Christian leaders from across the nation plan to be in Washington, D.C. tomorrow. They'll attend an Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action on Immigration Reform, which is being billed as an "unprecedented, nationwide evangelical gathering on immigration will show a unified evangelical voice echoing a biblical vision for immigration reform that respects the rule of law, reunites families and upholds human dignity."
A number of influential evangelicals, including the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land and Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, have broken with their allies on the Right to advocate a more humane approach to the starving people who risk their lives to come to this country to wash our dishes and pick our fruit.
According to the Colorado Evangelical Immigration Table, the state branch of a nationwide reform effort we wrote about last June, a number of Coloradans will be in D.C. tomorrow for the rally.
We first interviewed Stoller-Lee for a story that examined the Christian responsibility when dealing with the immigrant; and how far the Republican Party has strayed from that calling, despite its touting of the cross.
Here's what Stoller-Lee told us in 2011:
"The Bible is pretty honest about the issue of immigration," notes Stoller-Lee. "God's people have been exiles a lot. It is the story of the exodus. Shortly after Jesus is born, his young family is forced into exile. It's not like this is a minor theme."
Throughout the Old Testament, God instructs the Israelites to be kind to the immigrant. In Leviticus, as in Exodus and Deuteronomy, God is clear that "when a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt."
And here is his recent statement on the current immigration reform being debated in Congress:
As the Director of Fuller Theological Seminary in Colorado Springs I will be joining a group of pastors and ministry leaders from Colorado attending the Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action for Immigration Reform on April 17th in Washington, DC. I am looking forward to meeting with Rep. Doug Lamborn and other members of the Colorado delegation to encourage them to work together toward a truly bipartisan solution. The tone of this divisive debate has changed significantly in the past 6 months as business leaders and politicians have looked for constructive ways to work together on a political solution that is both just and compassionate. At the same time this is a justice issue that demands that people of faith reflect biblically and prayerfully on the how to welcome a new generation of immigrants to our society, and our churches. I began this process by reading through scriptures as part of the "I Was a Stranger" campaign. In the process I have discovered a new group of brothers and sisters who have enriched my journey of faith.
“This is astonishing and offensive,” read a draft of the letter written by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). “We call on you to rescind this briefing and apologize for its content and set the record straight on the Army’s view on these faith groups by providing a balanced briefing on religious extremism.”
Apparently, according to the article, "Lamborn is referring to an Army training session conducted last year that featured a presentation listing Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of extremism — alongside Al Qaeda and Hamas."
The article continues that a lieutenant colonel in the Army allegedly wrote an email calling the Colorado-based Family Research Council and the Mississippi-based American Family Association hate groups.
If true, this officer in the Army isn't alone in identifying the two anti-gay organizations as such — both groups are considered "hate groups" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Read the full article here.
In case you haven't heard, there's this guy called God. He goes by a bunch of different names — Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, Elohim, 'Elaha, Shangdi, Parvardigar, Nyam, Obong, The Light, King of Kings, Lord of Lords — but most people around here just call him the Lord.
Here's a picture of him dancing:
God has been an extremely busy individual, what with creating the Heavens and the Earth, being the Alpha and Omega and all that.
While people generally give him a lot of props for those efforts, there is one thing that God never seems to get enough credit for (because of the vast Liberal Media Conspiracy): He was incalculably important in the creation of these United States.
Until now! Thanks to a FREE DVD from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's LLC Learn Our History, God is finally getting his due.
Do your kids understand the importance of God’s role in American history? From the arrival of the pilgrims and the creation of our government, God has blessed America and made us a truly exceptional nation, one that is special and different from all others.
Learn Our History’s latest film, One Nation Under God, celebrates and explains the crucial role that God has played in America's founding and development - and helps children understand how all of our rights and freedom come directly from God, not the government. It’s a great way to help your children understand how God and the Holy Bible have influenced our world.
Here's the trailer:
Nuns, pastors and ministers plan to gather in the streets of Denver on Wednesday.
No, it's not an abortion protest. No, they're not going to make a stink about civil unions. Get this: They're upset because the nation's budget hurts the poor.
Old-school, I know.
Despite the proliferation of "WWJD?" bracelets and the contents of the New Testament (e.g. widows, orphans, rich men, eye of the needle), defending the downtrodden seems to be a radical move for the clergy these days. Gospel of prosperity, anyone?
Anyway, at least 50 Christians are expected to organize in Denver and ask legislators to reconsider budget cuts that have hurt the poorest while helping the rich.
Colorado Nuns to hold press conference to urge Congress to fix budget on Wednesday
Will pray for families and kids suffering due to cuts in housing, food assistance
DENVER — Fifty nuns, ministers, pastors and struggling Coloradans will hold a press conference to urge Congress to fix budget sequester cuts causing Colorado families and children to suffer needlessly at Triangle Park (across from the Denver Rescue Mission and Catholic Samaritan House) on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at noon.
The nuns will lead attendees in prayer to restore housing, food, job training and other federally funded assistance programs to help the poor survive and become self-sufficient — and make the case for a fair tax system that expects the wealthy and corporations pay their share of taxes so that we can invest in programs for working Coloradans and those most in need.
WHAT: Press conference, demonstration and prayer
WHEN: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 from 12:00 — 12:15 p.m.
WHERE: Triangle Park, where Broadway, Lawrence St. and Park Ave. intersect
Across Lawrence St. from Catholic Samaritan House, 2301 Lawrence St. and cross Park Ave. from Denver Rescue Mission, 1130 Park Ave. West
WHO: Catholic sisters from Colorado Nuns on the Bus, clergy from many faiths, struggling Coloradans affected by federal sequester cuts
* Sister Mary Catherine Rabbit, an advocate for people with disabilities, seniors
* Katie Stanton, single mother denied previously approved housing assistance
* Katrina Hall, formerly homeless woman and current guest of the Catholic Worker program
WHY: Show the suffering of Colorado families and children due to federal sequestration — and the need for a fair tax system that supports housing, food, job training and other assistance programs
VISUALS: At least 50 attendees, including nuns and clergy wearing religious garb like collars; large crosses, signs and banners with religious themes
Coloradans for Tax Fairness is a coalition of 20 nonprofit, community and labor groups seeking to make sure large corporations and the richest two percent pay their fair share of taxes and protect cuts to vital services upon which the middle class depends, like Social Security, Medicare, education and Medicaid.
James Dobson's getting up there in years, so understandably he's starting to look to his legacy of civil action, to see what all those decades have wrought. Talking in his most recent newsletter, Dobson realizes: not much.
"I'm sure many of you are discouraged in the aftermath of the National Elections, especially in view of the moral and spiritual issues that took such a beating on November 6th," he writes. "Nearly everything I have stood for these past 35 years went down to defeat."
Now, as Daily Kos notes, that's a rough place to be. Nothing worse than seeing a lifetime of social repression go to waste. But who to blame?
"There is no acknowledgement that in re-electing this President, the country provided a sound repudiation of Dobson's brand of extremism," Steveningen writes. "It wasn't any of the factions he cited in his newsletter that brought about his defeat. It was the electorate, who, among other things, has grown weary of the distortions and ugly tactics employed by social conservatism."
Maybe it was the electorate; maybe it was Mitt Romney's fault for not hatin' more on "the military and its gay agenda." Maybe it was the fact that all Democrats want to slip all zygotes back into the womb so they can be all aborted again.
Or is that not what he said? Ah, right: Dobson says the Democratic Party officially thinks "abortion should be legalized through nine months of pregnancy." See? That's better. A lie bad enough to make Baby Jesus weep, but better.
Moving on: "Do you remember the courageous position taken by Chick-fil-A in defense of traditional marriage?" Dobson asks, and I answer: Pepperidge Farm remembers.
Most fun is Dobson's middle finger to people like the new head of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly, who spoke with the Indy a few years ago about a more "respectful" Focus. (Of course, Daly still keeps some pretty gross company.)
"Unfortunately, what we are hearing from some of our Christian colleagues is that believers must become 'softer and gentler' in response to sin and evil, and to compromise our basic beliefs," writes Dobson. "It is never right to do what is wrong, and we will stand our ground in the defense of biblical principles. If that firmness in response to evil means hostile books, articles and Internet blogs will be written about us, then that is the price of carrying the banner for Christ.
"Our goal must continue to be winning souls for Him," he writes, adding — like somebody who says a phrase like "Internet blogs" would add — "Everything else is wood, hay and stubble."
Been meaning to post this since before the world ended in an alternate Mayan universe. One of our readers, Arval Becker, touched on it in a letter in today's paper:
Dr. James Dobson, with his far-right Christian extremism has finally hit the lowest of the low. This "man of God," as he calls himself, followed former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer for the American Family Association, laying the blame for the massacre in Newtown, Conn., squarely on the victims by proclaiming that the reason for the senseless killing was because of God being kicked out of schools.
In discussing the Dec. 14 nightmare at Sandy Hook Elementary that claimed 27 lives, Dobson said these words on his radio show Dec. 17 (transcription provided by Right Wing Watch):
Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I'm not talking politically, I'm not talking about the result of the November sixth election; I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God.
I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn't exist, or he's irrelevant to me and we have killed fifty-four million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences too.
And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that's what's going on.
This is an honest question: Can anyone explain to me what the difference is between Dobson's apologetic-but-still-righteous riff and the universally despised ravings of the professional antagonists at Westboro Baptist Church?
Here's how Westboro tied that random and brutal massacre to God's wrath:
Now you’re in a fever for the chase for same sex marriage. Connecticut was one of the first states to come out for same sex marriage. You guys think you can brute force away the standard of God. It’s not gonna happen. You heard it here first. Soon. Soon. Connecticut is gonna look like a tea party. Many more shooters, many more dead are coming.
A senior cadet's decision to withdraw from the distinguished, New York-based West Point has made national news.
According to U.S. News, Blake Page has quit over "what he sees as the illegal infusion of military procedures and events with fundamentalist Christian proselytizing."
The article points to Page's opinion piece published by Huffington Post. In it, Page details his decision:
As I write this, I am five months from graduation. After nearly three and a half years here, there is no reason to suspect that I would be in any way incapable of completing the final requirements and walking across the stage in Michie Stadium with diploma in hand in another 174 days.
While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution. These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation. These transgressions are nearly always committed in the name of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.
The U.S News article also quotes Mikey Weinstein, the local Air Force Academy graduate who runs the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, (whose own battles over religious freedom we have written about extensively).
"This kid just torched his career in the Army, and his degree at West Point," said Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which advocates for total separation of church and state. He likens Page’s move to those of Rosa Parks in the civil rights movement and monks who light themselves on fire to protest Chinese policies in Tibet. "People should recognize courage when they see it."
Good news, Colorado Springs. We now have yet another option for the enrichment of our eternal
The Church of Scientology has opened up a new "mission" here, located at 5150 N. Union Blvd.
According to Derek Murphy, the executive director of the mission, there are roughly 6,000 people locally who have shown an interest in the controversial church, from purchasing books to attending courses.
Murphy himself has been a member of the church for almost 10 years, he says. During that time he has had to travel to the Ideal Org in Denver to continue his pursuit of Scientology's teachings — teachings that have drawn a great deal of attention and criticism.
If you want to check out what all the hubbub is about, the mission will be open Monday, Thursday and Friday evening from 7 to 9:30, and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Here's an inexplicable item we found in our news feed.
Alternet picked up on a recent article featured in Charisma magazine about Contessa Adams.
The Charisma article goes into detail about Adams' belief that, back in the day, she was the sexual plaything of demonic spirits.
For nearly two decades, Contessa Adams felt as though she had no power against the demonic violators of her body. She felt trapped in secrecy and shame and knew that the demons tormenting her wanted things to stay that way.
But God had another agenda for Adams when she found Christ in 1979. The former stripper has a ministry through which she exposes one of Satan's darkest secrets—sexual demons.
These spiritual rapists, as Adams describes them in her book, Consequences, often prey on people by performing sexual acts through nightmares and erotic dreams. Some people become so dependent upon these demonic experiences that they actually look forward to them.
This isn't the first time Charisma wrote about Adams. Back in 2000, the magazine did a story about her escape from voodoo.
According to Adams' autobiography, Consequences, Satan claimed her from birth by using a midwife named Flossie—a known witch on the Caribbean island of Dominica.
"In retrospect, my theory for all this was that when the servant of Lucifer blew breath into my mother...hell spoke," she writes. "The monarch of hell uttered, 'Both can live, only if I have the soul of the child!' [My] mother admits that she was voodooed or hexed, as it were. One could easily say that from my birth I was raised by a hexed, voodooed or a demon-possessed woman."
Adams had other relatives who were involved in the occult. The most notable was her maternal grandfather, who was a witch doctor. He was considered a "good" one because he reversed spells and curses that were cast on family members.
For Adams, practicing voodoo and various forms of Santería was kid stuff, she says. There was a deeper evil she craved, and she literally had an appetite for it. One of her favorite delicacies was "black pudding"—a concoction containing raw animal blood.
Anyway, you can imagine the treatment that Alternet gave Adams' "demon sex" claims.
Then God came along and ruined everything, I mean saved her, putting her on the path to righteousness and helping others who are (naked) wrestling with their own sex demons.
But demons aren't just about getting laid. They're wreaking havoc all over the place, in addition to the mischief they've wrought on confused Christian genitalia.
The primary demon fighter in the modern Christian world is the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a global network of Charismatic Christian ministries devoted to Dominionism, the idea that they must take over public institutions in order to save America and the world from ... demons (and gays, of course).
It's interesting that the Alternet article jumps (rather abruptly) to the issue of NAR.
We wrote about the apostolic movement a while back, when we profiled Robert Henderson and his local apostolic center, Wellsprings.
During the research for that article, I came across an article by researcher Rachel Tabachnick detailing Charisma magazine's love affair with the Pentecostal leaders in NAR.
A November Charisma Magazine article is titled the “Rising Tide of Influence: How Pentecostalism is gradually changing the dynamics of American Politics.” But most of the leaders in the article are not traditional Pentecostals — they are apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation. The NAR is one of the current forces behind the radicalization of the Religious Right, and in turn, U.S. politics. NAR leaders teach a dualistic worldview in which all other religions and philosophies, including secular democracy, are considered controlled by demonic entities in a cosmic battle with Christianity. They are leaders on social issues, like fighting abortion and gay rights, but they also emphasize a mandate to take “dominion” over all of the “Seven Mountains” or cultural power centers — arts, business, education, family, government, media, and religion.
But getting back to this most-recent Charisma article on demon sex and Adams: Why? Or, more specifically, why was another article published about a 13-year-old book? The demonic sex-life of a former stripper is sexy, no doubt, and worthy of pondering at length, but this is seriously missing what we in the biz call a "news hook."
Unless, of course, there has been an uptick in accounts of demon sex attacks?
Not all evangelicals are alike. Some of them aren't even white.
From his recent article:
Just as the 2012 electoral results finally revealed the demographic transformation of America — which has been occurring for quite some time — it also dramatically demonstrated how the meaning of the word “evangelical” is being transformed.
Evangelical can no longer be accurately used to mean “white evangelical.”
Wallis, who is white and is sometimes seen as a progressive Christian (and sometimes not), goes on to use statistics to set up his point, which is that evangelicals and Christians broke along partisan lines based largely on race:
Of the 71 percent (Pew, CNN) of America’s Hispanics who voted for President Barack Obama, the vast majority are either Catholic or Evangelical/Pentecostal. Obama lost the white Catholic vote, but he won “the Catholic vote” because of Hispanic Catholics. Similarly, Obama lost the white evangelical vote, but he won the majority of Hispanics who call themselves Evangelical or Pentecostal. Likewise, Obama won 93 percent of the African American vote, the majority of whom are members of black churches whose theology is quite evangelical. And 75 percent of the Asian American vote went for Obama, whose churchgoing members are also mostly evangelical.
Mitt Romney got about the same percentage of white voters that George Herbert Walker did (about 59 percent v. 60 percent for Bush), which resulted in 426 electoral votes for Bush, but only 206 for Romney.
Wallis goes on to argue that the marriage of Republicans and white evangelical leaders has created an agenda that does not honestly reflect the desires of all evangelicals, and is perhaps doing disservice to the Christian agenda.
As Wallis puts it:
It’s time to change the meaning of the word “evangelical.” It’s time to tell the media to look at the changing demographics, change its terminology, and take account of all the “evangelicals.” And it’s time to describe the broader list of “moral” and “biblical” issues that evangelicals care about. This is a new, diverse coalition for a new America — and a changing evangelical demographic is a central part of that. The narrow conservatism of the religious right’s white evangelicals is simply not a faith to and for that new evangelical world.
When the crowd alternates hollering out "Amen" with "Whoohoo," you know this ain't grandpa's Catholic mass.
But then Sister Simone Campbell, the 67-year-old nun who's touring the U.S. right now in a white vehicle labeled "Nuns on the Bus," probably isn't your Catholic grandpa's habit, either.
In fact, Sister Simone is a bit of a rock-star, left-leaning radical. The executive director of Network, a 40-year-old progressive organization of nuns, is featured this month in Rolling Stone's story "The Sisters Crusade," a piece that opens with her struggle to sit down with former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan to talk about the national budget.
The bus tour stopped by Colorado Springs' Meadows Park Community Center at lunchtime today with Sister Simone at the helm, who pledged a continued fight for those less fortunate. Much of her discussion had to do with sharing the word about The Faithful Budget:
A collaboration of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities and organizations, The Faithful Budget promotes comprehensive and compassionate budget principles that will “protect the common good, values each individual and his or her livelihood, and helps lift the burden on the poor, rather than increasing it while shielding the wealthiest from any additional sacrifice.”
No matter that President Obama has won a second term — "we have a bit more work to do," she said to a group of about 75 people. "The election is over, and we might all think, 'Oh praise God we don't have to watch those ads anymore.' But the fact is, our work has just begun. Because tomorrow Congress reconvenes, God help us."
If the Good Father hasn't heard them yet, at least now they've got a little extra media behind them.
"Heaven only knows what happens after Rolling Stone," Sister Simone told the Indy after her presentation. "It's amazing."
OK, that's not strictly true. But the media continues to be intrigued by the combination of the two, as evidenced by all the national press coverage of the Nuns on the Bus tour, which rolls into Colorado Springs at noon today.
As the New Yorker's Robert Sullivan noted last month, the sisterly road warriors have expanded the scope of their message — and, in at least one instance, their mode of transport — since their summer tour protesting Congressman Paul Ryan's proposed budget:
Nuns on a Ferry marked the first time that the principals in the Nuns on the Bus campaign officially switched modes of transportation, though several nuns who eventually rode on the ferry did take the subway to the event. It also highlighted the latest phase of the nuns’ effort, in which other nuns, aside from the original bus-riders, take the campaign to other parts of the country—Nuns on the Bus 2.0. “We’re open sourced,” said Sister Simone Campbell, the Nun on the Bus who’d addressed the Democratic National Convention earlier in the month. “We created some car magnets, so you can have nuns on the bus, too. We have some guidelines on our Web site, and you just need to have at least one nun.”
The popular magazine Christianity Today published an article a few days ago questioning the IRS' complete lack of action when it comes to churches violating IRS regulations.
We wrote about such violations a couple weeks back when some local evangelical pastors took part in the fifth Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a nationwide movement of pastors interrupting their regular Sunday sermons to their congregations
to vote for Mitt Romney how to vote.
The strategy is to draw the IRS into a lengthy court proceedings, with the ultimate goal being to overturn the the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which banned certain nonprofits from engaging in partisan speech. The churches participating in the movement are aggressively challenging the law, some going so far as sending copies of their politics-laden sermons to the IRS.
The idea, explains Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with [Alliance Defending Freedom], is to push the issue into court. Then, he says, "We will have a test case, and we will seek to have the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional."
Then-Texas Sen. Lyndon Johnson introduced the amendment in 1954 to deal with what he thought was inappropriate campaigning by tax-exempt entities. But Stanley says it infringes on the First Amendment's guarantee to religious freedom.
"You don't get more to the core of religious freedom than a pastor preaching from the pulpit on a Sunday morning." Pulpit Freedom Sunday is less about the restriction on talking about candidates and elections, he says, than "the fact that there is a restriction on the pulpit at all. What we are trying to do is remove an unconstitutional restriction."
And the IRS has, so far, done nothing.
Christianity Today reports that though the IRS only recently announced a moratorium on church audits, Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund), says a moratorium has essentially been in effect since 2009.
An IRS official at the level of regional commissioner or above is required to approve any church audits before they are initiated, according to a law passed in 1984. But in 1996, Congress reorganized the IRS from geographical regions to national practice groups—a move that eliminated the office of regional commissioner.
"The IRS designated an official within [its] exempt organizations section to be the one to approve the church audits," Stanley said.
But that position did not rank high enough to be adequate, the court decided after a Minnesota church challenged the legitimacy of their audit in 2009.
"The IRS shut down all church audits at the time," Stanley said. The agency proposed new regulations in 2009, but never got past the review process, he said.
"After that, it has taken absolutely no action on finalizing the regulations," he said. "They've just been sitting out there."
It's not breaking news that the number of churchgoing Christians in this country is on a steady decline. In fact, that hasn't been breaking news for a while.
In an effort to combat this trend, and usher in a new age of Christian growth, religious leaders are trying to re-imagine the church's role in American culture and the methods they can use to prosthelytize and expand. Thus, we have things like the Multiply Conference, an outgrowth of Frontline Church Planting.
From the event site:
The church in North America faces curious times. The old operating system and status quo of the Church no longer resound with our culture. In the western U.S. we have sensed these things coming for a long time.
Church leaders are in process of making seismic shifts toward more mission-grounded and multiplication-based expressions of the Body of Christ, but we must move quickly.
The event is being sponsored by Frontline Church Planting, Colorado Baptists, Pikes Peak Baptist Association, and Fuller Theological Seminary among others.
If you are interested, tickets are still available for this Nov. 2 and 3 affair at the event site.
This past Sunday, more than 1,500 churches across the nation took part in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. An effort organized by the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, the movement was a bold denouncement by religious leaders of the decades-old Internal Revenue Service regulations that forbid churches from engaging in partisan political speech.
ADF released the list of churches with Pulpit Freedom Sunday late Monday afternoon.
As we reported, seven churches in the Springs participated. In this week's paper, we spoke with pastor Mark Cowart with Church for All Nations.
As Cowart explained to the Indy, he was convinced to participate after cracking the history books. He says that he went to Texas public school and remembers praying in school, and reading scripture there. “God was taught more freely, and there was a more accurate teaching in our history.”
And yet, he adds, “For years, I was under the impression that the church, i.e. the pastor, was to have nothing to say in the way directly about the candidate that is up for president. And that if you didn't stay in very strict parameters you would lose your tax-exempt status.”
Emboldened by what he says were the Christian underpinnings of our founding documents, he realized that the church has a role to play within the political sphere. And, with the growing support by other religious leaders across the country for Pulpit Freedom Sunday, he decided it was time to act.
“No one at the presidential level is addressing the real problem with America right now,” he says. “The real problem is going away from God. And when you go to our founding, our founding fathers warned us … that if America ever failed, the decay would come from within. And that's what convicted me.”
This matter of the church's historical role in partisan politics is a matter of contention among supporters of Pulpit Freedom Sunday and its detractors.
According to Dr. Kurt Fredrickson, associate dean for Doctor of Ministry and Continuing Education and assistant professor of pastoral ministry at Fuller Seminary in California, before the IRS regulations put in place by the 1954 Johnson Amendment, the church was not monolithic in its relationship with politics.
While many churches shunned the political arena historically, others embraced political battles, whether it was the fight for the abolition of slavery or the civil rights movement.
With the 1980s Moral Majority, evangelicals were driven into the partisan fray, he says, while a number of other Christians continued to find ways to work within the political realm without aligning themselves with political parties. He points to a number of issues that can dovetail with the political world: homelessness, poverty, the sex trade and so on.
These, he notes, are societal issues that rise above political parties or campaigning for specific candidates.
While the growth of the churches involved with Pulpit Freedom Sunday — from 33 in 2008 to 1,500 this year — might seem to signal a growing belief in politicizing the pulpit, Frederickson argues that, in the number of Christians who refuse to affiliate with a church, we might be seeing a rebuke.
"Over the past 20 years, that number has doubled," he says. "And some people theorize that part of the rise of the non-affiliated is a reaction against this linking of religion and politics."
For example: Despite the seeming adoption by the evangelical world of Republican politics, Fredrickson says, he is an evangelical and he won't be supporting Mitt Romney.
On Pulpit Freedom Sunday, Cowart was joined by the Pray in Jesus Name Project, a one-chaplain nonprofit that publishes and distributes voting guides across the nation, promoting its core principles: pro-life, pro-liberty, pro-marriage and pro-Israel.
Watch, here, as chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt explains how homosexuality can be exorcised — as in exorcism — through "personal repentance."
Also on the list of participants is Radiant Church, an Assemblies of God-affiliated church in Colorado Springs.
Speaking before his congregation last Sunday in a recorded segment, Todd Hudnall says that this might be the most important election of his lifetime, "because of the crucial period in our nation and the starkly different directions the two candidates envision taking America."
He urges his congregation to vote "biblically" — taking into consideration what values God holds.
"There are certain Biblical values that are critical to contemplate when voting for a candidate and for any public office" he continues, and encourages his congregants to vote with the word of God in mind.
His congregation was provided a voting guide in their church bulletins, supplied, he says, by Focus on the Family. This voting guide will let his congregants know where the candidates stand on "critical biblical issues."
Without coming out and saying that he was endorsing the Republican candidate, he did outline the issues he believes they ought to consider when voting. The candidate that they should support? The one who is pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and who will "work to protect our religious freedoms."
"I know that some are going to object to a pastor making such statements from the pulpit of a church. They would even say it's against the law. I beg to differ. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. And as a pastor, I have both the right and the responsibility to teach fundamental Biblical principles to our congregation."
Hudnall says that he sent a copy of his sermon to the IRS, which you can watch below. You'll want to skip ahead to about 28:45 for the section that deals with the presidential election.