Has Political Correctness Silenced Us?

The Greek poet Euripides was known to say that “Silence is true wisdom’s best reply.”

But when it comes to discussing political views in this sometimes-tempestuous society, many are taking the stance that silence—especially in difficult conversations about politics, religion and other controversial topics—is preferred and safer.

As evidence, the American Pastors Network, the largest national network dedicated to equipping pastors to be a voice for truth in the public square, is pointing to a new Cato Institute study that found 71 percent of Americans say political correctness has silenced some of the discussions society must have, and 58 percent have political views they are afraid to share.

APN President Sam Rohrer says these findings are telling in regards to how Americans interact with each other, the cultural climate and the role of the church in these important conversations.

“The most pressing topics in our society are not being discussed because a culture has been created that silences our voices,” Rohrer said. “This can be due to a variety of reasons, including fear, isolation or ridicule. These are the topics, however, Americans should be discussing, and especially Christians as they hopefully bring the truth of God’s Word to our everyday conversations. Furthermore, how does this translate to the Church? We pray pastors are not silencing themselves as well, but we know that many choose not to address from the pulpit the crucial matters in our culture for whatever reason.

“One of the missional goals of the American Pastors Network is to encourage biblically faithful clergy to take seriously Jesus’ command to be the ‘salt and light’ to the culture, encourage informed Christian thinking about contemporary social issues, examine public policy issues without politicizing their pulpits and engage their congregations in taking part in the political process on a non-partisan basis,” Rohrer added. “We certainly can’t act as salt and light by hiding the light of God’s truth under a bushel, which is exactly what we resort to when we keep silent in an increasingly PC culture.”

The Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey, which polled 2,300 U.S. adults, also found that political party somewhat dictated how people felt about silencing their conversations. For example, a slim majority (53 percent) of Democrats do not feel the need to self-censor. Conversely, strong majorities of Republicans (73 percent) and independents (58 percent) say they keep some political beliefs to themselves.

Cato also reported, “A solid majority (59 percent) of Americans think people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions in public, even those deeply offensive to others. On the other hand, 40 percent think government should prevent hate speech.”

Despite this, the survey also found Americans willing to censor, regulate, or punish a wide variety of speech and expression they personally find offensive:

  • 51 percent of staunch liberals say it’s “morally acceptable” to punch Nazis.
  • 53 percent of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
  • 51 percent of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns.
  • 65 percent of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
  • 58 percent of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
  • 47 percent of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
  • 59 percent of liberals say it’s hate speech to say transgender people have a mental disorder; only 17 percent of conservatives agree.
  • 39 percent of conservatives believe it’s hate speech to say the police are racist; only 17 percent of liberals agree.
  • 80 percent of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say illegal immigrants should be deported; only 36 percent of conservatives agree.
  • 87 percent of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say women shouldn’t fight in military combat roles, while 47 percent of conservatives agree.
  • 90 percent of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say homosexuality is a sin, while 47 percent of conservatives agree.

“These findings, especially the chasms between liberals and conservatives when it comes to moral and biblical issues such as a homosexuality, immigration, religion and gender, are especially important for church leaders,” Rohrer added. “While every pastor must first and foremost preach the whole counsel of God and reveal the Bible’s truth without waver, it is helpful to know where the people in the pews stand and the conversations they are having—or not having—regarding these important matters.”

10 Action Steps Every Church Should Consider Regarding Security

More than a week after the horrific, tragic and frightening shooting at a rural Texas church, many church leaders are thinking seriously about their own church security and what may need to be done to protect their congregations.

Leaders from the American Pastors Network, the largest national network dedicated to equipping pastors to be a voice for truth in the public square, have discussed the tragedy with pastors, held strategic conference calls on the topic and addressed the news on the APN radio ministry, “Stand in the Gap Today” (listen here and here), heard on 425 stations around the country.

“Unfortunately, church security is now a pressing matter in our nation,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “No longer can we fully count on the peaceful and serene sanctuary of the church. It’s clear that those with evil intentions, whether against the church itself or those inside, have sought to steal and kill and destroy, as we witnessed at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Because of the magnitude of the destruction of lives there through violence, church leaders are now considering demolishing the church building, after the hopes and dreams of 26 lives were demolished on November 5. We live in a culture where our churches must seriously think about how to keep people safe. Just as a shepherd carries a staff to guard his sheep, so must every pastor employ ways to protect his flock.”

After conversations over the past week, Rohrer and other APN leaders developed recommendations for churches to consider when it comes to the important matter of church security.

  1. Understand the biblical and moral responsibility of church safety. It is the duty of pastors and church leadership to do all they can to protect the lives of those in the congregation. Scripture sets forth clear responsibilities for those in positions of authority. They are to lead (II Tim 4:2, Hebrews 13:17); teach (James 3:1, Jeremiah 3:15, Eph. 4:11-12); protect (Ezekiel 34:1-10, I Peter 2:5, Acts 20:28) and serve (I Peter 5:1-4). The Bible also gives examples  of watchmen and gatekeepers who were to guard the temple and the city in Old Testament times (I Chron. 23:5, I Chron. 26:1-19, Neh. 7:1-3, II Sam. 18:26); and shepherds who were to guard the sheep in the New Testament (a type of Christ and the true Church of believers) (John 10:1-3). The church should be a place of both spiritual and physical safety. The Pastor, especially, is to guard the church from false doctrine, and those who would take advantage of the “sheep” both morally and physically, as the churches in Revelation were commended for their watchfulness and condemned for their failure in this area (Rev. 2:2, Rev 2:20). To listen to a Stand in the Gap Radio program with more on  this topic, please click HERE.
  2. Develop and train a security team.Dedicate certain individuals, whether staff or volunteers, to undertake the important issue of security. Train these personnel how to identify potential threats and how to de-escalate potential threat situations. During services or functions, outfit the team in plain clothes.
  3. Perform a risk assessment.Where is the church vulnerable in its facility and grounds? Consider a community threat assessment as well.
  4. Implement security protocols.Consider these suggestions: 1) Lock doors after services begin; 2) Post security team members at entrances; 3) Conduct a regular, annual re-assessment of the security plan.
  5. Install security cameras.Consider video surveillance to document and record potential threats or incidents.
  6. Establish a medical response team.Mobilize medical personnel already within the congregation who can take action if injuries ever occur.
  7. Evaluate the legal parameters for security measures.Research insurance requirements and conduct a liability assessment. Identify state civil laws regarding security measures, which can vary from state to state.
  8. Create an evacuation plan.Be sure the security team knows how to best evacuate churchgoers of all ages and mobility ranges, and consider creating another key team to assist. Practice the plan through drills.
  9. Involve local law enforcement in the security plan.Tell local police departments and other emergency responders about the security plan, perhaps through an evening meeting. They may be able to offer additional suggestions or protocols.10.
  10. Communicate the new or existing security measures with the congregation.Members will appreciate knowing the church has a plan to keep them safe.

Photo by Daniil Kuželev on Unsplash

American Pastors Network Responds to Texas Church Mass Shooting That Left 26 Dead and 20 Wounded

Encourages Day of Prayer for First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs While Warning Congregations Regarding Safety Measures

Sam Rohrer, President of the American Pastors Network , has issued this statement for publication over the weekend regarding the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  

“The American Pastors Network has been standing in the gap for truth around America. We grieve today with our friends in Texas who have suffered unspeakable tragedy at the hands of an armed killer. We encourage pastors in Texas and beyond to join us in a day of prayer for the people of Sutherland Springs.”  

While the investigation continues, this tragedy has forced America’s pastors to reevaluate preparation with their local congregations. In addition to praying for those impacted by this tragedy, Rohrer encourages ministers to consider how to best protect their member.

The reaction of these two local residents is a reminder to all people who love truth, love people and hate evil. There are two principles here that are instructive. First, all that evil needs to triumph is for good people to do nothing. When good people act appropriately, evil is stopped. Second, we must always be prepared and committed to respond to evil at a moment’s notice. To delay could mean loss of life, loss of freedom, or the success of evil.”

Gary G. Dull, Executive Director of the PA Pastors Network, has also issued the following statement:

“On Sunday November 5, 2017, after many of us attended the church of our choice, we heard that Devin Patrick Kelly, a ‘dishonorably discharged’ member of the United States Air Force, walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas and shot nearly 50 people, 26 of whom were killed, including Pastor Frank Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter. What a tragedy! It is interesting this took place on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church for which many of us who attended church yesterday spent time in prayer.

“No one knows why Kelly went on this shooting spree, but we do understand that his in-laws attended the First Baptist Church that he massacred. Having been killed after fleeing the premise, there will be no opportunity to interrogate Kelly to discover his motive for the shooting, although I am sure an investigation will be conducted into the history of his life and actions.

“When things like this take place we all ask, ‘Why?’ Many will immediately say it is a gun issue. Yes, Devin Patrick Kelly used a gun, but the gun is not the main issue. There were many people killed even before guns were invented, so banning guns is not the answer.

“Some will ask, ‘Where was God as those people gathered to worship Him in Sutherland Springs?’ God was where He always is, governing every aspect of the universe to honor and glorify His name. Ultimately the result of this tragedy will be a stronger church, a united community and God will be glorified.

“The answer to why such tragedies occur is found in the total depravity of mankind. In other words, mankind is sinful at its core. Jeremiah 17:9 says, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?’ Only after one allows his or her heart to be changed through faith in Jesus Christ as personal Savior will events like this be reduced.

“As a pastor, my heart goes out to pastor Frank Pomeroy who has a very heavy burden in trying to support, strengthen and rebuild his broken congregation. We must all pray for him, as well as for the rest of his congregation, the church leadership, family members of the victims, the entire Sutherland Springs community and churches across America. In time, God will heal the broken hearts of those involved as Psalm 34:18 teaches: ‘The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart.’

“These days churches are considered ‘soft targets’ for those who have a desire to inflict terror where a group of people are gathered. Therefore, the leadership of every church, no matter what the size of the congregation may be, must be vigilant and prepared in advance in the case that a shooter should show up at a church gathering. This preparation must involve having a trained security team present at all events and a plan to protect the congregation should a shooter appear.

“In the meantime, we must pray for the devastated and brokenhearted First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, remembering God Himself is the healer of the brokenhearted.

“In addition, we all must remember God is our greatest protector. Psalm 121 reminds us He never sleeps and never slumbers, but watches over us with His care all of the time. We can be assured as we go throughout our day, God is there and His care and provision is with us for He has promised to ‘never leave or forsake us.’

“I offer the following suggestions in light of the shooting in Texas:

  • Christians across America must pray earnestly for the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas and their leadership as they work to recover from this tragedy and endeavor to strengthen the congregation.
  • Every church must make efforts to have qualified security teams prepared to protect the congregation that gathers to worship, no matter the size of the congregation.
  • We all must recognize we are in a spiritual battle and are not just facing flesh and blood but the evil forces of Satan that desire to bring fear and destruction into the hearts of all people.
  • We must remember that God is in control and will always work to perform His perfect will and purpose in our lives as we trust Him to provide for us.
  • We should acknowledge that Christians will suffer persecution which will become even more intense as we draw closer to the return of Christ according to 2 Timothy 3:12.
  • We must all be vigilant and alert as to what is going on around us and be prepared for anything that may come our way according to 1 Peter 5:8.

“Pray for pastor Frank Pomeroy and the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.”

To listen to a Stand in the Gap Radio program on “The Biblical Perspective on Self Defense and Church Security” including practical tips to incorporate a church security program, please click HERE.

To read a complete article featured on Lifezette by APN President, Sam Rohrer, please click HERE.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

New Study Finds Most Pastors Feel Supported and Energized

With Pastor Appreciation Month now concluded, parishioners can rest assured that their gestures of thankfulness did not go unnoticed, as a new study from Barna research found that most pastors feel supported and energized.

The call to pastoral ministry has its unique benefits and challenges, which Barna explored in partnership with Pepperdine University in a major study of how Protestant senior pastors in the U.S. navigate life and leadership in an age of complexity. The American Pastors Networkwhich frequently welcomes George Barna to its radio ministry, “Stand in the Gap Today,” aims to be a support system to pastors around the country by offering useful resources, motivating events and fulfilling relationships with fellow pastors.

“Serving God’s call as a pastor may be one of the most challenging occupations in the world, but it can also be one of the most rewarding,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “Therefore, it’s encouraging that most pastors feel fulfilled in their roles, as well as supported by those around them and energized by their work. The American Pastors Network seeks to be another support system for pastors, who can sometimes feel isolated, unappreciated and overwhelmed. We seek to lift up pastors through events that encourage and equip them to speak truth from the pulpit, as well as inform them about the subjects that are impacting our culture daily so pastors can respond from a biblical and constitutional perspective.”

The recent Barna research sought to give insight to pastors’ general wellbeing: Are they satisfied with their quality of life? How is their physical, emotional and spiritual health? Are they motivated and supported, or do they struggle with exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy? Some of the results include the following:

  • Overall, 91 percent of pastors are satisfied with their quality of life, compared to 78 percent of practicing Christians and 62 percent of all U.S. adults.
  • 67 percent of pastors feel positive about their physical health (compared to 73 percent of Christians and 55 percent of all adults), 88 percent feel good about their spiritual health (87 percent Christians, 60 percent all adults), and 85 percent of pastors are satisfied with their emotional health (79 percent Christians, 63 percent all adults).
  • 73 percent of pastors are frequently motivated to become a better leader, 68 percent frequently feel well-supported by the people close to them, and 60 percent are frequently energized by their work, as opposed to 22 percent, 43 percent and 24 percent of all adults, respectively.
  • However, pastors say they are sometimes plagued by feelings of inadequacy about their work (42 percent) or emotional/mental exhaustion (25 percent), while 70 percent of all adults say they sometimes experience feeling of inadequacy and 45 percent of adults say they are sometimes emotionally or mentally exhausted.

Read the entire Barna study here. Barna research is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends since 1984.