Though clearly not as high-profile as AP and Wall Street Journal, I was given the opportunity as a local blogger to lend a conservative viewpoint to this event. The report you are about to read is true. No names were changed, as all are innocent. - WBCA
In a legal effort to claim the protection of the First Amendment right, the ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND’S “Pulpit Initiative” was carried out this Sunday in West Bend at New Life church by Pastor Luke Emrich.
Deemed “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”, the ADF made this statement: “As part of the effort, pastors participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday on Sunday, September 28, 2008, will deliver to their congregations sermons of their own that apply Scripture to the subject of candidates for government office. The sermons are intended to restore a pastor’s right to speak freely from his pulpit without fearing censorship or punishment by the government. By standing together and speaking with one voice, it is our hope to recapture the rightful place of pastors and churches in American life.”
Reporters Dinesh Ramde of the Associated Press and Amy Merrick of the Wall Street Journal were present at New Life’s Sunday service; no photography was allowed as Emrich wished to carry on with worship/preaching without distraction from the press. The West Bend News was offered the opportunity to attend, but declined.
The service was preceded with a time of worship in this countryside congregation of 200, that included the traditional hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.”
After worship concluded, a video presentation of historical quotes was shown, which included the following:
"America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. He is ours. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it's all right to keep asking if we're on His side."
Emrich’s sermon entitled “They Make Kings, But Not Through Me” was based on the book of Hosea in which, he stated, Hosea “sounded the alarm” that something was very wrong because “we as a nation have stepped out of agreement with our maker.”
After making the statement “part of a minister’s duty is to address rulers”, Emrich backed this up with numerous Old Testament examples of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon and many others, citing the words of King Nebuchadnezzar “Those who walk in pride, He is able to humble.” “Jesus Himself”, said Emrich, “confronted authority figures and their interpretation of the law.”
Emrich stated “If our rulers would consult God about national issues, we would be better off for it.”
Near the conclusion of the service, Emrich used 1 Thessalonians 2:8, making the point that of all the issues, LIFE is most paramount. Though millions of Americans may feel this is an oversimplification of his reason for recommending McCain/Palin, he firmly stated “We are not going to budge on this issue of life. We will debate other issues, but not this one.”
“Why is it such a debate in our society that we would want to choose life?” questioned Emrich, “In my heart it is not.”
ADF believes that the 1954 Johnson amendment is unconstitutional in restricting the expression of sermons delivered from the pulpits of churches. This project is designed to return freedom to the pulpit by allowing pastors to speak from Scripture about the qualifications of America’s potential political leaders.
“Churches have too long feared the loss of tax exempt status arising from speech in the pulpit addressing candidates for office. Rather than risk confrontation, pastors have self-censored their speech, ignoring blatant immorality in government and foregoing the opportunities to praise moral government leaders. Pastors who long to be relevant to society and to preach the Gospel in a way that has meaning in modern America, have to studiously ignore even the most tumultuous election season lest they draw the attention of the IRS.
ADF believes that IRS restriction on religious expression from the pulpit, whenever the IRS characterizes it as “political,” is unconstitutional.
After 50 years of threats and intimidation, churches should confront the IRS directly and reclaim the expressive rights guaranteed to them in the United States Constitution.”