Christian, at least not since the Constitution, but they werernand to a large extent still are descriptively Christian. Christianityrnin the large sense—not Christian doctrine as such, but therncivilization that has grown up in the context of Christian teachingrnand Christian life—is so interwoven into the whole socialrnand indeed human fabric of the United States that it cannot berncut out, and certainly not ripped out, without destroying thernentire fabric. Jesus said, citing the Old Testament, or the HebrewrnScriptures if you prefer, “Thou shalt love they neighbor asrnthyself” (Matthew 22:39, citing Leviticus 19:18). When wernrefuse to listen to him saying that, because his words are transmittedrnto us by Christians, and we separate Church from State,rnwe also forget the antecedent commandment, “Thou shalt notrnkill” (Exodus 20:12), also taught us by Christians (and by manyrnothers). Now we have ten- and eleven-year-old children droppingrna five-year-old from a 14th-floor window to his death onrnthe pavement below. Let it not be said that Eric Morse wasrndropped because the Supreme Court, some years ago, ruledrnthat the Ten Commandments may not be posted on schoolrnwalls, and, earlier this year, that they may not even appear inrncourtrooms. But let it be said that a society that will not listenrnto anything that Christians have transmitted because it is “religious”rnwill not long be immune to the consequences.rnThe 13 original colonies that began a seven-year war for independencernin 1776 were all by nature and history Christian.rnThe varieties of Christianity differed from one region to another,rnbut each of them was at least as Christian as, indeed more sornthan, the European mother country or countries from whichrntheir people came. To say, as so many do, that the colonistsrncame here to escape religious persecution is to obscure the issue:rnit seems almost to imply that religious authorities in thern”mother country,” primarily England, were persecuting freethinkers,rnsecularists, agnostics, and atheists and that they allrnfled to America. (It is not too plausible to suggest that Englandrnwas persecuting Jews or Muslims, for those groups would havernbeen readily identifiable, and there were very few of them inrnthe 13 colonies.) To a considerable extent, the colonists camernbecause they wanted to exercise their religion not merely freelyrnbut vigorously, but had not been able to do so in the country orrncountries from which they came. As Oscar Handlin points outrnin his signal work The Uprooted, religion was a very vital and activernforce in every immigrant wave from the 17th century untilrnthe middle of the 20th. People may not have come specificallyrnin order to practice their religion, but one of the very first thingsrnthat the colonists and later immigrants did was to establishrnchurches and schools to train clergy. Harvard College was establishedrnonly 16 years into the history of New England in orderrnto train the next generation of Puritan ministers. The influx ofrneast Asian immigrants that followed the changes in immigrationrnlaw in 1965 has also brought the establishment of AsianrnChristian churches, and there are now over 2,000 Korean Christianrncongregations in the United States. The idea that peoplerncame to get away from religion is absurd. The idea of a secularrnstate was virtually nonexistent in 1787, the year that the Constitutionrnwas adopted, as it had been in 1776. “To read thernConstitution as the charter for a secular state is to misread history,rnand to misread it radically. The Constitution was designedrnto perpetuate a Christian order.” From the earliest colonialrndays to the present, immigrants brought their churchesrnwith them. In several of the colonies, as well as in the UnitedrnStates after independence, the immigrants definitely came inrnthe hope of finding freedom to express their religious convictionsrnand to live in accordance with the dictates of their faith.rnAs each of us knows, the United States Constitution, as interpretedrnand perverted by a succession of Supreme Courts, hasrnbeen the means for secularizing America, and for driving religionrnin general, and Christianity in particular, to the fringes ofrnsociety. A document that was once thought to protect a heritagernis now, in the hands of judges and justices patterned onrnthe judge of Luke 18:2, who “neither feared God nor regardedrnman,” the means of destroying it. Time is running out, indeed,rnvirtually has run out, and so I would like to end not by describingrnbut—in true evangelical fashion—^by sharing with you anrnimportant element of our Christian heritage, the three-pointrnsermon. A proper preacher, not to say professor of theology,rnwould develop each of these points painstakingly, perhapsrnpainfully, but I shall confine myself to stating the three pointsrnthat I think constitute a vital part of our Christian heritage:rnperspective, proportion, and priority.rnTO a considerable extent, therncolonists came because theyrnwanted to exercise their religion notrnmerely freely but vigorously,rnbut had not been able to do sornin the country or countries fromrnwhich they came.rnPerspective. Did Jesus not recount the story of the rich fool,rnwho boasted of all that he had laid up in his barns, that Godrnsaid to him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required ofrnthee; then whose shall these things be, which thou hast provided?rnThis is how it will be with anyone who stores up things forrnhimself but is not rich toward Cod” (Luke 12:20-21). Communismrntaught that men and women must suffer today for thernMan of the future, but that Man, even if he were to come—andrnhe has postponed his visit indefinitely—cannot repay them.rnThe loss of the eternal perspective seems to tell us, for the moment,rn”Eat, Drink, and be Merry,” but how does the sayingrnend? “For tomorrow we die.” The more we lose the awarenessrnof the fact that death is not the end, the more death becomesrnthe goal. An individual, a family, a nation where the eternalrnperspective is forgotten will ultimately have no higher goalsrnthan selfish desire, and no more heroic deeds than abortion andrneuthanasia.rnProportion. Jesus asked a rhetorical question, “What is arnman profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his ownrnsoul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”rnJULY 1995/23rnrnrn