The Other Terrorism
by John Warrener
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 my mind struggled to comprehend what I was seeing on the television. As I saw the second airliner hit the World Trade Center, its collapse, and then the collapse of the other tower, my mind kept struggling to interpret these images as some formula disaster movie and not the worst foreign assault upon America in her history. How can this be, it cannot be real!
Reason returned quickly along with reality. We have been attacked by terrorists. I prayed, "Please God, do not let them be Americans, again." Only later would my mind allow me to comprehend in only a token manner the immense death and grief these video images symbolized. A week later, I still cannot fully comprehend the grief. Patriotism and indignation are much more "user-friendly" emotions to bear at the present. It is much more bearable for the heart to swell with pride for our American hero's than for it to break with such overwhelming sorrow for its victims.
What will be our new President's first response? The answer came quickly—prayer for the victims, prayer! What will be our lawmakers first response? It was prayer, sung to the tune of God Bless America, as I watched our Congressional leaders petition God to bless America, "...stand by her, and guide her, through the night with the light from above." It was an inspiring sight if you did not look too closely as the camera panned and paused on well known senators and representatives.
This grand and patriotic show of solidarity with the President united Americans and brought to a momentary halt the partisan bickering and politics that a day before they represented. For this, I am very grateful. Yet as the cameras zoomed in, a much more subtle irony was being revealed. I saw some congressmen and women struggling to call upon God for aid and blessing in these dark moments. It was as if some of them were trying to swallow a bite of two day old South Georgia road kill. These were the same national leaders that refused to include "so help me God" in swearing in procedures. They were also the most vocal opponents of school prayer and critical of court houses displaying the Ten Commandments. But, in the moment of our national crises, they were force by God's providence through the media eye to call upon God or face an angry constituency at home for refusing to pray, "God bless America.". It was as if God was saying, "You try to deny me in government and society; now, try to deny me before the American people in the midst of this dark night in their history."
September 11, 2001 became a day of infamy, but also a day when the nation prayed without fear, lead by our President and Congress. The founding fathers would be proud and I believe God smiled a smile of hope amidst His tears for all the lost souls who perished in Washington D. C., New York and Pennsylvania. Prayer returned to America as our first strike against terrorism. Thank God.
My 13 year old daughter and her schoolmates led the second strike against terrorism. She was so moved by this national call to prayer by our President and the example of Congress that she was inspired to gather her schoolmates together and organize a memorial service at Albany Mall to remember the lost and lead Albany in prayer. The Mall's outside reader board pronounced to all of Albany, "GOD BLESS AMERICA." She called to inquire about renting the stage near the food court and the Albany Mall management graciously and patriotically said yes, and there would be no charge. Thank you Albany Mall!
But, the affects of a more subtle form of terrorism, almost imperceptible, was then revealed. At the last minute, the Mall management informed us that we would not be allowed to lead a prayer on the stage. The Mall could proclaim "God Bless America" on the outside sign, but they were afraid to let someone lead prayer on the inside of the Mall. Good people, like the gracious manager we dealt with, were afraid to allow middle school children to do what our President called us to do, pray. Even our children's school teachers and administrators were afraid to pray in these tragic moments of history. A moment of silence is a meaningless substitute for calling upon the God in whom we trust as our national anthem instructs in its last verse.
Teachers are terrified to pray before our children. Merchants are terrified to allow children to pray in answer to the call and example of their president. Some preachers are terrified to lead others in public prayer if it will be deemed politically incorrect. America has been under attack by godless laws and institutions and are afraid to pray.
Sunday, September 16, 2001, my 13 year old daughter and small group of middle school children practiced a most sacred American tradition in Albany Mall—dissent and civil disobedience. We prayed! We left the stage, gathered in a circle in the Mall, and invited others to pray the Lord's Prayer. Sunday at 2:45pm a small group of US citizens declared war and made our "first strike" against the "other terrorism"; our society's denial of our children the freedom and right of public prayer.
Our recent history has proved that not all terrorist acts are foreign in origin. Columbine High School terrorists, Harris and Klebold, were Americans raised in a nationally regulated school system that made our teachers and children afraid to pray. American terrorist Timothy McVeigh was also raised in Americans schools that forbid the right to prayer of our children. The American terrorists were denied the experience I had for the first six years of my schooling (my parents experienced all 12 grades). They never heard or knew anyone in school to pray daily to the God we are petitioning to Bless America. The question we must ask ourselves is, what might have happened if Harris, Klebold, and McVeigh heard and observed some role model in school pray every day of their 13 years of school experience. Would they have hated human life and their nation a little less, if they directly experienced faithful and patriotic Americans pray at least 2,340 times in their lives? Would they have chosen dissent and civil disobedience instead of terror to address their grievances?
September 11th, President George W. Bush lead a nation in prayer as the first strike against the terrorism from without. A group of middle school children led a Mall in a first strike against the terrorism from within our nation. When will America strike against this "other terrorism," the terrorism from within, with the same first strike weaponry of our national leader.
It seems a presumptuous and hypocritical petition, "God bless America," when we have worked so diligently to deny Him in government and to our children. I pray God's mercy is greater than our national unfaithfulness. Our national motto is still, "In God We Trust." If America's blessing is dependant upon God, then we might want to consider seeking His face. President George W. Bush began with prayer, the children in Albany Mall heard the call and obeyed. Will America follow and end the terrorism against our children's prayers. Our success over our enemies may depend upon it. Let us pray for it.
Oh, Lord your people cry, "let our children pray." "God bless America." Amen
Rev. John Warrener, pastor Holy Hands Christian
229 432-5418 h, 229 639-2428 office
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