God and Country Celebration 2016
Shadow Mountain Community Church
July 2nd & 3rd, 2016
Dr. David Jeremiah
On July 3rd, 1776, following the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote to his wife, reflecting on what he had shared in Congress concerning the importance of that day:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.” [John Adams, edited by Kees DeMooy, The Wisdom of John Adams (NY: Citadel Press, 2003), 18.]
This year we gather to fulfill John Adam’s prophecy and to celebrate the freedom that we experience and enjoy! As we look back at what this freedom cost our founding fathers, we must be reminded that we are the care-takers of that freedom and we should not expect to fulfill our responsibilities without paying a similar price.
This year as we celebrate we are embroiled in an election that is pulling at the very soul of our nation. As many of you know, I have been invited into the process of this election, along with many of my friends and colleagues in ministry. We have been asked by the presumptive nominee of the Republican party to give counsel and guidance. Whenever these invitations arrive, we are immediately suspicious. Are they genuine or are they an attempt to manipulate our influence?
I do not know the answer to the question of motivation and I have come to the conclusion that the answer does not matter! This election is no longer about Republicans or Democrats. This election is about America and its ability to retain the freedom that we celebrate on this July 4th weekend!
As I have wrestled with what to do and how to respond to the choice before us, I have made my decision.
I could tell you that I am going to cast my vote for the candidate I believe will most effectively deal with the immigration crisis that faces our nation . . .
I might report to you that the issue we must be most concerned about is the protection of our nation from Islamic terrorists and the continued insurgency of ISIS . . .
You might expect me to vote for the nominee who convinces me of his support for Israel . . .
Or the one whom I believe can lead us back from 19 trillion dollars in national debt and 127 trillion dollars in unfunded entitlement programs . . .
But while all of these issues are important and will continue to be the talking points of both candidates, I have not determined for whom I will vote based upon any one of these things or even all of them together.
I believe that this election is first and foremost about the candidate who will make the best appointments to the Supreme Court. That such a statement should be made tells us that something has gone seriously wrong with our democracy.
In many ways the Supreme Court is the most “undemocratically selected” branch of our government. Congress is selected by the raw vote of the people. The Executive Branch is also determined through the votes of the people expressed through the Electoral College.
But the nine members of the Supreme Court are selected by one person – the President alone – and confirmed by the members of the Senate.
While both the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch of our government are limited in the number of years that can be served; under the constitution, justices of the Supreme Court serve for life during good behavior. No justice has ever been removed from the Court by impeachment and the average term of a Supreme Court Justice is 16 years. [Supreme Court of the United States, accessed July 5, 2016, http://www.supremecourt.gov/faq_justices.aspx#faqjustice2.]
In recent years, however, the average term has almost doubled. “From 1970 until early 2005, the average tenure expanded to almost 26 years. The four justices leaving since then had served an average of 28 years.” [Erwin Cheminsky, “It’s Time to Reform the Supreme Court—Here Are Five Ways to Do It,” Moyers and Company, July 15, 2014, http://billmoyers.com/2014/07/15/its-time-to-reform-the-supreme-court-here-are-five-ways-to-do-it/.]
As author Daniel Horowitz has written:
“We are confronted with a jarring reality that the Left has succeeded in growing the power of the courts. [President] Obama has replaced roughly 30 percent of the district and appellate judges on the federal benches. We are now facing a judicial time bomb, the likes of which we have never seen before. With the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling the courts have usurped the will of the people and set a precedent that has become a de facto law of the land. [It is hard to believe] just how disenfranchised voters have become. On issue after issue we are witnessing a transformation of our society before our very eyes, all without the ability to stop it through the political process. We are becoming a government not of the people, by the people, for the people, but of the elites by the justices and for the few.” [Daniel E. Horowitz, Stolen Sovereignty (WND Books, 2016), ]
Think of it! The term of the President can be no more than 8 years . . . less than one decade. But the Supreme Court Justices he appoints are now serving on the average close to 30 years. I would like to frame that in terms that are more personal and therefore more powerful.
My oldest child is 47 years of age and my youngest grandchild is 2 years of age. Including the spouses of my four children and our twelve grandchildren, my children and grandchildren span four and one-half decades. Over the next three decades, the lives of these precious members of my family will be lived out in this nation and what you and I do in these next days will determine what kind of life that will be.
During their lifetime, the Supreme Court will consider cases involving the right to life and the evils of partial birth abortion, the rights of believers to object to providing services that offend our deeply held beliefs, the tax exempt status of churches and media ministries and the ability to live and share our faith in the workplace.
Just in case you have not been keeping up with the activity of the Supreme Court, let me tell you about one of their most recent decisions.
In the city of Olympia in the state of Washington, there is a family-owned business called “Ralph’s Thriftway.” The Stormans, who are the owners of this business, are devout Christians and seek to run their business in accordance with their religious beliefs, including their strong conscience-driven convictions about the evil of abortion. The state of Washington requires them to receive and send referrals from other pharmacies for the abortion drug known as the “morning after pill.” [See “Stormans v. Wiesman,” Alliance Defending Freedom, accessed July 5, 2016, https://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/case-details/stormans-v.-wiesman]
Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, wrote:
“This week, the same five Supreme Court justices who . . . one year ago used legal gymnastics to impose a radical understanding of marriage on the nation again showed they are willing to bend or ignore the U.S. Constitution to appease liberal elites. In this case, these justices seem not to think worthy of a hearing a well-grounded case based on the Bill of Rights’ guarantee of the freedom to believe and live in accordance with deeply held religious beliefs.” [Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, “Supreme Court Sends ‘Ominous’ Religious Freedom Signal, NRB Says,” June 28, 2016, http://nrb.org/news-room/press_center/supreme-court-sends-ominous-religious- freedom-signal-nrb-says/.]
In his opinion, written in dissent with his fellow judges, Justice Alito wrote:
“This case is an ominous sign. . . . If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.” [Samuel Alito, accessed July 5, 2016, http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/15-862_2c8f.pdf]
These words are similar to those written by Chief Justice Roberts in dissenting from the marriage ruling in 2015:
“The majority’s decision is an act of will, not a legal judgment. . . . The court not only overlooks our country’s entire history and tradition but actively repudiates it, preferring to live only in the heady days of the hear and now. Over and over the majority exalts the role of the judiciary in delivering social change.” [Chief Justice Roberts, accessed July 5, 2016, http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf.]
Albert Mohler described the court’s decision this way:
“Justice Kennedy and his fellow justices in the majority wanted to legalize same-sex marriage and they invented a constitutional theory to achieve their purpose. It was indeed an act of the will disguised as a legal judgment. . . . The majority opinion did not really make any serious constitutional argument at all. It was . . . an argument based in philosophy rather than in law.” [Albert Mohler, “Everything Has Changed and Nothing Has Changed — The Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage,” June 27, 2015, http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/06/27/everything-has- changed-and-nothing-has-changed-the-supreme-court-and-same-sex-marriage/.]
And the late Justice Antonin Scalia summed up what happened with these words:
“This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.”
And then in a stinging rebuke of the majority opinion Scalia wrote:
“A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.” [Justice Scalia, accessed July 5, 2016, http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf.]
Judge Scalia’s death was a great loss to the Supreme Court. He was by his own admission an “originalist” when it came to his decisions on the Court. [“Originalism: A Primer On Scalia’s Constitutional Philosophy,” February 14, 2016, NPR, http://www.npr.org/2016/02/14/466744465/originalism-a-primer-on-scalias-constitutional-philosophy]
I resonate with that term “originalist,” because that is what I was taught to be as a student of the Word of God. An “originalist” teacher of the Scriptures knows that his first and most important responsibility is to determine what the human writers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, meant when they wrote their words. In other words, what was the original intent of those words. What were the first readers or hearers intended to understand. Once the original intent is determined, the expositor of Scripture then applies that meaning to the current generation of readers and listeners.
Judge Scalia knew the importance of being an “originalist,” and he wrote about it and spoke about it often. Unfortunately, the majority of his fellow-judges were not and are not originalists. They are revisionists! They do not concern themselves with the original intent of those who framed our constitution. They interpret the constitution according to their opinions and in response to the pressure they feel from the elites.
Just as some who do not understand the “originalist” principle are prone to say of the Bible, “you can make it say anything you want it to say,” so those who do not understand the “originalist” principle can say of the constitution, “you can make it say anything you want it to say.”
And today, that is what five unelected judges are doing as they exert their influence over their court and over our nation.
So what is before us now is not about one election, it’s about the heart and soul of a nation. We are a nation of laws, not dictators. But rest assured these Supreme Court Justices who sit on the bench for life, wield more power than most of the dictators and kings of this world.
In 128 days we will elect the 45th President of the United States of America and that President will appoint at least two and perhaps as many as four of the judges that will sit on the Supreme Court for as long as they live. My decision – your decision – will affect our nation and our children in ways that are more profound than we can imagine.
That is why I must vote! This is why you most vote!
You must not buy into the commonly heard excuse that says “I don’t like either candidate so I am going to sit this one out.”
We should know better! We tried this approach in 2012. Twenty-five million evangelicals who were registered to vote in the election did not vote. If you were among those in this group, let me tell you something that probably no one has told you. YOU ELECTED OUR CURRENT PRESIDENT! The difference in the 2012 popular vote for the Presidency was less than 5 million votes.
The Evangelical voting block is the one of the largest if not the largest voting blocks in the country. We have the power to determine who will lead our country. But only if we vote!
When you vote in this year’s election, you are not voting for someone to serve as President for four or eight years. You are voting for someone whose Supreme Court decisions will affect us for three decades.
You must decide who you think will appoint the best justices for the Supreme Court and then, whatever else you may think about that person, you must vote! Donna and I have made our decision! If you care about the freedoms we celebrate today, you must also make yours!