RAYTOWN, Mo. (BP)–Homosexuality and abortion, politics and righteousness, Democrats and Republicans were part of a wide-ranging address by David Barton during the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Oct. 25-27 annual meeting.
Barton, a Texan who founded and presides over an organization that seeks to rebuild the constitutional, moral and righteous heritage of America, told the crowd of more than 1,000 at First Baptist Church, Raytown, that America is especially blessed.
“We lived 228 years under the same document, the United States Constitution. No nation has done that in the history of the world,” said Barton, president of WallBuilders, a name based in the Old Testament Book of Nehemiah.
Barton attributes the longevity of the United States and its Constitution to the essence of a quote from George Washington, who said: “Of all the habits and dispositions that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
However, Barton expressed deep concern over a five-decade legislative trend that seeks to remove religion and morality from the public policy arena.
“This idea of ‘live and let live’ does not work anywhere in the history of mankind,” Barton said.
Currently, for example, nine nations in the world -– all of which have had a Christian heritage at least as long as the United States –- have embraced homosexual “marriage,” Barton said.
“[W]hen we give up the traditional marriage, we give up a whole lot. We give up our religious liberties. We give up our freedom of speech,” he said.
According to Barton, of the 86 nations in world history –- some of which existed for hundreds of years –- that rejected the biblical definition of marriage, not one lasted for more than two generations after that rejection.
“If 86 other nations couldn’t get away with it, is God so enthralled with the word ‘America’ that he would let us? No!” Barton said.
In a detailed litany, Barton blamed some of America’s judges who make laws that a majority of the citizenry find repulsive, and who do so despite what the United States’ founding documents say, and the intent of the writers of those documents. Barton noted that the framers of the Declaration of Independence drew many of their ideas came from “The Two Treatises of Government,” a book which cites the Bible more than 1,700 times “to show the proper operation of civil government.”
He said that Isaiah 1:26 indicates the righteousness of a culture is based on its judges, and Ezra 7:25 says to “appoint judges who know the laws of God.”
“You put God-fearing judges in office, you get God-fearing decisions. God can bless the land. Judges. It’s that simple,” Barton said.
Barton didn’t target judges alone but also Christians as he cited figures showing why the country has slipped from its founding moorings. Polls indicate three different kinds of voters claiming to be Christian, he said. The “Christian” voter –- the ones who just call themselves Christian -– is the largest grouping. He said the “born-again” voter group is smaller. Smaller still is the “evangelical, Christian” group, described as having had a life-changing experience with Jesus Christ, who believe the Bible is the Word of God and is the basis of their life, and who regularly pray, read the Bible and go to church, he said.
Many Christians, however, tell pollsters that economic issues are more important than moral ones, Barton said.
“Now, we can’t find a [single Bible verse] to sustain that,” Barton said. “Proverbs 14:34 says that righteousness exalts a nation…. God could’ve said economics exalts a nation, but He didn’t.”
Barton said too many preachers think that almost all political rhetoric is prohibited from the pulpit, but the Internal Revenue Service has stated in a June letter (which is posted on Barton’s website, www.wallbuilders.org) that churches can talk about any issue of public policy and the votes on those issues. What the IRS says churches can’t do is endorse a candidate or political party, he said.
Barton said some Christians are concerned about righteousness issues but hate politics. “That’s oxymoronic. You have to have politics, because politics is where you choose the people who make policy…. Only when you choose the righteous do you get righteous policy. You’re not going to get marriage protected by homosexual activists,” Barton said.
Given all the statistics and polls and convictions of the majority of Americans, Barton asked, “Why is Congress so far out of step?”
Quoting an 1858 personal letter written by President James A. Garfield, who also was a minister, Barton said: “‘Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption…. Now, if that body be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand that these high qualities represent them in the national legislature…. If the next centennial … does not find us a great nation, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture and the morality of the nation do not aide in controlling the political forces.’
“In other words,” Barton continued, “if the values of the people don’t match the values of the policy makers, it’s because the people with the values haven’t done anything to control the policy makers.”
Barton said it’s no wonder that Christians can’t get moral legislation passed –- too many of them have stopped voting.
Whereas some people get discouraged with such stats, Barton said he’s encouraged, “That’s some of the best news I have seen in a long time.” Comparing the culture war to a football game, Barton said it’s half-time, the score is tied and Christians are wondering who will win.
Football teams have 11 players at a time on the field, he said. “While they’ve had their team on the field, we’ve had only one-fourth of our team on the field. We’ve had only three players on the field. If the rest of our team shows up in the second half, we won’t even have a culture war in America.”
Amid raucous applause, Barton continued: “You see, we’ve never been in the minority; we just don’t get involved.”
Barton closed with a challenge from Mathias Burnett, the minister who preached before the 1803 joint session of the Connecticut legislature. At the close of his message, he addressed the gallery of local citizens, saying, “‘To God and posterity, you are accountable for your rights and your rulers.’”
Barton mused that some Missouri Baptist who were listening to him were saying to themselves, “‘Now wait a minute. I can’t be responsible to God for my rulers. I didn’t even vote last election.’
“Yeah, exactly! That’s the point.”
Barton left the stage during a standing ovation after he again quoted from Burnett’s sermon: “‘Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you.’”