Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by John Howard Farmer

Visit the Irvington Baptist Church website

Rumor has it that we have an encroaching mid-term election

Yes, I’ve been on this stump before. 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, pray, stand in line, get my ballot, exercise my rights and 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.

Seems as if for whatever reason a candidate prospers, it falls behind the task of raising money to get re-elected. The cycle eats patriotism. Government grows increasingly out of bounds, less responsible to the electorate.

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 seek a higher mandate. They rush to stand behind the Constitution of the United States. 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.”

I know Mr. Jefferson’s Virginia draft well. Yes, it is the document which spawned national legislation. Read it yourself. We have a framed copy on our church wall. The concern was that government would not impress, suppress, nor endorse matters belonging to the household of faith. The matter before our founding fathers 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 followers) from governmental intervention. It came about because the colonial churches wanted freedom from the monarch of England, and “state” religion. It was not to protect the government.

Sometimes it even bothers me that we display U.S. flags in our churches. Proper flag protocol requires that the U.S. flag has priority display over the Christian flag, or the cross. I am not unpatriotic. I wore a USMC uniform. I love our flag and national anthem; I paid my dues. But, I am a Christian first and an American second. I will not apologize for that priority. Our country is in sad repair: from local halls to foreign shores where America reigns, things are coming apart with tremendous abandon. Issues of health, youth, aging, citizenship, schools, roads and on and on, are in critical disarray because America has forgotten that we pledged “God first,” and offer him, “last.” There could come a time when my faith and my patriotism could no longer abide within the same walls.

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

Worldwide, patriots are watching their governments fall to radical takeover from waves of immigrants of distrustful, disrespectful persuasions. We are not alone. But we are to be held accountable. Should the day ever come when America falls, the epithet will read: “died of political correctness.”

Folks shake my hand, call me on the phone, asking for money and begging my vote. I won’t ask a candidate for office about his (or her) stand on issues “this” or “that.” I determine to have them tell me who Jesus is? I will 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 people of Judeo-Christian faith to enter the public arena.

All the aforementioned notwithstanding, VOTE!