Evangelicals rising as U.S. falters, Land says

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jun 16, 2011 12:22 AM
Evangelicals rising as U.S. falters, Land says
PHOENIX (BP)--While the number of evangelicals in the United States is rising, the moral health of the nation continues to falter, Richard Land told messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 14.

In his report to the convention, Land, president of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the ERLC continues to fight for the sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death and "everywhere in between."

Land said he was encouraged by recent polls that show a shift in opinions on the life issue, noting that more than 50 percent of Americans described themselves as pro-life in a May 2009 Gallup survey.

While some of the movement to a life-affirming position flows from "brilliant arguments on the part of Christian spokesmen," the greater cause appears to be a growing "fertility gap" between pro-life and pro-choice couples, Land said.

"Since Roe v. Wade there is now a 41 percent fertility gap between those that are pro-life and those that are pro-choice," he continued. Over 50 million babies have been aborted in the 38 years since the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case.

Since the court decision in 1973 that effectively legalized abortion on demand, pro-life couples have been having their babies and raising them to appreciate the preciousness of human life, Land said, adding that "pro-choice couples have not had their babies and they haven't raised them to be anything."

"The younger you are in America the more pro-life you are," Land said. "Every year, another year's worth of pro-life voters are added to the rolls and are voting for pro-life candidates."

Saying it is a welcome sign for the future, Land noted that last year's election resulted in more than a dozen new U.S. congressmen who are Southern Baptist.

Land recalled a visit he made in early 2010 to Houston to protest the opening of one of the world's largest abortion clinics, a 78,000-square-foot facility he said includes an entire floor dedicated to providing late-term abortions. He said he was amazed that the great majority of those alongside him picketing the center were under the age of 30, calling the abundance of young protesters a "pro-choice nightmare."

"I am firmly convicted that if I live out a natural life span, I will live to see the infamous Roe v. Wade decision end up on the ash heap of history, where it belongs," Land said.

OBAMACARE

Yet Land warned that the culture of death is "deeply imbedded" in the health care reform measures signed into law by President Obama last year.

"We are called now not just to defend the unborn, but to defend those who are terminally ill, those who are sick and those who are aged," Land said. "Mark my words: They are the new targets of Obamacare."

Land expressed concern at the transfer of money from Medicare to fund the president's health care plan "just when Baby Boomers are hitting retirement."

"People who are in Medicare will have to wait longer for a doctor. Once they see a doctor, they will have to wait longer before they get treatment," Land said. "That is often a death sentence for those that are in that age category.

"Do not misunderstand me," Land added. "We desperately need real health care reform in America." He cited a white paper developed by the ERLC's Research Institute, available on the entity's website that outlines what he called "real reform."

"I can tell you with certainty that whatever the issue is, whatever the problem is, Obamacare is not the answer," Land said.

If the president's health care plan is not rescinded, most Americans will live shorter lives, Land warned, citing mortality statistics in nations with similar health care plans.

'GENERATIONAL THEFT'

The ERLC is standing against the "generational theft" that is taking place in Washington, D.C., Land said.

"Our government is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends. It is borrowing it from our children and our grandchildren and we are putting upon them an insurmountable debt that will foreclose their futures," Land said. "It is immoral; it is wrong; and it must stop."

The ERLC executive expressed gratitude for Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program, noting its support of the commission and pivotal role in his family's life.

"As an entity head, as a person who considers it the honor and privilege of a lifetime to have been asked to serve Southern Baptists, I am the product of the Cooperative Program," Land said, noting he and his father both were led to the Lord in a church plant funded by the Cooperative Program.

"I was nurtured in the faith in a Southern Baptist church funded by the Cooperative Program," Land continued.

Yet Land said America is radically different than it was in the 1950s, when he came to faith in Christ.

"At the end of the 1960s, our country took a wrong turn. We began to emphasize rights and privileges at the expense of obligations and responsibilities," Land said, noting that the nation adopted the mantra of his generation: "Pursue your own course. You are your own god."

The litany of "expressive individualism" has led the culture down "dangerous and corrosive" roads, Land said.

MARRIAGE AND PARENTHOOD

Social and economic issues cannot be separated as some are urging, Land said.

As an example, Land said, "Marriage is good for children. Marriage is good for parents and marriage is good for society."

Single parenthood has a "grim impact" on the majority of children in these families, while noting there are some single parents who are performing "heroically" and producing "well-adjusted, productive children," Land said. "Yet the single greatest cause of poverty in America is fathers who don't marry the mothers of their children or who don't stay married."

A majority of children today are growing up in single-parent homes, Land lamented, noting these children are often more likely to engage in risky behaviors, have academic and emotional issues and find themselves single parents.

"How did we ever delude ourselves into thinking that this kind of generational child abuse, perpetuated by selfish adults on children, was all right?" Land asked. The U.S. government is spending millions of dollars a year "to make up for the damage done by fathers who have not lived up to their obligations and their responsibilities," Land said.

"We need the Gospel, and the Gospel needs to be made clear that Jesus is a changeless Savior for an ever-changing world," Land said. "We need a revival. We need churches to get right with God."

Christians need to get "serious" about the Gospel, Land said, noting that in several social indices, evangelicals perform no better than the society at large.

Noting that mainline Protestants are now on the "sideline," Land said the U.S. has seen a resurgence of evangelicals, yet the nation is "worse off morally" today, except in areas of racism and the "prejudices of sexism." To a great degree, the world has influenced the church more than the church has influenced the world, he said.

Only when Christ-followers diligently "apply the truths of the Gospel to the evils of society" will the nation see the reformation it so desperately needs, Land said.

Dwayne Hastings is a vice president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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