Once upon a time, in the State of Georgia, there was a Baptist Church that was founded before the United States of America. It was the year 1774, and the founding pastor of Abilene Baptist Church was arrested for “preaching in Georgia.” The next pastor, a man by the name of Reverend Loveless Savage, was a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army.
Abilene Baptist Church has had a long relationship with the Army, and Ft. Gordon is not far from it. For the past 20 years, there has been a patriotic service held on the Sunday that falls the closest to the 4th of July, and Ft. Gordon has provided the color guard. However, that tradition has abruptly come to an end this year.
The Army has decided that it is against its policies to officially participate in any church service, even one that is dedicated to thanking God for the freedom bought and purchased by the blood of soldiers. The church is stunned. “It was an absolute shock,” said Brad Whitt, the current pastor of Abilene Baptist Church. “What a sad commentary on the state of affairs in America – when we cannot even allow the flags to fly if they are in a church building.”
“We’ve had a tremendous working relationship with the fort,” said Pastor Whitt. “We’ve hosted all sorts of events for military families. We really try to show our love and respect and we try to honor our military folks.”
“That’s what makes this so sad,” Pastor Whitt said.. “This is what we’ve come to in our nation – where even just representing the colors is some sort of political thing.”
“They have participated for the past two decades and now they are saying – no,” he said. “This is just another example of the secularization of America.”
It seems that we are trying to break the sound barrier when it comes to the speed by which we are flying away from our values, as well as our history. I think of the fact that just two years ago I got a chance to worship with General Jerry Boykin of Blackhawk Down fame at a similar 4th of July service in a Baptist church here in Alabama. Are we next? Could it get to the point that even someone who is no longer wearing a uniform could be stopped from preaching because once upon a time he wore a uniform? I realize that sounds far-fetched, but honestly, almost nothing shocks me anymore.
We said the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the church service. I wonder if the so-called “separation of church and state” will ever get to the point that it will become illegal to say the Pledge inside of a church building?
We are turning away from God so quickly it is dizzying, and if the Army decides it can’t include God, there is no point celebrating the 4th of July at all, inside a church, or out in the park, because we’ll be done.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner