Storm Clouds are Gathering—Again!

Majestic United States Flag

The ACLU has filed complaints against four schools in Indiana, California, New Jersey, and Oklahoma and New Jersey. Their crime? The have used a sign with “God Bless America.” The complaints demand that the schools remove the words “God Bless America” from their signs, alleging that the phrase is hurtful, divisive and a violation of the constitution.

How far can America implode? Recall that just a few years ago, all of Congress stood outside the Capitol and sang, “God Bless America.” The occasion was just after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. After that infamous date, the song was heard often. It has been only 14 years!

Irving Berlin composed that song in 1918. It sat in his desk drawer for twenty years until 1938. Here is the original:

God bless America, land that I love

Stand beside her and guide her

Through the night with a light from above

From the mountains, to the prairies

To the oceans white with foam

God bless America

My home sweet home

The song was popularized by Kate Smith after a preamble was added. Here’s the complete version:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea

Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God bless America, land that I love

Stand beside her and guide her

Through the night with a light from above

From the mountains, to the prairies

To the oceans white with foam

God bless America

My home sweet home

Notice that the song, so often sung in a celebratory mood today was popularized as a “solemn prayer.” Why? World War II had not yet broken out, but the rapidly gathering dark clouds of war were unmistakably clear, especially to families who had already lost loved ones in World War just twenty years before.

Famed singer Kate Smith introduced the song in her Armistice Day (now called Veteran’s Day) radio broadcast, November 11, 1938. It was just a day after the senseless, tragic Kristallnacht, a series of deadly Nazi attacks on Jews throughout Germany and Austria.

Estimates vary widely, but hundreds died during that horrific two night period. Another 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Over 1000 synagogues were burned and over 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed or damaged.

The rapidly gathering dark clouds of war were inescapable. That is why “God Bless America” was a solemn prayer.

But today, it is 2015. There is some saber rattling going on in North Korea. Terrorists from a variety of organizations are wreaking worldwide havoc and causing unspeakable violence, without much apparent opposition. Certainly, those are dark clouds of our time.

But there are even darker clouds with even more formidable consequences. They are the dark clouds of America’s apostasy. America has increasingly abandoned God and the Judeo-Christian principles that made America great.

Others have said that judgment follows desecration. Scripture proclaims, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether good or evil.” [Ecclesiastes 12:14 NIV] Also, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” [Proverbs 12:34 NIV]

Now is a good time to go back and read the lyrics (no music please) of the expanded version of “God Bless America.” Read it; pray it as a heart wrenching “solemn prayer.”

While you are at it, pray for the ACLU!

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

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