“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.” Daniel 7:26
There is a group — I don't know if it’s small or large, but it’s fairly vociferous — which insists the reason our nation (the United States) is tanking, is because we no longer have prayer in schools.
And we have removed the Ten Commandments from public places.
And now, our Supreme Court has legalized homosexual and lesbian marriage.
But, the good news is, we still have “In God We Trust” on our money. (What an interesting place to put a reference about God.)
In short, according to this group, which as far as I can tell consists of a number of decent, ingenuous, guileless people who are easily swayed by a smaller, more powerful media and celebrity Christian cabal that foments anxiety, fear, anger, and helplessness, we as a nation are doomed to eventual destruction. The reason is because we do not trust and honor God the way ancient Israel, with which we associate ourselves, did.
Let’s pass by ancient Israel for now, and whether or not they ever, for any meaningful length of time, trusted, honored, revered and followed God. (The book of Judges is an unambiguous commentary on this, although Exodus 15:22 — 17:7 initiates the unflattering image of faith by a “stiff-necked people.”) And let’s look at the United States — which promotes itself as a “Christian Nation.”
Is the answer, as some politicos aver, a return to godliness under a conservative administration (for some reason, the terms are interchangeable with “Christian”) that will undo everything the present one has done? (This might be a good time to note that the present administration, in addition to creating a flurry of personalized executive orders, has built upon and strengthened policies set up and created in the last one, and the one before that, and the one before that.)
In short, the answer, according to this voice, is that we legislate worship (along the lines of, “If you build it, they will come”) and unless and until we do so, we are doomed to destruction.
It sounds logical, and worshiping God by governmental edict is nothing new. The decree in the verse introducing this essay, from the book of Daniel, was uttered by King Darius, the Medean-Persian ruler who overthrew Belshazzar, the last king of the Babylonians, in the 6th century B.C.
Darius established this ordinance after Daniel survived the lion’s den, where this faithful, non-stiff-necked Hebrew had been condemned after violating an earlier executive order, by this same ancient president.
Interestingly, some 65 years before, in the prior and partisan administration of Nebuchadnezzar, this governmental decree had already been made after yet another violation of an executive order. This resulted in the tossing of Shadrach, Meschac, and Abednego into the fiery furnace: “Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble.” (Daniel 3:29)
Enforcement like that would put teeth into a law reinstating prayer in schools.
It sure worked for the Babylonians, didn’t it?
Carolyn Henderson is a lifestyle writer who incorporates Christianity into real living by ordinary people, author of “The Misfit Christian” and columnist-blogger for BeliefNet “Commonsense Christianity.” Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.