Thursday, July 17, 2008

Open Letter To Pastors - Religious Rights

Dear Pastor,

A large number of key religious leaders in America share a deep concern that as a pastor, you may not be fully aware of the freedoms you have during this election cycle to speak openly from the pulpit about spiritual and moral issues — key issues that have been the church’s province for centuries.

Over the last four decades, these issues have been shaped into political footballs by groups bent on censoring Christian speech, not only in schools and in the public square, but also in the sanctuary. You and your church may have even received threats of lawsuits, IRS investigations and loss of tax exemption if you speak out on certain issues during an election year.

Be encouraged: Please read, Churches and Politics: Your Freedom to Speak Biblical Truth: This important document includes a checklist of what churches and pastors can do safely, under the protection of the law, to speak out on these key issues. If these guidelines are followed and you are threatened or legally harassed, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has trained over 1,100 attorneys to advise and even defend, without charge, your church’s rights of free speech.

This election is of overwhelming importance, not only for the presidency, but for other offices as well. The next president might appoint up to three Supreme Court Justices, to be confirmed by the Senate, who could affect our nation’s destiny for decades. Activist judges with their own agenda can loose a flood of immorality, override the will of the people, criminalize Christian speech and practice, and bring our nation under the judgment of God.

Christians need to be shown how to pray biblically for governments, and to be emboldened to express themselves, not only at the ballot box, but also in our ongoing struggle against immoral legislation. Links below will lead you to valuable sources for sermon preparation and mobilization.

Making disciples remains the church’s first calling. But what does that have to do with politics? Dr. Bill Bright said:

“Citizenship in a free country is a blessing from God ... God wants us to do his will in government ... but we have disobeyed our Lord ... As a result, we are in danger of losing our nation by default, and with it our individual freedoms and possibly our very lives. If that should happen, our opportunity to help fulfill the Great Commission throughout the United States and the world will also be lost. And hundreds of millions will never have the opportunity to receive our Savior.”

We must speak the truth in love. Biblical teaching is not hate speech meant to disparage or condemn; rather, it is meant to warn people that sin has drastic eternal consequences, and the good news is that the gospel offers the solution. That is the church’s commission and always has been.

Here are some specific things we can do:

  • Pray and lead our people in intercessory prayer. Activism without prayer cover is like infantry without air cover.
  • Teach them the biblical principles of how to pray and what to do for our nation.
  • Speak out. Motivate our people to get involved in the political process. There are battles to be won there: not only for traditional marriage, the sanctity of life, and the protection of our children, but also against poverty, disease, injustice, and the suppression of religious rights.
  • Mobilize. Fewer than a quarter of professing Christians vote. How can we awaken the rest? We have the numbers to make a difference if we will!
  • Recruit others. Please forward this liberating information to other pastors Forward this message to a friend, denominational headquarters, and ministry leaders. If you have any concerns about speaking out, please call the Alliance Defense Fund at 1-800-TELLADF today.

As a reminder: To access ADF’s 2008 Churches and Politics Guidelines, click here: and read your rights. Or, look at Downloadable Documents in the right column of this Blog and click on "Churches & Politics."

Yours, for the healing of our land,
Jimmy and Carol Owens