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Political Devotions - Conservative Alerts, News and Commentary
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Help End the Sinful Silence
Topic: Church & Politics
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

Mark Twain (of all people!) in the September 2, 1904 edition of Colliers magazine, offered this fine assessment of the Christian's obligation of civic involvement:
It will be conceded that a Christian's first duty is to God. It then follows, as a matter of course, that it is his duty to carry his Christian code of morals to the polls and vote them. Whenever he shall do that, he will not find himself voting for an unclean man, a dishonest man. If Christians would vote their duty to God at the polls, they would carry every election, and do it with ease. Their prodigious power would be quickly realized and recognized, and afterward there would be no unclean candidates upon any ticket, and graft would cease. If the Christians of America could be persuaded to vote God and a clean ticket, it would bring about a moral revolution that would be incalculably beneficent. It would save the country.
The Christian duty is clear, yet an October 2002 CitizenLink article reported there has been a 40 percent drop in Christian voter turnout over the last four elections. If you would like to help reverse this trend, this entry offers a few resources.

First, The Family Research Council's Washington Update features an important new book by its former president:
Ken Connor's New Book: 'Sinful Silence'

Christians must be engaged in the public debate and former FRC President Ken Connor's new book, "Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty" is an excellent read on the subject. By looking at God's Word and His dealings with nations such as Judah, the book sets forth biblical principles that remove any doubt as to God's heart on the issue of civil involvement. It points out that just as God held the people of Judah accountable for their leaders' sins because he gave them significant responsibility in selecting their leaders, he holds us accountable as well. And, from addressing the Bible's call for us to be "salt and light" in our world to suggesting that our failure as God's people to address blatant violations of God's civil standards may hinder our prayer and worship, this is a book well worth reading. It would also make an excellent gift for your pastor.
And Washington Update also offers this warning, with a link to a helpful page:
Spies in Church Pews: The New Strategy of the Left

Liberal groups are seeking to intimidate churches and pastors that take stands on public policy issues. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed 50 complaints in the past decade urging the IRS to deny tax-exempt status to particular churches and ministries. Additionally, a local group in the Kansas City area is actually sending spies to church services in an attempt to catch pastors engaging in prohibited political activities.

The spy campaign is targeted specifically at churches supporting traditional marriage. Churches where Democratic politicians campaign in person - such as the one in Ohio whose pastor introduced John Kerry yesterday as "a hero among us" - are seldom the target of such attacks. IRS rules forbid churches from endorsing candidates, but voter registration, voter education (such as non-partisan candidate scorecards), and issue-oriented advocacy are all permitted. Pro-family churches, pastors, and voters should not be intimidated into remaining silent on issues like marriage and the defense of unborn life by such scare tactics. For guidelines on political involvement by churches, written by the Alliance Defense Fund, go to the link below.

Additional Resources

Alliance Defense Fund: Legal Analysis Regarding "Battle for Marriage"
The American Center for Law and Justice also has a nice, very comprehensive page on Churches and Political Speech.

And finally, if you would you like your pastor to speak on the importance of civic involvement, or if you are a pastor who wants some help in developing a sermon on the subject, Focus on the Family's site has a sermon outline developed by its Pastoral Ministries team:

Citizenship: Christians in the Public Square

Many Christian people want nothing to do with public life because it seems corrupt and dirty. Yet, is it possible that political life has degenerated because people with strong moral standards have shunned it? The Bible has some surprising messages for us about duty to our government. . . .

The Outline includes scripture references, quotations from prominent thinkers and a collection of interesting, relevant facts.

Posted by Tim at 1:15 PM EDT
Friday, July 23, 2004
Evil in the Name of Christ
Topic: Church & Politics
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)

In his most recent column, Dennis Prager heaps righteous indignation upon The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for what is, in essence, a policy in support of the destruction of Israel:
I have argued in this column that the greatest sin is committing evil in God's name. As bad as the evil committed by secularists, such as communists and Nazis, has ever been, the most grievous evil is that which is committed in the name of God. For not only do religious evils harm their victims, they also do lasting damage to God-based morality, which those of us who believe in God and religion consider the only viable antidote to evil.

That is why Islamic terror is so evil. Not only because it targets the most innocent of people for death and torture, but because it does so in the name of Allah and Islam.

Incredibly, The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) joins the list of religious groups committing evil. In the name of Jesus, it has called for the economic strangulation of Israel. They have equated the Jewish state with South Africa during apartheid and called for a universal divestment from it.

The Presbyterians are the first Christian church to do this, and, ironically, the divestment campaign came the very week that the Roman Catholic Church signed a document equating anti- Zionism with anti-Semitism.

It takes a particularly virulent strain of moral idiocy and meanness to single out Israel, not Arafat's Palestinian Authority, or terror-supporting, death-fatwa-issuing Iran, or women- subjugating Saudi Arabia, for condemnation and economic ruin. One of the most decent societies, one of the most liberal democracies in the world, is fighting for its life against Islamic fascists who praise the Holocaust and publicly call for the annihilation of Israel -- and the Presbyterian Church calls for strangling Israel!. . . .

This is one of the morality-clarifying issues of our time. To single out Israel for economic strangulation while that good nation fights for its life is an act of such immorality that holding that view precludes one from the title "good" or "God-fearing," for if they are true to God, I am false to Him. If they are good, I who support Israel am bad. If their Bible teaches them to strangle Israel and support Yasser Arafat, I am guided by a different Bible.

They have drawn a line. It is now time for good people, Presbyterians specifically, Christians generally, to distance themselves vigorously and publicly from this morally sick church. And it is time, once again, for Jews to realize that the enemies of the Jews in our day are to be found on the Christian Left while their friends are far more often on the Christian right.
After the publication of Dennis' column, The stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church issued a statement attempting a backpedal from the resolution. In it, the clerk claims the assembly "authorized exploration of a selective divestment of church funds from those companies whose business in Israel is found to be directly or indirectly causing harm or suffering to innocent people." But the language of the resolution itself is clear:
Refers to Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) with instructions to initiate a process of phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance to General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action.
And check out the obnoxious moral equivalence between Israel's defensive maneuvers and Palestinians' murder of innocents:
Horrific acts of violence and deadly attacks on innocent people, whether carried out by Palestinian "suicide bombers" or by the Israeli military, are abhorrent and inexcusable by all measures, and are a dead-end alternative to a negotiated settlement of the conflict
That the General Assembly is in retreat mode is a promising sign that maybe, just maybe it will reverse its policy. But don't hold your breath. In any case, you can express your disgust to the stated clerk of the General Assembly here.

Posted by Tim at 3:51 PM EDT

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