The Engaging Essentials

Hey, remember me?  When the legislative session is in full-swing, as it is right now in WV, it’s a bit difficult for me to maintain my faithfulness to this intentionally irregular series I like to call, “The Engaging Essentials.”  Alas and alack, it must be what it is.  But, for today at least, here’s a bit of what you should be reading:

Chick-Fil-A Locked in Epic Battle – Well, that’s they way the story is being reported, anyway.  What is the pro-cow, pro-family outfit accused of this time?  Helping to strengthen marriages.  Wow.  And to think, just this weekend I had a big, fat helping of “anti-gay Jesus Chicken” (I can’t make this stuff up!) at my local CFA.

Why Regulate Abortion Mills? – Kermit Gosnell, that’s why.  Gosnell is the back alley, rusty coat hanger abortion doc that the pro-choice always laments.  The only difference, of course, is that Gosnell was legally conducting the “safe and rare” practice of abortion to the tune of millions of dollars, thousands of dead babies, and several dead women.  Shameful.

In His Own Words – Pastors, please take note: this example by Dr. Al Mohler is how we are asking you to use your prophetic voice in speaking Biblically for life, marriage, and religious freedom.  Here, Mohler takes on the pro-abortion statement of our President as he marked the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

ADF and Separation of Church/State – Have the great wall tearing down attorneys at the Alliance Defense Fund capitulated to the idea of separating church and state?  Hardly.

Stand for Life – Lila Rose of Live Action fame offers this moving challenge to the pro-life community.  Watch and share:

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Stop Praying, Grandma!

Can the elderly pray over taxpayer-subsidized food without violating the Constitution?

File this under the ridiculously sublime.

A story out of Georgia shows the massive confusion our public has about the so-called separation of Church and State, which, to borrow from the great R.C. Sproul, has become, “the separation of State from God.”

A senior center in Port Wentworth Georgia has dropped the ironic hammer on senior citizens who, before eating food subsidized by the government, openly and without hesitation, offered a prayer of blessing for their food.

A grandson of one of the residents said his grandmother wouldn’t abide with this state censorship:

“She would say pray anyway,” Blackwelder said of his grandmother. “She’d say don’t listen.”

And she’d be right.  The so-called doctrine of separation of church and state acts as a bar to the state dictating dogma, not private individuals.  Ironically, in declaring what can and cannot be said before eating State subsidized food, a good case could be made that the state contractor actually violated the so-called doctrine of separation of Church and State by silencing a guaranteed First Amendment right.

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About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Patriotic Pastors

We are usually quite reluctant to criticize the Charleston Gazette.  While there are many things espoused by the editorial page with which we strongly disagree, we appreciate their repeated willingness to publish the commentaries we submit to them on a regular basis.  However, on Tuesday of this week, the Editorial Board of the Gazette published an editorial that clearly misunderstands a remarkable event in our national history.

The Gazette’s editorial, “Violations,” denounced the Alliance Defense Fund’s “Pulpit Initiative” as a, “distasteful mixture of religion and politics.”  The article went on to proclaim that the entire experience this past Sunday was for pastors to have ”more than 30 fundamentalist preachers across America deliberately broke U.S. law by publicly denouncing Democrat Barack Obama and endorsing Republican John McCain for president in the Nov. 4 election.”  

Wow.  Nicely put, that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the Pulpit Intiative.  Alan Sears, President of ADF, sets the record straight in yesterday’s edition of TownHall.com.  

Sears calls the Pulpit Initiative what is actually is, “a strategic legal effort of the Alliance Defense Fund designed to push back the overbearing, intrusion of IRS agents into the internal affairs of America’s churches.”  

But specifically responding to the Gazette’s criticism that the project is nothing more than a pro-McCain event, Sears says the following:

Some have even leveled the accusation that the ADF initiative is part of some massive campaign to usher John McCain into the presidency. This is laughable, considering Pulpit Freedom Sunday consisted of a handful of pastors of mostly small churches, not all of whom endorsed John McCain for president, despite what you may have been told. ADF invited pastors of a broad array of denominations, considered both conservative and liberal, to be part of the initiative because ADF believes that pastors of any political viewpoint have the right to speak freely from their pulpits without government intrusion.

Indeed, if the government can dictate that political speech is disallowed within the pulpit, what other speech might the government say a pastor cannot speak?  That’s the purpose of this initiative.  As Sears explains:

The purpose of the Pulpit Initiative is to restore the right of pastors to speak freely from the pulpit, offering a biblical perspective on any number of cultural and societal issues, without fear of punishment by the government.

Whether or not a pastor should engage in such speech is a matter rightly left to the purview of the pastor and church leadership.  But, the Pulpit Initiative says that they should be able to if they want to.

Knowing the history of how we arrived here is as important in understanding the need for this initiative.  For that, we look to Tara Ross’s column, “Bullying the Pulpit,” where she claims, “An ‘illegal sermon’ should be an oxymoron in a country that practices freedom of religion. . .”  Ross continues to highlight the uniquely different responses of Thomas Jefferson and Lyndon Johnson when met with political opposition.  For Jefferson, he introduced the oft-misunderstood phrase, “separation of church and state” in response to a church’s fear that the state might . . . well, do what it’s doing today: regulate the pulpit.  But, for Johson, something entirely different happened: without debate or record, he moved legislation that silenced religious nonprofits from speaking Truth to politics.  What happened?  Ross concludes:

Ironically, LBJ’s intent was not to harm religious groups. Neither CCG nor Facts Forum [the groups that opposed LBJ's senatorial bid] was specifically religious in nature. Indeed, LBJ’s legislation did not specifically mention churches; it merely forbade all501(c)(3) organizations from participating in certain political activities. Churches got caught in the crosshairs of a political shot that was never aimed at them. Nevertheless, LBJ’s provision, together with Jefferson’s wall of separation, have combined to stifle religious freedom in this country.

 

It is not remarkable that two politicians—Jefferson and LBJ—reacted defensively when confronted with tough election fights. What is remarkable is that Americans have allowed political happenstance, not constitutional guidance, to control their ideas of what is permissible in the public square.

The rebellious pastors have a long, tough road in front of them. Americans’ skewed notions of church/state matters have been developing for decades, and they’ll probably take many more decades to reverse. But hopefully this Sunday’s act of civil disobedience will draw attention to the fact that Americans have strayed far from their constitutional roots when it comes to matters of religion in civic life.

 

We applaud the efforts of these pastors to speak Truth to culture.  Though we recognize government shall never be our Savior – such is reserved for the Son of Man – as Christians we are called to stand and speak for Truth through active participation in and submission to (Romans 13:1) the democratic republic in which we live.  

If that is “distasteful” to some, let us be assured that it is merely the bitterness that salt brings just before light penetrates darkness.

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Has Church Separated from State?

This past weekend, Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a giant leap over the ACLU’s glass wall of separation of church and state.  Speaking with the moderator on Meet the Press, Ms. Pelosi made the spurious claim:

[A]s an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time.  And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. 

It must have been above their pay grade too.  

Sensing the misunderstanding of Catholic theology, Tom Brokaw meets Ms. Pelosi where she has “studied for a long time,” saying, “The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that [life] begins at the moment of conception.”  Naturally, this clarifies much for Ms. Pelosi, who answers:

I understand.  And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that.  So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy.  But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions.  And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions.

There you have it.  From the mouth of the Speaker of the House, abortions should be “safe, rare, and reduce[d].”  Has Ms. Pelosi become a pro-lifer?  

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About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.