My church probably isn’t doing anything for Pulpit Freedom Sunday, because they are a gospel every week church. It’s really not clear to me whether my minister is even pro-life or pro-marriage, because he never talks about anything practical. However, I was able to dig up this 2012 sermon from Dr. Wayne Grudem, an amazing pastor who does have a position on many issues relevant to the Christian worldview.
The topic is “Moral and spiritual issues in the 2012 election”.
Here it is: (68 minutes, Dr. Grudem starts 4 minues in)
This message was delivered by Dr. Wayne Grudem at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills on Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Dr. Grudem addresses directly and poignantly the spiritual and moral issues we face in the upcoming 2012 Election. He urges believers to vote according to a Biblical world view. Dr. Grudem has an excellent understanding of not only the Bible and Theology, but also how the United States political system really works. He is author of the bestselling, “Systematic Theology” (used in numerous seminaries), “Politics According to the Bible,” and he is also the General Editor of the bestselling “ESV Study Bible.” Please dedicate an hour and listen to him; more importantly, please heed his wisdom and vote responsibly.
The sermon notes are free to download. (PDF) I recommend printing them to follow along with the sermon.
Here’s one of slides, just to show you what Wayne Grudem can do:
Can your pastor do that? Mine can’t.
I think a lot of people like to think of Christianity as something that is about your personal well-being, or maybe your personal morality. If you attend a pretty typical gospel-every-week church, then you may never learn how the Christian worldview applies to the political issues of the day. It’s “too divisive”.
If you’re looking for the best book on the Bible and policy, it’s Wayne Grudem’s “Politics According to the Bible”. I really really endorse that book.
I listened to this podcast from the Alliance Defending Freedom and this podcast from the Family Research Council on the weekend. Both of them mentioned that something called Pulpit Freedom Sunday was happening this Sunday.
Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an event associated with the Pulpit Initiative, a legal effort designed to secure the free speech rights of pastors in the pulpit. Pulpit Freedom Sunday encourages pastors to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to speak truth into every area of life from the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom also hopes to eventually go to court to have the Johnson Amendment struck down as unconstitutional for its regulation of sermons, which are protected by the First Amendment.
The web site is here. They are up to 3520 pastors now who are participating. My pastor did not participate last year. He is not very intelligent when it comes to apologetics and policy, so he probably doesn’t know what to say. Or maybe he just afraid, which I can understand more than not knowing what to say.
Not everyone is happy with this. The IRS is investigating churches (not Democrat-favoring churches, of course) for speaking about specific issues.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has agreed to investigate the political activity of churches after reaching a settlement with an atheist legal group. But a court has yet to decide whether or not to close the case.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the IRS jointly asked a Wisconsin federal court last week to dismiss a 2012 lawsuit, FFRF v. Koskinen. The FFRF had alleged that the IRS failed to have a policy in place for investigating political activity at tax-exempt churches and religious organizations, nor did the agency enforce its 501(c)(3) codes against electioneering.
Meanwhile, more than 1,600 churches have deliberately broken the existing law since 2008, endorsing political candidates from their pulpits during Pulpit Freedom Sunday events organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The next “showdown” will be October 5.
“This is a victory, and we’re pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions,” said FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor in a press release.
However, the case has not yet been closed. Father Patrick Malone of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had been granted permission to interveneon the side of the IRS, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (which represents Malone) has asked the court to dismiss the case but “with prejudice.” In other words, Becket argues the FFRF should not be able to sue the IRS again on this particular issue, while the FFRF argues that it should be able to do so.
Regardless of the court’s final decision, the IRS won’t be free to investigate churches until a moratorium related to the agency’s controversial scrutiny of tea party organizations is lifted after a congressional investigation closes.
CT has noted how the six-year run of Pulpit Freedom Sunday has tried to provoke the IRS into (ironically) punishing pastors as a means to reexamine the rights of pastors to promote politicians from the pulpit. The initiative even gained an unexpected allylast year in Sen. Charles Grassley and the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations (CAPRO).
Meanwhile, LifeWay Research has found that only 10 percent of Protestant pastors believe pastors should endorse political candidates (while noting that is a different question from should the IRS ban the practice.)
The IRS has not released the language of the settlement, and ADF is concerned about how secretive the church investigations will be—if they indeed happen. ADF has issued a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in pursuit of the documents surrounding the settlement between the FFRF and the IRS.
“This is one of the major problems with the IRS,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with ADF. “They are secretive, which breeds mistrust and leads to problems in knowing just how they will enforce and interpret the law.”
Becket has also requested information on documents the FFRF and the IRS are not making available, including: “all documents relating to any investigation or determination by a high-ranking IRS official, in writing, of the acts and circumstances, including potential violations of the electioneering restrictions, that led to the high-ranking official to reasonably believe that a church or religious organization may have violated the requirements for tax exemption under 501(c)(3).”
Stanley says ADF’s strategy—helping churches realize how government is censoring what they say—will not change. If the IRS does monitor electioneering more closely, he hopes the issue will end in a lawsuit.
“The Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional,” said Stanley. “If the IRS begins enforcing it again against churches, Alliance Defending Freedom stands ready to defend a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit.”
ADF has organized Pulpit Freedom Sunday for six years, with 1,621 church and religious leaders participating in 2012 (2013 dropped to nearly 1,100 participants). But until now, the IRS has all but ignored ADF’s attempts to bring the issue to a head. According to Stanley, the IRS does not want to challenge the Johnson Amendment—which bans tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates—in court.
I think it’s interesting that the FFRF is not so much interested in debating whether atheism is true as they in shutting down theists who seek to live consistently with their beliefs by using the power of big government. I think that’s pretty par for the course though, if you look through 20th century history. That’s what atheist regimes have done, so we should expect individual atheists to do that as well.
I don’t recommend to the atheists at FFRF that they intimidate Christians, though, as Jesus seems to think that limiting the practice and free expression of Christian convictions is a bad idea.
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,
3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;
6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
I think that we Christians need to take positions that are in accord with what God’s Word says, and we need to be ready to defend our positions in public using public arguments and public evidence – especially scientific research – that will be persuasive to non-Christians who do not accept the Bible. That’s the only way to stop the cultural decline caused by the secular left.
And you can listen to Grudem delivering Sunday school training at his church on every single chapter of that book right here. All free, and no ads. Be sure and scroll through all the previous years to get all the topics! Ethics, social policy, fiscal policy, foreign policy and more!
My favorite pastor Wayne Grudem, the best pastor on the face of the planet, explains why he participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2012. (H/T Jeremy)
This Sunday I have agreed to join nearly 1,500 pastors nationwide and participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom. In my sermon, I plan to recommend that people vote for one presidential candidate and one political party that I will name. We will then all send our sermons to the IRS.
This action is in violation of the 1954 “Johnson Amendment” to the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations like churches from endorsing any candidate by name. But in our nation, a higher law than the IRS code is the Constitution, which forbids laws “abridging freedom of speech” or “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion (First Amendment).
I fully understand that many pastors might never want to endorse a candidate from the pulpit (I have never done so before and I might never do so again). But that should be the decision of the pastors and their churches, just as it was in 1860 when many pastors (rightly) decided they had to tell citizens to vote for Abraham Lincoln in order to end the horrible evil of slavery. When the government censors what pastors can preach, I think it is an unconstitutional violation of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
[…]I have compiled a list of 24 differences between the two parties on issues with a moral component. Here are some of them where the parties differ:
The rule of law (vs. judges who change the original meaning of the Constitution), freedom of religion in public expression (vs. freedom of worship in private), protection of life (vs. glorying in unrestricted abortion rights), the preservation of marriage (vs. promoting same-sex relationships as “marriage”), the limitation of federal power (vs. an unconstrained federal government), parental choice in education for children of all income levels and all races (vs. protecting a government-regulated monopoly on schools), turning back government overspending and avoiding debt that we cannot repay (vs. reckless spending that threatens to bankrupt our children and our nation), caring for the poor by reducing taxes to leave more money in the job-creating private sector (vs. ever-increasing taxes that drain money from job-creating businesses), a strong military to protect us and the many small democracies that look to us for protection (vs. damaging defense cutbacks that leave smaller nations, the world’s sea lanes, and our own nation increasingly vulnerable), and a commitment to stand by Israel (vs. snubbing its leaders and demanding that it make ever-greater concessions).
1. The issues the country is facing are biblical issues. Pastors, more than many others, are uniquely suited to speak to the issues confronting the country in this election season. Issues such as life, marriage, the family, the economy, the poor, and many others are addressed specifically in scripture. The effect of the Johnson Amendment has been to make these biblical issues “political,” as if slapping a “political” label on an issue somehow removes it from the purview of scripture. For example, a pastor preaching a sermon thirty years ago that abortion is wrong was just being biblical. But that same sermon today is labeled as political and, as a result, the pastor is sidelined into silence. It’s not that the church is somehow becoming “political.” It’s that politics is invading the realm of the church.
We need more pastors to connect what the Bible says to policy and events in the real world. We need to take positions that are in accord with what God’s Word says, and we need to be ready to defend our positions in public using public arguments and public evidence – especially scientific research – that will be persuasive to non-Christians who do not accept the Bible. That’s the only way to stop the cultural decline caused by the secular left.