THORNER/O'NEIL: HOW THE CHURCH CAN STRENGTHEN AMERICA
By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O'Neil -
During a speech President Barak Obama gave on June 28, 2006, he stated:
“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation - at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”
This is a strange statement coming from a President whose populace consisted of 78% Christians, especially so when considering that throughout its history the United States always identified itself as Christian, while being open to all faiths.
What was the point of his statement? Could it be President Obama wanted to plant the idea in all our minds that Christians were in for a rude awakening, knowing his campaign message of “Hope and Change” was not going to prove to be the type of hope and change Christians had in mind?
Instead, his plans for America would challenge Christians and even the Christian Church itself.
Obama and his administration have continually proved themselves adversarial to Christians and their beliefs. WallBuilders has identified 20 acts of hostility towards people of Biblical faith; 39 acts of hostility from the Obama-led military toward people of Biblical faith; 24 acts of hostility towards Biblical values; and 8 Acts of preferentialism for Islam.
The most offensive to people of faith was changing the historical and traditional definition of marriage. Under Obama’s leadership, every state in the Union, whether it agreed or not, was mandated to conduct homosexual marriages when requested. Christian businesses, such as florist shops, photographers, bakeries, and caterers were forced to participate in such weddings, when requested by homosexuals.
Recently, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple was discrimination not protected by the baker's right to religious freedom. Are we to believe that that specific bakery was the only one in town, that the gay couple would now be unable to order a wedding cake? It's more believable to assume it was the Christian baker who was being targeted? We know the homosexual couple contacted the A.C.L.U., whose lawyers were quick to file a lawsuit against the Christian couple. The State ruled in favor of the homosexuals, which sent the chilling message how Americans are mandated to violate their religious beliefs to obey a law that violates their conscience. What will be next: homosexuals demanding Christian pastors and priests conduct wedding ceremonies in our churches?
Elections do Matter
Elections do have consequences, which is quite obvious after seven years of Obama’s leadership. What is not so obvious is why Christians and Church leaders remained silent while Obama perpetrated numerous attacks that minimized and even criminalized Christian traditions and laws.
Since Obama took office membership in churches across America has declined, and polls indicate fewer people identify themselves as Christian. However, statistics indicate the Christian Church has been in a state of decline for about the last 50 years, with a steady decline in church attendance over the last 30. Therefore, Obama cannot be singled out and blamed for creating the decline. However, it is fair to say his Presidency and the new laws enacted under his supervision have and will continue to do excessive damage to people of faith far beyond his time in office.
While there are many reasons given for the decline of the Christian Church, there is one that history has proven most significant and which we continue to witness today - It is the quality of leadership. Whether it is a family, a business, an organization, a country, or a church, the quality and direction of its leader will decide its ultimate fate. The impact a leader has cannot be emphasized enough, but equally important are the responsibilities of the people under this leadership.
America is somewhat unique in that our Constitution and laws allow citizens to choose their political leaders and hold them accountable for their actions and decisions. When they are untrue to their promises and do not do what is expected of them, they should be rebuked and/or replaced. Instead, we often tend to ignore taking responsibility for our part in keeping leaders accountable and thus allow blatant problems to continue. It is contingent upon voters to choose wisely and then hold leaders accountable to their stated promises.
If we want to keep both our Christian Church and America healthy and prosperous, we must choose our leaders wisely; preferring and helping to elect those with a vision we share and with whom we trust. If we are offended by what many are calling a “War on Christians”, we need to be involved in the election process and do our best to elect proven Christian candidates who will enact moral laws, instead of the current trend of enacting laws that are so grievous they defy the standards of all religions.
Absent from duty
Unfortunately, most Christians do not vote. They forfeit their right and neglect their responsibility to be a part of determining who will lead them but are the first to complain when politicians disappoint them. Astounding is that only about 39% of Christians have voted in the last few elections. Of these it is questionable as to whether they investigated or knew pertinent facts about the candidates or ballot issues. After all the political advertisements clogging mailboxes before elections impart more spin than truth. It should not be surprising to know politicians lie because they rarely suffer any penalty for doing so.
Would our nation look differently today, if the majority of those who profess to be Christians (78%) voted for candidates who represented their beliefs? Obviously it would! How can Christians be encouraged to vote? Many non-voters admit they do not vote because they have been completely disconnected from politics and have no credible information as to the best candidate. What if they had information they could trust about the differences in the political parties and the candidates? It is likely many more would vote if they were given credible information and felt confident in their choices.
Our Christian nation was founded largely due to the efforts of the “Black-Robed Regiment” during the Revolutionary Period. They were pastors and church leaders who were instrumental in America’s independence. They stepped into their pulpits prominently attired in long black robes and fearlessly preached the Word of God, as well as the political issues that impacted their congregation. They understood if their Church and country were to thrive, the people needed to be informed of God’s Word and how to apply Scripture to every aspect of their lives, including the principles they should expect from those who governed them. Ultimately, it was the Black-Robed Regiment who led their members into battle, sometimes with a Christian flag waving. They fought for America’s freedom from England. The pastors and church leaders of today must once again lead us in the battle to win back souls and elections to keep those freedoms.
Could the Christian Church save America and the Church itself from further decline? Unquestionably yes, by taking the example of those church leaders who fought for our Independence. They had God on their side in their miraculous defeat of the English Navy, the most powerful in the World at that time.
Our enemy is more powerful than any military or government, but with the help of God, through our prayers and action, we can win without physically harming a soul. If a whopping 78% of Americans who profess to be Christians were educated as to the importance of voting, their impact could turn our country around, enact godly, moral laws, and thus have God’s hand of protection back on us again.
The law is on our side. Despite a belief otherwise, it is still perfectly legal for church leaders to explain the importance of voting for the best candidate to represent them. They will actually be doing their civic duty by encouraging their people to participate in civil commitments, whether that is to run for a public office, or simply vote for the candidates who will best represent them.
Steps for churches to follow
The most effective steps a church can take is to help and encourage their congregations to be educated voters. Here are three very simple steps which are absolutely legal and exceedingly helpful:
- There are still people who do not know they must fill out a voter registration form before being allowed to vote. Others know, but forget to pick one up, fill it out, and/or mail it. Churches can be helpful to their members by setting up a voter registration table in the church courtyard (or an agreed upon place) starting about two months before the election. It should be attended by someone who can be trusted to do some very simple steps. They will need to obtain Voter Registration forms from a post office or a Voter Registrar’s Office. The table will need to be attended by someone who can answer basic questions, accept registrations no matter which party is designated, and promptly turn in or mail the new registrations to their local Voter Registrar Office.
- Biblical differences between the two parties can be seen by checking each of the Party Platforms. Most Christians want to know about those differences, so they can make an educated choice as to which party best represents their values. This document, "Political Party Platform Excerpts", shows positions taken by both Parties on important issues. It can be printed out and distributed in churches.
- It is a monumental task to investigate every candidate and proposition on the ballot. Most people do not even know where to find the necessary information. There are Christian Voter Guides available for churches, which provide essential information and is enormously helpful. They can be accessedat this site. Now available in Illinois at the Illinois Family Institute is its Voter Guide 2016 for the Illinois Primary Election in March. Go here to download. The 2016 election allows us a window of opportunity to make a positive change in our leadership. Christians are the single largest voting bloc in America. If we all voted wisely, we could make positive changes in the direction of America. Educated Christian voters are our hope for the future and are the best way to keep the Church viable and America strong.
President Ronald Reagan’s simple but profound statement must be our guide:
“If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under.”
America needs a President who fully understands that basic principle. The Church has an opportunity to elect such a candidate Will you be a part of helping that to happen?