By Chuck Baldwin
(Editor’s Note: Also read Who Should Be The State’s Mortal Enemy?)
I often receive inquiries from college and university students.
Contrary to the thinking of most older adults, I find a sizable number
of today’s youth much more constitutionally aware than are their
parents. I’ve traveled all over America and spoken to thousands of
high school and college age young people. My observation is this: the
youth of America have not rejected the message of liberty and
constitutional government; they haven’t HEARD the message of liberty
and constitutional government. When they do hear it, as often as not,
they embrace the message enthusiastically. If the Ron Paul Revolution
of 2008 proved anything, it proved that!
Recently, a student from a prestigious university wrote me with a
short list of questions for a thesis he is writing, which is entitled,
“The Effect of the Evangelical Movement on the 2008 Presidential
Election.” He reads my columns and was motivated to ask me to
contribute to his report. I am using today’s column to answer his
Question: “What, in your opinion, is the best way for the
government and religious organizations to interact?”
Answer: The best way for government and religious institutions to
interact is the same way that government and virtually all
institutions should interact: by the government staying the heck out
of their business!
Unfortunately, government at every level has grown into a monstrous
Nanny State that intimidates, coerces, and almost controls practically
every institution and organization (public and private) in America.
The number of government bureaucracies and enforcement agencies at the local, State, and federal levels is so gargantuan that it is
impossible to accurately keep track of them all. And it seems each
agency and department’s sole job is to justify its own existence by
harassing, intimidating, and manipulating individuals and
institutions. Nothing is different regarding religious institutions.
In order to stay on the smiley side of government (especially the
IRS), religious institutions have largely become the sheepish slaves
of the state.
Question: “How do you think the government keeps religious
organizations from affecting policy?”
Answer: I KNOW how the government keeps religious organizations from
affecting policy: through the IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit corporate
tax-exempt status that practically every church in America submits to.
The now infamous 501(c)(3) section of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) goes back to 1936 (the seeds of this Venus Fly Trap date back to
1872). But then-Senator Lyndon Johnson was the Dr. Frankenstein who, in 1954, unleashed this monster upon America. His motivation was: he did not like the way pastors and churches were opposing his liberal agenda, and he wanted to use the power of law to silence them. He, therefore, introduced verbiage to the IRC that churches were
prohibited from influencing political legislation and supporting
political campaigns, or risk losing their tax-exempt status.
Over time, fear of offending the 501(c)(3) criteria of the IRC has
been used to intimidate pastors and church leaders to the point that,
for all intents and purposes, they are “scared silly” to try and
affect meaningful change to government policy. The result: 300,000
evangelical churches are almost totally impotent to impact or change
American culture, societal conditions, or the political landscape.
Question: “Do you think an evangelical Christian organization
should have a political extension (i.e. lobbyists) of itself on
Answer: There are numerous organizations associated with the
“Religious Right” that have political lobbyists on Capitol Hill.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. The problem comes when
the organization and lobbyists themselves become part of the “good
old boy” network that seems to be intricately associated with
cavorting with the power elite. What normally happens is, in order to
maintain the organization’s “seat at the table,” it quickly
compromises the principles that originally created it. And pretty
soon, instead of influencing Capitol Hill, the organization finds
itself influenced and manipulated by Capitol Hill. In essence, that is
the sordid story of how the Religious Right, which was so powerful
back in the 1980s, has become the impotent entity that we see today.
Question: “How do you think Christians use their faith to make
Answer: Most Christians would have you believe that their faith is
very instrumental in making their political decisions. However, just
the opposite is true: the average Christian’s politics is void of
any genuine Christian faith. It seems, therefore, most Christians base
their political decisions on the principles of “pragmatism,”
choosing the “lesser of two evils,” or based wholly on political
partisanship. The last two Presidential elections are prime examples
of this unfortunate reality.
Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly supported George W. Bush in his reelection bid in 2004, despite Bush’s egregious departure from
conservative, constitutionalist principles throughout his first
administration. They, then, continued to blindly support Bush
throughout his second administration as he continued to promote
globalist, big government policies and agendas.
During the election of 2008, Christians supported big government CFR
candidate John McCain, even though McCain has a career track record of betrayal to true conservative principles. Notable Christian leaders
such as Focus on the Family’s James Dobson supported McCain, even
after publicly promising to “never” support him.
Over and over, election after election, Christians prove that they
will not let their Christianity get in the way of their politics.
Question: “How did evangelicals and conservatives have an effect on
the 2008 presidential election?”
Answer: As noted above, Christian conservatives, on the whole,
supported John McCain, even though they knew he would never be
faithful to conservative principles. However, in spite of the support
of evangelical leaders, many grassroots conservatives and
constitutionalists could not vote for McCain in good conscience. For
example, many Ron Paul conservatives voted for third party candidates
such as Bob Barr or myself, or didn’t vote at all. And this was true
of many conservative independents, as well. As a result, Barack Obama
Question: “Why do evangelicals typically align themselves with the
Answer: I was the Executive Director of the Florida Moral Majority
back in the 1980s, and I witnessed the marriage between the GOP and
Christian conservatives up close. Without a doubt, the two terms of
President Ronald Reagan is the single biggest reason why Christian
conservatives are so enamored with the Republican Party today. Before
Reagan, the GOP was seen (properly) as a political extension of Big
Business. The Democrat Party was seen (properly) as a political
extension of Big Labor. Christians were critical of both parties and
approached each candidate on a more individual and objective basis.
Example: without a doubt, Christian conservatives elected Democrat
Jimmy Carter in 1976. Ronald Reagan changed all that. He obtained
almost god-like status in the thinking of many evangelicals.
Therefore, ever since Reagan, GOP stands for “God’s Own Party”
in the minds of many evangelicals. As a result, no matter how liberal,
socialist, or globalist a Republican Presidential nominee might be
now, most evangelicals will support him or her, simply because there
is an “R” behind the name. Mark it down: if the GOP nominates the
big government globalist chameleon and serial adulterer Newt Gingrich
as its Presidential candidate in 2012, most evangelicals will support
Question: “In your opinion, do you think it’s wrong for clergy to
endorse politicians from the pulpit, or in another leading function
within the congregation?”
Answer: Absolutely not! A clergyman did not lose his American
citizenship when he was ordained to the ministry. Again, this goes
back to Johnson’s 501(c)(3) monstrosity. Pastors have been duped and
intimidated into believing that they have no right to express their
personal opinions or convictions from the pulpit. This is historical
and constitutional balderdash!
Can one imagine colonial preachers John Leland, Jonas Clark, or John
Witherspoon being told by any State official what he could or could
not say, or what his church could or could not do, or whom he could or
could not support? What a joke! These men explained, extolled,
extrapolated, and engrained the Biblical Natural Law principles of
liberty so deeply into the minds and hearts of their congregants, that
when the time came, those Christian patriots stood on Lexington Green
and Concord Bridge and fired that shot heard ’round the world.
Question: “Is there a way that a church can become both a spiritual
and political organization? If so, which path do you think is best?”
Answer: Churches are not political institutions; they should never
desire to be. However, they are promoters of truth. And truth is
truth, whether it finds itself in the political arena or any other
arena. Pastors and churches are obligated to be faithful to the truth,
and let the chips fall where they may! The problem is, many pastors
and churches have purposely avoided truth when it butts up against
politics. Their fear of the IRS, or of being considered “politically
incorrect,” or of, perhaps, offending church members has made
cowards out of many of them. And as a result, our country is in the
calamitous condition that we see today.
Chuck Baldwin is a syndicated columnist, radio broadcaster, author, and pastor dedicated to preserving the historic principles upon which America was founded. He was the 2008 Presidential candidate for the Constitution Party. He and his wife, Connie, have 3 children and 8 grandchildren.