WASHINGTON (BP)–Speakers at a “Values Voter Summit” Sept. 21-23 urged Christians to engage the culture this fall by casting their votes based on their values and not on party lines.
The Family Research Council-sponsored event drew approximately 1,700 pro-family supporters, who heard prominent conservative leaders address such topics as “gay marriage,” abortion, judicial activism and embryonic stem cell research.
“Our job as Christians is to take the truth of God’s Word and apply it to our society,” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said at a panel discussion. “We cannot shy away from moral or political issues. We must make our voices heard.”
In addition to Land and other Christian leaders, attendees heard from such conservative politicians as Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Sen. George Allen, R-Va., Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who is Southern Baptist.
Land told the audience that God is involved in the moral issues that currently confront Americans.
“God is pro-life, pro-heterosexual and anti-pornography. But He is not Democrat or Republican,” Land said.
Land’s comments came during a panel discussion on “The Role of Churches in Political Issues.” Appearing with him was Herb Lusk, pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia; John Guest, pastor of Christ Church at Grove Farm in Sewickley, Pa.; and Kenyn Cureton, vice president for convention relations for the SBC’s Executive Committee. Cureton served as moderator.
Land said he would caution churches to refrain from endorsing specific candidates and instead work to educate their parishioners on where the candidates stand on the issues.
“Churches can be engaged, getting involved in voter registration, for instance, as long as it is done blind,” Land said. “Pastors have an obligation to speak prophetically about the issues of the day. And we all have an obligation to preach about unborn life. Every Christian should be registered to vote. It is a sin not to vote.”
Lusk agreed, telling the audience that voting and “standing for the truth requires courage, but we must do it.” He said “Christians must get out there and live what we believe,” and he warned that like the days of Nehemiah, “our walls are down and our cities are in disarray. We must cry out to God for His protection and deliverance.”
Also speaking during the three-day weekend event was James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University; Don Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association; Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation; Charles Pickering, retired federal judge; and Bill Bennett, former U.S. secretary of education.
Speaking about international issues, Bennett said the world “is in the Third World War” and that the world’s leaders “should have let Israel take out Hezbollah and finish the job.”
“The U.S.A. should have helped Israel take out Hezbollah,” Bennett said. “Now, the terrorists still have the two Israeli soldiers, yet the world has made Israel withdraw.”
Santorum, who is fighting an uphill re-election battle and trails in the polls, strongly advocated the natural definition of marriage in a taped speech presented at the event.
“I believe the family is the central unit of our society and marriage is the glue that holds it together,” he said, adding he had planned on attending the summit, but instead had to attend to a pressing family matter.
The two-term senator said he has “paid a price for taking a strong stand against abortion and same-sex marriage.” But he said he would not change to win re-election and vowed instead to continue the fight. His comments echoed those made earlier at the conference by Huckabee, who told the audience that “marriage has been between a man and a woman for all time, in all civilizations.”
Inhofe told the audience that Christians must support candidates who will not flinch from engaging in the battle against abortion and “gay marriage.” Inhofe said the Bible is clear that “lying with a man is an abomination” and that “life begins at conception.” He called the homosexual agenda insidious and said that Christians must remain vigilant in protecting traditional families.
Wildmon said Christians must support natural, traditional marriage even if they have to boycott American corporations, such as Ford. He said his investigation of Ford found that the company has underwritten the cost of many homosexual events and has supported financially homosexual organizations.
“Deciding to impose that boycott was the hardest boycott decision of my life,” he said. “Is our boycott among the reasons Ford’s financial problems continue to grow? Yes it is.”
Whether or not the boycott works, Wildmon told the audience that “God does not call us to be successful. He calls us to be faithful.”
Pickering said the nation is under attack by “activist judges” who have undermined the will of the people and their elected legislatures. He added that the “outcome of this battle will determine the kind of America in which our children and grandchildren will live.”
“Judges are ill-equipped to make political decisions” but many do it all the time, Pickering said. The battle over the judiciary has resulted in a “breakdown of the confirmation process” that if not fixed soon, could cause “irreversible harm” to the judicial system. Liberals want “judges to create new rights that they lost at the ballot box,” Pickering warned.
Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, said judicial activism is just one of the “growing cultural problems Americans face. All this business about not mixing church and state is a bald face lie, and America is dying because of it,” he warned.
“Judges have been legislating changes to protect the wall between church and state –- a wall that does not even exist,” he said. “Now we are debating whether to create life only to kill it in a petri dish 11 days later. Look at how far we have slid, America.”
The tragedy in America is that “the church has become politically ignorant,” Scarbrough said.
“Pastors must stand up and preach what they believe. Daniel the prophet mixed church and state and got thrown in the lion’s den. We too, must be willing to face persecution to practice what we believe and know is right,” he said.