July 13, 2009
Contributed by Humphrey Stevenson
After a week of sunshine and scorching temperatures, Independence Day in Tulsa dawned gray and rainy. No problem, forget the straw hat and sunscreen, grab the trusty umbrella. I'm not missing this for the world, a TEA Party on the Fourth of July. Soon after I arrived, I overheard a member of The USA Patriots, who organized the event, comment to another that the crowd may be small due to the weather, but these are the ones you can count on. After a few minutes delay, the program opened with a prayer and a singing of the National Anthem. I don't think I've ever heard a sweeter sound than a couple of hundred waterlogged right-wing extremists, who between them couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, lift their voices to sing the Star Spangled Banner.
Pastor Jason Murphy of the New Life Church in Owasso, OK recounted stories of the founding of this nation. The Black-Robed Regiment were an unofficial group of pastors during the American Revolution, so named because of their habit of wearing black robes while in the pulpit, who were also patriots supporting the revolution. Their denominations varied, but all preached that freedom and independence were precious gifts of God.
On April 18, 1775 John Adams and John Hancock were at the home of Rev. Jonas Clarke, a Lexington pastor, farmer, militia leader and member of the Black-Robed Regiment. Rev. Clarke would routinely train and drill his Minutemen (also his parishioners) each week after church and dinner on the ground. That night Paul Revere arrived to warn them of the approaching British army. The next morning as the Redcoats arrived on Lexington green, British Major Pitcairn shouted to the assembled regiment of Minutemen; "Disperse, ye villains, lay down your arms in the name of George the Sovereign King of England." The immediate response of Rev. Jonas Clarke or one of his men was; "We know no sovereign but God and no King but Jesus Christ." A shot rang out; no one knows for sure who fired it. The American Revolution had begun.
Another member of the Black-Robed Regiment was a young minister named Peter Muhlenberg. On January 21, 1776, he took to the pulpit and delivered a fiery sermon declaring that the colonists have religious justification for breaking from the crown. His sermon was based on the Book of Ecclesiastes: "There is a time for war and a time for peace, and this is a time for war." As his sermon ended, Muhlenberg removed his black robe to reveal the uniform of an officer in the Continental Army. He then marched out of the church and three hundred men joined him.
Pastor Murphy exhorted the crowd that if you want to stay prosperous, stay free. Our prosperity is a product of our freedom. Don't believe it? Go to any totalitarian nation in the world and try to find prosperity there. You won't, not to the level that we enjoy it here. We have the most prosperous poor of anywhere in the world. The poverty line for a single person in the United States is $10,830 per year. Most of the poor in the rest of the world won't earn that much money in their entire lifetime.
A local reporter arrived to get a couple of interviews. He selected a gentleman near me who had his five-year-old son on his shoulders. The reporter asked, "Why are you here? Isn't this just about taxes?" The man replied that, of course, taxes are part of it but more importantly we see our liberties under assault. He reminded the reporter that our freedoms and liberties were not granted by the Constitution. The Constitution simply states that the Federal Government cannot usurp these rights because they were granted to us by God.
Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate Randy Brogden stopped by to say a few words. It was not your usual stump speech. His message was that the Federal Government had far overstepped its bounds and must be reigned in. Finally, a politician that gets it, that's the message of the soggy patriots. We're capable of governing ourselves. We don't need the nanny state. You may think that we're all wet and on this day, we were, dripping wet and proud of it.