"This might be the first exposure these children have to the actual practice of Satanism. We think many students will be very curious to see what we offer." So explains a spokesperson for the Satanic Temple in announcing that the group would distribute its publications, including coloring books, to schools in the Orlando, Florida area. In response, the school board has now banned the distribution of all religious materials, including Bibles.
Meanwhile, a high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado has told students that they can no longer gather informally to pray, sing religious songs, or discuss religious topics at school during class hours. The students are now required to meet before or after class. This in a city which is home to so many Christian ministries it has been called "America's Christian Mecca."
Christians cannot pray at school in Colorado Springs, but a woman who claims to worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster just received a religious exemption allowing her to wear a pasta strainer on her head for her driver's license photo. Continuing our theme of chaos in culture, Gallup says that Americans are losing confidence in their government. Their trust in the Supreme Court (30 percent) and Congress (seven percent) are at all-time lows; their confidence in the presidency (29 percent) is at a six-year low and has fallen most from last year (36 percent).
George Friedman, a geopolitical analyst whose Stratfor briefs I read daily, recently described the current state of Washington politics in a very perceptive way. He believes that 40 percent of the electorate is committed to each party; 10 percent is indifferent; and 10 percent is interested but undecided. When a president's approval rating falls near 40 percent, as President Obama's has, this means that he has lost the middle and is now struggling to maintain his base. Friedman is not blaming the president, and notes that this circumstance can result from a variety of issues.
It is nonetheless a difficult position from which to lead. The president retains veto powers, but members of his party are less likely to sustain his vetoes lest they suffer in the next election. He is therefore more likely to act in ways that do not require congressional approval (as with the current immigration debate), exacerbating the rancor in Washington. The next two years could be very challenging for our government.
I believe that the roots of our cultural malaise are spiritual, not political. In 2 Kings 9, an opposition leader says to the son of wicked queen Jezebel, "What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?" (v. 22). If a traveler refuses to consult the map, he should not be surprised when he becomes lost. When a compass no longer recognizes true north, should we trust its directions?
The good news is that true north hasn't changed. The One who remains the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) wants to redeem the religious discrimination and political rancor of our day by using them to show us our need for his omniscient wisdom. His invitation is clear and transforming: "If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). He will lead any person, or nation, that will follow.
Think about this: God knows you better than anyone else, yet he loves you more than anyone else. Why do you need his direction today?
Publication date: November 19, 2014
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?
Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.