Deafening Silence

We have a choice. Will we, the Church, choose to stand with Israel?

 By: Dan Celia

 Israel is the land of those who walked before us, bringing us our Christian heritage and the Judeo-Christian values by which we live each day. It is the land of God’s Chosen People. And, of course, it is the land of our Lord. The Bible tells us that those who bless Israel will themselves be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed (Genesis 12:3).

A friend of mine who is an official in Jerusalem recently sent me an update. She explained they were fighting against an enemy hiding behind and among civilians, putting their own people in danger. She went on to say that while this enemy cares nothing for those civilians, Israel is being blamed for the atrocities that are resulting.

Our increasingly anti-Semitic word continues to make Israel the target of demonstrations and biting criticism while ignoring the brutal murders of Christians and others in the vicinity of Israel (and elsewhere). We continue to see politicians around the world who consistently look for political solutions and negotiate with an enemy who refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. These mediators are trying to reduce this conflict to political issues instead of an unquenchable vendetta of hate perpetrated by the so-called theology of Islamic extremists.

Along with the constant threat of death and devastation in the land, many Israel tours have been canceled and, of course, this is having a dramatic impact on their economy and affecting everyone in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Israel continues to call for prayer and for God’s hand of protection to be upon them.

All these things are extremely disturbing to me as a Christian who loves Israel. We need to be praying continuously. I believe churches need to stand up and to find a renewed and steadfast spirit within them. They need to stand up for Israel, pray for Israel, and find concrete ways to help Israel. I find it most disturbing that so few are doing this. Those who fail to stand with Israel should be praying that God does not cast them away from His presence (Psalm 51:10–11).

Pastors need to speak loudly from the pulpit against the policymakers and media that continue to take the wrong side of the issue or ignore the truth altogether. Pastors and the faithful need to be standing with Israel as never before, and their voices need to be heard.

Unfortunately, the silence is deafening—and it will bring no blessing to the Church in America.

Why are we silent? Could we be afraid of the political ramifications of speaking out? Could pastors and church leaders possibly be afraid that some in the church may be offended and leave to go to a more “easy-going” church? Could it be that tithes and offerings could fall off because of such a vocal stance? Could it be that we would believe for even a moment that he who lives in this world could be stronger and more terrifying than the power of God?

Each day, I hear the Silence of the Church on even more issues. Churches do not want to be politically involved, yet their very silence involves them—in a detrimental way. The Church in America is too concerned about losing the influence of the world to stand firmly as an influence on the world and take their stand on the truths and promises of the Bible. Certainly, there are exceptions out there. Those exceptions need to be even more vocal in encouraging their brethren in the pulpit to stand firmly and speak loudly.

As believers, we are the Church. And we have a choice. We can remain silent and put ourselves in jeopardy of losing everything—everything that counts. Or we can choose to speak out boldly . . .  against those who are bombarding Israel with hate . . . against the policy makers and media who present half-truths or no truth at all. To stand steadfastly in every way with Israel. The choice to speak loudly does not come with the possibility of any real losses—at least the kind of losses that matter.

May the grace of God and His mercies and peace be upon the nation of Israel and may God’s people rise up in prayer, faith, conviction, and action for this land.  (Psalm 122:6-7 NKJV)


Dan Celia is President/CEO of Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries, Inc. and host of the national syndicated radio talk program Financial Issues heard daily 9 to 11 ET. To learn more go to Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries is a Partner of the American Pastors Network.

The Same-Sex Marriage Tyranny

Here we go again.

You’ve heard about the Christian florists forced to close up their business after being forced by the state to pay egregious fines for politely declining to participate in same-sex marriages as a matter of religious conviction.

You’ve heard about the wedding cake bakers who were forced to close up their business after being forced by the state to pay egregious fines for politely declining to participate in same-sex marriages as a matter of religious conviction.

You’ve heard about the photographers who were forced to close up their business after being forced by the state to pay egregious fines for politely declining to participate in same-sex marriages as a matter of religious conviction.

Now meet Robert and Cynthia Gifford, family farmers who have been hit with a $13,000 fine by New York state’s division of human rights for politely declining to host a same-sex marriage as a matter of religious conviction.

These are real-life examples of citizens being deprived of the free exercise of their religious beliefs, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by officials in four different states. It’s becoming a trend. It’s what I call “same-sex marriage tyranny.”

In states that have rewritten their laws to change the definition of marriage from an institution between one man and one woman, or, which have been coerced to do so by federal judicial rulings, the rationale for such decisions has been “tolerance,” “diversity,” “non-discrimination” and other nice-sounding platitudes. But the consequences for these decisions mean just the opposite of “tolerance,” “diversity” and “non-discrimination” for some innocent bystanders – mostly Christians – who seek only to remain true to their religious convictions.

They are being coerced to become active participants in ceremonies and celebrations that violate their consciences – in America, a nation formed and codified in the law as a refuge for the free exercise of religion.

That this is happening all over the country already, and that it is necessary to write a column denouncing this kind of intolerance, lack of diversity and active discrimination against people based on their religious convictions is shocking and disturbing.

This is not the way a free society operates.

There is no inalienable right to force individuals or businesses through government coercion to become active participants in activity that violates their most fundamental religious or moral beliefs.

Let me pose a hypothetical intellectual challenge: The law that forms the basis for the action against the Giffords in New York is a provision that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Yet, isn’t that precisely what is happening to the Giffords? Are they not being coerced to accept and approve someone else’s sexual orientation? Are they not permitted to hold their own sexual orientation, one that acknowledges their God’s definition that marriage is a union of one man and one woman?

The Giffords are not campaigning to prevent other people from following their own conscience as to their sexual choices and activities. It’s just the opposite. They are being coerced by the state to take part in the sexual choices and activities of others.

Isn’t that obvious?

I imagine there are people in America who believe heterosexual marriage is wrong. There were many feminist leaders years ago who claimed heterosexual marriage was the equivalent of “rape,” the moral equivalent of “slavery.” Should people with those kinds of convictions be forced by the state to participate in ceremonies and celebrations of heterosexual marriage? Or should they be free to follow the dictates of their consciences – as florists, bakers, photographers and caterers – to turn down such business?

I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to coerce people with those ideas to serve them at their weddings. After all, who would want to do that – unless you were simply trying to limit individual liberty and choice?

And that’s exactly what the same-sex marriage tyrants are trying to do – to use state coercion to limit the liberty and choices of people who simply have different ideas about the institution of marriage.

Here’s a hypothetical analogy for you to consider: Suppose a Christian couple planning a marriage went to a Jewish baker and requested a wedding cake decorated with a cross. And suppose the Jewish baker felt uncomfortable with that idea. Should he forced to do so? I don’t think so. Nor can I imagine any Christian couple wanting to use the coercive power of the state to do that. They would simply go to another baker. That would be the logical, non-tyrannical thing to do.

Here’s another hypothetical scenario: Suppose a Jewish couple chooses a homosexual photographer to take pictures at their wedding. Among the things they require the photographer to do is to take a photo of them before a banner emblazoned with the following scripture verse: Genesis 2:24 – “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Maybe the photographer feels uncomfortable and even spiritually condemned with this requirement. Should he be forced by the state to do it because failing to accept the assignment would be tantamount to violating the Jewish couple’s “sexual orientation” or even their religious convictions? I don’t think so. Nor can I imagine any Jewish couple wanting to use the coercive power of the state to do that. They would simply go to another photographer. That would be the logical, non-tyrannical thing to do.

When “tolerance” becomes intolerance, we have bigotry.

When “diversity” becomes state-enforced conformity, we have religious persecution.

When “non-discrimination” becomes victimization of those with different religious and moral convictions, we literally have the establishment of a state religion and, effectively, the repeal of the First Amendment

Pastors Deliberately Choosing Not to Preach on Pressing Issues, New Research Finds

American Pastors Network Says Clergy Must Not Keep Silent on Critical Societal Topics

PHILADELPHIA—New research shows that while 90 percent of pastors believe the Bible has much to say about today’s pressing political and societal issues, less than 10 percent are talking about those issues from the pulpit.

Researcher George Barna spoke recently on American Family Radio’s “Today’s Issues” about his research project over the past two years, in which the Barna Group asked pastors across the country about their beliefs regarding the relevancy of Scripture to societal, moral and political issues, and the content of their sermons in light of their beliefs.

What he found was startling.

“…When we ask them about all the key issues of the day, [90 percent of them are] telling us, ‘Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues,’” Barna told American Family Radio. “Then we ask them: ‘Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?’ and the numbers drop … to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.”

Sam Rohrer, President of the American Pastors Network (APN,, says that while it is clear that there is a disconnect between knowing the Truth and preaching it, the real question is why. Avoiding the politically unpopular portions of Scripture is in some respects understandable from a human perspective. From God’s perspective, however, it is sin.

“The reality is that most people, including pastors, wish to be comfortable and to avoid controversy,” Rohrer said. “If the primary goal is to see people leave on Sunday morning feeling good about themselves and feeling comfortable rather than seeing the holiness of God and the ugly reality of sin, then a pastor will answer to God for doing his own will rather than declaring God’s will. The issues of the day that confront our nation must be dealt with from the pulpit if God’s Word is to make a difference in people’s lives and if the culture is to be impacted. This includes the areas of marriage and divorce, life and family, but it also includes the areas of honesty, servant leadership, following the Rule of Law, etc.”

Barna added that many pastors are afraid to get involved in political issues because of the controversy it might create. And, he added, “Controversy keeps people from being in the seats, controversy keeps people from giving money, from attending programs,” Barna said.

He also found that when asked how they measure the success of their churches, most pastors look to five factors: “attendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff and square footage.”

“The fact that so many pastors are more concerned with the size of their buildings and church bank accounts than with the condition of the souls they shepherd is without excuse,” Rohrer continued. “By abdicating their responsibility as Ministers of God to ‘preach the Word’ in favor of square footage, many pastors are, in essence, saying God’s Word is not really authoritative. In reality, a pastor—or an person for that matter—who feels they have the right to pick and choose what portions of Scripture they will believe or teach, rather than preach the ‘whole counsel of God’ have in effect made themselves god.  This is why the American Pastors Network is building an infrastructure of pastors across the country who believe in the absolute authority of Scripture and who will boldly proclaim it from the pulpit.”

American Doctor Who Had Ebola Has Recovered

ATLANTA (AP) — At least one of the two American aid workers who were infected with the Ebola virus was to be discharged Thursday from an Atlanta hospital, a spokeswoman for the aid group he was working for said.

Meanwhile, Emory University Hospital planned to hold a news conference Thursday morning to discuss both patients’ discharge.

Alison Geist, a spokeswoman for Samaritan’s Purse, told The Associated Press she did not know the exact time Dr. Kent Brantly would be released but confirmed it would happen Thursday.

Meanwhile, Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said in a statement that Brantly has recovered.

“Today I join all of our Samaritan’s Purse team around the world in giving thanks to God as we celebrate Dr. Kent Brantly’s recovery from Ebola and release from the hospital,” Graham’s statement said.

Brantly and Nancy Writebol were flown out of the west African nation of Liberia earlier this month and have been getting treatment for the deadly disease in an isolation unit at the hospital. The two were infected while working at a missionary clinic outside Liberia’s capital.

The Ebola outbreak has killed 1,350 people and counting across West Africa.

Gay Marriage Could Start Next Week in Virginia

A Christian legal group is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to delay a federal appeals court ruling allowing gay marriage licenses to be issued next week in Virginia.

In February, a federal judge struck down Virginia’s voter-approved state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Then last month, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to keep that decision on hold while the case is being appealed.

Gay activists are pushing for same-sex marriages to begin taking place next week in Virginia, even though the case has not reached its conclusion.

“The last word on the marriage lawsuits in America rests with the U.S. Supreme Court. It has already said that lower-court rulings on state marriage laws should be placed on hold for now,” Byron Babione, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said.

“The 4th Circuit was wrong to ignore that and deny Virginians an orderly, dignified, and fair resolution to the question of whether they will remain free to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman,” Babione said.

ADF attorneys represent Prince William County Clerk of Court Michèle B. McQuigg in defense of Virginia’s amendment. That’s because Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has refused to defend Virginia’s 2006 voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

More than 20 consecutive rulings in the past eight months have struck down marriage amendments in numerous states. Observers expect the cases to ultimately be resolved at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ken Connelly, legal counsel for ADF, said he expects the stay to be granted in Virginia because the Supreme Court has twice granted delays in Utah’s fight to keep its same-sex marriage ban.

IRS Settlement with Atheist Groups Threatens Free Speech in Churches


American Pastors Network Says Settlement Is Wake-Up Call for Pastors and Churches


PHILADELPHIA—The Internal Revenue Service has settled a lawsuit with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), and as a result, the IRS will adopt standards to determine whether churches and religious organizations have violated restrictions on political activity.

The details of the settlement have not been released but the IRS has said it will amend its policies to enforce tax laws on what FFRF calls “rogue political churches.”

American Pastors Network (APN, says the new development should serve as a wake-up call for pastors in every pulpit who cherish First Amendment rights.

“As a result of this settlement,” said APN President Sam Rohrer, “the Justice Department, according to its own statement, will begin to crack down on political speech from the pulpit. This is literally a call to arms and should not be taken as idle commentary but as a warning shot across the bow. With this decision, pastors’ freedom of speech from the pulpit is in danger. This is perhaps one of the greatest urgencies and motivations for the establishment of state chapters within the American Pastors Network, so pastors can come together and unite on important issues such as these. There is nothing stronger than speaking with unity and strength as pastors address the real issues of the day.”

In the case, FFRF demanded that the Johnson Amendment, a controversial IRS code added in 1954 that precludes nonprofit organizations from engaging in campaign activity, be enforced against churches.

Rohrer said implications of the settlement could mean that churches cannot distribute voter guides to congregations, and pastors may not be able to talk from the pulpit about political issues in relation to the Bible.

Erik Stanley, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, said the IRS settlement with the atheist group should create concern, telling The Blaze, “Every American should fear an IRS that uses its vast power to target, threaten and punish political opponents. Churches have succumbed to this regime of fear for the last 60 years under the Johnson Amendment, which was added to the tax code specifically to silence speech a politician didn’t like.”

ADF has been a longtime opponent of FFRF and has organized the annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” event, set this year for October 5.

The settlement comes directly in the middle of the IRS scandal that found that the tax agency was unfairly targeting conservative organizations.

Ebola-Stricken Doctor Improving

When Kent Brantly arrived in the United States on Saturday, the American doctor who contracted Ebola while treating virus-stricken patients in Liberia did something unexpected: He stepped out of an ambulance and walked into the hospital.

Three days earlier, Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian aid organization Brantly was serving in Liberia, described the doctor’s condition as “grave” and reported he had taken a turn for the worse. The Ebola virus has a high fatality rate, killing at least 887 people in the recent outbreak in West Africa.

Brantly’s survival looked precarious.

But by Saturday, as news helicopters captured his arrival at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, the doctor emerged from an ambulance in a bulky contamination suit, and walked slowly toward the building.

Though Brantly’s condition is still serious, and he remains in a high-tech isolation ward while he recovers, his remarkable comeback likely hinged on an experimental serum physicians administered while he was still in Liberia. (Samaritan’s Purse confirmed Brantly took the drug.)

CNN cited an unnamed source as saying the National Institute of Health offered the highly experimental serum, which reportedly hadn’t been tested on humans before.

Doctors also gave the drug to Nancy Writebol, an American working for the mission group Serving in Mission (SIM), who also contracted the virus. Writebol’s family said her condition was still serious, but improving. SIM said the same medical evacuation plane that transported Brantly to Atlanta was on its way back to Liberia to pick up Writebol. She’s expected to arrive at Emory on Tuesday.

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On Sunday, Brantly’s wife Amber said she had visited her husband in the hospital’s isolation ward. Visitors to the sealed-off infectious disease unit see and communicate with patients through barriers. In a statement, Amber Brantly said her husband was in good spirits: “He thanked everyone for their prayers and asked for continued prayer for Nancy Writebol’s safe return and full recovery.”

Ken Isaacs of Samaritan’s Purse said Brantly remained unwavering in his faith as he faced the deadly disease: “It’s an absolutely incredible story of commitment to Christ, and wanting to glorify God.”

The aid group is working to evacuate other Samaritan’s Purse workers away from Liberia while the outbreak remains a threat. It’s a complicated process, and the group’s president, Franklin Graham, wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asking for clearer protocols for bringing home workers leaving a country where the Ebola virus has taken hold.

“In the absence of guidelines from the CDC, Samaritan’s Purse has adopted what we believe to be a conservative policy,” he wrote on July 28. “Since the incubation period for Ebola is 21 days, we will require our personnel to remain on the African continent for 21 days after being in an area with possible exposure to Ebola.” Graham said the group would monitor the workers’ health, and “only allow their return to the United States if they are symptom-free at the end of that time.”

Meanwhile, some 400 national staff remain on-site in Liberia, working for Samaritan’s Purse. Isaacs said he didn’t know of any confirmed cases of Ebola among indigenous workers. He also said the morale among the local staff was “very high,” and they wanted to continue public education campaigns to help Liberians understand how to prevent contracting or spreading the disease.

Such efforts may be key to containing the deadly virus in a region where misinformation can lead to deadly errors. Liberian officials announced they would cremate the bodies of any patients who died from Ebola to prevent the spread of the disease through decaying corpses.

Since handling dead bodies is a common practice in Liberian funerals, it’s critical to educate people on the dangers of touching a corpse. Samaritan’s Purse plans to work with local pastors in its network of churches to help with education efforts about preventing the spread of the virus, and spotting its symptoms early.

Meanwhile, concerns persist about the virus spreading to other areas of West Africa. On Monday, Nigerian officials announced they had confirmed a second case of Ebola. The first case came from an Ebola-stricken doctor who traveled from Liberia to Nigeria before he knew he was infected. The doctor later died.