Values Voter Summit: Day 2 Part 2

A panel on the role of churches in political issues was introduced by a video promoting a rally in Boston on October 15. The theme of the event will be that marriage equality in that state is a grave threat to religious liberty, though the video didn’t explain how.

The Southern Baptists’ Richard Land insisted that believers should apply their literal-truth understanding of scripture to the society at large. “It is our job as pastors and church workers to take the truth of God’s word and apply it to the moral issues of our society and call on our society to adhere to the biblical standard.” God may not be a Republican or Democrat, Land said, but He is definitely pro-life, pro-heterosexual marriage, and anti-pornography.

Land defended a liberal California church facing an IRS investigation because of an anti-war sermon preached shortly before the 2004 election. Land said he’d read the sermon and it did not endorse any candidates. But, Land argued, churches ought to be free to endorse candidates, even if he personally thought it wasn’t a good idea, and he said the movement should be working very hard to change IRS regulations.

Rev. Herb Lusk is the Philadelphia pastor whose church hosted “Justice Sunday III” – the Religious Right’s rally for then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Lusk said the civil rights movement’s accomplishments were based on blacks and “our brothers and sisters of other hues” preaching a holistic gospel. But, he said, the civil rights movement has taken a different turn, and that now it’s Dr. Dobson and Tony Perkins taking the lead in protecting the civil rights of unborn children.

Rev. Dr. John Guest, a Pennsylvania pastor who grew up in London during World War II, said the bombing of London happened because the German church had abdicated its spiritual and moral responsibility to speak the truth. But Guest doesn’t think challenging the Bush administration might be part of that responsibility. “I’ve said from my pulpit that it is treacherous and traitorous to be condemning, belittling, and bringing down our president in a time of war.”

Lusk, who had been chafing at speaking while being seated behind a table, was encouraged to take the podium by Tony Perkins, and then he went into full preaching mode, criticizing pastors who weren’t getting involved. “I know why you’re not,” he said. “We know what happened to every prophet in the Old Testament…they killed them.” Lusk brought the crowd to its feet with a high-energy exhortation, saying “Your God will protect you…you have nothing to fear!”

An odd element of Lusk’s performance was his declaration that Rev. Barry Lynn, the oft-reviled-at-this-conference director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, should no longer be mentioned by name. “The enemy is out there. We know who our enemy is. The more you call the enemy’s name, the larger he becomes.” It remains to be seen if other speakers will adhere to Lusk’s declaration that Lynn has become, like Voldemort in the world of Harry Potter, He Who Must Not Be Named.