Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by Rev. John H. Farmer

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The Election is Over

 Well Dear Citizen: the two men offering to be our next governor spent over $20 million dollars for one to lose. So much for fiscal responsibility. By the time this article reaches you the voters will have decided. And, of course the loser will offer up his reasons for the close or sharply divided loss.

Every election causes me to ask the same rhetorical question over and over again. Why does he (she) want this office? The older I get the more suspicious I am of almost every candidate who presents herself (himself) to the electorate. I take my poll assignments seriously. Unless otherwise detained by some unscheduled emergency I show up, stand in line, get my ballot, stand in a cubicle, exercise my rights, then deposit my ballot (either by machine or paper) into whatever receptacle awaits. Sometimes I think there should be a trash can choice as well. Seldom does my expectation of “my” candidate mature as I had hoped.

However, that does not deter me from trying to be a responsible citizen. Did you know that the Bible teaches responsible citizenship? Did you know that the Bible teaches that we are to pray for and support those in public office? On both accounts the answer is “yes.”

History has taught me that when the citizens and those we elected find themselves at odds, public officials seeking a higher mandate rush to stand behind the Constitution of the U.S. Wait, preachers are no better. When folks argue with us we rush to the biggest Bible we can find and apply it forcefully to prove our points. When some believers feel oppressed they will often apply the codicil that they are doing “Christian love.” Far too often it translates into, “Duck, you’re fixing to get it!” Debate ensues. For the most part it is a debate with too much heat and too little light. Back and forth sway the argumentative curtains. Oratory soars, positions are adopted and division wins, not the good of the common people (in church or in government).

Because of my vocation, faith’s calling and personal conviction, I am frequently amidst issues where matters of church and state collide. There, many a nighttime prayer has struggled. Time and time again I have tossed my white head on a pillow wounded by some person or the other who has brought me to the wire. It terrifies me. Truly.

Every now and again I am invited into some political debate of merit. My answer is always the same. Since I maintain a public pulpit in these weekly columns and since I stand forth week upon week to say, “Thus sayeth the Lord,” there will be issues of merit to which I can add neither heat nor light in the public sector. It is wrong. Today I‘d like to speak a little onto the shield so often touted: “separation of church and state.” Because we have other elections gathering speed off in the distance.

I know Mr. Jefferson’s Virginia draft well. Yes, it is the document which spawned national legislation. Read it yourself. I have a framed copy on the wall. The concern was that government would not impress, suppress, nor endorse matters belonging to the household of faith. The matter before our founders was how to keep the government from interfering with the heartthrobs of the various assemblies of faith. To state it more simply, it was to protect the church (and her protractors) from governmental intervention. It came about because the Colonial churches wanted freedom from the monarch’s of England and a “state” religion. It was not to protect the government.

We live in a country so bereft of morals, ethics and decency; I really think that the people of faith ought to arise and call Jesus “blessed.” We should take back the halls of government from interpretation that allows so many forms of evil to hide behind the very curtain of protection that our ancestors gave us.

America is in sad repair: from local halls to foreign shores where the USA reigns, things are coming apart with tremendous abandon. I wore a USMC uniform. I paid my dues. But, I am a Christian first and an American second. I will not apologize for that priority. There could come a time when my faith and my patriotism could no longer abide inside the same walls. I have said this many times over… I pray not.

Issues of health, youth, aging, ethnic origins, violence, citizenship, schools, roads, bridges and on and on, are in critical disarray because America has forgotten that we pledged “God first,” and in actually often allow him, “last.”

Politicians stuffed my mail box, shook my hand, called on the phone asking for money and begging my vote. I never ask a candidate about his (or her) stand on issues “this” or “that.” I determine to have them tell me who Jesus is? I further ask them to share their faith pilgrimage with me. I will then prayerfully study their response before I entrust them with my money, my vote and especially with my children.

I encourage all people of faith to enter the public arena. Just take your faith with you.

We are to respect the office, even if the winner is not our chosen. Maybe if we all earnestly prayed for the elected office, the elected one there, will rise to the occasion. I pray so.

Let us pray…