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In a World Where You Can Be Anything

It’s hard to imagine living in a world where two people in the position of government power would stand facing one another, each holding a gun.

Shots would be fired; one person would soon take their last breath, the other would lose their status in society. It’s a page out of history. And in an instant our history was changed.

The vice-president of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury. The year was 1804.

The Burr–Hamilton duel took place in Weehawken, New Jersey, between Aaron Burr, the Vice President of the United States, and Alexander Hamilton, the first and former Secretary of the Treasury, on the morning of July 11, 1804.

The duel was the culmination of a bitter rivalry that had developed between both men who had become high-profile politicians in post-colonial America.

In the duel, Burr fatally shot Hamilton, while Hamilton fired into a tree branch above and behind Burr's head. Hamilton was taken back across the Hudson River and died the following day in New York.

The death of Hamilton led to the permanent weakening of the Federalist Party and its demise in American domestic politics. It also effectively ended the political career of Burr, who was vilified for shooting Hamilton; he never held another high office after his tenure of vice president ended in 1805.

In New England, the Federalist Party was closely linked to the Congregational church. When the party collapsed, the church was disestablished.

In 1800 and other elections, the Federalists targeted infidelity in any form. They repeatedly charged that Republican candidates, especially Thomas Jefferson, were atheistic or nonreligious. Conversely, the Baptists, Methodists and other dissenters as well as the religiously nonaligned, favored the Republican cause.

Do you know who coined the phrase “Separation of church and state”?

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter, told the Baptists of Connecticut there should be a "wall of separation" between church and state, and thus the phrase was born: “Separation of church and state”.

“…Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, 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 & State…” – Letter to the Danbury Baptists, signed Thomas Jefferson Jan. 1, 1802

Did you know the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in any of our foundational documents? However, the thought behind the separation is in our first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Separation from the government does not mean lawlessness. It does not mean showing disrespect to those in authority. In fact, the Bible says quite the opposite.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” Romans 13:1-7 NKJV

Those are strong words friend.

If government is not asking us to go against the Bible’s teachings, we are to submit ourselves to authority. I know that isn’t always pleasant. We like our independence. We don’t like other people telling us how to live or what to do, but it is a part of the reality that we now know on planet earth.

Let’s determine to be a shining example of the One we claim to follow. Let’s pay our taxes without complaint. Pay for the high-priced groceries without being grouchy to the checker. Pay for your full tank of gas without exploding on the gas station attendant who is barely making minimum wage.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

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