Thursday, April 21, 2016

Freedom of the pulpit under attack

We live in a time when religious freedoms are under growing attack in the United States. This is especially the case for those who hold to conservative Christian values. Ten years ago few would have thought that SCOTUS would determine that same-sex marriage was a Constitutional-given right. Even fewer would have guessed that states, courts, and school districts would demand that people be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice. Virtually no one would have believed that government agencies would monitor the sermons preached from the pulpits of this nation and fire those whose messages did not meet their political correct litmus test. That kind of thing only happens in Communist and Socialist countries, doesn't it? Not any longer.

The Georgia Department of Public Health fired Dr. Eric Walsh from his position as a district health director due to sermons he preached as a lay minister with the Seventh Day Adventist church. Shortly after his hiring in 2014 a team from the Department began investigating his sermons. A few days later the Department announced it was rescinding the job offer which Dr. Walsh had already accepted.  You can read more about this here.

This situation should give pause to every bivocational pastor. If you take a biblical stand that does not meet with the worldview of your employer your job may be in jeopardy. Dr. Walsh has sued the Georgia Department of Public Healthy, but there is no way in today's political climate to guess how this will end. If he loses, evangelical bivocational pastors may face increased scrutiny in the future.

Of course, every pastor and every Christian should be alarmed at this assault on religious freedom. We have gone from being a nation who holds to religious freedom to one that practices religious tolerance, and anything the government merely tolerates one day can be challenged the next.

This should serve as a wake-up call to American Christians, but I am not hopeful. We have been asleep for the past 50 years and generally apathetic as our nation has become more and more secular. The majority of us do not vote in elections. We do not hold our elected representatives accountable. They are much more afraid of offending large corporations and losing their financial support than they are of losing the votes of conservative Christians.

Even worse, we have not seen a religious revival in this nation in many years due to the apathy of Christians and their leaders. We have become content to gather in our "sanctuaries" and play church games. Maybe our "sanctuaries" are not so safe after all. 2 Chr. 7:14 still says that God will heal the nation when His people humble themselves, confess their sins, and pray.

Evangelical Christians must do two things if we have any hope of restoring this nation to its Christian foundations. We must become informed voters who vote our values, not our financial interests. Many of us need to run for public office and be willing to stand up to the special interest groups who want to shape our nation according to their worldviews. We need to hold our elected officials accountable and vote them back out if they refuse to listen to us.

More importantly, we have to pray for a spiritual revival in this land. Ultimately, a nation's salvation does not come from the White House, the State House, or the Courthouse. It comes from God. God is no longer willing to wink at our apathy. In the Old Testament when He judged a nation he sent warning after warning, each a little stronger, trying to turn that nation back to Him. Eventually the warnings stopped and judgment fell. We are experiencing such warnings in America now, each one a little stronger than previous ones. If the church and this nation do not heed those warnings we can expect God's judgment to fall upon us as well.

No comments: