I read a news story the other day that the University of California-Irvine student government voted 6-4 (with two abstentions) in favor of removing all flags, including the U.S. flag, from its student offices.
The measure listed 25 reasons for taking down the flag--including the assertion that freedom of speech can be interpreted as “hate speech.”
Many noted that the flag the student government had voted to ban had flown above those who fought and died to win the very same freedom of speech they found hateful.
Thankfully, the measure was quickly vetoed by the college’s executive cabinet. It now goes back to the student government where it could still be passed if it receives a two-thirds majority to overturn the veto.
In a seemingly unrelated news story, there is a group called the Republic of Texas which claims the State of Texas was never legally joined to the United States. As such, they claim that Texas is its own nation and they have minted their own coins, elected their own officials, and sent a letter to the Governor of Oklahoma disputing the border of that state with their sovereign nation—among other things.
Recently, local, state, and federal law enforcement officials (including some FBI agents) raided one of the group’s meetings at a VFW hall because they had issued a summons to a judge to submit proof of his authority.
The local Sheriff, Rusty Hierholzer, says he has no problem with the group, but when they violate the laws of the state by producing documents that simulate a summons or court order, he is duty-bound to enforce the laws of the state.
But some local officials really don’t think there’s a problem with the group.
“They’re a harmless, clueless and interesting group of generally nice older guys with too much time on their hands,” said Jerry Patterson, a former Texas land commissioner, who recalled receiving Republic letters demanding he vacate the office.
The Republic’s President, John Jarneke, (72) acknowledges that most of the group’s letters to public officials are generally thrown in the trash with no further thought.
Added into all this mix is that a former leader of the group, Richard McLaren, and a few of his followers took two hostages back in 1997 and engaged in an armed week-long standoff with law enforcement. One of the McLaren's followers was shot by Texas Rangers and McLaren and the others went to prison for a very long time.
The current group claims they have absolutely no ties to McLaren or any of his faction.
While there was no violence or arrests in the recent raid at the VFW, that group has banned The Republic from meeting at its facilities again, so the next “congressional session” will be held at the Ace Buffet and Grill in Waco.
So what do the two stories have to do with each other?
Well, the first one made me want to secede from this world and the second one showed me the error of that desire.
Both the young students in California and the elderly folks in Texas, although at opposite ends of the political spectrum, have slipped off the edges of their respective flat worlds.
Both are advocating for what they think is a “better way” but which can only lead to fractionalization and factions. They have embraced the wedge that drives us apart into increasingly smaller bits and pieces.
As a Christian, I have been admonished to be in the world, but not of the world. I cannot secede from the world, but neither should I succumb to it.
Lord, please grant that while I am in this world, my feet would be firmly planted on the ground, going to those you put me here to love and serve in the name of Jesus. Grant that my hands would be joined with others in service and prayer. Grant that my eyes and my heart would always be focused on what is above and beyond this world. Amen.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14 NIV)