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Political Devotions - Conservative Alerts, News and Commentary
Thursday, September 2, 2004
A Call to Obedience - for Clergy
Topic: Election / Voting

[Important Notice: The Political Devotions Weblog has moved to]

(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

An important alert from Focus on the Family's CitizenLink, concerning the push to encourage pastors to preach on participation in the upcoming election:
Clergy Urged to Preach on Voting Values

Focus on the Family and Prison Fellowship are asking pastors to set aside Sundays in September and October to preach about the importance of taking part in November's election.
Focus on the Family has earmarked Sept. 12 as iVoteValues Sunday, encouraging preachers across the country to urge their congregations to register to vote and to vote their values at the ballot box.

And Focus isn't the only pro-family group stressing the importance of voting to churchgoers: Prison Fellowship has launched what it's calling the National Preaching Initiative.

"Christians can't be content to be the silent majority any longer," explained Peter Brandt, senior director of government and public policy at Focus on the Family. "Statistics have shown, in election after election, that believers have stayed home in alarmingly high numbers and that's got to stop if we are to have even a sliver of hope of returning righteousness to government.

"We have a civic and spiritual duty not only to vote, but to be careful to spend those votes on the candidates whose values most closely align with our own."

In that light, Brandt said, it is crucial for pastors and church leaders to educate their congregations about the values that matter to God.

"Some pastors have avoided addressing these topics from the pulpit because they don't think it's appropriate, while others worry that it might cost them their nonprofit status," he said. "Our goal is to show them that civic responsibility is an appropriate topic for a Sunday morning and to assure them that it's perfectly OK to talk about it."

To help pastors to prepare for iVoteValues Sunday, Focus' Web site offers sermon outlines and a detailed explanation of what topics can be addressed in church without running afoul of the law. Visitors to the site can also request a Voter Impact Toolkit, which contains promotional posters for churches, a stand-up easel with voter registration forms and a voter resource guide and a letter from Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family.

Prison Fellowship is also offering sermon outlines for pastors who take part in the National Preaching Initiative -- a project that urges clergy to dedicate four Sundays in September and October to preaching on marriage, sexual intimacy, God's natural order and our role as citizens.

Michael Snyder, senior vice president of Prison Fellowship and head of the Christian worldview group the Wilberforce Forum, said it is time that the church and Christians got back to the basics.
"The church as a whole no longer understands even the very basics about Gods design for living and in terms of God's design," he explained. "We have four simple elements that apply to everyone, whether you're a believer or not."

The message of the sample sermons is, first, that the church needs to understand what marriage really is and that the counterfeits that exist today do not amount to marriage. Second, that sexual intimacy is only meant to be expressed in the safety and bonds of marriage. Third, that through sexual intimacy in marriage comes children and therefore a family. And finally, that family is the institution that God created to raise healthy, productive citizens for the benefit of society as a whole.

The importance of that message, Snyder said, cannot be overemphasized.

"Frankly, the church has just as much sexual sin as the rest of society and it is very sad because in effect, it paralyzes the body of Christ from wanting to engage (in the battle for our culture,)" he said. "In essence we want the church to take the log out of its own eye before we start trying to correct the very bad vision of those who have an agenda on the other side."

In addition to the four sample sermons, the National Preaching Initiative Web site offers information about the Federal Marriage Amendment, research materials and articles from Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson's "Breakpoint Commentary."
The alert lists links to each of the sites it mentions. If you believe your pastor would consider preaching on civic involvement during the runup to this the most crucial of American presidential elections, be sure to e-mail him the link to this alert.

Posted by Tim at 1:54 PM EDT

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