September 12, 2018
Pastors are showing up in the "Show Me" state. Last month, Missouri media erupted with criticism for comments made by the state's Attorney General Josh Hawley at a Family Research Council pastors event. Newspapers splashed headlines about "audio obtained" from the event supposedly showing him violating the "separation of church and state." The violation? The attorney general reiterated to pastors that he was fighting to give them their voice back on cultural issues. "It's just absolutely unconstitutional..." he said of the Johnson Amendment that's restricted the free speech rights of pastors for the last half century. "Religious liberty is under attack in this country, and it's a terrible thing. It's a dangerous thing."
Hawley later joined me on the radio to double down explaining that, "the Johnson Amendment is an attempt to silence pastors and silence churches from preaching and living their convictions. It is unconstitutional -- I've said that for years." AG Hawley continued, "These are the fights that I have been fighting and I'm going to go on fighting them for the people of my state." Hawley refused to back down in the face of the media and neither are Missouri pastors -- 92 of whom have signed onto a petition to stand with AG Hawley as he stands for their constitutional freedoms.
No government has the right to dictate what a pastor can or cannot say from the pulpit. If there is this metaphorical "separation of church and state" that has been "crossed" -- it's a line that's been breached not by the church but by the state which has been meddling in the business of the church. The Left has used the Johnson Amendment to intimidate churches into silence. I believe some of our nation's moral decline has been driven in part by the lack of discussion from the pulpit on issues that have been deemed "political." What our country needs are more pastors willing to declare that there is, in fact, truth -- and challenge people both inside and outside their churches to live accordingly.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.