Thursday, 01 August 2019 15:48

COLUMN: In God you must trust — or we'll pass a law

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The Kentucky legislature solved the state’s spiritual problems earlier this year. With Gov. Matt Bevin’s signature inked on a bill passed during the 2019 legislative session, we now have a Christian Commonwealth!

The new law requires Kentucky public schools to prominently display the U.S. national motto, "In God We Trust." (South Dakota passed a similar law.)

Too bad we don’t.

Trust in God, that is.

In fact, most American Christians seem to put more faith in the state than in God.

It was the state, after all, that mandated the ‘In God We Trust’ signs.

A lot of “Christian conservatives” praised the move. We’re “putting God back in the schools,” they claimed. As if God needed some politicians to give Him permission to enter the building — or their laws could ever keep Him out.

And yet, many Christians act like mandating a sign constitutes some kind of great victory. It’s almost like they think the presence of a placard will suddenly turn the schoolhouse into a holy temple and all the kids will now bow down and worship their creator. Spiritual problems solved!

This whole thing reveals a deep problem in American evangelical Christianity. Too many Christians want the government to force the culture to conform to them. That way they can feel comfortable instead of living counter-culturally and serving as agents of change.

The problem in the U.S. isn’t that “they” took prayer out of schools, or removed the Ten Commandments from public buildings, or that Starbucks won’t print Merry Christmas on an overpriced cup of coffee. The problem is that we Christians don’t live out the teachings of Jesus. We don’t love our neighbors as ourselves. We certainly don’t love our enemies. We don’t stand up and act as peacemakers. We don’t take care of the poor or visit the prisoners. We don’t reject the civic religion. We don’t denounce violence.

In a nutshell, we’re not different.

Being different is uncomfortable. Being different makes you unpopular. Being different can get you killed. It’s much easier to demand that the pagan world be different, to insist that it conform to our norms – at least in form if not substance. It’s easier to vote for some guy who promises to mandate our moral vision. It’s easier to believe if they slap a sign on the wall it will solve our problems.

This is a lie.

The early church didn’t grow because it came up with a good political program to make the Romans accept Jesus. The early church grew because Christians lived their lives in such a radically counter-cultural way that it grabbed the attention of the people around them. Some people were intrigued enough by this strange way of living that they asked questions. And some of those people were drawn in by the love and grace shown by Christian communities.

But the ugly truth is that most of Roman society scorned and ridiculed Christians. And from time to time, it persecuted them.

By and large, American Christians don’t want that. They want the culture to conform to them. And if it won’t, by God they’ll get a law passed.

As believers in Christ, we’re not supposed to conform to the world. And we can’t force the world to conform to us. We must conform to Christ. That’s how we become salt and light. Not by hanging a sign in the school foyer.

In God we trust. Not the state. Not politicians. Not a stupid sign.


Michael Maharrey is communications director of the Tenth Amendment Center and founder of Republished from