EL CENTRO — October is Pastors and Ministry Leaders Appreciation Month and to celebrate, the Christian radio station, KGBA, hosted local pastors and community leaders for a luncheon and lecture, October 3, at the Old Eucalyptus Schoolhouse.
Keynote speaker was Dr. Jim Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego. Garlow hosts, “The Garlow Perspective” on over 800 radio outlets nationwide and has appeared on national TV shows, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox and Comedy Central. He has several New York Best Selling books, and in 2016, released, Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today’s Tough Issues by Regnery Publishers of Washington, DC, his 15th book on historical, theological and cultural issues.
“Pastors tell me they don’t want to be political from their pulpits,” Garlow told the packed room, “and I ask them, ‘does that mean you would not have preached against slavery? Or human smuggling?’”
Pastors and church leaders are afraid to speak boldly about cultural decline from the pulpit because of what is called the Johnson Amendment. When President Lyndon Johnson was still serving in the U.S. Congress, he added an amendment to a bill stating 501.3c’s could not endorse candidates. For tax purposes, most churches are tax-exempt nonprofit organizations and file a 501.3c tax form. Because of a misunderstanding of the amendment, 90 percent of the pastors feel they cannot speak on social and political matters without losing their tax status, according to Garlow.
But Garlow stressed that all political and social issues are Kingdom issues. He countered Christians who say they are politically only single issue voters- abortion, or double issue- marriage and abortion, but he argued all issues are Biblical. The reason is because God instituted marriage and government from the start.
Although mega-churches now exist, some with over 10,000 members, the culture continues to slide downward. Society is worse off now and continues to deteriorate, mainly, Garlow contended, because the church has been effectively silenced.
Before the Civil War and during the Suffragette movement, Christians spoke out against slavery and for the women’s right to vote.
“They were hung for their work,” Garlow said. “But they did what was right because they had been told from the pulpit that women and slaves are not property, they were created in the image of God and deserved to vote or to be free.”
Some pastors cite they “only want to speak of Jesus,” but Jesus spoke about social issues, he spoke about marriage, human trafficking, and poverty, Garlow said.
“I’m not asking you to be more political, but to be more biblical.”
“Minimum wage, social security – all are concepts in the Bible, so are national defense and climate change,” said Garlow.
Garlow charged that Christians had allowed the enemy to push and silence them.
“Ten years ago, all pastors could have spoken that marriage was between a man and a women and that would have been OK, now it is too politically incorrect to say that from the pulpit,” Garlow said.
“The debt would have been spoken about from the pulpit, ‘Thou shall not steal…from future generations’. Now you never hear biblical references to what’s happening in the government.”
The speaker belongs to a group of pastors who have submitted their political and cultural sermons to the IRS for years, challenging the IRS to take away their favorable tax status, but the IRS has refused to take the bait according to Garlow.
“The IRS knows the amendment is not constitutional and would lose under court scrutiny. The government does not have a right to dictate what can and cannot be said from the pulpit”, Garlow emphasized.
“If the pulpit is silent, the pews are silent. The problems we have are spiritual,” said Garlow.
He cited a Barna Group poll where they asked parishioners in 2014 if they wanted their church to speak on political and cultural issues, 40 percent answered yes. Barna took the same poll in 2015 and found the numbers had jumped to over 50%. People want to hear these topics preached from the pulpits.
Most Christians say they aren’t afraid to speak out against the moral decay, but rather don’t know how to make their case. They are not familiar with Bible passages concerning cultural issues.
Foreign governments are reporting in their local papers, according to Garlow, the US government is forcing gay marriage and objectionable sexual policies upon their countries. If they object, the U.S. threatens to withhold funding, grants and money for aids. One African country called it “sexual colonization” saying they are forcing unbidden foreign lifestyles into their culture just like in the last century.
“We are exporting evil, and the church remains silent,” Garlow said.
Because of the churches’ hesitation on speaking out against the culture through Biblical ignorance, Garlow has published, Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today’s Tough Issues to aid Christians in their arguments.[envira-gallery id=”86118″]