Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Tex., conceded that Christians are losing the culture war and they are losing ground every day.
“The primary reason Christians are losing the culture wars is that pastors are AWOL when it comes to informing and energizing their congregations,” Jeffress told me.
Unless Christians stand up and engage the political process, Jeffress said he fears there may come a day when religious liberty is extremely curtailed.
“A religious leader once said, ‘my successor will see the tax exempt status removed from churches and his successor will go to jail,” Jeffress said. “That is probably on the horizon.”
But there are some pockets of resistance – like the town of Greenwood in the Mississippi Delta.
Jim Phillips is the senior pastor of North Greenwood Baptist Church. He told me that Greenwood still has a “very high respect for the historical Judeo-Christian ethic.”
“Every one of my son’s community college football games around the state last season began with a prayer on the loud speaker – in Jesus’ name,” he told me. “Will that eventually be challenged? I suspect so at some point.”
But right now he said “pockets of religious boldness still exist.”
Phillips said national trends, though, are disturbing.
“Christians have slowly given away their impact on culture by becoming more and worldlier instead of confronting the culture to become more and more godly,” he said.
So who is to blame for the loss? Phillips blames Christians.
“Sadly, Christians have often wimped out and grown silent instead of being bolder for the Gospel,” he said. “Christians get subdued into thinking they’re not supposed to rise up.”
Jeffress agreed with that assessment and said the church must involve itself in the political process.
“There are 50 to 80 million evangelicals in America,” he said. “Only half are registered to vote and only half of those voted in the last election.”
Jeffress said it’s imperative for people of faith to engage the culture.
“Every time we go to the voting booth we are casting a vote for righteousness or unrighteousness,” he said.
Pastor Phillips also urged his fellow pastors to step up to the plate.
“My calling is to keep leading the charge,” he said. “As a local pastor, my goal is to keep encouraging my church to seek to raise the bar and not lower it when it comes to confronting culture.”
Stetzer said he hopes the survey will spark a “fruitful national conversation about religious liberty concerns.”
“The perception was that the culture war was once a winnable war,” Stetzer said. “But it’s switched from an offensive battle to a defensive battle.”
Pastor Jeffress urged Christians to stand their ground.
“We ought to do everything we can to push back against this encroachment on religious liberty and protect our right to spread the Gospel,” he said.
I write about this very issue in my new book, “God Less America.” It will be published in May. But I’m reminded of a quote by President Ronald Reagan.
“If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under,” Reagan once said.
A few years ago, A New York public school teacher was ordered to remove that quote from her classroom wall. She was told that it violated the U.S. Constitution.
I’m afraid we may be “gone under.”