Juxtaposing God, Religion, and the State

Reverend Shawn Williams, Chairman of Lee County School Board and (until recently) Pastor of Fair Promise AME Zion Church

We’ve heard a lot of noise lately about God & religion in public settings.  There are ACLU challenges being levied against public prayer by our state legislature, and in the Forsyth and Rowan County Boards of Commissioners.  We even have internal cessation of prayer within our own Board of Commissioners, without legal challenge or so much as a ‘friendly’ letter from the ACLU.  Then there are questions about local church involvement in after-school educational programs.   

Some of the discussion perplexes from an ideological perspective.

It comes as no surprise that the liberal left in this country, often represented in legal matters by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is openly and aggressively seeking to eliminate all forms of religious activity from the affairs of state.  In North Carolina there are a number of recent actions initiated by the ACLU (and by Americans United for Separation of Church and State)  attempting to stop the Forsyth County commissioners from opening their meetings with sectarian prayer.  After gaining ground in this case at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, now the ACLU is emboldened and is trying to intimidate the NC House of Representatives from praying in Jesus’ name.  Similarly, the commissioners in Rowan County have been served notice of an impending ACLU lawsuit.  It seems these inferior courts are failing to grasp the full measure of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1983 majority decision in Marsh v. Chambers, in which the Justices concluded the Court will not parse the words of legislative prayer.  Period.  Eventually, I imagine the High Court will be compelled to weigh in on these appellate cases and reaffirm Marsh v. Chambers to assure its precedent is being properly applied.

But more troubling is the growing evidence we have clergy who support a complete and extensive separation of church and state, even to the point of dis-inviting God from our public meetings.   This is both ill-advised and dangerous.  God has blessed our country, state, and county with rich blessings over the past 300 years of growth and prosperity.  If we dare to exclude God from His natural involvement in all our activities – whether in the home, the church, or the public arena – He will turn His face from us, just as the Old Testament prophets in the Holy Bible cautioned.  Some of our so-called pastors are leading us down that path to perdition in advocating we take God out of all public mattters (so as not to offend non-believers).  This is truly a disturbing trend.  But wait, it gets even better.

Some of those same clergy are, themselves, dragging the state right back into their religious affairs.  Thus, the source of my perplexity. 

How can a local pastor support not praying in a public setting, and then hold partisan political rallies at his church?  How can that same pastor (along with two others) solicit and receive millions of dollars in federal and state grant funding for after-school programs hosted in their church buildings (when our own secular Boys and Girls Club was discouraged from applying for those same grants)?  And how does a pastor, who happens to be Chairman of the Lee County Board of Education, reconcile accepting those grant funds for his church’s Community Learning Center when it smacks of a conflict of interest?  After all, as County School Board Chairman, he has a strong position of influence with the Department of Public Instruction, which doles out these funds.  Isn’t it an obvious conflict of interest to be listed on a contract as the direct and primary recipient of DPI funding for a community learning center while simultaneously holding a position of potential influence about where those funds are to be awarded?  

Local citizens are also curious about rumors the same pastor is being moved with just a few days’ notice from Sanford to another AME Zion church in Bunnlevel, right at the time said pastor is seeking re-election to the Lee County Board of Education.  Is this sudden move related to his receipt of grant funds from the state?  Is it because of his intense political involvement?  Or is it for some other reason or purpose?  Hopefully, all of this will be sorted out before the spring primary so voters can decide whether they might condone the good pastor’s political behavior, juxtaposing church, state and religion in his capacity as BOE Chairman.

About Thomas Jefferson

3rd President and Founding Father of the U.S. I conceived and promoted the country's system of public education in the early 19th Century. I am often misunderstood about my the "wall of separation" term and letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, which unfortunately has come to be interpreted as my suggesting separation of God and the Holy Trinity from all matters of state. I am a Christian, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and I owe Him my salvation. I pray for this great country, that it remain strong, independent and Christian!
This entry was posted in Education, Election 2012, Lee County Politics, NC Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Juxtaposing God, Religion, and the State

  1. I noticed in the picture that the Reverend is wearing his clerical shirt and collar, clearly identifying him as a minister. I assume this picture came from a Board of Education meeting. That would seem to send a confused signal to those who watch the board proceedings. Does this good democrat want to separate church and state? Or does he instead simply wish to have it both ways, finding it personally profitable to conjoin these two institutions on occasion?

  2. Kirk D. Smith says:

    This coming after the good Chairman’s Letter to the Editor in today’s “Sanford Herald.” His letter disputes the Evergreen Solutions Audit conclusion that their auditors were not allowed access to the schools and teachers. Surprisingly the “Sanford Herald” appears to have done some real journalistic research and calls Chairman Williams OUT!

    My are the times a changing!

    As always, I shall remain . . . In Search of Our GOD Given Liberties!

    • Anonymous says:

      Moss and Williams “handle” things that would look different if the truth seekers got to the schools – some more so than others.

  3. Goose says:

    What about the Rev. Dr. Ricky Frazier, also from the AME Zion Church, candidate for Lee BOC [according to the Herald] he is listed as Presiding Elder at the Fair Hope Church where Rev. Shawn E. Williams became pastor Jan 2007 according to the church history. Williams was first appointed to the BOE in Jan 2008 and was then elected in May 2008; Thereafter there appears to be a link between that church and West Lee Middle School including a “field day” 8/17/08 on school grounds and ‘Children of Promise’ [Fair Promise church after school tutorial]. It appears that Williams left the church rather than accepting an out of town transfer.
    From the Goose eye view it appears that something is up at Fair Promise, but this bird brain doesn’t understand politics even before Race and Religion is mixed in. Does anyone want to tutor me?

  4. Thomas Jefferson, a great American who said, “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth” would never have authored the above post. Jefferson, who said, “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology,” would never have made the post written in his name, above. Jefferson, who to the Danbury Baptists (who, above all, feared the Danbury Congregationalists!) wrote,” I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” Men like David Barton may malign the name of Jefferson (men who, like David Barton, will eventually all be discredited, their books forced off the shelves), but Jefferson has nonetheless spoken. You who post in his name are a poor stand-in, indeed.

  5. Kirk D. Smith says:

    Poor Jay, taking Jefferson’s quote out of context does not truth make. If you read the letter from the Danbury Baptists to Thomas Jefferson, they feared government intrusion in church affairs. Jefferson’s response, in the form of a letter, to the Danbury Baptists settled the issue by stating government will not interject itself into church affairs. Today we see the most anti-Christian regime in Washington dictating to religious organizations what they will and will not allow, even if it goes against one’s conscience. Yes, muslims are exempt. Very telling indeed!

    • jcalendine says:

      The “out of context” charge doesn’t quite stick. The Danbury Baptists (who feared the Danbury Congregationalists!) were concerned that the government might endorse a denominational sect which was persecuting them. Jefferson quotes both halves of the First Amendment dealing with religion to show that government will not promote (respect) religion, nor prohibit religion’s free expression. That is separation of church and state as Madison meant it, and as Jefferson explains to the fearful Danbury Baptists.

      Speaking of context, the worst example of taking Jefferson out of context is when he is quoted by Christians as saying “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyrrany over the mind of man.” In context, the tyranny he speaks of is religious tyranny, and the God a Deist God. It is revisionist history to repaint the founding fathers in colors of Christian fundamentalists. Jefferson was a secularist, as was his colleagues, and that secular note within the Constitution is its hallmark of greatness.

      I find this entire blog to be disrespectful to the founding fathers. The way so many people casually co-opt the names of these men to say things which would have been out of character for them. Does anyone think that this mockery adds weight to what he says? It is a silly detraction.

      Poor Kirk.

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