Before Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, Sam West included the following phrase in a sermon at Dartmouth, “When a people find themselves oppressed by a parent state, they have an undoubted right to throw off the yoke of the oppressive state.”

When Jefferson was quoted as saying “It is the [people’s] indispensable duty to throw off the yoke of oppression,” he said, “I only put down on paper the popularly held view of the time.”

The patriots were fond of saying, “resistance to Tyranny is obedience to God.” Another preacher in the colonies said, before the Declaration of Independence was written, “The man who refuses to assert his right to liberty, property and life is guilty of the worst kind of rebellion. He commits high treason against God and is a betrayer of generations yet unborn.”

So the knowledge that God alone grants rights to people, not the government, was wide spread. This was not revolutionary, but the accepted truth. When Adams said, “Our constitution is designed for a moral and religious people and is wholly inadequate for any other,” he meant that as a lasting truth, not a dated message.

There are many southerners in Georgia who recall vividly the stories they were told by their non-slaveholding Grandparents, about the devastating path of destruction General Sherman took through their state.

They speak of the pain, the suffering, the murder and the genocide. It is still an open wound for many who weren’t even alive at that time. They still refuse to ever vote for a Republican because that was Lincoln’s party and they view him as a tyrant, and a dictator… one who authorized the murder of their families.

Of course if you talk to someone in the North, with family who fought on the Union side, you will get an entirely different picture. Lincoln was a liberator and one who tried to hold the country together and keep the South from seceding.

In all civil wars, there are two sides to the story. We must not lose site of this as we blindly scramble to condemn Milosivic alone, without looking at the war in Yugoslavia that has been waging internally for years, and consider that the Serbians have a story to tell too.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I feel there is a lot more to this story than we are hearing in the press. This is Nina May encouraging you to look at both sides of every story.

If you ever want to keep life in perspective, dig out an old weekly magazine from the early eighties. Remember the ones that called Reagan a “cowboy” for punishing Muamar Kadaffi for terrorist acts? Or the one that had the leaders in the Middle East upset because we intercepted an Egyptian plane to capture the terrorists of the Achille Lauro? Or when Daniel Ortega was a hero and Reagan was the bad guy and the press was always on Reagan’s case about something?

Look at the liberation of Grenada in comparison to the questionable bombing of an aspirin factory in Sudan. Look at the effort to try and end civil war and bloodshed in Nicaragua, in our own hemisphere, just by giving them arms to defend themselves. And see us now send our young men and women into a civil war halfway around the world that has been waging for years.

Read the quotes of people who epitomized international wisdom and wonder where they are today.

The lesson is, Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away but the etermal truth of Christ’s love will live forever. And the treasures we store for eternity will mark what people will remember of us in the future.

In the newly released Prince of Egypt, there are many lessons, but one that seems timely.

One insignificant person, who would have lived his life in obscurity, if not early death, was chosen to lead a people out of captivity.

He brought a dynasty to its knees and totally humbled the Pharaoh who had set himself above the people, above the law and above the power of God.

Five years ago, no one had heard of Paula Jones. She was ridiculed and condemned for daring to challenge a U.S. President with the truth.

Her accusations and subsequent trial, which was even denied her at one point, have laid bare the soft legal underbelly of a republic. The truth has set her free and dealt a serious wound to the president.

What the rest of Americans do with it will be their choice. They can throw off the bondage of lies, double speak and corruption, and embrace absolutes. Or they can question the sovereignty of God . . . and continue to give allegiance to hubris and arrogance.

God used Moses to open the door, but the people had the choice of leaving or staying in bondage.

Four Hundred years ago when the Virginia colonies were on the verge of annihilation, the governors drafted a document called, “The Lawes Divine, Moral and Martial, for the Colonies of Virginia.”

These laws provided very strict and precise guidelines for daily life in the colonies. They covered everything from borrowing tools, to performing the daily necessities of life as they so politely put it.

They even had a provision for those who blasphemed God to have a bodkin thrust through the tongue… the second time so offending. And the third time you broke any of these lawes, you would be put to death.

Pretty harsh you say? The reason such strict moral and martial laws were implemented was because everyone had established their own absolutes. There was no legal authority and anarchy ruled.

Ironically before the Lawes were implemented, there were more deaths, desertions, mutinies and murders than after. They realized early on that true liberty was based on absolutes that all men lived by. They knew that license was death, not only to the individual, but to the corporate body as well.

During the Revolutionary War, everyone was affected, and the churches were intimately involved.

In Springfield, New Jersey, the Rev. Caldwell’s wife was killed and his home burnt to the ground. The incident inflamed the townspeople against the British. They were inspired to fight knowing that the option was death. They faced 5,000 trained soldiers and at the height of the battle the colonials took refuge next to Caldwell’s church until they ran out of paper wadding for their muskets.

The Rev. gathered up all the copies of Watts Hymns and ran out to the rifleman. He was tearing the pages out of the hymnals, passing them out shouting, Put Watts into em boys! Give em Watts!

Today, that church would have it’s tax exempt status revoked for getting involved with politics, or standing up for what it believed.

So 200 years ago, these parishioners stuffed their muskets with hymnal pages, to gain independence for our country. Now, generations later the government is monitoring the activities of churches like the Church at Pierce Creek.

This is Nina May and the Renaissance Women hoping for a spiritual revolution in our churches.

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection. But does our thankfulness ever include our heritage and the sacrifices of great men who won for us the freedom to express this thanks?

For example, have you ever wondered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the declaration of Independence? Well, five were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. And nine died from wounds inflicted during the war.

Who were these people? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, nine were farmers or plantation owners, 11 were merchants, and almost all were men of well means and education.

They had security, but they valued liberty more. They all had a great deal to lose for standing by their principles, and they knew that if they were captured they all risked death. They all pledged, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

Maybe we should be thankful that they relied on God and realized it was His will that all men live free.

Most people today believe that the American revolution was unanimously supported by all Americans. That is not true at all.

Only one third of the citizens living in America at that time called themselves Patriots and supported the fight for freedom. Another third were known as Loyalists and did everything they could to support English rule in the colonies. And another third could not make up their minds who they supported.

So there was strong division between the two extremes of the American revolution. One extreme opted for status quo, unfair taxes levied without representation in Parliament, and the continued control of an oppressive King.

The Patriots, on the other hand, wanted power to vest in them as promised and ordained by God. They wanted a representative form of government that would give each of them a vote. To them the people were more important than the power of government.

It seems as though the country is still divided with one extreme believing in the power of the individual, and the other, the power of the state. This is Nina May for the Renaissance Women and all modern-day patriots.

The recent furor over possible DNA matches between Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings have proven to be inconclusive. The author of the original study, Dr. Eugene Foster, agrees, and rejects commentaries that compare the sexual indiscretions of Clinton with the conduct of Jefferson.

But such is the undercurrent of political and historic engineering to reduce the office of presidency to the lowest common denominator. When Nixon left office, historians didn’t come forward and say, Oh who cares, all presidents have lied, what’s the big deal.

There was not a move by the Republican party to disparage the reputations and memories of great men in the past to cover the indiscretions and failings of those holding office. If we discovered that a president was a murderer or a pedofile or a drug addict would the conclusion be that all presidents behaved in a similar manner?

This is a petty attempt to try and diffuse the concern over the actions of one, while destroying the character of others. This only reminds us that great men of honor and integrity have held that office and they should be the standard we aspire to today.

The Revolutionary war was anything but politically correct. The initial encouragement to fight for independence came from the pulpits in the colonies.

John Craighead led a militia from his parish to join Washington in New Jersey. He fought and preached alternately. There were so many fighting pastors that the Tories referred to them as the black regiment.

And in 1775, in a Lutheran Church in Shenandoah county, a young preacher named Peter Muhlenberg delivered a passionate sermon on Ecclesiastes. At the end of his sermon, he threw off his pulpit robe to reveal a colonel’s uniform in the Continental Army, and said, And now is the time to fight! That same day he recruited 300 men to join him and they later became known as the 8th Virginia. He rose to the rank of brigadier general and was in charge of Washington’s first light infantry brigade.

There was no separation of church and state here. The church was intimately involved in the affairs of the state . . .to the point of the parishioners taking up arms to defend it. History trumps political correctness every time.