Written by Kevin Dunne. Media by Jess Sturgeon.
This year’s Ormond Church & State Lecture welcomed Tad Armstrong to Greenville College on April 10th. Armstrong, a practicing attorney in Edwardsville and author of the book, It’s OK To Say God, spoke during the chapel hour and in Snyder 104. In chapel, Armstrong spoke about the importance of being informed and educated about the Constitution, important Supreme Court cases dealing with religion, and the gradual loss of freedoms. Dr. Richard Huston, head of the history department at Greenville College, introduced Armstrong at both chapel and the colloquium.
Armstrong spoke very passionately about these pressing issues that affect our country today and what we can to do combat the forces of ignorance. He has even set up Constitution clubs, which he is active in, to help educate people about U.S. history, the Constitution, and the processes and roles of the government. One of the overarching themes was why the issue of church and state, expressly pertaining to Christianity, has become so widespread. Armstrong proposed that the demographics have changed. It is not the Constitution, by and large, that has changed, it’s the people. The fact that Christian representation has diminished, Armstrong believes, causes so many issues.
Professors, students, community members, and the like showed up to hear Tad Armstrong speak more in-depth at the colloquium. One of the main examples Armstrong had was that of nativity scenes being set up on town property. As it is, legislation allows not just for Christian religions to set up a display, but for all religions to, be it the Atheist Creed or a Menorah. The government must basically allow for any display of any religion, even if it extreme and unorthodox, which can generate controversy. Armstrong said that Christians are at the helm of these legislative changes, doing more harm than good. Christians are focusing on the exclusive right to put up things like nativity scenes and not wanting other religions, held in the minority, to have similar rights. Instead of focusing on things Christians should, helping the poor, sharing the gospel, etc.,they are caught up and intertwined in government affairs. We as Christians, Armstrong believes, rely too much on government to pass laws that deal with Christianity. If we want to institute a national day of prayer, we shouldn’t have to have the government okay it; as a body of Christ,we should do it ourselves. This way, there are no restrictions or limits to the event. By disengaging from petty affairs in the government, Christians can be more active and actually help do Christ’s work instead of hinder it. Armstrong also believes that there should be a “short fence” between the separation of church and state and said that Christians have “so much to do with Christ’s message, that we shouldn’t wrestle in mud with government.” Armstrong wanted to share knowledge and the need to educate the nation and combat ignorance of the Constitution. He stated that as a nation and as Christians, we “have to smother ignorance,” because it is the “most serious threat to our country.”
At the end of the lecture, Armstrong opened up the floor to questions. Several poignant questions were raised and a debate even started from one audience member. It seemed that everybody left a little more enlightened because of Tad Armstrong. It was a pleasure to hear somebody speak so passionately about such a major issue that tends to be ignored by Christians. As a Christian campus, I think we could take note of some of Armstrong’s points and apply it to our lifestyles. By respecting the views of others (even if we don’t necessarily agree with them) and focusing our energies on what matters to Christ (helping the less fortunate and the like), we can make an actual positive impact in the world.