Pulpit Reflections by Rev. Robert Grossmann Providence Reformed Church If it seems to you that we live in an ever-changing and dangerous world, you are right. Old enemies that were conquered in World War II became our friends and allies against the Soviet Russian socialist empire of the 20th century. For 50 years the nations of France and Germany, plus a group Asian countries like Korea, Japan and Taiwan, depended upon the United States to protect them from communist aggression.
With the collapse of the atheist Communist nations, one might have expected a new era of peace and tranquility in international affairs. Indeed the politicians of the United States spoke boldly of a "peace dividend" and Congress began a whole new set of social programs to spend the money that would supposedly no longer be needed for defense spending.
Well, it hasn't worked out that way, has it? Not only have new and dangerous enemies challenged the peace and safety of the United States, but old friends often can no longer be trusted to oppose those who would attack us. What has happened? Why do we find ourselves so often in trouble as a nation?
Whether we wish to admit it or not, the problem is essentially religious. Great religious changes occurred during the last half of the 20th century. American oil money and misguided idealism enabled radical Muslims to gain power in many nations of the Middle East (the Carter administration virtually invited radical Muslims to overthrow the Westward leaning Shah of Iran).
Further, while atheistic Communism was dying the death of failure in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the peoples of Western Europe and many in the United States were embracing a secular humanism that is no less atheistic than Communism itself. These changes mean that we live in a world whose religious climate is profoundly different from that which prevailed a short 50 years ago.
Indeed there are those in the United States who decry President Bush's public references to his Christian faith, and this a mere 40-odd years since the nation elected its first Roman Catholic (meaning non-Protestant) president, John Kennedy.
Where we go from here depends a great deal on how we face the religious nature of human life and relationships. Radical Muslims believe that they are fighting a "holy war" against our nation that to them is Satan personified. The question is, "What are we doing?"
Because political correctness in the United States demands that we think all religions are equal, we have been afraid to say, "Look, these folks have very bad ideas; their religion, which places men as dictatorial gods in the family and treats women as property second class to goats, is out to lunch."
The fact is religious toleration is a Christian idea, it just isn't found or admired in Muslim, Hindu and other such nations. But, we in the United States have fallen into a deep trap; toleration of different religions does not mean that all religions are equally valid or helpful to society.
Until and unless we face the fact that American ideals and principles are positive ideas based at least in part on Christianity and the Christian Bible, we are going to open our doors to destruction from those who attack us from without, and from those who attack our institutions from within.
Truth is more important than desire, because truth is reality. And, as Jesus Christ said, "If you continue in my word…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32).
Like race horses, religions have track records. Atheism has been tried and proven disastrous in Socialist Russia (socialism always requires a dictator to take wealth from those who produce it and redistribute it to the unproductive). Western Europe and the United States are the products of mainly Christian ideals. ("all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"). India has its traditional religions. And the modern Arab states are led by the "holy men" of Islam who require everyone to obey their dictatorship no matter what their own ideas might be.
Until and unless we in the U.S. take seriously the religious background of cultures around the world, we will be fighting a defensive war that can only end in defeat for our way of life because we never face religious foundations. We must be willing to defend what we believe in. Life in America is better because it is based on better ideas.