I am writing this article on the eve to Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an event that promotes the right of pastors to address political issues and those running for political office. The event’s website declares, “The future of religious freedom depends on a free pulpit to communicate fundamental biblical principles to congregations across America. Join a growing movement of bold pastors preaching biblical Truth about candidates and elections from their pulpits on October 7, 2012.” I didn’t join. I didn’t need to.
I have not just recently become cognizant of the issues that plague our nation’s moral decline, social disintegration, and spiritual decay. I have written and preached for years about the issues that have a pestiferous effect on our society. I have done so because I have a God-ordained responsibility to do so. How can a pastor say he loves his congregation and withhold the truth regarding self-destructive practices?
Former President Lyndon B. Johnson is credited with having an amendment added to the tax codes that charitable organizations that enjoy tax exempt status are forbidden to “participate in, or intervene in…Any political campaign on behalf of-or in opposition to-any candidate for public office.” This has been misconstrued as a muzzle to free speech and religious expression.
At this point I am going to make a necessary distinction. I do not make political endorsements of candidates. I recall the lesson Billy Graham learned during the Watergate affair. He had been an unswerving supporter of Richard Nixon throughout the controversy only to eventually discover he had backed a very guilty man. Graham is purported to have vowed never to endorse a candidate again. I have learned like Dr. Graham that what people say when they run for a political office is not what they always do once elected. For this reason I do not endorse candidates.
But when it comes to issues affecting the moral condition and spiritual direction of our nation, I impavidly support biblical principles. I am not reticent to call attention to what any politician says or does that is in conflict with the word of God. I do not believe the unborn should be slaughtered on the altar of convenience. I do not believe the time-honored institution of marriage should be made a mockery by capitulating to whining heterophobes.
If the best our government can do is threaten our tax exempt status because we speak out on these issues, I say, bring it on. Every pastor should be echoing the words of the apostle Peter to the Sanhedrin, “We must obey God rather than men (Acts5:29).”
More rights have been lost in this country by disuse than active assault on our liberties has ever accomplished. People complain about prayer and Bible reading being taken out of the schools, but has it been taken out of our homes? Could it be parents failed in their parental responsibility declared in the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 6;7; Ephesians 6:4) and then complain when the school system failed too? According to the Bible the parents are responsible for the spiritual instruction of their children, not the school system. If we had been doing our job in the home maybe prayer and Bible reading would still be in our schools.
The same holds true for freedom of speech and religion. If we want to preserve these freedoms we must maintain them by active practice. If we lose these liberties it will be because we failed to speak up. For those who have just now signed up for Pulpit Freedom Sunday, I say better late than never. But do not think for an instant that the problems afflicting our nation ballooned overnight, or that our plight has suddenly become dire. Our nation has been slowly and methodically plodding in the direction of decline, why have you been silent until now? Do you not love those whom God has given you the spiritual oversight?
Tomorrow pastors across the nation will be deciding what to preach or not to preach. I will be speaking on some of the future events prophesied in the Scriptures, a branch of theology called eschatology. This is what I had planned to speak on and see no need to change. That is because I am not a Johnny-come-lately to the issues confronting our nation. I have addressed them when they have arisen and will continue to do so. I pray other pastors will do the same and hope our people take heed. If not, our future may not be that bright.