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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Thursday, July 4, 2002

"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).

Our National Anthem may be difficult to sing, but it has a rousing message that thrills the heart as few songs do. It was written by a great Christian, Francis Scott Key (1779-1843). He was born in 1779 in Maryland and grew up in a Christian home. As a child he read the Bible by the hour.

After graduating from college, Key was torn between entering the ministry or practicing law. After a long struggle, he chose law. As a young attorney, he was severely criticized for arguing the cases of slaves in court. He became a successful attorney in Washington D.C., where his brother-in-law, Roger B. Taney, was Chief Justice of the United States.

Francis Scott Key was a devout Christian. Twice every day he led his family in Bible study and prayer. He was an active member of his church in Washington. In 1824 he helped to found the American Sunday School Union, which was instrumental in founding Sunday Schools across the nation. He served as its vice president for 18 years.

All of his life he tithed his income. On his deathbed he instructed his wife about tithing his remaining money. He wrote letters to his wife and children, to be read after his death in 1843. He urged his children to be faithful to Christ. He wrote, "Remember that you do not possess yourselves, Christ has bought you and His precious blood was your price."

Today the U.S. flag flies 24 hours a day over his grave and monument at Frederick, Maryland. He was an outstanding patriot, and a loyal Christian.

Now think back with me to the occasion that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," our National Anthem. During the War of 1812 the British overcame American forces in Canada and then captured Washington, D.C., where they burned the White House to the ground, and forced the federal government to flee.

As the British fleet savaged Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore was about to fall. It if fell into the enemy's hands the United States would be crippled.

On September 15, 1814, Francis Scott Key, by then a young attorney, was negotiating with the British for the release of a prisoner. While Key was held on board an enemy ship, waiting for a reply, the British bombarded Ft. McHenry all night long.

Against the blackness of the night, Key watched "bombs bursting in air." He prayed for America, "Please, God, it has been Thy grace that has made our country strong. Preserve Thy handiwork and help us to stand as free men."

As the sun came up the next morning, Key looked out through the fog and battle smoke - and was thrilled to see the American flag still waving over the fort! He took a letter out of his pocket and wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the back of the envelope. It became a popular patriotic song. In 1931 Congress made it our National Anthem.

The second stanza ends with these words:

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto: In God is our trust!
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

The American people can still get things done - when they want to. The front page headlines of the newspapers illustrate this:

"Pledge of Allegiance Violates Constitution - Court Declares" - The phrase 'under God,' undermines separation of church and state, 9th Circuit [judges] decide" (Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2002).

"Court Stuns Nation With Latest Ruling" (Los Angeles Daily News, June 27, 2002).

Then, the next day, the headlines read:

"Keep God in the Pledge, An Angry Chorus Cries" (Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2002).

The article continued by saying,

ELK GROVE, Calif. - With as much pomp and circumstance as can be mustered at a sixth-grade graduation, the children strode into the gym. The youngster in the Fat Albert shirt smiled as proudly as the girl in the Mary Janes. Parents bent their necks like flamingos for the perfect snapshot.

And then, suddenly and spontaneously, as the crowd stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, a little slice of Americana turned into a big slab of patriotism.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag," the crowd at Morse Elementary School began, quietly at first. "And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, UNDER GOD!"

They screamed it. It used to be a throwaway line, mumbled by generations of children while trying to remember how to pronounce "indivisible." Now, in this Sacramento suburb and across California, those are fighting words.

All across America the people stood up and said "NO - we want the pledge to stay just the way it is!" Guess what? The court got the message - in one day!

Pledge of Allegiance ruling to get rehearing

Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, who authored the 2-1 opinion that the phrase "under God" crosses the line between church and state, stayed his decision - preventing it from taking effect (Los Angeles Daily News, June 28, 2002).

Even our left-wing governor, Gray Davis, took off his glasses and said he backs keeping the words "under God" in the pledge!

They got the message of those little kids at Morse Elementary School - "And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, UNDER GOD!" They screamed it - all across America! And guess what? The judge dropped it - the next day!

What would happen if we screamed, "NO, WE WILL NOT HAVE ABORTION!" What if we said that with the same fire and fervor that we put into the pledge last week?

I'll tell you what would happen - the long national nightmare of the Abortion Holocaust would end - that's what would happen! What if every Baptist preacher in America just said NO? What if we woke up and realized that abortion is a greater threat to us than Muslim terrorists? After all, they can't harm us if God is protecting us. And we cannot expect God's protection if we go on killing one-and-a-quarter  million babies a year.  Over 40 million children have already been exterminated by abortion.  What if all of our preachers expended themselves to lead our people to stop the killing?  What if we did the right thing instead of the easy thing?  What if we motivated our people to cause such a stink that the politicians and bureaucrats ended these exterminations?  Martin Luther King did that.  Why don’t we?  After all, our cause is even more important than his.

It was President Reagan who said:


Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves.  Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide (President Ronald Reagan, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, New York, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984, p. 38).


Will our preachers rise and lead us to stop this Holocaust? I don't think so. They will make excuses - and go on just the way they are. They won't do anything to stop the killings. That's why I don't think we'll be singing the National Anthem fifty years from now. In some way or other, by some means or other, God will judge us. America will be gone.

"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).

I am not predicting the end of the world - just the end of America.  I am not absolutely certain - but it doesn't look good.




Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"The Star-Spangled Banner" (by Francis Scott Key, 1779-1843).

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