November 26, 2005
Equipping Churches to Engage Culture
EDEN PRARIE, MINN. - The Minnesota Family Council hosted a "Minnesota
Pastors' Summit" recently attracting 300 pastors and priests. Its theme
was "Equipping Churches to Engage Culture."
In a clergy invitation, Gary Borgendale asserted, "The impact of the
Church upon our culture is rapidly losing ground. Hardly a day goes by
without another story celebrating the cleansing of faith from the public
"As pastors, you are on the forefront of this cultural
conflict. Activist judges, political leaders and secular media are
trying to dictate faith's role in society. However, we can reverse that
trend through a unified commitment to biblical principles in our
Need some examples?
1. By a 4-3 vote, judges in Massachusetts redefined marriage for the
2. Gays have similar suits before state supreme courts in New Jersey and
Washington, which could legalize gay marriage in those states. Yet only
45 U.S. Senators supported a Federal Marriage Amendment last year
because few constituents bothered to urge passage.
3. A Federal Appeals Court declared the phrase "under God"
unconstitutional in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Catholic Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary, Alberta, told Minnesota
clergy that Canada legalized same-sex marriages "without an electoral
mandate, without the benefit of social science research, without
adequate democratic deliberation" as a consequence of an aggressive
judiciary, who declared that traditional marriage was a "discriminatory
The Bishop wrote a pastoral letter decrying the law, and presented the
Catholic case for marriage being between a man and a woman. The
result? "I have been dealing with hate mail and death threats. The
Alberta Human Rights Commission, which is the thought police for dealing
with allegations of discrimination, tried to intimidate me....The law is
now impacting the curriculum in our schools, which will have to teach
homosexual sex, and a systematic presentation of `queer history and
queer role models.' The views of pastors are being suppressed and that
of parents to the detriment of our children."
Therefore, Bishop Henry praised the pastors attending the summit to
learn how to fight for a Minnesota amendment to the state constitution
in 2006. (A recent column detailed deceptive tactics used by Texas gays
to fight against a similar state amendment, but it passed with a 75%
The most electrifying speaker was David Barton of Wallbuilders, an
historian who has focused on the remarkable impact of clergy among
America's founding fathers. A surprising number of the 56 signers of the
Declaration of Independence were pastors such as John Witherspoon, an
evangelist responsible for two translations of the Bible, and Francis
Hopkinson who produced the first truly American hymn book.
Barton told of Rev. John Peter Muhlenberg, pastor of both a
German-speaking Lutheran church and an English-speaking Episcopal
church, who was meeting as a member of the state legislature in
Williamsburg. In January, 1776, British troops "marched in and started
taking private possessions. He thought people needed to know about this
so he hopped on horseback and rode 220 miles across the state to get
back to his community.
"He arrived in time to preach at his own church service, Sunday, January
21, 1776. He preached on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 that `there is a time for
war and a time for peace.' Brethren, this is no longer a time of peace.
It is a time for war." The congregation was alarmed, well aware that
America had no army or navy at that time, and could be decimated by the
Muhlenberg climbed down from the pulpit and removed his clerical robe in
front of his shocked congregation, to reveal that underneath he was
wearing a full dress uniform of an officer of the Continental Army. He
marched down the aisle, continuing to preach. "Brethren, we came to this
country to practice our liberties. If we don't get involved, we will
lose our liberties."
He led 300 men from that church as Virginia's 8th Brigade and became a
Clergy today are hesitant to even speak out on political issues, fearing
it might jeopardize their IRS tax status. For 300 years, this was not a
problem. Clergy regularly gave Election Day sermons on which candidates
they thought were the most Biblical. In 1954 Sen. Lyndon Johnson
attached a one sentence amendment to a bill that silenced clergy's
Rep. Walter Jones has proposed H.R. 235 that would remove LBJ's
amendment, the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act. It has
been bottled up in the House Ways and Means Committee.
That bill should be passed, as should the Marriage Protection Amendment.
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abortion and infanticide,