Now that the campaign season is but a memory — all that time and money come, gone and spent in what seems like a flash now, though we thought it interminable when it was in full swing — except here in Virginia, where the campaign year hasn't even come upon us and it's already making national news, it is good to reflect on how to raise the culture as opposed to raising issues for candidates to address. Campaigns once were the place to educate the electorate about issues and sway voters to one side or another. Now, regular voters are so polarized, campaigns are nothing more than a race to identify the voters who mostly agree with either candidate and get those people to the polls. But by educating people in the absence of the vitriol of an election campaign, and instilling a sense of the proper culture, we can do more for our commonwealth and country than $100 million in television ads.
One way we try to do that is through our Pastors for Family Values ministry. During the fall, we hosted our annual Pastors Summit. It already has produced fruit and we are excited about how long lasting the impact will be on Virginia. More than 400 pastors ministry leaders attended and left Richmond motivated, informed and encouraged to be culturally engaged.
The summit, co-hosted by CitizenLink, featured Del Tackett. Dr. Tackett, a former Air Force officer and architect of The Truth Project, was superb in his two speaking sessions, tracing the origins of modern skepticism and presenting a contrast between the God-focus of a Biblical worldview and the self-focus of the secular humanist worldview that is common in the emerging generation. A man of remarkable insight and discernment with a gift for teaching, Dr. Tackett showed how the modern concepts of heart and mind differ from the Biblical view and what implications that has for the core beliefs that shape our thought and actions. It was a clarion call for pastors to affirm a Biblical worldview in such a way that it becomes a transformational belief at the center of who we are.
Pastors also heard from Erik Stanley, senior counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, about their rights as pastors to speak out on issues and on ADF's "pulpit initiative." ADF is seeking pastors with the boldness to ignore the threats of intimidation by the IRS, and the likes of Mr. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and try to force the IRS to go to court over its attempts to limit free speech. Former U.S. Representative Bob McEwen of Ohio wooed the group with his analysis of the state of the government and its threats to our liberty.
At a separate evening event, Dr. Tackett addressed a crowd of nearly 500 at Richmond's Grove Avenue Baptist Church, where he talked about the inevitability of consequences to our actions, and the fact that acts based on truth bring better outcomes than those based on our emotional decision.
Pastors, and attendees at the evening event, were incredibly motivated. In fact, several pastors attended the Virginia Board of Health meeting the following morning after being motivated to take action at the summit. We are still hearing about pastors around Virginia who have gone back to their churches and are boldly speaking on cultural issues and the necessity of action by the church in Virginia! There is no doubt that this year’s summit will have a lasting impact on the culture of Virginia.
We appreciate all the pastors, ministry leaders and individuals who attended the Summit and the evening with Dr. Tackett. We pray that all who attended were blessed in a unique way and that the excitement and motivation of these events, and others we are planning and which will take place in the near future, will last long into the future. Because long after campaigns are distant memories, long after office holders names are forgotten, the day-to-day efforts needed to educate, motivate and shape the culture will continue to be necessary.