U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Over 600 pastors, ministry leaders and their spouses in the key election state of Iowa this week were challenged by high-profile political leaders to renew their influence on American government and once again make the USA “one nation under God.”

The church leaders met for the Iowa Renewal Project’s Pastor’s Policy Briefing, headlined on its opening night by potential presidential candidates including Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., with Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich scheduled for the next day.

Historian David Barton, head of Wallbuilders, an organization dedicated to presenting America’s moral, religious and constitutional foundations, opened the event by recalling the influence of the “Black Robed Regiment” – preachers from the American Colonies who not only stirred the people toward revolution, but also took up arms with them in the War for Independence:

“The Black Robed Regiment was the name that the British placed on the courageous and patriotic American clergy during the Founding Era (a backhanded reference to the black robes they wore),” Barton documents on a website dedicated to the 18th-century pastors. “Significantly, the British blamed the Black Regiment for American Independence, and rightfully so, for modern historians have documented that: ‘There is not a right asserted in the Declaration of Independence which had not been discussed by the New England clergy before 1763.'”

He continues, “It is strange to today’s generation to think that the rights listed in the Declaration of Independence were nothing more than a listing of sermon topics that had been preached from the pulpit in the two decades leading up to the American Revolution, but such was the case.”

At the Pastor’s Policy Briefing, Barton challenged the church leaders in Iowa to use the power of the pulpit to similarly stir the American people toward moral, religious and even political renewal.

The Pastor’s Policy Briefing was closed to the press, but several attendees took time to speak with WND on the event’s opening evening – which included speeches from Barton, Huckabee and Bachmann:

  • “One of the things I found encouraging was that we do still have some godly leaders in this country,” said Tim Batterson, a deacon of Ottumwa Baptist Temple, in Ottumwa, Iowa. “We have people that are willing to step up in the public eye and proclaim the gospel, and they’re using that as the foundation for what they’re doing to lead our country.”
  • David Welch, pastor of Arapahoe Christian Church, crossed the river from Arapahoe, Neb., to hear Bachmann speak for the first time: “Her speech as a politician I figured would be political, but she hit strongly on the biblical perspectives of what we’re supposed to be doing. It was awesome. And Mike Huckabee spoke with compassion that we [pastors] have got to start the renewal, and we have to be the ones to reach out.”
  • Pastor Alfred Kajer of Allerton Christian Church, in Allerton, Iowa, told WND, “When Barton talked about how active ministers were in the founding of our country, and how 29 of them signed the Declaration of Independence, it encourages me as a minister to know that I’m to be active in more than just my pulpit, but in my community and my state.”
  • Joanne Berentson, a deacon’s wife from Siloam Lutheran Church in Paullina, Iowa, took away a sentiment similar to Kajer, saying she was convinced “the answer is in our home communities, and the answers can come from the pulpit.”
  • Pastor Kevin Hollinger of First Baptist Church in Algona, Iowa, related, “I think Michele Bachmann’s speech was really encouraging, to ‘pour our lives fully out for Christ’ and every aspect of our lives for His glory.”
  • J. Albert Calaway, pastor of First Assembly of God in Indianola, Iowa, summed it up this way: “Every speaker was God-centered, and that’s very encouraging.”

With Gingrich and Barbour on deck for the next day, Bachmann closed the opening night with a challenge to preachers to once again – a la the Black Robes Regiment – be the “voice of freedom” in the U.S.

The organization behind the event is working with the same cast of keynote speakers to produce the “Rediscover God in America” webcast, which will be shown by approximately 200 churches nationwide on Saturday, March 26.

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