Campaigns End, But Shaping The Culture ContinuesDec. 02, 2012
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.
I Agree With Michelle ObamaJul. 02, 2012
You read that correctly. It probably doesn't happen often, but I completely agree with the words spoken by First Lady Michelle Obama late last week where she implored church leaders at a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tenn. to drive political action (see Dan Gilgoff at CNN.com's Belief Blog):
To anyone who says that church is no place to talk about these issues, you tell them there is no place better. Because ultimately, these are not just political issues, they are moral issues.
As of today, I've seen no screaming press release from Mr. Barry Lynn of American's United for Separation of Church and State ridiculing the First Lady or demanding that the IRS investigate.
The fact is Mrs. Obama is absolutely correct on both counts. The church is the place to talk about the issues of the day, to ensure that people understand that their values have a place in the public square and that the church, the center of social change and political movements since before America began, has every legal right and a moral obligation to do so.
That is true because nearly every issue we are dealing with in America today — abortion, marriage, health care, poverty, ethics in government, etc. — are moral issues. To say that the church should not address what is clearly one of its fundamental obligations is not just silly, it's dangerous.
Unfortunately, too many church leaders and congregants have fallen for the "separation of church and state" myth, either from intimidation, ignorance or fear. Should the church be the center of partisan political activity? No, though frankly it is constitutionally protected to do so. Should politics be the primary activity of the church? Again, no. But addressing issues of the day, teaching people about their God-given civic responsibilities and providing information about candidates and elected officials are absolutely legal and important for congregations — and don't think Michelle Obama doesn't know that.
So, as we approach our celebration of Independence Day, the founding of our great republic — a moment in history driven by the clergy (see Joseph Loconte Houses of Worship column at the WSJ.com) — let's all take the First Lady's words to heart and make sure that our churches remain the centers of social and political change in America and in Virginia.
Barry Lynn Vs. Voter EducationFeb. 24, 2010
Our old friend Barry Lynn at Americans United for Separation of Truth from Reality Church and State has sent yet another letter to the IRS, this time asking for an investigation of Liberty University and, in doing so, takes a shot at none other than The Family Foundation. One thing is for sure, with Mr. Lynn in business, the U.S. Postal Service has no worries — letters will keep flying! In his diatribe letter, Mr. Lynn states that The Family Foundation's voter guide from the House of Delegates 23rd District race between former Delegate Shannon Valentine and current Delegate Scott Garrett, M.D., "was crafted to promote the candidacy of Garrett."
Interesting. Let me see if I understand Mr. Lynn. Under his analysis, by pointing out that, as a delegate, Ms. Valentine voted in favor of funding Planned Parenthood and low income abortion, and in favor of censoring state police chaplains, somehow we stacked the deck against her. Of course, that must mean that Ms. Valentine's position on those particular issues were not in line with the voters.
I always find it humorous when someone makes the claim that a voter guide "promotes" any candidate over another. After all, if a citizen of the 23rd House district who believes that taxpayers should fund Planned Parenthood and low income abortions, and that state police chaplains should be censored, got a copy of our voter guide, would it not have "promoted" Ms. Valentine?
Mr. Lynn apparently still lives under the delusion that his intimidation tactics are effective. I just want to let them know — they aren't.
But keep sending those letters Barry! You might just get the U.S. Post Office out of the red.