“A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.”
– Ronald Reagan, official announcement of his candidacy for U.S. President (13 November 1979)
On June 19, 2020, newspapers and internet news sites around the world carried a shocking image. A one-ton, bronze statue of George Washington—one that had stood in a park in northeast Portland, Oregon for nearly 100 years—was lying face down and covered in blood-red paint and graffiti; the charred remains of a bonfire visible around the head of the statue.
The image of America’s revered Founding Father toppled, desecrated, and charred provided the perfect metaphor for this present moment in America. Indeed, statues of Washington and other key figures of America’s rich, remarkable history have been toppled or vandalized in cities across America.
At first, it seemed to some that only Confederate memorials were under attack in the wake of nationwide protests following the tragic, senseless death of George Floyd in police custody. But soon it became clear that it was not America’s legacy of slavery that was under assault. It was all of her history, from Columbus to the framers of the Constitution to those who valiantly and successfully fought to end slavery in America.
In other words, it is Western (i.e., Christian), civilization itself that is under siege. The same night the statue of Washington was being defiled in Portland, a statue of Junipero Serra, an 18th century Roman Catholic missionary—one that had stood in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for over a century—was pulled down and destroyed, as were statues of Francis Scott Key and Ulysses S. Grant.
In fact, throughout that month, statues and memorials celebrating the extraordinary contributions of people like the following came under attack:
• Abraham Lincoln—the Great Emancipator;
• Frederick Douglass—great, black American preacher, abolitionist, writer, and statesman;
• John Greenleaf Whittier—abolitionist and delegate to the first meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Convention;
• Ulysses S. Grant—18th U.S. President and Commanding General of the United States Army, whose strategies were key to the Union Army defeating the Confederacy.
Over a six-week period, at least 183 monuments were defaced, damaged, or destroyed from sea to shining sea, including thirty-three statues of Columbus, nine of the Founding Fathers, and eight of Saint Junipero Serra. It is unlikely that any of those that were damaged and removed will ever be restored. Bit by bit, America’s history is being erased.
This is not just an accidental by-product of a season of unrest and political polarization. It is part of a highly orchestrated, well-funded plan. It is a plan rooted in something George Orwell, the author of the totalitarian nightmare novel, 1984, well understood. Orwell once wrote, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Karl Marx understood this, too. Concerning the overthrow of the Western democracies built upon a heritage of Christianity, Marx wrote, “The first battlefield is to rewrite history… Take away the heritage of a people and they are easily persuaded.” That’s precisely what has been happening in our once-great nation. The erasure of our heritage and history is merely the initial phase of a longer strategy to overthrow the systems and sacred values that made the United States of America the greatest place to be born since the Garden of Eden. Yes, I said “sacred” values.
It is no coincidence that this wave of desecration and vandalism was followed by a series of incidents targeting churches and Christian sites. In short order, church buildings in Florida and California were destroyed by fires. A statue of Christ was beheaded in Miami. A statue of Mary the mother of Jesus was beheaded in Chattanooga. The historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in the heart of Washington, D.C.—the “church of presidents” as it is known— has experienced repeated attacks and attempts at desecration.
Churches and symbols of the Christian faith are targets precisely because it’s impossible to understand the history of the United States apart from the history of Western Civilization, and how that civilization was shaped by Christianity.
In his 2019 book, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, British historian Tom Holland proves that much of what has driven the upward progress that we all take for granted was made possible because of the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In it, Holland observes, “To live in a Western country is to live in a society still saturated by Christian concepts and assumptions.” But that will not be the case much longer if those pulling down statues and spray painting profanities onto holy memorials have their way.
I recount these events not to discourage you but to challenge you. My aim is not to move you to despair, or even anger, but to action. I point to these developments simply as a timely, vivid reminder of this truth:
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
–Proverbs 29:2, KJV
Shortly after being elected president in 2008, Barack Obama famously told a group of Republican congressional leaders in a closed-door meeting: “Elections have consequences. And at the end of the day, I won.” He did indeed. And his presidency transformed the United States in profound and lasting ways.
Of course, when it comes to elections in this country, we tend to focus the lion’s share of our attention on the race for the highest office in the land, the presidency. But the events we are witnessing make it abundantly clear that all elections have consequences—from the White House to Congressional races to the elections of mayors, city councils, and school boards.
For example, police reform became a topic of national discussion in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. And it has not escaped the attention of some that the cities where police reform is most needed and where lawlessness and chaos run unchecked have city governments that have been under the control of one political party for decades. Those elections had consequences.
Others have noted that those pulling down statues of George Washington and painting the word “racist” on memorials to Lincoln are largely the product of a public education system that long ago abandoned the goal of teaching children the fundamentals of knowledge and instead became a program of indoctrination into Marxist and humanist anti-American ideologies. We have gone from producing Nobel laureates and entrepreneurial innovators to churning out unemployable, environmentally conscious haters of their own country. Instead of producing builders of towers that reach to the heavens and spacecraft that reach other planets, we have a generation that can only tear down, denounce, and complain.
Perhaps those trivial school board elections mattered, too.
I would never presume to tell you what candidate to vote for. But as a proud American patriot who has personally witnessed a lot of U.S. history across eight eventful decades, I can and will encourage you to vote. And as a pastor and lifelong student of God’s Word, I will tell you unapologetically that the Bible speaks clearly to the most critical issues of our time.
The sole purpose of this book is to shine the light of biblical truth on that subject. My aim is to help clarify what the Bible reveals about the pressing political issues of the day, so you, dear believer, can carry that wisdom into the voting booth as you exercise the blood-bought right to choose your leaders.
We can and must reverse the direction of our culture and our governing values.
It’s not yet too late todo so. But there is no time to lose.