By Erin Doherty
“There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be most flagrant usurpation.”
- James Madison
President James Madison had faith that the American People would never become so apathetic as to allow government to overstep its proper jurisdiction. Yet sadly enough, these words have come true.
The conflict over the separation of church and state is one example of how we as Americans have exchanged a moral based society of values in which there is freedom to exercise religion without restraint for a society of pluralism lacking absolutes. A clear example is the new policy accepted by many public schools regarding graduation ceremonies. Any individual, whether student, teacher, principal, etc., is forbidden to mention the deity during the exercises and must substitute the benediction, convocation, and prayers with the new title of merely an “introduction.”
Prohibiting a student from sharing that God was his or her strength and inspiration during schooling is the same as prohibiting her or him from thanking parents and teachers. This is a direct violation of freedom of speech and the exercise of religion. I am offended that our elders have so small an opinion of us as teenagers that they feel that they can take away our constitutionally protected rights. I am saddened by the fact that it is most likely true that the majority of my peers don’t care that their rights are being usurped, or are ignorant of the fact that this is occurring. They fail to embrace values and ideas as their own opinions, but rather operate with a sort of herd instinct, blindly following the message of watered down compromise and rejecting the legitimacy of absolutes.
What really irks me, though, is that Americans are standing by watching as the federal government moves on the offensive to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction. We’re losing by default, not bothering to show up at the game or forfeiting because of the size and the power of the other team. We figure that the government can have one little segment; that won’t really effect us. But the usurpation mushrooms, until we are a people with rights theoretically but actually living in bondage as a result of forfeiting our values.
Wake up, America! Are we willing to pass on to the next generation the tenacity to fight for what we believe and stand without inhibition for principles? How can we continue to include God when He’s necessary and exclude Him when He’s inconvenient or when He’s done with what we want Him to do? We beg him on our knees to help us win a war and keep casualties low, and when He successfully completes that, we politely show Him the exit as we go on to things we can supposedly handle on our own. How much longer can we go on basking in the benefits of His blessings, but rejecting His personal interaction within our lives and ignoring His presence? Not much longer, I’m afraid.
We must work to rebuild the Christian principles and values upon which our nation was built.
Erin Doherty is a student at the New Testament Christian School in Plymouth, MA.