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The 1987 immersion of a crucifix in urine by Andres Serrano showed contempt for organized religion. The piece made headlines two years later when it was shown to the public during a National Endowment for the Arts tour. When then-Sens. Al D’Amato and Jesse Helms saw the depraved piece, they helped pass a law requiring the NEA to consider “general standards of decency” in awarding grants. The uproar turned the picture, titled “Piss Christ,” into one of the key fighting fronts in the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s.
Serrano’s fellow NEA recipient, Robert Mapplethorpe, divided a nation over the question of whether the government had the right to censor art.
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Conservatives will strongly defend the First Amendment. There’s no doubt. But when the shock experienced by the public is so strong as to offend adults and not take into account the tender consciences of children, common sense suggests it should be eliminated from public view. It contributes nothing to the positive momentum of society.
Denying the existence of God, making fun of God-appointed authorities, offending the beliefs of millions of people and making any source other than the Bible the fountain of truth helps us understand that all are born into sin and sin is in us from the start.
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What we’re simply seeing now in our society is the working out of depravity in the heart and mind, as people decide to not recognize the jurisdiction and authority of God’s law and human lawgivers. It reveals itself as coming from the hearts, minds and hands of those who hate God enough to wish the death of any (or all) authority figures prescribed by our Constitution. It also reveals people who have become their own god and who, by their works, dismiss the possibility of eternal punishment in hell that awaits them, according to the Bible.
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In an 1803 election sermon to the Connecticut legislature, the Rev. Mathias Burnet affirmed that without a sense of accountability to God and His eternal judgment, government would indeed become corrupt: “Feeble … would be the best form of government, and ineffectual the most wise and salutary laws … without a sense of religion and the terrors of the world to come … In a word, banish a sense of religion and the terrors of the world to come from society, and you at once dissolve the sacred obligation of conscience and leave every man to that which is right in his eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8; Judges 17:6, 21:25).
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Each person believing and obeying God is a recipe for a successful society.
Each person becoming his or her own god is a recipe for destruction and death. We all must make this binary choice.
Sam Rohrer is president of the American Pastors Network, a national network of pastors with constitutional and biblical teachings that discusses today’s pressing issues. He was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for 18 years and a candidate for governor in 2010, and is co-host of the daily “Stand in the Gap Today” national radio program on 425 stations.
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