The destruction of America is like the life cycle of ivy. First it sleeps, then it creeps, finally it leaps.
In the 19th century, destruction was sleeping, as the seeds were being sown through the dawning of theological modernism, Unitarianism, Darwinian evolution, Marxism, and Freudianism. By the 20th century, destruction was creeping. Now in the 21st it’s leaping!
Already in the first half of the 20th century, the nation was being turned upside down and the remnants of biblical influence were disintegrating.
Even when the “Star Spangled Banner” was made the official national anthem by a congressional resolution in 1931, and nearly all Americans were fervent flag wavers, the nation’s foundation was being destroyed and the roots were dying.
Many books have been written on this subject, but following are few examples of what has produced the America we see today.
Disappearance of Regenerate, Discipling Churches
Communism and Socialism
Jazz and Amusement
Pop Psychology and Self-esteemism
Corruption of the Courts
Corruption of Politics
Corruption of the News Media
Theological modernism is fundamentally an assault on the authority of the Bible as God’s infallible Word, and its spread has destroyed the authority of the Bible in the minds of multitudes both inside and outside of churches.
In 1917, Baptist pastor W.B. Riley warned in The Menace of Modernism that America was in great danger because of the liberal theology that was permeating the churches and theological schools and the liberal philosophies such as Darwinism that were permeating the secular colleges and universities.
Riley prophesied that the infiltration of liberal philosophy into America’s educational system was “an outrage” that would destroy America’s morality.
An example of liberalism in the Northern Baptist Convention was Harry Emerson Fosdick, who pastored Park Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. This was where John D. Rockefeller, Jr., had membership. Fosdick denied every fundamental doctrine of the faith, including Christ’s virgin birth and substitutionary atonement. In his 1918 book The Manhood of the Master, he denied that Jesus is God. In 1926, the Northern Baptist Convention voted by a margin of about three to one not to evict Fosdick’s church for its wicked heresies. In 1930, Rockefeller spent $10 million to build the Riverside Church in Manhattan for Fosdick, and it remained one of the most liberal of churches.
Pastor John Straton of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City rightly called Fosdick “a religious outlaw--the Jesse James of the theological world.” But there were a great many Fosdicks. John Straton was already in the minority, and most pastors of his day were as cowardly about speaking out against sin and error as they are today.
Theological liberalism also entered the Southern Baptist Convention in the first half of the 20th century. By 1902, J.W. Bailey of North Carolina wrote in the Biblical Recorder that there were a multitude of “theologies” in the Southern Baptist Convention. He said, “Theologies change every day. ... [Baptists do not stand for] formulated dogmas.”
Theological liberalism was rapidly permeating every major denomination in the nation.
DISAPPEARANCE OF REGENERATE, DISCIPLINING CHURCHES
By the turn of the 20th century, the vast majority of churches had rejected a regenerate membership (in practice, if not in profession) and New Testament discipline.
Even as early as 1874, William Whitsitt, a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, “[I]t is now very difficult to exclude a person for drunkenness or any other ordinary crime” (Restoring Integrity in Baptist Churches, Kindle loc. 2138).
In 1878, J.C. Hiden, pastor of First Baptist Church, Greenville, South Carolina, wrote a series of articles in the Baptist Courier “lamenting the recent trend of lax discipline.”
By 1921, Z.T. Cody, editor of South Carolina’s Baptist Courier, wrote, “Our churches have practically no discipline. As to worldliness and minor offences, many of our churches do nothing. But what is far worse, our churches often allow the most serious moral transgressions to go unnoticed. Even at times, to save a disturbance in the church, they will grant a minister a letter who, as they know, has grossly violated, not only the proprieties of life, but the moral law of God. ... What we dread today more than aught else is a disturbance in the ‘peace’ of a church. ... We do not know what is the remedy for this lapsed condition.”
The churches bowed to the influence of the “new morality” and allowed church members to live worldly lives. Such things as dating, pre-marital sex, drinking, jazz, rock, divorce, and unisex fashions flooded the weak churches.
When fundamentalist leader J. Edwin Orr toured the South in 1935, he was dismayed to find that “quite a majority of believers go to the movies once a week, as well as other questionable amusements, and the unpainted face is more an exception than the rule. The converted Christians behave almost exactly the same as the non-Christians do--there is no separation” (Joel Carpenter, Revive Us Again, p. 59).
Churches stopped striving for a regenerate church membership.
“Even among the Methodists and Baptists church membership became a graduation exercise from the Sunday school or Young People’s group. Neither the ministers nor church members thought a crisis conversion experience, even of the shake-my-hand variety, was necessary” (William McLoughlin, Jr., Modern Revivalism, p. 454).
This fairly well describes the church I grew up in (born 1949). I remember one of my non-church friends saying to me, “Why should I come to your church? You folk are no different than we are.”
There was no looking for evidence of salvation. Any profession of faith was accepted and the individual’s salvation was never doubted thereafter, no matter how he lived or what he believed. Most professions were made by children. All of the kids went through the routine of “believing on Christ” and getting baptized at some point in their childhood, but for the most part there was no change of thinking and lifestyle. It wasn’t expected and wasn’t required. Life-changing adult conversions such as we read of in the New Testament were very rare. Verses such as 2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 1:16; and 1 John 2:4 were as foreign to our experience and understanding as the Chinese language.
There was no caution about receiving members. Any flimsy testimony was sufficient. Faithfulness was not required. If you attended one service a week, or no services, you could be a member in good standing.
As a result, each generation brought a larger percentage of unregenerate people into the membership.
The old church covenant from the 1800s hung on the wall, but it was a historic relic, a museum piece. Its principles were not taught or enforced.
There were no serious biblical standards for workers.
There was no serious discipleship, separation, or discipline. I heard the Bible preached and taught, but I was not given a biblical worldview and there was no emphasis on true discipleship.
The churches adapted to the pop culture. They entertained pagan fables such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Like the proverbial frog in the pot, they followed Hollywood’s descent into ever-deeper moral filth. They didn’t have a testing mindset. They weren’t thorough-going Bible people. They weren’t true disciples of Jesus Christ. They weren’t pilgrims and strangers in a foreign world. Almost no one in the Southern Baptist Convention in those days saw Walt Disney or Ed Sullivan as enemies of the truth. The fact that Disneyland had no church on Main Street didn’t register as a warning that Disney was promoting an atheistic worldview and was drawing the hearts and minds of youngsters away from the God of the Bible like a charming Pied Piper. The fact that The Disney Hour and The Ed Sullivan Show were weakening Sunday evening church attendance with their enticing wares was not a matter of deep concern by the preachers. If it was, they did nothing in a practical way to stem the tide.
This is the type of Baptist church that was on nearly “every street corner” in the American South, which was why it was called “the Bible Belt.” Southern Baptist churches were one of the most prominent influences in southern society, but because of their spiritual weakness, church was a thing of little significance and social impact. At some point in childhood, most people went through the motion of “receiving Christ” and then continued to live their lives as they pleased with little to no serious reference to Scripture.
By the 1920s, John Dewey’s “Progressive education” was transforming America’s public schools into humanistic propaganda stations. Dewey co-authored the Humanist Manifesto, which promoted atheism, evolution, self-determination, and socialism.
In 1924, William Jennings Bryan leaned over to evangelist Bob Jones, Sr., at a Bible conference and said, “If schools do not quit teaching evolution as a fact, we are going to become a nation of atheists” (Daniel Turner, Standing Without Apology, p. 19).
COMMUNISM AND SOCIALISM
America has been on the road to socialism for a very long time.
Early in the 20th century, international communism was on the march and communists were infiltrating American trade unions, universities, the civil rights movement, Hollywood, major news publications such as the New York Times, liberal Christian denominations, and the government itself. The evidence is massive and irrefutable.
In the 1930s, the Northern Baptist Convention endorsed a social change program whereby the government would take control of all natural resources and commodities “relative to the necessities of life.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s was a major rush toward socialism. The power of the federal government had increased dramatically since the end of the Civil War in 1865. In addition to slavery, the fundamental issue of the war was states rights vs. federal power, and states rights lost. But Roosevelt took government authority much farther under the guise of a Nanny State. He claimed that men should be guaranteed “four freedoms” by the government: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Thus he specifically put the government in the role of God in men’s lives.
In The Rise of the Tyrant: Controlled Economy vs. Private Enterprise (1945), Carl McIntire rightly observed that a government that attempts to deliver men from want and fear is idolatrous and will have “tragic and far-reaching results.”
By then Americans were addicted to the Nanny State, and it was taken to staggering new heights by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program in the 1960s.
The American government has long been a gigantic, socialistic wealth redistribution machine, and with that comes massive power over people’s lives. Both major political parties are guilty of voting in favor of socialism, because America is a democracy and the majority of Americans want their government goodies and therefore vote their pocketbooks.
JAZZ AND AMUSEMENT
The moral disintegration of American society didn’t begin with 50s and 60s rock & roll. It began in “the Roaring Twenties” with the jazz era. Since then powerful social forces have been transforming the nation: feminism, abortion rights, rampant alcohol and drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, working mothers.
The divorce rate increased by 2,000 percent between the Civil War and the Great Depression of the 1930s, when one in six marriages ended in divorce (Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry).
The jazz era created a youth culture characterized by rejection of parental restraint, dating, “movie mania,” “dance madness,” smoking, drinking, drugs, immodest dress styles, moral license, arrogance, a short-sighted party lifestyle. Preachers warned that “girls spurned femininity, boys acted sissy, and their nighttime joyrides were taking them down the surest road to hell.”
Since the age of radio in the early 20th century, the entertainment industry has been devoted to sexual filth, mindless mirth, and greed. Successful commercial radio began in 1928 with the Amos ’n’ Andy program sponsored by Pepsodent toothpaste. By the next year, the program “had become a craze, the first bona fide hit serial in broadcast history.” Sales of Pepsodent doubled in one year. 1928 marked the beginning of the merger of the entertainment industry with business. Americans were addicted. An estimated 40 million people (out of a population of 120 million) set aside a block of time every evening, five days a week, to gather around the radio and give their full attention to a comedy with no redeeming value other than silly entertainment. Commercial radio was a major step in the secularization of America and the addiction to mindless entertainment. Commercial radio and television created the age of a-musement (no muse, no thought). In the 21st century, the internet, smart phone, and social media have taken amusement to ever higher levels.
The Hollywood movie industry has been wicked from its inception in the silent movie era. It has almost always depicted a world without God. It has propagandized for every false religion and philosophy. It has relentlessly mocked Bible Christianity, consistently depicting preachers as hypocrites, lunatics, or pathetically weak. It has always pushed the boundaries of moral behavior and modesty. Its stars and starlets have thumbed their noses at God’s laws and influenced multitudes by their mythical “liberty.”
“Movies in the 1920s had used nudity, profanity, blasphemy and immorality and appeared to endorse illegal drinking during the Prohibition Era. The lives of movie actresses, or ‘vamps,’ with their heavy makeup, scant clothing and loose morals brought Hollywood under close scrutiny and considerable criticism. ... The names of many Pre-Code Hollywood films provides a fast insight into the subject matter of some of the movies that were being produced during the period. The names of the movies include The Godless Girl, Unashamed, Blonde Venus, Madame Satan, Her Private Life, Madame X, Ladies Love Brutes, The Cheat, The Sin of Madelon Claudet, The Sin Ship ... the Cecil B. DeMille epic movie, The Sign of the Cross (1932) [depicted] a naked woman prepared for sacrifice in the Colosseum” (“Hays Code Facts,” American-historama.org).
In the 1920s, John Straton (1875-1929), Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, was calling America’s cities Sodom and Gomorrah. He was called “a crusader, a two-fisted hard-hitting man of God, always the defendant at the bulwarks of Christianity.” Calvary Baptist was founded in 1847 and had prominent pastors, including John Dowling, author of The History of Romanism. Straton’s books included The Menace of Immorality in Church and State (1920), The Scarlet Stain on the City (c. 1921), and Satan in the Dance Hall (c. 1925). Chapter titles in the latter included “Flappers and the Dance of Life” and “The Devil’s Music and the Scopes Trial.” There were 750 dance halls in New York City in Straton’s day. In his sermon “New York as Modern Babylon,” Straton said worldly homes had produced “the cigarette smoking boy who develops into the girl-ogling, sap-headed dude who would not recognize a sound thought or a sound ethical principal if he met it in the street; and the female flapper and flirt who knows more at 16 than her grandmother knew at 60, who hasn’t a speaking acquaintance with the art of sweeping a room, sewing a dress, or making a biscuit, but is past mistress with the lip-stick, the powder puff, and the bunny bag [a small bag for cosmetics and other female accouterments].”
Of female fashions, Straton said, “When it comes to women’s dress today there is not enough to talk about.”
Straton charged the mainstream media of his day with “engaging in a plot to ruin moral forces and bring them into national contempt” (George Dollar, A History of Fundamentalism in America).
In 1934, Harry Ironside preached the following at Moody Memorial Church in Chicago: “We are living in a day when uncleanness is everywhere. Our modern novels are reeking with it, our newspaper stands are filled with vile pornographic literature that came from hell, and men are enriching themselves by poisoning the minds of our young people. The pictures they see, the songs that come over the radio, many are filled with suggestions of impurity and uncleanness. ... Let us give everything like that a wide berth.”
The Hays Code brought some censorship to the movie industry in 1934, but it was abandoned in 1965, and the industry has made up for the three decades of restrictions by pouring out filth at an ever-increasing pace since then.
Many think of the 1940s as a time when the Bible’s influence was prominent in America, but it is a mirage. In reality, the Bible’s influence was rapidly dying.
Though church membership increased in the 1940s, Bible sales doubled, and youth were flocking to Christian rallies, America was becoming far more filthy, more rebellious to Bible truth, more self-focused than ever.
The popular American Christianity was largely a lukewarm, powerless thing. It was a form of godliness that salved consciences while the moral condition of the nation continued a downward spiral.
There was “a surge of hard-living hedonism ... women’s fashions were skimpier, Hollywood grew more brazen, and live entertainment became more vulgar” (Joel Carpenter, Revive Us Again).
American parents were listening to Spock more than Proverbs and were soon to reap a whirlwind of delinquency.
When President Roosevelt called for a national day of prayer for New Years Day 1943, evangelist Hyman Appleman wisely and bravely asked how God could answer America’s prayers, warning the nation to heed the words of the Psalmist, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18).
On the political front, Carl McIntire warned in the 1940s that “America is in greater danger of losing her freedom today than at any time since the Declaration of Independence.”
Rock & roll roared onto the scene in the 1950s with the power of a cultural tsunami, and rock was the death-knell of “traditional America.”
It wasn’t brand new. It was the old blues and jazz on electronic steroids, but by the time the 1950s rolled around America had been so weakened morally and philosophically that vast swaths of the nation were ready to embrace brazen licentiousness. The very name “rock & roll” was a byword for fornication.
1950s rock was a full-blown revolution against the Bible’s influence in Western society. From its inception, rock has preached rebellion and moral license. The rock philosophy is the philosophy of “do your own thing; don’t let anyone tell you what to do.” This is not a sideline of rock & roll; it is the heart and soul. Rock preaches the ancient lie that the devil uttered to Eve: “God’s laws are restrictive; He is keeping you from enjoying life to the fullest; throw off His yoke and live as you please; be your own god.”
Defiance of God-ordained authority and rejection of biblical morality is rebellion against God. By shaking his leg at God’s moral laws, Elvis was shaking his fist at God.
1950s rock literally changed the character of Western society and laid the groundwork for the more dramatic spiritual and moral revolution that has followed. Marxist Jerry Rubin observed, “Rock ‘n’ roll marked the beginning of the revolution. … We’ve combined youth, music, sex, drugs, and rebellion with treason, and that’s a combination hard to beat” (Rubin, Do It!, 1970, pp. 19, 249).
David Townsend, who calls the 1950s “a watershed moment in modern history,” says,
“Rock 'n' roll is a movement, a lifestyle, a culture ... And all that rock 'n' roll is today it owes to a brief window of history: two years, no more than three, WHEN THE FABRIC OF AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE WAS TORN APART AND REWOVEN, AND A NEW ERA EXPLOSIVELY BEGAN. ... This was no small moment in history, for the effects of these two years’ echoes continue to spread, to other nations, to new generations, to the thrones of power and the seats of wealth, as well as to the dispossessed and restless youth of a new era” (Townsend, Changing the World: Rock & Roll Culture and Ideology, chapter 2).
“… FIFTIES ROCK WAS REVOLUTIONARY. IT URGED PEOPLE TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANTED TO DO, EVEN IF IT MEANT BREAKING THE RULES. … LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UPHEAVALS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN FOMENTING IN THE FOLLOWING DECADE” (Ellis Amburn, Buddy Holly: A Biography, pp. 4, 6, 131).
David Brinkley of NBC News said, “Elvis Presley was one of the few people in our lifetime who changed things. You hear Mantovani in every elevator, but so what? ELVIS CHANGED OUR HAIRSTYLES, DRESS STYLES, OUR ATTITUDES TOWARD SEX, all the musical taste” (cited by Larry Nager, Memphis Beat, p. 216).
Little Richard “freed people from their inhibitions, unleashing their spirit, ENABLING THEM TO DO EXACTLY WHAT THEY FELT LIKE DOING” (Charles White, The Life and Times of Little Richard, p. 66).
Little Richard’s 1956 hit “Rip It Up” summarizes the morally careless, lustful, destructive, anything-goes, live for the moment rock & roll philosophy:
“Well, it’s Saturday night and I just got paid/ Fool about my money, don’t try to save/ My heart says, go go/ Have a time/ ’Cause it’s Saturday night, and I feel fine/ I’m gonna rip it up!/ I’m gonna rock it up!/ I’m gonna shake it up/ . . . Along about ten/ I’ll be flyin’ high/ Walk on out into the sky/ But I don’t care if I spend my dough/ ’Cause tonight I’m gonna be one happy soul/ I’m gonna rip it up!…”
The philosophy of “Rip It Up” cannot live in harmony with the traditional America with its deep Biblical influence.
Little Richard and his rock & roll buddies were dancing around the open grave of the “old America.”
When “Rip It Up” captured the hearts of youth in the 1950s, the America of 2021 was inevitable.
There was very little standing in the way of the rock & roll tsunami even in the 1950s. The vast majority of churches of all brands were too spiritually weak to do anything more than complain and fret.
POP PSYCHOLOGY AND SELF-ESTEEMISM
Pop psychology has greatly influenced society over the past half century and in turn weakened the churches.
At the heart of pop psychology is the humanistic philosophy of self-esteemism, which is diametrically opposed to the Bible’s teaching of Christ first, others second, and me last, of love of neighbor, of dying to self.
The onslaught of self-esteemism began to influence the culture early in the 20th century and by the mid-century its deadly leaven had spread everywhere. It was the death knell to solid marriages. It wrecked the judicial system. It created havoc in the workplace.
One of the prominent names was Norman Vincent Peale, pastor of Marble Collegiate Church (1932-1984), a Reformed Church in America congregation in New York City. Peale’s positive-thinking, self-esteem gospel was an unholy mixture of humanistic psychology, eastern religion, and the Bible that has almost taken over the Christian world and has made deep inroads into fundamentalist churches. In the 1940s, Peale teamed up with psychoanalyst Smiley Blanton to open a clinic next to the church that dispensed a gospel adulterated with pop psychology.
In 1952, Peale published the vastly influential The Power of Positive Thinking. The back cover says, “Faith in yourself makes good things happen to you.” The first paragraph begins with the words, “Believe in yourself! ... this book will help you believe in yourself and release your inner powers.” There is sin, no repentance, no blood of Christ, no born again, no judgment. It is a universalistic message that assumes the universal Fatherhood of God. This book has sold almost 20 million copies in 41 languages. Peale’s Guidepost magazine had a circulation of more than 4.5 million and subscribers included the members of the most conservative churches of the day. My parents and various Southern Baptist relatives subscribed, and I never heard one hint of warning about Peale in my youth.
At a National Council of Churches luncheon on December 6, 1966, Billy Graham said, “I don’t know anyone who has done more for the kingdom of God than Norman and Ruth Peale” (Hayes Minnick, Bible for Today publication #565, p. 28). Peale’s wife, Ruth, was a member of the Board of Managers of the American Bible Society (ABS). The National Religious Broadcasters presented Peale with an Award of Merit. Eric Fellman, one-time editor of Moody Monthly, resigned in 1985 to become editor-in-chief of Peale’s Foundation for Christian Living, and Moody continued to print articles by Fellman. Fuller Theological Seminary established a Norman Vincent Peale Scholarship in recognition of the supposed “outstanding ministry” of this apostate (The Fundamentalist Digest, Sept.-Oct. 1992). In a June 1993 review of a biography on Peale, Christianity Today said, “Norman Vincent Peale is a devout Christian, who injected vitality into a church that was losing touch with ordinary Americans...”
The feminist movement has had a very powerful influence on American society and on the churches. Since the dawn of the 20th century, it has been a direct affront to the Bible and an open attack on “traditional America.”
Feminism is a direct affront to the Word of God which says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Ge. 1:27). It is an assault on “traditional America” that was founded upon a belief in the Bible.
The feminist movement began in the second half of the 19th century with the push for women’s suffrage, political equality (an equal voice and place for women in politics), workplace equality (equal pay for equal work), and female education. The first gathering devoted to women’s rights was in 1848 with about 100 people in attendance. It was led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.
By the early 20th century, the feminist movement was pushing for “reproductive rights,” which refers to birth control and abortion. Many 19th century feminist leaders were opposed to abortion, but by the 20th century, feminism was at the forefront of the abortion rights movement which has resulted in the destruction of millions upon millions of unborn children and contributed greatly to the destruction of morality in general and the breakup of the “nuclear” home.
The feminist movement has become ever more radical. It has pushed for “non-sexist” or “gender neutral” language (e.g., chairman becomes chairperson). It has often been an opponent of traditional marriage and has been at the forefront of homosexual rights. It has resurrected goddess theology. Pressure for accommodation of women in all positions, has resulted in the lowering of physical standards for police, firefighters, and soldiers.
Feminism created THE UNISEX MOVEMENT and paved the way for homosexual rights. The pantsuit was invented in 1966 by homosexual fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Feminist Linda Grant said that the pantsuit “put women on an equal sartorial footing with men and “is what fashion gave to feminism” (“Feminism Was Built on the Trouser Suit,” The Guardian, June 3, 2008). The breaking down of the created distinction between male and female in the pop culture has, in turn, greatly contributed to the homosexual movement.
THE CORRUPTION OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
Law and order is being destroyed by humanistic psychology’s influence in the justice system. Generally speaking, thieves, rapists, thugs, murderers, kidnappers are not punished so much as pampered. The oppressed are twice oppressed, once by the thugs and again by the judicial system that should be protecting them and delivering true justice. Judges that release thugs to continue their thuggery should be held accountable, but they aren’t.
But this is not a new issue. One hundred years ago, Pastor John Straton, Calvary Baptist Church of New York City, preached against the budding tendency for American courts to capitulate to humanistic psychology and to coddle criminals rather than punish them. He said God is “not a mollycoddle ... and the present wave of crime and vice that is simply devastating America is the direct result of this false and flimsy teaching.”
THE CORRUPTION OF POLITICS
In truth, American politics has been a dirty business since its inception.
In the early 1800s, when some of the nation’s founders were still alive, American politics was described as “the great game of political brawling” (Peter Bernstein, Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation, Kindle location 3481).
Some banks refused credit to supporters of Thomas Jefferson. Newspapers were vicious in their opposition to candidates on the opposing political side. The reports were “descents into the gutter.” Jefferson’s opponents slanderously predicted that his election would result in the “teaching of murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest.”
Sounds like “Never Trumpers” to me.
DeWitt Clinton, Mayor of New York from 1825-1828, observed, “Our ingenuity has been employed, not in cultivating a vernacular literature, or increasing the stock of human knowledge; but in raising up and pulling down the parties which agitate the community. ... THE STYLE OF OUR POLITICAL WRITINGS HAS ASSUMED A CHARACTER OF RUDE INVECTIVE, AND UNRESTRAINED LICENTIOUSNESS, UNPARALLELED IN ANY OTHER PART OF THE WORLD, AND WHICH HAS GREATLY TENDED TO INJURE OUR NATIONAL CHARACTER” (Wedding of the Waters, Kindle location 3496).
New York’s Tammany party was formed during the lifetime of the founding fathers, and it was known for “corruption and unabashed stealing from public funds.” This was documented by Gustavus Myers in his 1901 book Tammany Hall.
In the 1850s, the anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party dominated elections in Baltimore “by preventing immigrants from voting or forcing them to choose Know-Nothing candidates.” They used intimidation, riots, kidnapping, and murder. “Know-Nothings also committed ‘cooping,’ which entailed imprisoning immigrants in cellars or sheds, getting them drunk, and making them vote repeatedly” for their party. A favorite tactic was jabbing voters with a shoemaker’s awl (similar to a short ice-pick) to frighten them away from the polls. “So beloved was the lowly awl that shortly before the presidential election in 1859, the American clubs engaged blacksmiths to forge them en masse, handed out flyers announcing their distribution, and incorporated the awl's image into club banners” (“Gangs of Baltimore,” Humanities, May/June 2008).
At the same time, “politics and patronage were unabashedly intertwined, and local bosses, especially among the Democrats, sought immigrant support through the promise of jobs and preferment” (“Gangs of Baltimore,” Humanities, May/June 2008).
The Kansas territorial election of 1855 was fraudulent. “Border ruffians forced their way to Kansas and demanded the election of the pro-slavery legislature. Despite the number of votes cast exceeding the number of registered voters in Kansas, Andrew Reeder, who was the governor of Kansas, approved the elections in an attempt to avert further violence” (“Most Rigged, Fraudulent, and Corrupt U.S. Elections,” WorldAtlas.com).
In 1876, the Democrat Party’s fraud and intimidation in the southern states brought the national presidential election itself into confusion. It has been called “the ugliest, most contentious and most controversial presidential election in U.S. history” (Smithsonian Magazine, Sept. 7, 2012). The states of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina submitted two sets of election returns with different results. South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Wade Hampton was a former Confederate general who used violence to silence the Republican majority. An estimated 150 blacks were murdered in that state by white supremacist Red Shirts, who were 100% Democrat (Nicholas Lemann, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, p. 174). Democratic presidential candidate Samuel Tilden and Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes each had 184 electoral votes, not counting the three disputed states. Rightly accusing the Democrats of fraud and intimidation, the Republicans contested the electoral ballots from the three Southern states. The nation had no duly elected president from November 1876 to late February 1877. With the country in a constitutional crisis, Congress set up a commission to settle the matter. It consisted of five U.S. representatives, five senators, and five Supreme Court justices, a total of 15 so there could be no tie vote. With eight of the 15 being Republican, the Democrats sought a private compromise. The Democrats would not filibuster the commission’s vote if the Republicans would agree to withdraw all federal troops from the South and the federal government would no longer interfere with Southern elections. This is called the Compromise of 1877. In spite of the agreement, there was talk of forming armed groups to march on Washington to forcibly install Tilden in office, but sitting president Ulysses Grant tightened military security to thwart any such attempt. Hayes was hated by Democrats throughout his term and derided as “His Fraudulency.” As part of the compromise, Southern Democrats had pledged that they would “recognize the civil and political equality of blacks.” This promise was not kept, to say the least.
In 1932, Louisiana political boss Huey Long defeated the opponents of his crony by funding fake candidates.
In 1936, political boss Tom Pendergast nearly ruined the election process in Kansas by registering up to 80,000 dead, sick, or nonexistent voters (“Most Rigged, Fraudulent, and Corrupt U.S. Elections,” WorldAtlas.com). In one ward, Pendergast candidates won by a ratio of 1,469 to 1.
In the 1950s America, which is looked upon nostalgically by many as a time when the nation was still “Christian,” Dwight Eisenhower called politics “a combination of gossip, innuendo, sly character assassination and outright lies” (John Wukovits, Eisenhower: A Biography).
THE CORRUPTION OF THE NEWS MEDIA
The corruption of the “mainstream media” is not new.
In the late 19th century, “yellow journalism” was born as a style of reporting that emphasized sensationalism. It was reckless, lurid, and provocative, anything to sell papers and increase circulation. Truth was of little or no concern. Politics was covered from an extreme partisan stance. The newspapers featured oversize headlines and color political cartoons.
The name “yellow journalism” was coined in the 1890s to describe the competition between two New York City newspapers, Joseph Pulitzer’s World and William Randolph Hearst’s Journal (Encyclopedia Britannica). It got its name from a popular cartoon in the World called the Yellow Kid from the yellow color of the hero. Hearst hired the cartoonist from Pulitzer, who then hired a new cartoonist to continue the Yellow Kid, resulting in the battle of the Yellow Kids.
In October 1910, New York City Mayor William Gaynor issued this warning: “They are absolutely without souls. ... The journalism of New York City has been dragged to the lowest depths of degradation. The grossest railleries and libels, instead of honest statements and fair discussion, have gone unchecked.” Two months earlier, Gaylor was shot in the neck in an assassination attempt. He blamed the attack “on the vitriolic yellow press that had poisoned the populace against him.”
By means of cable news, the internet, and social media, yellow journalism has risen to a realm unimaginable to Pulitzer and Hearst, but today’s “fake news” is nothing new.
What we see in America today has been a long time coming, with many contributing factors. We have mentioned only some of them.
In the 19th century, America’s destruction was sleeping, as the seeds were being sown through the dawning of theological modernism, Unitarianism, Darwinian evolution, Marxism, and Freudianism. By the 20th century, America’s destruction was creeping. Now in the 21st it’s leaping!
The time, prophetically, is very late. God has been very merciful to this wicked world. America’s great liberty has been part of that mercy. But the world passeth away, and America is part of the world.
It’s time for the redeemed to stop putting their affections on America more than on Christ’s kingdom. That is idolatry, and John ended his first epistle, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” It’s high time to awake from sleep and look up and do God’s will before it is too late. Christ gave His marching orders for the entire church age, and He repeated it multiple times so there would be no doubt (Mt. 28:18-20; Mr. 16:15; Lu. 24:44-48; Ac. 1:8), and His business hasn’t changed. He said, “Lo, I’m with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Christ’s Commission remains the same unto the very end of the age, to the day of the Rapture. Christ’s Commission isn’t nation building; it is church building. It is preaching the gospel to the lost before they perish. It is discipling those who believe, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has taught us, which is a very, very big job, a job that most churches aren’t doing. It involves building up the homes in Christ, educating every member to be skillful in God’s Word, training the children, discipling the youth, educating preachers, protecting the saints from the every wind of doctrine, preparing soldiers for spiritual warfare.
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9).
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Way of Life Literature
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Way of Life Literature
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