• Mark Ledbetter

The Demise of a Nation

There’s battle lines being drawn, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong…[1]

Recording artist Stephen Stills wrote For What It’s Worth in 1966 and then recorded by Buffalo Springfield in a time when the United States was locked in a moral and political struggle over Vietnam. It came to be known in some circles as one of the first, if not the first, protest songs during those volatile years.

Amid this confusion and chaos Stills lyrics became definitive of the struggle for mastery of the American Conscience.

Division in America To suggest the United States in a state of deep division would be an understatement. Politically the nation could not be more polarized than it is now. While the issues themselves are divisive enough, the rhetoric, both verbal and in print, used against opponents serves as a hammer deeply driving the wedge tearing our nation apart.

Consider the last few election cycles. Many of President Trump’s defenders repudiating the nasty rhetoric aimed at the President have a short memory. Can anyone recall how slanderous the words of the right were against President Obama? Remember the “birther” controversy, of accusations Obama was an advocate for Islam. For his social justice agenda Obama and his supporters were maligned.

Or do we remember how the Obama administration kept blaming their problems on the previous president, George Bush?

Then enter all but forgotten Democratic National Convention, with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s endorsement, portrayal of Trump’s election as stolen based on a bogus dossier suggesting Trump’s victory resulted with his collusion with the Russians.

As the 2020 election advanced, President Trump early floated the possibility the Democrats will steal the election. As the November election bore down, Trump doubled down on the possibility. When the results declared Biden the winner, Trump ramped up the accusation, fighting the results of the election, and continues to insist the election was stolen.

While some become incensed and others roll their eyes as former President Donald Trump continues to advocate the election was stolen from him, many are quick to forget that the Democratic Committee’s allegation the election had been stolen from Clinton.

Perhaps Trump’s accusations would have faded from memory as quickly as Clinton’s if it hadn’t been for the infamous events of January 6, 2020. There are no vivid images to sustain the DNC’s established attempt to “steal” the election, at least none so dramatic as the “protesters” occupying Capitol Hill.

Both allegations and the accusations and the rhetoric continue to inflame the reason and sensibilities of many.

Now that we have entered the President Biden era, critics are relentless in drawing attention to his age, his stumbling across words and Air Force One’s access ramp, etc., while pointing out what some attribute to dementia.[2] Also, very unkind remarks have been directed towards Vice-President Kamala Harris.

But what does it matter? It is the American Way!

Nothing New Under the Sun” – Solomon, Ecclesiastes 1:9

This is not new to American Politics and, in fact, is taken from the political playbook as far back as 1801 when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson faced off for the Presidential election.

Until the adoption of the Constitution, the governing principles of the Nation were regulated collectively by a series of Continental Congresses. The Constitution (1787) called for the election of a President, and George Washington was inaugurated April 30, 1789.

Without political parties there only political persuasions divided between the Federalists who lobbied for the adoption of the Constitution and those opposed and insisted on autonomy of the Colonies. It was during Washington’s tenure that two political parties emerged, The Federalists, who supported a strong national government and the Democrat-Republican Party (an oxymoron in today’s political terms) who supported states’ rights. Key figures in Federalist included Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and John Marshall, while Thomas Jefferson and James Madison spearheaded the Democrat-Republican party.

Washington’s vice-president, John Adams, backed by the Federalist won the election to serve as the second President but then defeated in by the Democrat-Republican Candidate, Thomas Jefferson in 1801.

A fierce rivalry developed between the parties. As the campaigning ramped up, the Federalist knew Jefferson was a Deist, resisted calling for national days of thanksgiving, and mounted a campaign against Jefferson by portraying him as irreligious, atheist, and infidel. In today’s terms, they “weaponized” religion attempting to turn his rising popularity.

Jefferson did not help his cause when he invited author of The Age of Reason, the “atheist bible,” Thomas Payne to return from France, something the Federalist considered as an “open and daring insult offered to the Christian religion.”

Jefferson had responded to his attackers by tying them to the English Monarch, George III, who as “the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church,” and using national animosity towards England to portray the Federalists as anarchist seeking to “reverse the Revolution by reimposing a British-style monarchy on the United States.” In effect Jefferson suggested the Federalist’s aim was to establish a church by law and therefore “open a door to the introduction of an ecclesiastical tyranny.”

Whether in a late 17th century setting or in our Post-Modern world, Fake News is another word for libel, slander and/or gossip, and condemned by Jewish Tradition, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul. It incites baseless hatred for others, is deeply divisive, and for an already fractious nation, fuels the deep divides we are now witnessing in the U.S.

The Demise of Nations

The Rabbis teach that it is the destructive power of the lashon hora, “the evil tongue,” led to the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and keeps it in ruins today. The Temple served as the Shechinah’s dwelling place among God’s chosen people. The Jews at the time of the second Temple were pious scholars and fervently devoted to God, and yet, because of divisiveness among the people, God allowed His house to be destroyed. The reason for this national disaster they attribute to sinas chinam, or baseless hatred and created by evil speech.

No doubt some will find such notion as without merit but if we look at the events recorded in Matthew 12:22-32 what we find there gives credibility to the Jewish tradition. The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by being in league with Beelzebub the ruler of the demons. Jesus denied any relationship with Satan and stated that it was through the power of Holy Spirit that the demoniac was delivered. Jesus then said:

“Therefore, I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:31-32)

Consider what Jesus spoke in continuation of His rebuke of the Pharisees:

“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)

Perhaps the more telling words of Jesus are, "Any Kingdom divided against itself is laid wasted; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand" (Ibid., vv.25).

Jesus also prophesied the Temple's destruction, even how the Romans would build ramparts in order to sack the city and topple the Temple (Matthew 24:2; Luke 19:43-44).

Defining the Sins of Speech

Gossip, slander, and the false witness – all are forms of sins of speech that create rechilus or fosters animosity. Jesus and the Apostles condemn and warn about the dire consequences not only for the one whom is the victim of these sins, but for the one speaking, and the one who hears the evil speech.


Gossip is the spreading of negative information about another that should not be repeated – even if it is true. We are not to diminish the character of anyone under any circumstances whether with our speech or the things we post on social media. The Apostle Paul condemns "malicious gossip" (2 Timothy 3:3) and lists gossip among the sins of strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, arrogance, disturbances..." (2 Corinthians 12:20).

Slander (or Libel)

Slander is the malicious spreading of negative accusations against another with the intent to destroy the image of the individual in the eyes of others. Unlike gossip, where the intent is just to spread juicy tidbits that others readily want to hear, slander is designed to assassinate the character of others. Recall Jesus teaching in Matthew 5:22, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and who ever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.

Our words not only injure another’s spirit, cast doubt upon his character in the eyes of others, but could have social and even fiscal impact for their victims, viz., hurting their business or employment, as well as separate family and friends.

False Witness – Lies

Bearing false witness is manufacturing lies deliberately designed to destroy another’s character. Christians do not repeat “Fake News”!!!!!!!

What Shall We Do?

Deeply divided, our enemies wait in anticipation of America’s demise, while we, with our evil tongues drive the final nails into the Nation’s coffin. If there is any hope, then we must do the following:


Repentance is more than changing one’s mind. It includes an outward response to an inward change of heart and character.


There must be a conscious act of guarding our speech and refraining from responding to others in a demeaning manner. The Psalmist asks, "Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it" Psalm 34:12-14


By example and sensitive confrontation, we must seek to correct others by pointing out the damage they are doing, not only by contributing to the failure of the United States, but to the demise of personal relationships, families, business relationships, Churches, etc.

We must ask ourselves, "What will promote peace, bring healing?" More importantly, what would honor God?

Jesus teaches: “Blessed are the peacemakers [not the provokers], for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

There are more civil ways to address one another, even when we disagree.

End Notes [1] “For What It’s Worth,” written by Stephen Stills, released by Buffalo Springfield (1966).

[2] Having watched my father succumb to the effects of Lewy Body Dementia, I find myself more empathetic to President Biden’s symptoms. If he does indeed suffer from some form of dementia, if any anger is to be directed it should be towards his handlers who are exploiting him for the sake of their political agenda.

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