The Silent Pulpit

By Mark Swarbrick

I do not trust that the American electorate will make the right choice for president in 2016. I hope I am wrong, but there are three reasons why I believe our chances for electing a good president are not good.

One, our track record is not good. Twice we have elected a socialist, anti-American, divisive and feckless leader who has weakened our national security and wreaked havoc with our economy and brought riots, murder and mayhem to our streets. Barack Hussein Obama has been an unmitigated disaster. We elected him twice. Shame on us.

Secondly, our political misadventure with Obama has an underlying cause: America is spiritually sick. As a nation, we have drifted far from God. We are as the Laodicean Church of Revelation, of whom our Lord said, “You say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…” We have kicked God out of our schools and allowed teachers to indoctrinate our young with the notion that there is no Creator, that everything came from nothing, and all the while we complacently kill innocent unborn babies by the millions. When a nation turns towards evil it’s people become blind and foolish in many other ways. A foolish and wicked people will choose foolish and wicked leaders.

Thirdly, there is silence from the American pulpit. Many of our pastors are not directing their preaching at the dangerous direction of our country. Not all pastors, to be sure, but far too many ignore the important subjects of our time. It is as though we were all in a lifeboat, a hole in the bottom is gushing water in, and everyone has their attention directed upon a pretty sunset. Our pastors are silent about the impending danger.

So three things lead me to be pessimistic about the 2016 elections. We have a record of electing foolish men, we are spiritually adrift, and the pastors of America are largely silent on the sinful choices of our nation.

It is this last phenomenon, what I call the silence of the pulpit, that I wish to elaborate on. When is the last time you heard a pastor preach about the evils of Communism and Socialism? When has your church had a class on the Biblical foundations of Capitalism and freedom, or the historical evidence of Christian belief being the basis for many of the ideas in the Constititution and the Bill of Rights? How often have you heard a Bible study on the sinfulness of homosexuality? How often have you heard Biblical teaching on how a country should handle its finances? What about a teaching on infanticide and what God did to nations of the Old Testament that killed their babies? How about the Just War Theory as embodied in Scripture and taught be early Church leaders? I bet your never saw that one in the church bulletin!

After Ronald Reagan defeated the evil empire of the United Soviet Socialist Republics, we are now seeing America turn to such leaders as Bernie Sanders who unashamedly proclaims himself to be a socialist. Capitalism is denigrated as evil. The failed and evil ideology of communism, that has resulted in the genocide of millions and the enslavement of billions, is being touted as “progressive” and abortion is heralded as an easy way to avoid, as our president put it, “being punished by a baby.”

Our White House was bathed in rainbow lights, celebrating the legalization of sodomy. Our nation is under attack by Islamic terrorists while our nation is paralyzed by apathy, not understanding the necessity and biblical right of our country to go to war to protect its people. Our country is dangerously in debt, so much so that we are in danger of a catastrophic monetary collapse of Biblical proportion.

How about a church seminar on what the Bible says of living up to our responsibilities as citizens by being involved in civic government and electing godly and wise leaders? No, haven’t seen that on the church website? I thought not. Our country is going down the tubes. And still, there is silence from the pulpit.

Christians throughout the world are being beheaded, drowned and burned alive. When have we heard a pastor urging us to write to our representatives, demanding a military response to protect our brothers and sisters in Christ? Indeed, a sermon on Proverbs 24:12 is in order: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”

Sermons on homosexuality, communism, abortion, fiscal and moral responsibility and Biblical civic responsibility and scriptural national defense have been needed. If such sermons had been preached, perhaps Obama would not have won reelection. But they were not preached, and he won a second term, and Christians are continuing to be martyred. And still yet, there is silence from the pulpit.

The prospect that a pastor should preach about current political events is anathema today. “Don’t preach politics, stick to the Gospel,” is the modern outcry. This is heard so often that most Christians believe this is how it should be. It was not always this way. As a point of fact, from the very beginning of Christianity, the Church was quite vocal about political decisions and current events.

One example from the early days of Christendom is the denunciation of the brutal Roman Gladiator games. This was a political hot potato at the time. Christian leaders spoke out sharply against this very popular practice. Tertullian (160 – 225 A.D.) preached against it, as well as most Christian pastors. They actively campaigned against it, against government leaders that promoted the games, denounced attendance as sinful, and admonished Christians to boycott the games. This lone voice of protest from Christians against the carnage of the Roman games resulted in the abolishment of this wicked practice.

Prior to and during the American revolution, pastors taught and spoke from the pulpit on political topics and issues. In her book, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution, Alice Baldwin demonstrates that the political activism of Christian pastors and their bold rhetoric from the pulpit is what formed the consensus of American sentiment on freedom and justice, and that without their political vocalizations to their congregations, there would have been no American revolution. Her book contains many examples of fiery sermons that touched upon government and politics of the time.

Likewise, prior to and during the Civil War, it was from the pulpits, that were anything but silent, that the impetus to free the slaves was heard. Not only was slavery denounced by northern preachers, but politicians themselves were openly criticized by preachers from the pulpit if they were pro-slavery. One must ask, how much longer would slavery have continued if preachers of the time had been silent on political matters?

When did all this change? When did Christians adopt the idea that their pastors should be silent, no matter what wickedness politicians cooked up? Today we need, more than ever, fiery and bold sermons against political wickedness. Politicians that promote evil and foolishness should be marked from the pulpit. We had this in the past and It changed the course of human events for the better. But today, our nation is adrift in a storm, yet still we suffer from a silent pulpit. Why? How has this happened?

I’ll tell you when and how. It began one year before I was born, in 1954. It was called the Johnson Amendment. In 1954, Senator Lyndon B Johnson was running for reelection. Some non-profit anti-communist groups were opposing him and passing out literature about his liberal policies. In order to silence them Johnson cooked up an evil and unconstitutional plan. By a crafty back-room deal, this powerful senator sneakily got an amendment added to the federal tax code that made it “illegal for any non-profit organizations (including churches) to “Participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of – or in opposition to – any candidate for public office.”

Johnson’s plan was successful. It silenced his opposition. It also silenced all churches. The Left now uses this law to intimidate Christian pastors and church boards with threats of losing their nonprofit status should they dare talk about the Bible as it relates to political cultural, fiscal, and social issues.

We all know how the secularists scream “separation of church and state,” to try to squelch morality. But Christians are culpable as well when they go along with the idea that the Church “should only preach Jesus and stay out of politics.” The belief that we just preach the gospel and everything else will work out fine, is a failed ideology that has brought our country to the brink of destruction.

There are even some pastors who have taught that the scripture “fear God, honor the king,” (1 Peter 2:17) means that we should never expose the dangerous practices and policies of a wayward president. That is ludicrous. We have no king. The Constitution has replaced a king. The truth is, when our government leaders trample the Constitution, and we keep silent, then we are failing to “honor the king.”

There was a time when Christians understood, and were told from the pulpit, that electing godly leaders was a Christian responsibility. That wise admonition is not heard anymore, and as proof of that I point to recent events in South Carolina, a Bible belt state full of evangelicals. A man who is not a church-goer, who has said that he has never told God he is sorry for anything, a man with mob connections, who fires out insults and spews vulgar profanities in front of women and children in public, this man, just won South Carolina in the presidential Republican primary.

Maybe that will make some people mad, that I say that. I don’t care. Actually, I do care. I don’t like to offend anyone. I’m scared of people not liking what I say. But I care more about what will save America and what is right and what the Bible says. So, let people be mad. I don’t care. More pastors need to just not care about the backlash and care about preaching the truth, even when the truth is uncomfortable. Christians have no business voting for ungodly men when there are good solid constitutional conservative Bible believing Christians running for president. But I digress.

Clearly, the Christians of South Carolina don’t think that being a godly man is a prerequisite for the presidency. There was a time they would have known better. There was a time when their pastor would have been animated and fervent with fiery Sunday-morning rhetoric in his denunciation of such a politician. Not today. There is silence from the pulpit.

It is time to reverse this practice. It is time to encourage our pastors to be bold and put an end to the anemic and apathetic attitudes of the American Christian Church. It is time to repeal the unconstitutional Johnson amendment, and until then, defy it. America’s problems won’t be solved by politics. We don’t have a political problem; we have a sin problem. But until America’s preachers find boldness to denounce the sin and wickedness in high places in our government and name names, the evil, foolish and dangerous direction of our nation will not change.

When America comes to repentance, foolish and evil politicians will find themselves out of a job. That won’t happen until an army of Jonah’s rise up and prophecy that the doom of America is at hand unless we repent and return to sound biblical sensibility and moral government. As John Adams, second president of the United States and signer of the Declaration of Independence said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

It is time for the Church in America to find its voice again. It is time for Christians to be the salt and light of the earth. We will be hated for it and persecuted. Jesus told us we would. We are not persecuted now because we have been silent, as Satan wishes. It is time. Let there be silence from the pulpit no longer.