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Louder than the ‘Silent Scream’: The Deafening Silence of Our Pulpits

An Open Letter to Evangelical Pastors in America

Rating: 4.50


babyThis is a sequel to a widely publicized article I wrote in March outlining a simple, if audacious, “One-Minute Strategy” for bringing about the end of legalized abortion in America virtually overnight:

If every Sunday, in every pulpit, in every church across America, ministers would devote one minute—ONE MINUTE—to decrying the evil of abortion on demand, such universal solidarity within the ranks of Christian leadership would accomplish two things, maybe three.

First, it would dispel ambiguity and send a clear signal to every pew-sitting believer that this is a top-line priority with God, not a fine-print codicil, not “one more good thing that Christians ought to do when they have time.”

Second, it would foster unanimity amongst all believers—at least on this one all-important issue—and enable us together to render unto God what is God’s (i.e., sufficient advocacy at the ballot box to get Roe overturned) while at the same time rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s—which, don’t forget, includes the advice and consent of the governed.

And third, maybe, just maybe the voice of conscience would become less easily ignored by those outside the church and we would see abortion on demand outlawed, not only in America, but around the world—“overnight.”

In the months since publication, the thing that has stunned me is not the article’s near-universal, vigorously enthusiastic embrace by thousands within the pro-life community. What has stunned me is the thunderous silence from evangelical pastors. I’ve gotten loads of feedback from lay evangelicals and Catholics—clergy and laypersons alike—but almost nothing from evangelical ministers. It has left me wondering, “Do they agree? Do they disagree? Does this register even the slightest flutter on their moral seismograph?”

So this time I’m explicitly soliciting feedback. Help me understand. You who pastor an evangelical church, what do you think of this “One-Minute Strategy” to end abortion? It seems to me that to say nothing about it is to say everything.

I, along with many thousands who have signified their agreement, really believe this strategy will work if you will but implement it. It requires so agonizingly little to make it happen, really only two things—publicity, and the willingness of church leaders to implement—that it seems irresponsible not to press the issue.

I realize habits, good and bad, die hard. So I am willing to beat the drum until the rhythm is learned. I just hope it won’t be long. Too much is at stake.

As I said, this time I’m making a straightforward appeal to every American pulpit. I’m asking you, pastor friend, to put this strategy into practice, at once. It involves a single minute each Sunday. Will you do it?

If not, why not?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I seriously want to know, you who have a pulpit and are Christ’s ambassador—why would you not do it?

Do you not agree that it is at least a little incongruous to preach the love of God—a God who so hated evil that to oppose it He let His own Son be tortured and murdered—and yet not give one solitary minute each week to decrying an unspeakable evil that for 40 years has been tacitly sanctioned, approved, endorsed, and even effectively celebrated and cheered on by our collective silence?

Does not such behavior seem to you inherently contradictory and disingenuous? Does it not appear to pluck up by the roots the very thing it sows? For on the one hand it speaks of God’s love for people, and on the other it speaks of the unimportance of those same people whom we declare God loves.

Actions, they say, speak louder than words. But here, in this thing, we are letting silence speak louder still. For our silence, in extraordinarily large measure, is the very thing keeping myriads from hearing and thinking about and doing something about the “silent scream” of 4,000 little people being aborted in America every day.

Only a few generations ago, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in the midst of comparable horror and equally inexplicable passivity on the part of Christians, rightly observed that “silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Friends, either Bonhoeffer was gravely mistaken or there is something horribly wrong here—something we can change immediately and universally, if we want to.

I implore each of you to whom God has entrusted the mantle of leadership to lead! You have been given the trumpet to rally us all to awareness and action, but “if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor 14:8)

Christ’s brother, James, wrote “if you see someone destitute . . . and . . . notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:16) He said that faith without such works of compassion for the needy is dead. As dead as the 54 million babies we, my fellows, have silently abandoned to their own virtual Auschwitz.

So will you do this? Rather than committing the moral equivalent of bidding them “be warmed and filled,” minister friend, will you give these destitute innocents 60 seconds of your time every Sunday until this evil is universally abhorred by all who call themselves “Christian”? You can if you want to. The power is in your hands, in your voice.

Not to act is to act.

I feel I must say one more thing, and God forgive me if I go beyond what is proper. It is to ask you, if you will not implement this “One-Minute Strategy” (or something similar), then will you give me an advance version of your defense for not doing so? I say “an advance version” because I believe the day is coming when you will be compelled, not asked, to give a full account.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps in the final analysis this strategy will accomplish nothing. Frankly, I don’t believe that for a moment. But even if—even if—little or nothing changes, fellow-servant of Christ, let it be in spite of what we did, not because of what we did not do!

Rolley Haggard is a self-described “elder brother screaming on behalf of his siblings.”


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Comments:

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Scott Hennon Show Interview
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Listen to my 8-minute interview on the Scott Hennon radio show ( scotthennon.com ) yesterday where I discuss “The Deafening Silence of our Pulpits” on abortion. Zoom to the 30min25sec mark.

http://podcast.gcnlive.com/podcast/commonSenseClub/1004122.mp3
Also, in case it wasn't clear, the Gina who posted in this thread before isn't me. Apparently we have another Gina on the premises. Welcome, Other Gina! :-)
FYI: The commenter who posted as "Steven Ray of Messiah Missions" has been identified as an impostor. His comments have been removed.
I'm reminded of Cato the Elder, who reputedly ended every address in the Roman Senate, no matter what the subject matter was otherwise about, with "Carthago delenda est," or "Carthage must be destroyed!" (It actually came about three years after his death.)
Silent Pulpits
My feeling on it is that a Pastor is either truly serving God or serving man.

I believe many pastors today are serving only man... ie... telling man what they want to hear to keep butts in the pews.

Yes.. you are correct there will be a day when they will have to account for their actions... or lack there of.
Heavenly Tea Partyers Drink TOM’S TEA
.
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O ne
M inute
S trategy

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A bortion

From Celestial City Seasonings, no patent pending or necessary; free to everyone.

“Drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” (Song of Solomon 5:1)
---

Thanks for your good thoughts, Tim. Tom agrees, and has just commissioned a second product line in your honor: T1M’S TEA

T he
1
M inute
S trategy

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E nd
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Not very creative, old Tom; but his heart’s in the right place.

:)

---

Yes, I know I’m a fool. But there is precedent (1 Corinthians 4:10), and I am not ashamed to keep such company. Plus, I reason that in 100 years my dunce cap will more resemble a king’s crown.

Cheers.
Atheist Says: Silent Pastors Void Their Evangelism
Dear Pastor Steve Ray,

You speak of evangelism and wanting to save souls, but you forget one key element: the souls you are trying to save won't care to hear what you have to say if you discredit your own testimony.

We're not stupid, pastor. Many of us know what your Bible teaches. We who are seeking truth are looking for examples of self-giving love and of people showing supernatural evidence of uniquely different lives, standing up for truth even when it is not popular. But you lose all credibility when you claim on the one hand that a fetus is a human being, while callously dismissing him or her as "an issue."

Your Jesus did not merely care about saving souls. If he did, he sure screwed up big-time when he stopped his own preaching to take time to feed 5000 hungry people and address a temporary earthly need. No, Jesus was pretty clear in the sermon on the mount that the difference between his sheep and the goats were what they did and didn't do for the least of those in their midst. He wanted those in his fold to act with compassion.

I fail to see how the same Jesus who cared so much for strangers, the hungry, the prisoner, and the unclothed that he sends into outer darkness those who failed to love the least of these, would not feel just as passionate about our duty to help a small dependent developing human being by helping his or her mother and speaking up before she succumbs to the only choice she thinks she has (and before her resulting guilt and pain makes her even less likely to want to hear from you).

Your own Bible says that religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is to look after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27). Your own Bible compels you to "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves" (Proverbs 31:8) and to "Hold back those staggering toward slaughter" (Proverbs 24:11)

If you can't even follow the directions of your Bible, what makes you think that I as an unbeliever am likely to take it (and you) the least bit seriously?

Jesus said "Follow me" not "Get as many people as you can to pray the sinner's prayer so that they can sit on their duffs singing worship songs while they wait for heaven" Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you're at least feeding the hungry, but if the gospel is not good news to children being led to the slaughter, the gospel is not good news.

As an atheist and an ex-Christian I really don't need to hear any more people preach the gospel. What I'd really love is to see a lot more of you actually living it.
A Christianity that Costs Nothing is Worth Nothing
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Gina,

I was moved by your words, “I have been in prayer over this all weekend.” If ANYTHING brings legalized abortion-on-demand to an end it will be prayer – not because prayer in and of itself is anything, of course, but because prayer lays hold of God with whom nothing is impossible. The earnest, effectual praying of God’s people inspires me with hope far beyond all other things we might do, combined. But prayer without works, just like faith without works, belies sincerity. We must do both.

Your point about pulpit silence is well-taken. However, as you correctly intimate, what is happening today is not that politics are being brought into the House of God, but the opposite. The affairs of the Kingdom are being commandeered by the State.

That cannot be allowed. The State has no authority but what is delegated unto it by God, and God gives no authority to the State to dictate matters of conscience. For Christians to tolerate with silence and passivity the State’s overreach into matters of conscience (e.g. the HHS Mandate) is to render unto Caesar not merely what is Caesar’s but what is God’s; it is to obey man rather than God; it is to let Caesar into the pulpit. We can’t let that happen and remain true to Christ.

That’s what The Manhattan Declaration is all about. The line was drawn in the sand and the State is overstepping it. Now we who love Christ need to either put up or shut up. I pray to God we do not any longer shut up. Our silence is in large measure why we are where we are today.

But I do wonder. For it has been my astonished observation that we Christians, by and large, are so afraid of possibly violating the so-called “separation of church and state” that I think were the Devil himself to incarnate and run for the presidency, we would refuse to preach against him for fear of politicizing the faith.

I would love to be proved wrong.
Louder than the ‘Silent Scream’: The Deafening Sil
Mr. Haggard,

I really wish you would get more feedback on this. However, I don't think you will. I have been in prayer over this all weekend. Since we gave to Caesar what does not belong to him "God's Word" the Pulpit and the Pastors will stay silent. I know this article below is regarding the elections, but I think they have to keep silent on many issues all year. I would never want politics being brought into the House of God. But, the issues are clearly written in scripture (abortion) Wondering what your thoughts are regarding this?

IRS Official Warns Pastors to Keep Silent During Elections
by Alliance Defending Freedom

Author: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Erik Stanley


The IRS warned pastors attending a faith leader’s summit in Washington D.C. recently not to speak from their pulpits about candidates or elections. As reported by OneNewsNow, IRS official Peter Lorenzetti attended the summit and told pastors that prohibited activities include anything that supports or opposes a candidate for public office. Mr. Lorenzetti’s statements are not surprising or even noteworthy given the fact that IRS officials have been interpreting the Johnson Amendment in this way since its addition to the tax code in 1954. So why should we be concerned about these statements?

Well, for starters, Mr. Lorenzetti’s statements follow a long pattern by the IRS of intimidating pastors and churches into silence on the issues surrounding candidates and elections. The Johnson Amendment operates as a direct restriction on the speech of pastors and churches. There is no denying this fact. And there is no denying the fact that the Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional. It is never permissible to allow a government agency the power to punish a church for something its pastor says from the pulpit. Where did America’s churches ever get the idea that it was okay to invite IRS officials into the process of sermon preparation and allow them to wield the power of censorship over what your pastor says from the pulpit? Such a regime is not okay, and indeed, it is unconstitutional.

That’s why ADF started Pulpit Freedom Sunday in 2008 – to restore a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit and to remove the pen of censorship from the hand of government officials. Because we believe that the Constitution protects the right of a pastor to speak freely from the pulpit and that government should hold no sway over a pastor’s sermon preparation or delivery. It is for every pastor and church to decide for themselves what is said from their own pulpit.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday is October 7, 2012. If you are a pastor, please sign up to participate to exercise your constitutional rights on that day together with hundreds of other pastors from across the country. If the IRS wants to continue to enforce the Johnson Amendment against pastors and churches, then it will continue to take a sustained and united effort to remind the IRS of the constitutional rights of pastors and churches. If you are not a pastor, please send every pastor you know to www.pulpitfreedom.org to learn more and to sign up to participate on October 7, 2012.

http://blogs.christianpost.com/liberty/irs-official-warns-pastors-to-keep-silent-during-elections-11297/
For the Record
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In case anyone is wondering, yes, I do intend to respond to comments. Just would like to see more of them before I do.
Silent Pulpits
Our goal as evangelicals should always be leading people to Christ. Our focus should always be heavenly bound rather than earthly.

Since we live in the United States of America, and we elect our officials it is much different then having a King who rules. We as Christians should pray and vote.http://www.gotquestions.org/Christians-vote.html

The Bible has much to say on abortion. Pastors are called to preach the Whole Word of God. Since Jesus is in total agreement with his father. Why skip over verses? The Bible never specifically addresses the issue of abortion. However, there are numerous teachings in Scripture that make it abundantly clear what God’s view of abortion is. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows us before He forms us in the womb. Psalm 139:13-16 speaks of God’s active role in our creation and formation in the womb. Exodus 21:22-25 prescribes the same penalty—death—for someone who causes the death of a baby in the womb as for someone who commits murder. This clearly indicates that God considers a baby in the womb to be as human as a full-grown adult. For the Christian, abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose. It is a matter of the life or death of a human being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6).

n 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul states “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Pastors need to preach the Word, and conviction will take place in their flock.

I think we can at least take a minute from the pulpit to pray for these innocent babies, and many of the other issues we are facing as a country. God Bless :)
Silent pulpits
Mr. Haggard,
This is the best definition of what is happening to the unborn in our country and our world. The silence of the pulpit is indeed deafening.
If Bonhoeffer can find the courage to speak up(and paid the ultimate price)and stand up to the morally weak church that was so ineffective during the Nazi reign in Germany, can we not find the courage to speak now when we are in no danger of being killed for our speech?
Thank you for writing this article. I am going to copy, paste, and spread this article to all I know.
Mary Shew
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