MANY OF you reading this column today grew up in a similar environment as I did. We were taught to love God, Jesus, our neighbor, respect and honor the Bible, and walk as best we could in “the path of righteousness”. We were taught to love, not hate, and to treat people we met in the way we wanted to be treated. Church, family, prayer and standing up for our beliefs were taught as foundation blocks of our life.
WE WERE also taught that sin was real, and since we were not perfect and sinned in our lives, that’s the reason Jesus shed His innocent blood on the cross — to redeem us from our sins. That was what I was taught and believed and, with some variations, what many of you who grew up at the same time I did, were also taught.
A LOT of years have passed since I was a dutiful student in Bible class and later, as a young man, preaching about God’s love for us and against wrong from the pulpits of many Central Illinois congregations. Needless to point out, during the decades that I have been editor and publisher of this newspaper, and involved in radio and television programming, there’s been a lot of challenges to the faith I learned as a child, sitting in Church with my parents. The challenges did not weaken my faith in God, but only enhanced my belief that I was on the right path for my life.
ALTHOUGH my fundamental beliefs haven’t changed, despite being challenged often because of the public nature of what I do, my love for other people has been enhanced through experience — and I have written about those experiences in this column and when I have addressed public meetings. I am not perfect, far from it — but I certainly know the difference between right and wrong and know that, despite all of the justifications for doing wrong that are often presented by some of our leaders, and others, it is still wrong.
AS EDITOR of this newspaper for many decades, I’ve watched and written about a lot of Decatur, State of Illinois and U. S. history. I’ve debated and written on the issues that confront us and been open and tolerant to the opinions of others, whether those people are democrats, republicans, independents, religious or non-religious. My friends are a mixture of democrats, republicans and others. They are good people. They always have a right to express their opinions to me and in this newspaper — whether I agree with them or not.
I NOW live in a state that has the most liberal abortion laws in the nation and other laws such as legalization of recreational marijuana, continued promotion and expansion of gambling, burdensome taxation and out of control spending and greed. As one man recently put it, Illinois is the “sin tax capitol of America”! The “progressive” agenda that is being proposed and passed these days, is in direct contradiction of everything that is in the foundation of my faith and many others I know regardless of their political or religious affiliation. This state, which is a financial nightmare has become morally bankrupt and the progressive band continues to play as the “progressive leaders” high-five and congratulate each other on their success as the ship of state continues to sink. It’s evident that Illinois has lost its way.
ONE Bible passage, regarding a people or nation who are heading the wrong way, is from the prophet Jeremiah (6:16): “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Jeremiah’s message was to his people who had turned their backs on God. They rejected his plea and suffered dire consequences.
I AM ONE of many who was taught about the “old paths where the good way is..” and I still believe in that path. Our State of Illinois no longer walks in a path of truth, justice, honesty, unselfishness, civility, fairness, common sense and everything else that made this state and nation great. It makes me sad to think of what we once were — and what we have become. Illinois continues on an anti-Christian path — in the name of “progress”. We are now a state known for its greed, high taxes and debauchery where innocent life no longer has value. Even those with no religious affiliation must be concerned about the direction Illinois government is headed.
The weeds have grown over the “good path” and the way has been lost.
(Read more of Paul Osborne’s “Viewpoints” in the print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune newspaper. You can subscribe to the Tribune elsewhere on this site.)