Can a President Nurture National Righteousness?

This is a question many believers will be asking in 2024.

By Ron Hale Published on March 24, 2024

Shawn Fleetwood, writing for The Federalist, asserts that President Joe Biden lied 30 times in his recent State of the Union address. A comprehensive list of his “whoppers” can be found here.

Meanwhile, CNN and MSNBC have accused Donald Trump of lying so consistently that they refuse to air his speeches.

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama told Pastor Rick Warren of California’s Saddleback Church: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

According to his own top campaign advisor David Axelrod, Obama was lying when he said that. He secretly supported same-sex marriage even then, but knew that position could cost him the election. While running for re-election four years later, Obama told America his beliefs had evolved on same-sex marriage and now he approved of it.

And who can forget President Bill Clinton on our TV screens, waving a finger and insisting he did not have sexual relations with “that woman.”

Just this past week, Special Counsel Robert Hur confirmed that Biden lied when he, too, stood in a press conference and denied mishandling or sharing any classified information throughout his career.

Is lying still a sin in 2024?

The Big Ten & Sin

The Ninth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The abbreviated version of this is: “Thou shalt not lie.” Since God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone with His own finger of fire, this suggests the enduring nature of His truth. Yes! Lying is still a sin in 2024.

In 1973, the same year Richard Nixon said, “I am not a crook” months before being forced to resign for corruption, Dr. Karl Menninger asked America a haunting question: Whatever became of sin? He explains:

The very word ‘sin,’ which seems to have disappeared, was a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. It described a central point in every civilized human being’s life plan and lifestyle. But the word went away. It has almost disappeared — the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore? Doesn’t anyone believe in sin?

Dr. Menninger (1893-1990) was a preeminent American psychiatrist awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter in 1981. He wrote powerfully about how Congress established a National Day of Prayer, requiring each president to proclaim and observe it. President Harry S. Truman kicked off that tradition in 1952, and a year later, President Dwight Eisenhower cited part of President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 speech referencing the biblical word: sin.

Lincoln was the first Republican president and the most theological, as Menninger quoted him saying:

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.

It is very possible that Lincoln also was the last American president to use the word “sin” to describe our nation’s moral failures. Can we assume that America has stopped officially “sinning” since Lincoln’s death?

Positions of Influence

Menninger contended that America faced a cultural shift in responsibility in the interim. The church’s responsibility for addressing sin dwindled while the government’s responsibility grew larger as they dealt with crime and punishment. Instead of breaking the laws of God and being sinners in need of forgiveness, people are now seen as breaking the laws of the state and being … criminals. Priests and preachers encourage the sinner to confess, repent, and live righteously. Lawyers recommend that their clients plead “not guilty” and trust them to win their legal case.

Sadly, in 2024, many churches are not taking sin seriously. Plus, many politicians, lawyers, and judges are not taking crime seriously. Dangerous felons are hastily released from jail to hurt more innocent citizens. The case of Laken Riley reminds us the illegal immigrant charged with her murder broke multiple laws, including entering the United States illegally in 2022.

An American president can play a leading role in nurturing righteousness while in office. As Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation.”

After Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration in 1953, he was baptized at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. This made him the first U.S. president to be baptized while in office.

While meeting with evangelist Billy Graham several times on the campaign trail, Eisenhower seemed to gain a spiritual vision for post-war America. He said, “I think one of the reasons I was elected was to help lead this country spiritually.” He went on to say, “We need a spiritual renewal.”

The new president gave an address from the Oval Office for the American Legion, calling America back to her spiritual foundations. A few days later, he was the guest of honor at the first National Prayer Breakfast, thereby setting in place a new tradition.

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In 1954, Eisenhower was instrumental in Congress adding “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. Very soon, that slogan was added to the American postage stamp and our paper currency. Church attendance shot up to an all-time high of 69% by 1960.

Seventy years later, the fact remains: An American president can play a leading role in nurturing righteousness while in office. As Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation.”

Hope in the Face of Fleeting Faith

But just as with ancient Israel, it is shocking how quickly a nation can backslide.

As much as America needs proper governing policies, our nation stands in need of a sweeping spiritual awakening and revival.

With both Donald Trump and Joe Biden securing the presidential nominations of their respective parties, the 2024 campaign is now in full swing. Many Americans are dreading the lawfare and partisan politics ahead.

We are also approaching Easter Sunday. We can be thankful that Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6) on the cross of Calvary. His death and shed blood atoned for ALL our sins: the sins of pagans, preachers, peons, and pundits — even presidents. And that precious blood is applied when we personally repent while asking Jesus for forgiveness.

Collectively, if we will humble ourselves, pray and seek God’s face, turning from our wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14), God has promised to heal America.

Our nation’s history proves that some of our presidents understood these spiritual realities to the great benefit of our nation. May they do so once again.

Hallelujah, Christ is risen!

 

Ron F. Hale is an interim pastor and freelance writer. He has authored articles for The Stream, The Christian Post, The Christian Index, American Thinker, and various Baptist State Convention newspapers.

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