[Contents] [About the Participants] [Opening Statement by Ed Buckner] [Opening Statement by John Rankin][Dialog] [Questions from the Audience] [Closing Statements]
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Is the United States a Christian Nation?
Should It Be?
 
Closing Statements
ED:
Whatever you believe, whatever you believe the sources of our unalienable rights are, I'd like you to remember, when it comes time to deciding whether or not we should allow the teachers to lead students in prayer in a public school, and things like that, that the reason it matters is because we all have a choice. And that is, do you want the majority, or the government representing the majority, to make any religious decisions for you. If you say no, as I assume most of you will, as I hope all of you will, if you say no then it follows irrefutably that you have to want complete separation of state and church. You don't want that teacher to be able to stand in front of the class and tell the students there is no God. You don't want that teacher to be able to say, the only God is Allah. To be consistent, you must also not want that teacher to lead the students in the Lord's Prayer.

JOHN:
And I would not want any teacher to force someone to recite the Lord's Prayer as well. Three observations and conclusion. Ed, first of all, thank you…

ED:
Thank you.

JOHN:
… for coming in to sanctified ground and giving us a delightful conversation.

ED:
Into the lion's den, eh?

[laughter]

JOHN:
Oh, no. No. Not at all.

ED:
No, I didn't think so.

JOHN:
What's interesting is that in our honest debate of ideas about the nature and existence of the transcendence, Ed has consistently affirmed the concept of unalienable rights. I think that's good. I think that that is because we as a nation are based in the biblical source for that. That gives me great joy. Therefore, I'm glad that he's received a biblical bequeathal.

[laughter]

Secondly, we've touched on it from a few angles, the source of evil. We could talk a lot about the nature and the history of evil. Ed mentioned earlier that if there's a God, the World Trade Center would not have happened, or God lost control or something like that.

ED:
I don't think that's what I said.

JOHN:
Oh, I thought you, well, OK. Anyhow. Whatever you said.

ED:
I said believing in God does not keep you from doing things like the World Trade Center. As far as we know. I don't know.

JOHN:
And that's a good point because we are humans. If we take the biblical prescription of human nature, sin happens, and it happens nastily apart from the One who can redeem us from it. And that goes back to the source of unalienable rights.

Final observation here, is the language "separation between church and state" as Jefferson used it has been used and abused depending on different political perspectives. I agree with Jefferson in his letter (January 1, 1802, the Danbury Baptist Ministers Association) in terms of how he understood separation between church and state. What he was saying is, the state has no power to enforce religion upon anyone, and the church has no power to enforce itself upon the state. I can say amen to that, and that reflects biblical ethics which say God is good. He gave us life. We can accept or reject it. But -- we reap what we sow.

[applause]


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  [Contents] [About the Participants] [Opening Statement by Ed Buckner] [Opening Statement by John Rankin][Dialog] [Questions from the Audience] [Closing Statements]
[Return to Mars Hill Forum]