Protest: a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.
The word protest sounds foreign and a bit offensive to anyone who has been deprived the important lessons of our American history. The freedoms enjoyed by each of us in these United States today are because brave colonists who protested the injustices of the British Crown. The Stamp Act, The Boston Tea Party, the Boston Port Act leading to the First Continental Congress and then to a Declaration of independence. These important instances in our nation’s history were marked by moments of protest which played a key role in producing The United States of America.
In a moment where protests on statehouse lawns around this nation are making headlines, be very thankful we have a government that is not only birthed from such events, but is designed to accommodate and even benefit from said occurrences. Remember what Mr. Franklin told us in 1787, we have a Republic, if we can keep it! History gives you truth and explanations. History brings you wisdom without giving you wrinkles and gray hair! He who is not a student of history is doomed to repeat it! It was Samuel Elliot Morrison I believe who said, “We ought to read history because it will help us behave better!
Daniel Webster reminded us that “History is nothing more than God’s providence in human affairs.” Charles Kauffman, an early writer of history text books on our national history before the early 1900’s wrote, “Notice that while the oppressors have carried out their plans in history there were other forces silently at work which in time undermined their plans as if a divine hand were directing the counter plan, whoever peruses the story of liberty without recognizing this feature will fail to fully understand the meaning of history!” In other words, if you don’t understand what God has been up to, you won’t get the truth of history.
Oh, and never forget that little dust up in 1517 when Martin Luther, a stubborn monk and towering thinker, published his 95 theses or complaints against the Catholic Church and launched the Protestant Reformation. A momentous religious revolution whose consequences we still live with today. Our journey of faith as Christians was shaped by someone who stood strongly on their convictions and protested what had become normal to the masses. As my dear friend Dr. Jim Garlow said so well recently regarding protests today… So, we go into it with a particular spiritual attitude of humility, with a hunger for holiness and built on the premise that truth is being violated.
The Rev. John Wise of Massachusetts is considered by prominent historians as one of the six greatest intellectual leaders responsible for shaping American thinking. His works and sermons were read and widely studied across early America. Speaking of the Reformation… he said, “Many famous persons, memorable in ecclesiastical history, being moved by the Spirit of God and according to Holy Writ, led the way in the face of all danger … for the good of Christendom.” Again, our American story echoes this Spirit, the Pilgrims came to Massachusetts in 1620 in protest to escape the hounding persecution of King James, and a decade later, 20,000 Puritans also fled England after many received life sentences and were persecuted for adhering to Reformation teachings.
On June 20th 1785 James Madison in his Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments wrote, “the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his Religion according to the dictates of conscience is held by the same tenure with all our other rights. If we recur to its origin, it is equally the gift of nature; if we weigh its importance, it cannot be less dear to us; if we consult the “Declaration of those rights which pertain to the good people of Virginia, as the basis and foundation of Government,”
What Madison suggested and what was embraced by not only the Virginia legislature but our young nations as well established a worldwide principle of religious freedom with worldwide significance which is still understood and experienced today. Here in America, unlike other places in the world, our founding documents say that our rights come to us from God and not Government. From Moses petitioning Pharaoh to Elijah challenging King Ahab for his ungodly policies. From Peter and John standing in bold opposition to their leaders to the Apostle Paul’s influence in both business and politics. The bible is full of examples of God’s people standing boldly in public for Biblical truth!
Again, to quote my friend Jim Garlow, “Freedoms come in “threes.” Political freedom, economic freedom and religious liberty coexist together. Take one away and the other two will eventually disappear. One cannot exist without the other two. The genius of America is that it had all three, until recently.” This is a serious moment and many Americans are concerned. So, please don’t panic when you see American’s protesting decisions by their elected officials. The time to panic is when Americans no longer care enough to protest, or worse yet, are not free to do so!
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Regional Director for Church Ministriesand can be reached at 740-935-1406