Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
MIAMI – America has gone “from one nation under God to a nation at war with God,” said Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, at WND’s “Taking America Back Conference.” And who’s to blame?
According to a pair of speakers at the Miami confab, one of most significant answers is also one the most uncomfortable for Christians.
“As the church goes, so goes the nation; as the pastor goes, so goes the church.” Scarborough said, “What we have in America is a preacher problem.”
Scarborough, himself a former Southern Baptist minister, told the audience his story of recognizing the need for pastors to snap out of political complacency and get involved in the cultural war for the soul of the nation.
He had attended a sexual education presentation at his daughter’s high school in the 1990s, only to discover a message of sexual license and perversity that shocked him. When he brought a transcript of the presentation to his church, the building was filled with people equally stunned.
Shortly thereafter, Scarborough explained at “Taking America Back,” he began to free his congregation from excessive church responsibilities to take up civic duties. Members of his church were elected to the school board and city council and began to reassert Christian values in the public arena.
“We just got the people in the churches to stand up and do what they ought to be doing,” Scarborough said.
The story is at the heart of his founding of Vision America, but he warns that the people will not rise up and get involved unless the pastors lose their fear and apathy toward political involvement.
Doug Giles, radio host and father of the undercover video journalist Hannah Giles, brought the same challenge, but with a much sharper tone.
“Somebody who waffles, quiet as a church mouse,” Giles said, “that cat is about as useless as a pitch pipe to Yoko Ono.”
Giles further charged, referring to the heated politics surrounding the tea party movement and the 2010 election, “If a pastor is not part of this crucial societal throwdown … this pastor is Dr. Evil and part of the problem.”
Giles listed 10 reasons pastors don’t get involved in politics and refuted every one.
He warned pastors against thinking of their duties as primarily pious and spiritual: “Your religious liberties are disappearing like a pack of smokes at an AA clinic.”
He warned pastors not to fear losing their 501(c)3 tax-exempt status: “You’re going to compromise the gospel because you don’t want to pay taxes on hot dogs? Wow.”
Pulling no punches, Giles also slammed big-church pastors who are afraid of speaking out on issues of liberty and morality for fear of losing their lucrative positions: “Christendom has its shares of money-loving hookers … bowing to cash instead of convictions.”
“Saul Alinsky loves those pastors who don’t get involved politically,” Giles concluded, “and so does the guy written about in the dedication to his book ["Rules for Radicals"]. Who was that again? Oh yeah, Lucifer.”
Scarborough argued that the culture wars won’t be won unless both pastors and pew-sitters are willing to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty in the fight:
“The problem with us Christians today is that we’re so afraid of offending our little ears that we’ve dug holes and buried our heads in them,” he said. “The holes that the ‘gays’ came out of, the church went in, and it’s not going to change until the church comes out.”
He wrapped up his speech with a challenge:
“If the church doesn’t awaken now, if the tea party and everybody involved doesn’t understand that God is at the heart of it all, then we lose,” he said.
The crowd then erupted in standing ovation with his final words, “It’s now or never. It’s time for the church to stand.”
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