I often receive inquiries from college and university students. Contrary to the thinking of most older adults, I find a sizable number of today's youth much more constitutionally aware than are their parents. I've traveled all over America and spoken to thousands of high school and college age young people. My observation is this: the youth of America have not rejected the message of liberty and constitutional government; they haven't HEARD the message of liberty and constitutional government. When they do hear it, as often as not, they embrace the message enthusiastically. If the Ron Paul Revolution of 2008 proved anything, it proved that!
Recently, a student from a prestigious university wrote me with a short list of questions for a thesis he is writing, which is entitled, "The Effect of the Evangelical Movement on the 2008 Presidential Election." He reads my columns and was motivated to ask me to contribute to his report. I am using today's column to answer his questions.
Question: "What, in your opinion, is the best way for the government and religious organizations to interact?"
Answer: The best way for government and religious institutions to interact is the same way that government and virtually all institutions should interact: by the government staying the heck out of their business!
Unfortunately, government at every level has grown into a monstrous Nanny State that intimidates, coerces, and almost controls practically every institution and organization (public and private) in America. The number of government bureaucracies and enforcement agencies at the local, State, and federal levels is so gargantuan that it is impossible to accurately keep track of them all. And it seems each agency and department's sole job is to justify its own existence by harassing, intimidating, and manipulating individuals and institutions. Nothing is different regarding religious institutions. In order to stay on the smiley side of government (especially the IRS), religious institutions have largely become the sheepish slaves of the state.
Question: "How do you think the government keeps religious organizations from affecting policy?"
Answer: I KNOW how the government keeps religious organizations from affecting policy: through the IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit corporate tax-exempt status that practically every church in America submits to.
The now infamous 501(c)(3) section of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) goes back to 1936 (the seeds of this Venus Fly Trap date back to 1872). But then-Senator Lyndon Johnson was the Dr. Frankenstein who, in 1954, unleashed this monster upon America. His motivation was: he did not like the way pastors and churches were opposing his liberal agenda, and he wanted to use the power of law to silence them. He, therefore, introduced verbiage to the IRC that churches were prohibited from influencing political legislation and supporting political campaigns, or risk losing their tax-exempt status.
Over time, fear of offending the 501(c)(3) criteria of the IRC has been used to intimidate pastors and church leaders to the point that, for all intents and purposes, they are "scared silly" to try and affect meaningful change to government policy. The result: 300,000 evangelical churches are almost totally impotent to impact or change American culture, societal conditions, or the political landscape.
Question: "Do you think an evangelical Christian organization should have a political extension (i.e. lobbyists) of itself on Capitol Hill?"
Answer: There are numerous organizations associated with the "Religious Right" that have political lobbyists on Capitol Hill. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. The problem comes when the organization and lobbyists themselves become part of the "good old boy" network that seems to be intricately associated with cavorting with the power elite. What normally happens is, in order to maintain the organization's "seat at the table," it quickly compromises the principles that originally created it. And pretty soon, instead of influencing Capitol Hill, the organization finds itself influenced and manipulated by Capitol Hill. In essence, that is the sordid story of how the Religious Right, which was so powerful back in the 1980s, has become the impotent entity that we see today.
Question: "How do you think Christians use their faith to make political decisions?"
Answer: Most Christians would have you believe that their faith is very instrumental in making their political decisions. However, just the opposite is true: the average Christian's politics is void of any genuine Christian faith. It seems, therefore, most Christians base their political decisions on the principles of "pragmatism," choosing the "lesser of two evils," or based wholly on political partisanship. The last two Presidential elections are prime examples of this unfortunate reality.
Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly supported George W. Bush in his reelection bid in 2004, despite Bush's egregious departure from conservative, constitutionalist principles throughout his first administration. They, then, continued to blindly support Bush throughout his second administration as he continued to promote globalist, big government policies and agendas.
During the election of 2008, Christians supported big government CFR candidate John McCain, even though McCain has a career track record of betrayal to true conservative principles. Notable Christian leaders such as Focus on the Family's James Dobson supported McCain, even after publicly promising to "never" support him.
Over and over, election after election, Christians prove that they will not let their Christianity get in the way of their politics.
Question: "How did evangelicals and conservatives have an effect on the 2008 presidential election?"
Answer: As noted above, Christian conservatives, on the whole, supported John McCain, even though they knew he would never be faithful to conservative principles. However, in spite of the support of evangelical leaders, many grassroots conservatives and constitutionalists could not vote for McCain in good conscience. For example, many Ron Paul conservatives voted for third party candidates such as Bob Barr or myself, or didn't vote at all. And this was true of many conservative independents, as well. As a result, Barack Obama won handily.
Question: "Why do evangelicals typically align themselves with the Republican Party?"
Answer: I was the Executive Director of the Florida Moral Majority back in the 1980s, and I witnessed the marriage between the GOP and Christian conservatives up close. Without a doubt, the two terms of President Ronald Reagan is the single biggest reason why Christian conservatives are so enamored with the Republican Party today. Before Reagan, the GOP was seen (properly) as a political extension of Big Business. The Democrat Party was seen (properly) as a political extension of Big Labor. Christians were critical of both parties and approached each candidate on a more individual and objective basis. Example: without a doubt, Christian conservatives elected Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976. Ronald Reagan changed all that. He obtained almost god-like status in the thinking of many evangelicals. Therefore, ever since Reagan, GOP stands for "God's Own Party" in the minds of many evangelicals. As a result, no matter how liberal, socialist, or globalist a Republican Presidential nominee might be now, most evangelicals will support him or her, simply because there is an "R" behind the name. Mark it down: if the GOP nominates the big government globalist chameleon and serial adulterer Newt Gingrich as its Presidential candidate in 2012, most evangelicals will support him.
Question: "In your opinion, do you think it's wrong for clergy to endorse politicians from the pulpit, or in another leading function within the congregation?"
Answer: Absolutely not! A clergyman did not lose his American citizenship when he was ordained to the ministry. Again, this goes back to Johnson's 501(c)(3) monstrosity. Pastors have been duped and intimidated into believing that they have no right to express their personal opinions or convictions from the pulpit. This is historical and constitutional balderdash!
Can one imagine colonial preachers John Leland, Jonas Clark, or John Witherspoon being told by any State official what he could or could not say, or what his church could or could not do, or whom he could or could not support? What a joke! These men explained, extolled, extrapolated, and engrained the Biblical Natural Law principles of liberty so deeply into the minds and hearts of their congregants, that when the time came, those Christian patriots stood on Lexington Green and Concord Bridge and fired that shot heard 'round the world.
Question: "Is there a way that a church can become both a spiritual and political organization? If so, which path do you think is best?"
Answer: Churches are not political institutions; they should never desire to be. However, they are promoters of truth. And truth is truth, whether it finds itself in the political arena or any other arena. Pastors and churches are obligated to be faithful to the truth, and let the chips fall where they may! The problem is, many pastors and churches have purposely avoided truth when it butts up against politics. Their fear of the IRS, or of being considered "politically incorrect," or of, perhaps, offending church members has made cowards out of many of them. And as a result, our country is in the calamitous condition that we see today.
© Chuck Baldwin