(Editor's note: Al Gist is the founder and director of Maranatha Evangelistic Ministries, located in Longville, Louisiana. He conducts Bible prophecy conferences and takes pilgrimage groups to Israel. He also publishes an insightful newsletter which you can sign up to receive at maranathaevangelisticministries.com. This article is taken from one of his newsletters.)
When I was a boy, my Dad took me to the movie theater to see the 1957 classic "Old Yeller." Not only was it a great treat to go to the movies back then, but this was the only time I remember my father ever taking me to the movies. So, maybe that's why this particular movie made such an impact on my young mind and I still remember it to this day.
The plot of the story is about a young boy who is given the responsibility of caring for his mother, younger brother and their ranch in the 1860's while his father is away on a cattle drive. During that time, a yellow mongrel turns up at the ranch and eventually proves to be the boy's best friend and help, even saving his life on one occasion from a group of wild hogs. Unfortunately, the dog contracts rabies and the boy has the heart-breaking job of putting him down to protect himself and his family from the fatal disease. I can remember how I cried when Travis had to shoot "Old Yeller."
The Nature of Rabies
This was probably my first exposure to the disease of rabies. And even though it didn't involve me directly, it certainly made an emotional impact on me. How could something so good (Old Yeller) die from what at first appeared to be something so minor (a small bite)?
Rabies, if left untreated, is a horrible, 100% fatal disease. It is most often transmitted to its human victim via a bite from an infected, symptomatic animal (bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, dogs, etc.) where the animal's virus-carrying saliva is introduced into the person's bloodstream.
According to Wikipedia Encyclopedia: "After a typical human infection by bite, the virus enters the peripheral nervous system. It then travels along the nerves towards the central nervous system. During this phase, the virus cannot be easily detected within the host, and vaccination may still confer cell-mediated immunity to prevent symptomatic rabies. Once the virus reaches the brain... there is no treatment." (emphasis mine) As the virus progresses to the brain, the symptoms may include "slight or partial paralysis, cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior, paranoia, terror, hallucinations, progressing to delirium."1
Most of us have probably seen pictures of rabid animals. In their state of "cerebral dysfunction," they stagger and have difficulty moving in a straight direction. They are confused and easily agitated. Their "abnormal behavior" produces "paranoia, terror" and "hallucinations," leading to "delirium."
A Mad Dog Nation?
From what I see in our country today, I wonder if our great nation has not contracted a type of "spiritual rabies" that has led to "cerebral dysfunction." Our leaders (political and religious) seem so confused, and it has gotten many people very agitated.
What started out innocent enough with a desire to NOT OFFEND anyone (seeker friendly churches, etc.), has now led to a behavior that is abnormal (political correctness). Paranoia has set in (global warming, pandemic diseases, etc.) and terrorized the people. It seems that our leadership can no longer see clearly and discern the difference between reality and fantasy (hallucinations). So now, we've reached a point of absolute delirium. Our political and spiritual foundations are crumbling and I find myself sometimes wondering if our nation has gone insane!
What has led to this dilemma? How did it all start? And have we gone too far to recover? Has the virus reached the brain yet?
Symptoms of Madness
In the early 1960s (about the same time I saw "Old Yeller"), our great nation contracted "spiritual rabies"... a potentially "fatal" disease if left untreated. It was at that time that the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Engel v. Vitale decided "that government-directed prayer in public schools was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause."2 This was followed by subsequent decisions to ban Bible reading as part of the school curriculum (Abington Township School District v. Schempp in 1963),3 and to ban student-led, student-initiated prayer at football games, graduations, and other school activities (Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe, 2000).4
This chosen path of taking God out of our schools and other public institutions initiated the "spiritual rabies" viral infection almost five decades ago that has now traveled (or, is traveling) to the central nervous system (the federal and state governments). Like the physical disease, once it reaches the "brain," there will be no treatment.
My questions are: "Has our nation passed the point of no return in its moral decline? Have we forever abandoned the biblical standards, the Constitutional law, and the rules of free capitalism that this great country was built upon? Has this insidious disease of apostasy and socialism "reached the brain?"
Have we reached a point where spiritual fatality is unavoidable? Some would argue that a great national revival to holiness and biblical morality is still possible. And some even teach that it is prophesied! But actions like the hate crime legislation passed by our Congress make me wonder.
On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act that had been passed by his Democrat Congress.5 Among other things, the bill adds gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation to the list of protected categories under federal hate crimes law.3 This effectively places every homosexual, pedophile, transgendered, and other abominable sexual orientation in a special, federally-protected class under federal hate crimes law. And it opens the door for prosecution against any pastor or other clergyman who openly speaks out against such abhorrent behavior, even if he is just teaching what he believes is Scriptural doctrine.
This legislation could ultimately initiate a day of unheard-of persecution of Christians in this country. Pastors could be fined and jailed for preaching the truth of the Bible. Churches could be prosecuted on charges of discrimination for not hiring an openly homosexual applicant as a staff member. And eventually, no doubt, fundamental, conservative Christianity will be attacked for promoting "anti-social hate doctrine."
This law is just another example of political correctness run amuck. This homophobic paranoia has led Congress to an act of delirium. They are confused and suffering from "cerebral dysfunction!"
Do you think that expecting such persecution of those who teach the biblical one-man-and-one-woman definition of marriage is being paranoid? Then consider the backlash that came from Carrie Prejean's answer when she was asked about her stance on same-sex marriage in the Miss USA contest in 2009. She responded, "I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."
How much simpler and more straightforward an answer could you expect? She was simply giving an honest answer to the question about her beliefs. She made no derogatory remark about homosexuals and even said that it was not her intention to offend anyone with her answer.
Yet, she was lambasted by a host of liberals in the media and by the homosexual activists. Some even called for her to be stripped of her Miss California title. And even though she stood by her answer, she said that she believed it cost her the Miss USA crown (she got first runner-up.)
Now, some would surely say that Miss Prejean's ordeal is not very severe persecution. But the point is that she suffered endless ridicule and scorn simply because she dared to take a biblical position. And it certainly showed the sinful degradation of our society. So, I ask you: Has the virus reached the brain?
The list of political and religious departures in the last few years in our society from the sound, conservative, democratic and biblical principles upon which our nation was built, is too lengthy to discuss here. From our nation's fiscal irresponsibility to its new Socialistic agenda to its suicidal foreign relations policy concerning Israel to its widespread religious apostasy — at every turn we hear about some new ill-conceived debacle that is eating away at the fabric of our democratic, capitalistic and Christian foundation. It's enough to make one wonder if the United States has completely lost its way. And more importantly, can we recover, or has "the virus reached the brain?"
1) Wikipedia, "Rabies," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Rabies# Medical_aspects.
2) Wikipedia, "Engel v. Vitale," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engel_v._Vitale.
3) Wikipedia, "Abington School District v. Schempp," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abington_School_District_v._Schempp.
4) Wikipedia, "Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Fe_Independent_School_Dist._v._Doe.
5) Wikipedia, "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Shepard_and_James_Byrd,_Jr._Hate_Crimes_Prevention_Act.