America’s ‘only hope’ may be in faith-filled pastors, voters, showing up to sway policy, culture

Don’t think the culture is completely in the commode? Articles in Cosmopolitans Summer 2024 issue include: 

  • “Helping My Best Friend’s Husband Collect a Sperm Sample Was the Hottest Hand Job Ever. And also surprisingly wholesome?”
  • “What It’s Really Like to Cut Off Your Parents: More and more young people have entered their family estrangement era, for better or worse. But mostly for better.”

Nice. As if we really need to be exulting in cross-marital sex acts and encouraging young people to shun their families.

Then there’s the hyper-sexualization of children – not just in the culture, with “family friendly” drag shows in the public square, but also with early-childhood education in our public schools – via bawdy books, curricula touting alternative sexual lifestyles and transgenderism, and of course those bizarre drag queen story hours.

In a college commencement address last weekend President Joe Biden even disingenuously called parents’ efforts to remove the most sexually explicit books from school libraries a “national effort to ban books.” What a shameful canard. And by our president.

Our politics aren’t much better. In recent days alone, candidates for Missouri statewide office, Congress and the presidency – as well as the sitting vice president – have all used profanities to get their various points across. We are truly witnessing the futuristic farce film Idiocracy come to life – in which society has become so degenerate that the president starts his address to Congress with an expletive.

The question isn’t whether American culture and politics are in the latrine. The only question is what, if anything, we’re going to do about it.

Well, one huge thing we can do is have people of faith, and their church leaders, finally assert themselves in civic life.

For too long, churches and faith-filled followers have been browbeaten into silence because of hollow haunts of the “separation of church and state” – which exists nowhere in the Constitution. In fact, it’s just the opposite: The First Amendment ensures the free expression of religion, even on the government’s doorsteps.

In truth, the amendment’s initial clause – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” –  “was really to protect the church from the state. They didn’t want to see a state-run church,” Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER, argues in an exclusive interview.


Finally addressing what’s wrong in the culture

The FAMiLY LEADER’s mission is “inspiring the Church to engage Government for the advance of God’s Kingdom and the strengthening of Family.”

More specifically, the aim of the nonprofit, begun in Iowa and now stretching across 19 states, is to seek “a revived America that honors God and blesses people. Bad policy does the opposite. That’s why TFL leads and inspires Christians to engage policymakers with a biblical understanding of good and evil, justice and mercy, human nature, and God’s design for family, the government, and the Church.”

Kind of addresses what’s wrong, doesn’t it? And at a level of policymaking and tone-setting that could actually turn this ship around – if people of faith rise up.

Sounds simple, but Vander Plaats cites a study saying 37% of church-going Christians who are registered just aren’t voting.

Vander Plaats talks about “how fast we are drifting away from the heart of God,” citing Hebrews 2:1: “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

“We’re no longer drifting. This is a full out sprint,” he adds. “This boat has picked up speed. And now evil is something to be celebrated, and good is something to be condemned. And now we have birthing people. It makes no sense.

“But I still believe that when you have a spokesperson, you have a champion, you have the shepherds of the church doing what the shepherds of the church should do, there’s still hope in this country.”

As we see all around us, the void of faith-filled people in public life gets filled with whatever dogma secular society sees fit to advance – or impose.

Yet, there is no dictate in American law that people of faith check their beliefs and tongues at the courthouse or capitol door – and certainly not at the ballot box. In fact, the Bible explicitly charges the church to inform policy and policymakers.

“God created both church and state,” Vander Plaats notes. “The government was for the pursuit of righteousness and justice, law and order. But the church was always to have a responsibility of speaking truth into government, and having a working relationship with government.

“Even Jesus speaking to Roman authorities, it’s very, very clear that the word of God should go into the halls of government. And it goes back to that old adage: for evil to prevail, good people just need to do nothing.”

The FAMiLY LEADER encourages church leaders to foster pastoral relationships with political leaders that can be about both the personal – “How are you doing? How’s your family? How’s your walk with the Lord? – and about the policy.

In this way, Vander Plaats says, “the church now sees government as a mission field.”


OK for faith to inform government

It works. It’s in no way verboten. And, in fact, it’s arguably expected by the Bible. But faith informing government appears to be revolutionary for many churches.

“I think they’ve been told for too long to stay out of it,” Vander Plaats says. “Kind of a two-kingdom worldview: you’re in this world, but you’re not of this world.  

“And that’s true. But while you’re in this world, I believe God wants you to be salt and light to this world. And I believe the scriptures back it up with ‘righteousness exalts a nation.’”

Growing numbers of pastors agree, and are linking up with The FAMiLY LEADER to take their faith to electeds and elections. The FAMiLY LEADER’s flock of civically active shepherds has grown from 38 pastors to 2,700.

“The pastors aren’t dumb. They see the urgency. They see the breakdown of the family, they see the addiction, they see the hopelessness, they see the rise in the suicide rates. They see the threat to proclaiming the gospel. And so, there’s a renewed sense of urgency.

“Our mission is to inspire the church to engage the institution of government – not for a party, not for a candidate, for the advancement of God’s Kingdom and the strengthening of family. And if we do that right, we think we’ve done our job.”

How instrumental is faith going to be in saving America from its current division, decline and depravity?

“Well, I think it’s our only hope, honestly,” he says.

“If we recognize there is a God, then we probably should go according to His design, His principles and His precepts. It only makes sense.  

“And when you go according to His design, His principles and His precepts, we now have unity and things start working out better for our culture. But the further we go away from God’s heart, God’s created order, God’s design, the more chaos and division is going to happen.”

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