Will church leaders in U.S. seize this opportunity?
Family, church, and government being shaken hard now
The foundations of every institution that make America a stable society are being shaken—hard.
Nothing is being spared.
The family in America is under attack like never before. The church in America has lost its courage and boldness on certain issues in the light of a new Barna Group study that reveals most pastors avoid the “controversial issues.” And Americans have a growing and deep distrust for all three branches of government, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Without these three institutions functioning properly, society descends into anarchy, everyone doing what’s right in their own eyes. Make the argument that isn’t already occurring to some degree in America.
The church in America has the opportunity to fill a huge leadership void by speaking out on the persecuted church in Iraq, Syria, and throughout the Muslim world. If there was ever a moral and ethical issue tailor made for the church in America to speak with power, passion, and conviction this is it.
The question is will American church leaders seize this opportunity, and with it, recapture credibility and relevance on the issues of the day and ultimately the matters of the heart that matter most?
The persecution of Christians in the Muslim world must serve as the American church’s wake-up call that gains the attention of pastors, cardinals, bishops, priests, and rabbis across the fruited plain. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is evil and a rabid pack of savages. Just read or watch here, here, here, and here.
Pope Francis has challenged all religious leaders around the world to rise up for the moment this requires. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue stated:
“No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and in denouncing the use of religion to justify them. If not, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have?”
It isn’t difficult to understand why the church may not be up to this task when one considers how these three institutions have been rattled by events over the past 30 years or so. The family, church, and government, each established by God, are staggering under blistering attacks in America.
The impact of divorce on the family in America is well documented, and our prisons are filled with examples of what tends to happen when children grow up without their father. It is too early to tell what further damage will unfold from the growing trend in the past 50 years of cohabitating couples. Anne-Marie Rinaldi of Cleveland, Ohio was quoted as saying:
“We don’t feel the need to rush to the altar. This is the real world and marriage isn’t a necessity.”
Throw in more than 40 years of abortions killing more than 50 million Americans, and the demands of conforming to redefining marriage under the current winds of being made to care about gay marriage, and of course the institution of the American family is in poor shape. That’s the case before anyone accounts for the financial damage inflicted on American families by the Great Recession, which this writer believes never ended for the vast majority of Americans.
The late Francis Schaeffer proved prophetic in the 1980s when he described America as a post-Christian nation. The church has lost credibility since some clergy sex scandals in the 1980s, and ones that emerge even today. Additionally, America has a growing population of non-religious citizens. Combine these problems with the threat of the IRS being used to monitor what pastors preach and of course most pastors avoid raising controversy. (With the IRS successfully being used to intimidate conservative groups, it wasn’t a far reach for the atheist Freedom from Religion Foundation to plead with the IRS to direct its corrupted power at churches.)
Where are the Dietrich Bonhoeffers among American pastors? It is time to stand up, speak up, and be counted. Bonhoeffer was the German pastor who died as a martyr at the hands of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis during World War II.
And the harsh reality is members of the elected class in Washington, D.C. have been destroying its credibility and the trust of the American people for years. The federal government is a monster that taxes and regulates too much, demands even more control over the lives of Americans, and spies on our electronic communication, and these grievances are just for starters. The legislative branch alone is filled with a bunch of professional can kickers, avoiding all of the significant issues impacting the nation’s future in light of more than $17 trillion in debt, generational theft that appears to have no end in sight, bills that don’t get read before they are passed, and their near collective ignoring of their oath of office. The trust of the public in elected and appointed government leaders is essential for a thriving constitutional republic, and we don’t have that.
No one can criticize U.S. church leaders for not having foresight on the swift changes happening around the world, but the church must adjust on the fly to a world on fire just as swiftly. The church in America has a perfect opportunity to fill the leadership vacuum not coming from our elected leaders, especially for an issue that allows the church in America to see glaring needs of believers in another part of the world and meet those needs. But this opportunity for new and expanded church leadership in America for such a time as this extends far beyond Christian benevolence, which accompanied by prayer, is the least American church leaders and Christians can do.
Give President Barack Obama credit for finally realizing—after months of indifference, lethargy, and detachment—he had to do something in Iraq. However, Obama’s actions don’t go far enough. The military strategy is up to debate, but that is not the concern here.
The U.S. must grant asylum to Christians throughout the Muslim world attempting to escape. Pastors, cardinals, bishops, priests, and rabbis must demand this of American elected leaders, and descend on Congress and the White House to ensure that it happens. After all, France is leading on this issue now. It’s puzzling why the president did not take the moral high ground in his announcement one week ago and insist on a bill he could sign that would grant this when the Congress returns from its summer recess. Christian leaders must also compel Obama to quickly sign legislation passed by the U.S. Congress to create a special envoy to promote religious freedom throughout the Middle East.
And that’s why Christian leaders in the U.S. must seize this opportunity. American Christians must expect and demand more from a nation blessed abundantly by God. To whom much is given, much is required. And perhaps it would be wise to direct humanitarian aid to religious groups, with no strings attached, after governments fly that aid into key areas and provide protection to aid workers. After all, private organizations deliver benevolence far more efficiently than governments.
And how about some organizations forming that would proactively seek ways to rescue persecuted Christians from the Muslim world and other countries? Some organizations already exist, but it would seem there’s high demand for more in light of current events. The church has always found a way to respond to crises, and that time has arrived again.
If the church in America fails to respond, American Christianity’s condition is far worse than anything described of the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.
The blood of Christian martyrs in Iraq, Syria, and throughout the Muslim world, cries out!
Curt W. Olson is a former journalist. He is finishing his first book, which will be published soon as an eBook. He lives in South Carolina.