Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Quotes from iPledge Sunday

On September 9th, the Family Research Council and American Family Association hosted iPledge Sunday: A Call to Faith, Family, and Freedom. iPledge Sunday took place at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC and was simulcast to churches across the U.S. Featuring FRC president Tony Perkins, Kirk Cameron, Star Parker, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, and Bishop Harry Jackson, the gathering was intended to prepare listeners for the 2012 elections and encourage them to pray and vote. For your reading pleasure, I have selected some choice quotes from the evening's transcript.

First, in an introductory video, Tony Perkins expressed his desire to help Christians influence Charlotte. He waxed poetic about the relationship between Christianity and freedom in America.
"I came here to help Christians influence this city that was once dominated by Christian influence ... The real question is will we do our part to influence America? And that is exactly what iPledge Sunday is all about. It’s a call to Bible-believing Christians across America to faith, family and freedom. Many Christians today don’t understand the foundational role that Christianity and the Bible have played in America’s success. It is an incredible story, but it’s now missing from public school textbooks and, sadly, it’s missing from many church pulpits. If more of us understood the connection between our faith and our freedom, we would not so easily cast biblical principles aside when choosing our leaders or even passing legislation or educating our children."
Perkins attributed America's economic downturn, acceptance of abortion, and struggles over LGBTQ issues as a result of Americans ignoring "biblical principles."
"We now see the results of ignoring these biblical principles. We ignored biblical principles on economics and now we have almost $16 trillion in debt. We ignored biblical principles about the family and then divorce, abortion and the redefinition of marriage became more and more acceptable. We ignored biblical principles about God-given rights in our first freedom, religious liberty, becomes expendable."
Former Growing Pains star and evangelist Kirk Cameron lamented America's debt, claiming that "devastating" spiritual developments can be seen in public schools and malls.
"Economically we’re $16 trillion in debt; morally it’s frightening to see what happens. Just go down to our local public school or our mall and take a look at see if this is the direction we want our children to continue to go. Spiritually, the things that are happening in our world and our nation are devastating to stand by and watch."
Cameron spoke warmly of the Pilgrims as he reflected on America's heritage. At length, he described the Monument to the Forefathers in Massachusetts, a granite monument commemorating the Pilgrims that depicts Christian Faith, Morality, Law, Mercy, Education, Liberty, and Peace as the foundations for society. Cameron emphasized that humans needed God to restore them to the proper path.
"Our forefathers had enough foresight to know that we would get off track, because they knew the heart of man. Man comes with instructions. And we’re told that by nature, we will drift because we are bent toward selfishness and greed as human beings. That’s why we need the spirit of God to come. We need God to straighten us out and to turn our eyes to him so we begin to love the things he loves and hate the things that he hates."
Cameron asserted that "God is the platform" for America's political situation, insisting that abortion, same-sex marriage, and alleged assaults on "religious freedom" would appall America's forefathers.
"One of our political parties right now is wondering if the name of God should be in the platform. According to our forefathers, God is the platform. When I think of how far our country has drifted, our forefathers would be rolling over in their graves to hear what we are discussing: The sanctity of life. Really? The definition of a marriage? Really? Religious freedom? Really? They would be appalled."
Among the event's speakers was Star Parker, founder of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education. Parker fumed over the alleged encroachment of "socialism" in America, the supposed hallmark of "atheist societies."
"For some reason, far too many Americans have accepted that economic issues are separate and apart from what we call social and moral issues – issues like traditional marriage and abortion. However, the Lord of the universe never got this message. The 10 Commandments, in addition to addressing family and murder, address theft and covetousness. Central to a free society and a godly nation is a nation in which private property is respected, in which it is not permissible to steal. Central to socialism is the disregard of private property, that government and politicians can decide what is right there and take from some and redistribute to others. Socialist societies are atheist societies."
Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum attributed the alleged disintegration of the family, including out-of-wedlock births, for America's economic woes, a well-worn right-wing chestnut.
"The hopelessness that you’re seeing, the want that you’re seeing, yes, it’s economic, but it’s mostly because of the brokenness of the lives and the families and the communities, because now 40 percent of our children are born out of wedlock. Over – well, now roughly half of people over the age of 18 are married. That’s down from 75 percent just 30 years ago. The family is coming apart, and it is no wonder the economy is crumbling."
Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, urged voters of color to "come off of the ideological plantation" and vote in accordance with "biblical values."
"My black neighbor, my black friend, my Hispanic brother, my Hispanic friend, I want you to understand that you have got to vote your biblical values. You’ve got to decide that you’re going to come off of an ideological plantation into the freedom of the liberty of the sons of God ... This is the call to biblical fidelity. We’ve got to believe that somehow, in God’s economy, the reason that the pressure is so heavy on America right now economically is that we have not been biblically faithful ... God’s first institution is marriage. And so if we turn against him on this situation, we then will fail."
Jackson claimed that resistance to same-sex marriage would heal America's woes, asserting that "if we will guard the institution of marriage, if we will give ourselves to healing marriages on our watch, God will heal our nation."

James Robinson of LIFE Outreach International spoke out against abortion, calling it "disregard" for life and biblical truth.
"You know, I never dreamed, I imagine most of the people listening to me now never imagined, that we would see what we’re witnessing today – the disregard not only of God, God’s standard and biblical truth, but the preciousness of life ... What could be more precious, more innocent, more worthy of protection, than the unborn, totally innocent life in the womb, with so much potential, so many possibilities?"
Robinson told the story of a hospice nurse raped by the son of a client, or as he described it, "forced to have a sexual relationship." When the woman became pregnant from the rape and sought an abortion, a doctor refused to perform the procedure. The woman later gave birth to James Robinson himself.

I was troubled by Robinson's story for several reasons. First, the term "sexual relationship" would be more appropriate for a situation involving consent and mutuality. The perpetrator in his story did not force his victim to have a sexual relationship; he raped her. Why Robinson chose to use this term instead of "rape" is unclear. Second, he celebrates his mother's decision to give birth to her rapist's child, ignoring the fact that her choices were constrained by an uncooperative doctor and the social climate of the era that made abortions very difficult to obtain. Would she have made the same decision if she'd had more choices open to her? Third, even if following the rape-related pregnancy to term was her choice, it would not be a desirable choice for all women, a painful reality that Robinson ignores.

Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life claimed that millions of fetuses have been aborted because "their mothers were deceived," ignoring the fact that plenty of women make mature, informed choices to terminate pregnancies. Like other anti-abortion activists, she spoke of abortion in the same breath as the Holocaust.
"Since 1973, over 54 million children have been killed by legal abortion in our country - precious children who were created in God’s image and who, just like you and I, are intrinsically valuable. Yet they were thrown in the trash because their mothers were deceived. Their mothers were deceived and told you can’t have that child and continue your education. You can’t have that baby and continue to feed your other babies. You can’t have that baby and stay with your boyfriend, your husband, whoever. And I know, 54 million is an impossible number to get your head around. That’s more deaths than all casualties of war our nation has sustained, more deaths than any disease, more deaths than the Middle Passage, more deaths than the Holocaust."
Hawkins urged listeners to vote along anti-abortion lines in November, encouraging them to drive anti-abortion allies to the polls.

Finally, Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in La Mesa, CA lamented that disapproval of homosexuality and same-sex marriage is no longer endorsed by many people. He also expressed disappointment that religious leaders allegedly aren't supposed to speak out on social issues. He sharply criticized the Johnson amendment for allegedly silencing pulpits, a message reminiscent of his speech at the America for Jesus rally.
"Let me tell you where we are in our nation right now. It’s very simple. If I would have said 10 years ago marriage is between a man and a woman, you’d say, well, of course it is. Say that today – pastor, you’re being too political. If I would have said 30 years ago that the practice of homosexuality is not acceptable before God, that it’s a sin, people would have said, well, of course it is. Say that today – oh, pastor, you’re being too political ... What we used to call biblical and moral issues is now political. And so pastors aren’t supposed to speak out on that anymore. What has happened is we have allowed a moral equivalency to develop between right and left. It’s not right versus left. It’s right versus wrong."
Garlow elaborated on what he believed to be the true role of religious leaders in teaching congregants how to think and how to approach public life.
"Where’s the moral compass in America? It should be the pulpit. It should be the pastors. In other words, the pulpit has been largely quiet on this. The reason we have the problem we have in Washington, D.C. is not merely because of the wayward nature of our Congress. It’s because the pulpits of America are not instructing them how they should think with the word of God, nor are the pulpits in America adequately instructing people on how the Bible applies to national life ..."
In short, iPledge Sunday contained familiar Religious Right rhetoric on same-sex marriage, abortion, the alleged "socialist" threat, and politics in the pulpit. With the presidential election fast approaching, iPledge Sunday served as a reminder to Religious Right voters to focus on hot-button issues for the right.

To download a transcript of iPledge Sunday, visit www[dot]frcblog[dot]com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/0910-FRC-ipledgesunday-Transcript.pdf

To watch the full video of the event, visit www[dot]ipledgesunday[dot]org

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Right Wing Watch: Kirk Cameron: God Shouldn't be IN the Platform, 'God IS the Platform!'

The New Civil Rights Movement: Santorum Redefines ‘Pursuit Of Happiness’ To Mean ‘Doing God’s Will’

Daily Kos: Bring Tony Perkins, Kirk Cameron, Rick Santorum into Your Home


  1. Hmm, let's think about this. Canada's economy is doing fine. Canada's banks are strong. We live longer than Americans and are (according to studies) happier.

    Canada is also a considerably less religious country than the US. We have legalized same-sex marriage. Our healthcare system pays for, among other things, abortions. And oh yeah, Hurricane Sandy petered out before doing much damage here. Yep, God must really hate us socialist nutjobs up here...

    1. Knatolee -- Good point! The American Religious Right tends to ignore these uncomfortable realities about its next-door neighbor.


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