The annus horribilis, 2020, was an unmitigated disaster for American churches – and it has only gotten worse since then.
Like many, I was at first cowed by the Covid lockdowns and mask mandates, as supposed measures “for the public good.” While living in the Free State of Florida, eventually, lessened the blows, the tyrannical mayor of my home town, Miami Beach, forbade any gatherings of two or more people in public or private. Only when lifted later in 2020 did it become clear that churches were the priority target, when the City Manager announced up-front that limited worship services could resume for on-line broadcast. Imagine that: all worship services, other than a guitar-strumming pastor, banned for half a year!
Like many a church-goer, I was horrified by the politically-correct reaction of my pastor to the George Floyd riots. Instead of condemning the violence which, like the Watts riots, would largely destroy inner cities, he gushed sympathy for what our black brothers and sisters were going through.
Then there was the election. The otherwise conservative pastor of a theologically conservative non-denominational church refused to support Trump. The closest he could come was to urge all members to read each party platform and decide which more closely matched their belief system.
Such was his guilt after the stolen election, that his following sermon was a stem-winder against abortion!
Last but not least, instead of supporting election integrity, our pastor threw up his hands and spread among the church leadership the pablum that God chooses all leaders and you just have to get with the program.
I still believe in God, country, and family. My love of God does not negate my love of country – especially when the attacks are constant and ferocious.
What could be the sources of the emasculation of so many American churches? Why, apparently, have a great majority of pastors failed us so miserably?
Jesus Himself foreshadowed the decay of End Times churches in his letter to Laodicea, which he condemns with:
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Rev. 3:17)
Surely this points to late-stage American churches which are materialistically rich and spiritually poor. So many pastors, sadly, seem more concerned with filling tithe-paying seats and skirting the IRS threat to rescind their tax-exempt status if they preach politics from the pulpit. The leader of my first Bible study group aptly calls this the Commercial Church.
Who can doubt that Satan had a field day in 2020? Tragically few pastors decided to defy the unconstitutional and anti-God lockdowns – for fear of fines and financial and/or reputational harm. (To his credit, my pastor at the time gathered more than permitted for in-church worship services for on-line distribution.)
Unbiblical fear flooded the nation, distorting and destroying loyalties, tearing apart communities and churches. (Could the George Floyd riots have been half as destructive if churches had never closed?) At my new post-panic church, the pastor started to divide the church body into those vaxxed and unvaxxed. I persuaded him not to.
In sum, commercialism, lack of courage or understanding of the U.S. Constitution, a misreading of the Bible, and unbiblical fear paralyzed countless pastors – and still does.
Why is this important, even for “non-religious” Americans to know? We are in the middle of a massive spiritual battle, and it is unlikely the forces for good can win (doing God’s will) on the battlefield of ideas and politics if we don’t engage in the spiritual one for the heart and soul of our churches.
What, then, is a patriotic church-goer to do?
First, he must get informed. This includes both dedicated study of the U.S. Constitution and the Bible itself, so as to counter hoary mis-interpretations of “separation of church and state” as well as respect for any and all “governing authorities” or their unGodly and unconstitutional mandates. Both concepts are poppycock.
Second, he must influence the church body and encourage his pastor to re-evaluate (as I was able to do re mask mandates targeting the unvaxxed) both unbiblical and unpatriotic positions. Like the Black Robe Regiment during the War of Independence, our pastors must engage in politics or face loss of legitimacy.
I know biblically-literate Christians brothers who foreswear any involvement in politics, including voting. I fear this misguided exegesis is married to an uncharitable desire to bring on the Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming as soon as possible. We are called with the help of the Holy Spirit to be “restrainers” (John 16:7-11, Thessalonians 2:6-7), not idle spectators or even facilitators of End Time cataclysms, wishing for rewards more quickly.
Come join a growing army of church-going patriots, by signing up at County Citizens Defending Freedom, taking a Biblical Citizenship course, and influencing your church leaders.
The time is late, the need is great, and the laborers are few.
Ben Batchelder is the author of four extended travel books and recently became the Faith Division Leader, Miami-Dade, for County Citizens Defending Freedom. Contact him at his author site is benbatchelder.com