"Why do we continue to deny the reality of our history? Many of
our leaders seek divine guidance in their decision making. That is not the same as an organized religion imposing her will on the government." -- Dr. Tom Gulbronson
Published in Cumberland Times-News Letters January 14, 2009. (Written by Dr. Tom Gulbronson, current senior pastor at Springfield, West Virginia, Assembly of God Church and distinguished national leader.)
To the Editor:
In a recent article published by the Cumberland Times-News, mention was made of President Kennedy’s speech to the Houston Ministerial Association in 1960 (”Heed what JFK said about church and state,” Jan. 9 Times-News).
We must understand the context of the times in order to properly interpret the speech.
At this time there was a lot of anti-Catholic sentiment in America. There was fear that if Kennedy were elected President, the Pope would impose the will of the church on the government. Mr. Kennedy was assuring mostly Protestant clergy that the church would not impose her will upon the government.
This was not an indictment against politicians who were people of faith that shared Judeo-Christian Values.
Our history is replete with men and women of faith who voiced their values in political speeches and policies. That is entirely different from the church imposing her will on the government. George Washington declared “You cannot rightly govern the world without God and the Bible”.
All politicians bring their background into office. Whether atheist, Jewish, Christian or whatever, their value system influences their policies and voting.
The first Continental Congress opened with prayer. Every session of Congress since then has begun with prayer. In March 1998, I opened a session of Congress with prayer. It is in the congressional record (pages H917 and H 918).
Why do we continue to deny the reality of our history? Many of our leaders seek divine guidance in their decision making. That is not the same as an organized religion imposing her will on the government.
The first amendment was also written to keep the government from imposing her will on the church. It has served as a protection for the church and the government.
Dr. Tom Gulbronson
Fort Ashby, W.Va.
Here is Dr. Gulbronson's prayer that opened Congress on March 10, 1998:
Our gracious Heavenly Father, the
one who gives grace to all people, we
exalt Your name and implore Your
righteousness. Thank You for this day
and this particular time in history.
You have blessed this Nation and we
trust that You will continue to do so.
May You draw together this great
country of many cultures under the
banner of love.
We thank You for these lawmakers
that have dedicated their lives to the
service of this great Nation. May You
continue to give each one of us
strength and the fortitude to make
choices according to Your divine will.
May we walk in love, humility,
gentleness, patience and peace, which
are the attributes that the Apostle
Paul described as worthy of our vocation
or calling. By faith, we receive
these blessings and glorify You.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
This TRIBUTE TO REVEREND THOMAS F. GULBRONSON was presented before Congress that day, following Dr. Gulbronson's prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, by Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia, former mayor of Alexandria:
I do not know when it was that Pastor
Tom Gulbronson realized what a
gift from God and a calling for God
that he had. It may have been when he
was serving in the United States Air
Force. I do know that since serving his
country in the Air Force, Pastor Tom
has been a pastor for 40 years. In fact,
20 of those years he has been Pastor at
the First Assembly of God Church in
Now, during that period of time he
has gotten all kinds of awards, and I
could list all of them, and he has spoken
on the 700 Club and he has become
nationally known, both for his sermons
and his books and his leadership. But
we know him because he is a dynamic
figure in our community. People gather
together under his leadership and
are inspired by his commitment to God
and to the principles that he has dedicated
his life to.
So it is a particular pleasure to have
him address this body this day. I thank
the majority leader for arranging it. I
thank Pastor Tom for all of the many,
many years that he has served our
community and our country. Thank