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  • 13

    Jul2015

    Pers-Portraitweb   CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES AND VALUES ARE STILL THE HALLMARK OF OUR DEMOCRACY     This year’s Fourth of July is a special landmark for me. It marks the fortieth Fourth of July I have celebrated. Coming into this country as one of the boat people from Vietnam in June 1975, I celebrated my first Fourth of July with gratitude. I was overwhelmed by the freedom, prosperity and opportunity this land has to offer. I saw the light lifted from the flame of the Lady Liberty’s torch to guide me to “Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars!” (Van Dyke) and heard her voice beseeching: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (Emma Lazarus).    How can this nation offer so much freedom, prosperity and opportunity to such great a number of people in vast diversity? As the people of the United States of America we are a great phenomenon. Except for the American Indians, Eskimos and Hawaiians, everyone of us is an immigrant or descendant of an immigrant. So the people of this country have come from every part of the world and from different cultures and traditions.     What is then the source of freedom, prosperity and opportunity for us all? What is the force that unites us together as a country, and at the same time, helps us preserve our distinctiveness? I believe that it is our Christian faith. The phenomenon of the American people reminds us of St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians: “You are strangers and aliens no longer. No, you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God. You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is fitted together and takes shape as a holy temple in the Lord” (2:19-21).     In 1984 I became a citizen. In a moving ceremony, I did the Pledge of Allegiance. In this pledge I am reminded of what this country is all about: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Why under God? Because this country was founded by leaders who believed deeply in the guidance of God.     It is obvious that our Christian faith has nurtured peace and harmony among us, and it will be the only force that keeps us together. As Americans we believe strongly in freedom and equality which give room for differences of religion and politics. As Christians we facilitate the process.     However, what is happening in our country is alarming. The vision of a country built upon Christian principles and values is gradually fading. Our society is being invaded by secularism and atheism. Their message is that God is not needed or even that God doesn’t exist. Public prayers are not allowed; the picture of Jesus is taken down from school to school; the Ten Commandments are removed from public places. Christian values and morals are not just being ignored but also being attacked. As a result, there is a lapse of morality symbolized in the Supreme Court’s decision that legalizes same-sex marriage. Its redefinition of marriage turns upside down our fundamentally Christian belief and practice of relationship for all human life.     Here we are at a crossroads and we have to make a choice. Moses’ words of warning to the Israelites are pertinent to our time: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice and holding fast to him” (Deut. 30:19-20).      What our country needs first and foremost then is a spiritual rebirth, a return to Christian values and morals. This can occur when a great number of us Christians turn to God. Then through our Christian principles and values, together we create better education, good government, and profitable commerce, all of which will help make liberty and justice available to all.        The Supreme Court’s decision in 1892 backs this call when it declares: “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation—that this is a Christian nation.” Very Reverend Anthony Quyet, D.Min.  Rector, Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle