On Election Day, ‘Make Hay’: Religious Freedom Hangs in the Balance

By Tony Perkins   •   July 6, 2018

FRC President Tony Perkins addresses the 2013 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.

Winston Churchill once said, “During their lifetimes, every man and woman will stumble across a great opportunity. Sadly, most of them will simply pick themselves up, dust themselves down and carry on as if nothing ever happened.”

The Apostle Paul spoke to that same issue of opportunity in Ephesians 5:15-16: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (ESV). Now, if Paul had grown up in this country, he might have told them, “Make hay while the sun is shining.”

Well, the sun is shining right now in America when it comes to our First Amendment freedoms. And the church needs to be wise and act quickly—not only using our freedom to spread the Good News, but to put policies in place that will protect those freedoms around the globe for generations.

Some of our fellow Christians remain skeptical or indifferent about our engagement in the political process. Don’t be foolish. Elections have consequences—many of them far-reaching ones, as we continue to see from the years of President Obama. But we also see the positive consequences of the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

We have to act while we can, to fortify our freedoms and ensure that government doesn’t try to quarantine our Christian faith within the four walls of our churches. A lot has been done, but there’s still plenty to do.

For the millions of Americans who made this election about policy, their belief in the president’s platform has been rewarded with a year and a half of promise keeping. They’ve watched the president appoint excellent judges like Neil Gorsuch, enact broad and unparalleled pro-life policies, cut taxes, grow the economy and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

President Trump is restoring religious freedom, rebuilding our military and protecting American interests abroad. That’s happening because evangelicals used their influence and platforms to remind people what was at stake in the election of 2016.

Evangelical voters, especially the subset that George Barna calls SAGE Cons (Spiritually Active Governmentally Engaged Conservatives) turned out in record-setting numbers. Ninety-one percent of SAGE Cons representing 20 million U.S. adults voted—and 94 percent of them voted for Donald Trump. And based on post-election polling, 59 percent of them said they made their decision based on the GOP’s platform position on life and religious liberty. That’s an important point because it shows that despite what the media says, evangelical voters are discerning. They were able to separate personality from policy.

Evangelicals helped pull America back from the brink. But the election was not the end of our responsibility. It was the beginning of our opportunity. First, we have to act on that opportunity, but just as important, we have to preserve it. And that means making our voices heard at the ballot box this November.

Because of the importance of evangelical voters, there’s an intense effort in the media to suppress their turnout in the upcoming elections. Progressives understand that if they can dampen the enthusiasm of conservatives and if pro-family, pro-life voters get discouraged and stay home in the midterms—the reform is over. The restoration of religious freedom and the freedom of speech will end.

Progressives need just 24 seats to retake the gavel of the House. In every midterm election since the Civil War, the president’s party has lost, on average, 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate. With roughly 40 members of the president’s own party set to retire, Congress is easily within the far Left’s grasp.

If conservatives—and in particular, evangelical voters—do not turn out, the House will change hands. One of the first orders of business will be the impeachment of President Trump. And while the Left may not succeed in removing him from office, they will most likely succeed in stopping what this administration is doing.

And what is it doing? The Trump administration isn’t just enacting a conservative agenda in line with the Constitution. It is systematically dismantling the policies of its left-wing predecessor. Throughout history, America has never seen a wave of sweeping policy reversals like this from a conservative president. Slowly but surely, President Trump is demolishing key parts of the framework for the big government model that’s been expanded regularly by left-leaning presidents since FDR.

That’s why the Left is unhinged. They won’t be able to jump back in the driver’s seat and shape policies that aim to remove Biblical values from the public square. They’ll have to rebuild—and that will take time, especially if they don’t have the courts to help them in their activism. That’s why every judicial nomination is being obstructed by the very liberal New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.

We have to act while we can to fortify our freedoms and ensure that government doesn’t try to quarantine our Christian faith within the four walls of our churches. A lot has been done, but there’s still plenty to do:

The forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood must end.

Obamacare must be overturned and replaced with patient-centered health care.

The Senate needs to continue confirming strict constructionists to the courts.

The Johnson Amendment must be eliminated to give pastors the freedom to speak freely without fear of government threats.

God must be welcomed back into our public life.

The president ran and has governed by the theme “Make America Great Again.” But America will only be great again when it becomes good again. And that’s not government’s mission, but ours, as followers of Jesus Christ.

Benjamin Franklin said, “History will also afford frequent opportunities of showing the necessity of a public religion, from its usefulness to the public; the advantage of a religious character among private persons; the mischiefs of superstition, and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.”

Let’s be wise and make the best use of this moment in time, this opportunity. ©2018 Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council.

The scripture quotation is taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version.

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