I believe the way we answer this question will perhaps have a stronger impact on America’s future than any other issue we may face. The answer really has little to do with religion but everything to do with human rights, respect for authority and the value we place on life.
Since Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ was the personification of God the Father, I feel it is often difficult for Christians to differentiate between matters of religion and fundamental philosophy. Christ the son descended to earth some 2,000 years ago to demonstrate God’s nature to the people and to offer spiritual salvation to each individual, not to meddle in government affairs. It was proclaimed that He will indeed return to rule over all nations, but that time has not yet come. While colonial America might have been predominately Christian, its delegates constructed our constitution in a way to prevent one religion from being legally favored over another, so the United States was not established to be a Christian nation. Laws that reflect Christian values, or moral laws, are generally not addressed in the constitution because they were intentionally left to the discretion of each free state, with all citizens guaranteed the freedom to relocate, or even form new free states, if they weren’t happy with the majority rule in their home state. That is the true meaning of liberty and democracy co-existing in this country, and the federal government has the authority to intervene in state law only in matters concerning the fundamental rights of U. S. citizens that are established in the U.S. constitution.
On the other hand, before Christianity, God’s sovereignty over man and man’s government was pre-established at the beginning of time. The very existence of this nation was justified in the belief that every man, as a subordinate creation of God, has certain rights. That fundamental belief is clearly stated in our Declaration of Independence. The colonists who founded this nation are the ones who later ratified our constitution, so it is absurd to suggest that the proclamation of God the Creator in any public arena would be unconstitutional.
I have no idea how many different religions and sub-religions are being practiced in the world today, but when it comes to God the Creator, there are only two options: either He is or He isn’t. Therefore, if the philosophy that He exists is to be viewed as a religious practice, then atheism would likewise have to be viewed as a religious practice, meaning that everyone would in fact be religious.
If there were no God, if each individual had the opportunity to attain superiority without answering to a higher form of life, then there would be no such thing as human rights, for there would be no grantor to grant us any rights. It would be illogical to think that all people should be equal, that some should not be abused and exploited by others, or that the life of one person should be valued by another. The humanitarian values that we hold so dear in this country, which have benefitted the believers and non-believers alike, are all founded in the belief that mankind is subject to the truth, judgement, and grace of a sovereign God. Unfortunately for us, Satan has capitalized on the fact that intelligence without wisdom is a dangerous thing, and he has used man’s own intelligence and pride to convince many that the things of God can actually be attributed to humanity itself.
As for religion in public schools, our constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religion already provide each individual the opportunity to practice and proclaim his beliefs, or non-beliefs, in public places without fear of being legally persecuted, as long as those beliefs do not advocate criminal activity. At the same time, people in positions of authority are prevented from enforcing their religious beliefs and practices upon those under their authority. While there is nothing wrong with a school official sharing his faith, civil rights can be violated when the beliefs of a public school official who is leading organized prayer don’t agree with those of a child’s parents. Also, while prayer is good anytime and any place, it’s not necessary to showcase it in public in order for the Lord to hear it.
I believe what is necessary to save our nation from despair is to teach all the children the truth about this country’s fundamental identity, that all lives are equally valuable regardless of age or stage of development, that every individual has the right to be treated with love and compassion, that we are to have respect for those in positions of authority over us, that science has NOT disproven God’s existence, and that we, as both individual souls and as a society of people, are subject to our Creator’s judgement, simply because He ordained it to be that way. Sharing the gospel in churches and homes is wonderful for saving souls, but that’s not enough to save our nation from God’s judgement. Atheism is growing in this country, and the trend is being fueled by public educators who never pay reverence to God in front of students.
If legislators don’t take steps to encourage educators to proclaim our nation’s true heritage, it’s only logical to predict that we will one day have an atheist majority in the United States. If that happens, it would then be logical to predict that our constitution would be further interpreted, amended, or abolished in favor of atheistic values.
What a tragedy that would be.