisanship both on and off the bench. He campaigned vigorously for John Adams in the election of 1800, and in 1803, gave a grand jury charge in the U.S. circuit court in Maryland that was sharply critical of the Republicans for repealing the 1801 judiciary statute and abolishing the circuit judgeships that act established. The grand jury charge proved highly controversial and led many to call for Chase’s removal from the bench. Democrat-Republican President Thomas Jefferson targeted Justice Chase for impeachment.
In March 1804, after debating what constituted proper grounds for impeachment, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Chase. The Maryland grand jury charge formed the basis for one of the eight articles of impeachment because of its allegedly seditious intent, while most of the others focused on allegedly improper behavior during politically charged trials like prosecutions based upon the Sedition Act. During his twenty-two-day trial before the Senate, Chase argued that he could not be impeached for errors in judgment or improper behavior on the bench, but rather only for an indictable offense. On March 1, 1805, the Senate acquitted Chase when none of the eight articles of impeachment secured the votes of two-thirds of the members as was required for conviction. Chase’s impeachment helped set the parameters of what kinds of conduct would warrant a judge’s removal from the bench. Although there had been one earlier judicial impeachment, that of John Pickering of New Hampshire, it was such a clear case of disability that it was not useful as a precedent. Chase’s acquittal served as a tacit victory for his position that an indictable offense was required to meet the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard for the impeachment and conviction of a federal judge. More than two centuries later, only eight federal judges have been removed by impeachment. In the twentieth century, Congress considered bills for the removal of federal judges whose conduct did not rise to the level required for impeachment, but none was enacted, due in large part to doubts about the constitutionality of such a measure.
In the case of Runkel v. Winemiller (1799), Justice Chase gave the high court’s opinion: “Religion is of general and public concern, and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people [Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-4]. By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty. The principles of the Christian religion cannot so diffused, and its doctrines generally propagated without places of public worship, and teachers and ministers, to explain the scriptures to the people, and to enforce an observance of the precepts of religion by their preaching and living [Rom. 10:13-15]. And the pastors, teachers and ministers of every denomination of Christians are equally entitled to the protection of the law, and to the enjoyment of their religions and temporal rights.” Founder Samuel Chase’s life was marked by controversy, but his Supreme Court opinion that the Christian religion is the established religion of our nation is a lost episode in American history. Read Rom. 10:13-15 and reflect on Paul’s assertion of the need for preachers and compare it with the ruling of Justice Case. (Source: Thomas Harris and John McHenry, ed., Maryland Reports: Being a Series of the Most Important Law Cases Argued and Determined in the General Court and Court of Appeals of the State of Maryland from May 1797 to the End of 1799 [Annapolis, MD: Jonas Green, 1818], 4:450. Bracketed items added.
- Father of our Founders, we praise you for our heritage in America, where the Supreme Court proclaimed that “the Christian religion is the established religion.” Give us the courage to promote our faith by both our “preaching and living,” in Jesus’ Name, Amen. ( 6:16a; Ps. 33:12; 1 Thes. 4:1-2; 3 Jn. 1:4)
Presidential Impeachment Effort – A vote to proceed with the impeachment process has been scheduled for tomorrow, October 31. Only a simple majority is required to impeach. There are presently 435 Member of the House – 233 Democrats and 197 Republicans. If the final impeachment vote were held tomorrow, a simple majority vote would be likely. The Senate, then, would conduct a trial with Vice President Pence presiding and the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court moderating. (House to Vote)
- May God arise and his enemies be scattered! May he who rules over heaven and earth, preside over this political process. May injustice and unrighteousness be exposed and excised, and may justice and righteousness be done! May our president be strengthened by him who gives strength. And may the Prince of Peace prevail to bring peace, calm, wisdom, resolution and closure to the civil enmity and sin that is destroying our nation and making all Americans victims. May the demonic forces behind this enmity be crushed and may God’s grace, mercy, and revival be poured out upon our land. May we individually and collectively repent for not loving God and our neighbor as we ought and have been commanded to do. Save us, Oh God! ( 5:10; Luke 6:22; 2 Cor. 4:8-12; 2 Cor. 12:10; Heb. 13:3)
Sunday, November 3, 2019: The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) AND a National Day of Repentance for the USA – The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, officially launched in 1992 by evangelical leaders from several different countries, was quickly adopted by thousands of churches and organizations and became a movement. That movement includes Family Research Council, which has long had a strong emphasis on religious liberty in the U.S. Now we are seeking to advance religious liberty around the world and help deal with what is the largest world-wide persecution of Christians in history. FRC President Tony Perkins, who was elected Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, Travis Weber, who also serves as the Director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, are helping FRC put more emphasis on the duty Christ has given all of us to prayer and help our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world (see rememberthepersecuted.org).
Simultaneous to this Sunday’s IDOP, whoever is able is invited to make this Sunday a National Day of Repentance. Several serious leaders in the nationwide prayer movement have a conviction that only a divine work of prayer with repentance will move God’s great hand of mercy and bring our nation back to Him. We agreed to begin broadcasting this invitation through each of our own outlets immediately, beginning Sunday, November 3rd.
- Lord, we repent! We know that Christians around the world who are persecuted daily for their faithfulness to you are looking to us because they know that our nation was founded by men and women of Christian faith. God, help us be strong in the faith so that we can give them hope, inspiration, and support. Persecutions are already underway in our own nation, so may we be found faithful. Help us wholly to repent, to grow stronger in the faith, and with your reviving work see our beloved nation return to you and to impact the entire world for Christ! ( 3:8; Ps. 51:6-10; 1 Cor. 11:28-32; 2 Cor. 7:9-10; James 4:7-10)
Next week, expect a list of important prayer targets as I dispense with my routine historical or inspiration opening piece. As always, thank you for praying!