Islam Just as Violent as Other Religions?

A new CBS poll published in Breitbart.com found that two-thirds of Democrats believe that Islam does encourage violence—but to the same degree as any other religion.

The February 2017 poll also found that just one in seven Democrats believe that Islam is more violent than other religions, such as Christianity, Mormonism, Judaism and Buddhism, reported Breitbart.

That’s a position the American Pastors Network (APN, www.americanpastorsnetwork.net) desperately wants to refute. The topic of Islam is a frequent discussion on the APN radio ministry, “Stand in the Gap Today,” which airs on 425 stations nationwide. “Stand in the Gap Today” hosts, which include APN President Sam Rohrer, have welcomed numerous experts who educate Christians about the dangers of Islam.

The poll also found, Breitbart reported, that Republicans have a far colder view of Islam, with 63 percent seeing Islam as aggressive compared to other religions. Additionally, about one in 10 Democrats believe that Islam is less violent that other religions, according to the poll of more than 1,000 adults.

Evaluating the President’s Immigration Policies: Are They Biblical? Are They Constitutional?

The policies President Donald Trump set forth on immigration last week certainly stirred debate across the nation, from riotous protests on college campuses to government leaders strongly stating their opposition or support.

Now, Christians are asking themselves some very important questions—safety or being a good Samaritan? How would Jesus approach the refugee situation the country is facing?

The American Pastors Network  is attempting to explore some of those answers on its nationally syndicated radio program, “Stand in the Gap Today,” heard on 425 stations around the country.

APN President and “Stand in the Gap Today” co-host Sam Rohrer welcomed noted historian and WallBuilders leader David Barton to the program last week, when they discussed the ongoing immigration debate and the biblical and constitutional perspectives therein.

“Immigration in this country is certainly a polarizing issue,” Rohrer said. “But the main questions to explore are these: Are President Trump’s immigration policies in agreement with or in opposition to the historical ideology set in motion by our Founding Fathers? What did our founding fathers envision for the immigrant and how did they perceive this issue? David Barton’s valuable insights and knowledge of the historical and biblical precedent for our laws on immigration helped shed great light on this dilemma. After all, this is an issue that touches every American, with many looking to their pastors and the church for guidance.”

These three questions, and others, were explored on a recent program, with David Barton’s answers following:

Question 1: What did George Washington and our founders think about immigration and controlling it and would they have agreed with the concept of extreme vetting-similar to what President Trump is putting in place?

Answer: “It’s not somebody that just shows up at your border and says, ‘I’m going to live here.’ No, you have to say, ‘I want to live according to your rules. I want to become one of you’ … our immigration (policy) was based on was the biblical concept of ‘come in and be part of us.’” Read more

Question 2: When did the view of immigrants change to bringing in people who don’t ever want to become Americans but actually want to change America?

Answer: “The seeds of that change began in education in the 1920s, as Progressives shifted the way we taught. Prior to that point in time, we taught about individuals. We did not look at groups, we looked at individuals. Every individual had God-given inalienable rights. Every item in the Bill of Rights is given to every individual, it’s not given to groups…” Read more

Question 3: What other characteristics of a nation did our Founders understand and build within the framework of our Constitution?

Answer: “If you look at the Declaration, it starts with 155 words that set forth the entire philosophy of American government in six principles. Of those six principles, four of the six are absolutely God-centered. If you don’t get that right, you don’t get the philosophy of the government right … In America, you’re an American because you adopt a certain philosophy. You can come from any country to be an American if you’ll become part of that philosophy.” Read more

How Will the Johnson Amendment Repeal Free Pastors and Churches?

Now that President Donald Trump has officially taken office, will pastors and churches be affected at the pulpit and in the pew?

American Pastors Network certainly thinks so. In fact, one action by President Trump will return decades of freedom to churches.

For more than 60 years, the Johnson Amendment, proposed by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and passed by Congress in 1954, has prohibited tax-exempt organizations—including churches and other nonprofits—from lobbying elected officials, campaigning on behalf of a political party and supporting or opposing candidates for office. The Johnson Amendment has instilled fear in pastors, wary of losing their church’s tax-exempt status if they speak truth into cultural, societal or political issues.

“For six decades, the Johnson Amendment has restricted the free speech of pastors and churches,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “On the campaign trail, Donald Trump and Mike Pence vowed to work on behalf of pastors to restore their pulpit freedoms, especially at a time when Christians need biblical truth and God-centered guidance spoken into their lives regarding the pressing issues of the day.”

New research by George Barna of the American Culture & Faith Institute found that three out of four SAGE Cons (Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservatives) turned to resources such as voter guides, websites and other resources to gain information about their choices on the ballot this election season. Overall, 61 percent specifically identified voter guides as a resource they used to help them decide how to vote.

The research, Rohrer says, is a telling indicator that Christians are looking for guidance on important issues, and will likely look to the church.

On “Stand in the Gap Today,” a radio ministry from APN, co-hosts Rohrer, Dave Kistler of the North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN, www.ncpastors.net) and Gary Dull of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network (PPN,www.papastors.net) recently discussed the Johnson Amendment and how a repeal of this legislature will affect pastors and churches.

“The Johnson Amendment is believed to have stifled and stymied many Christian leaders from being more outspoken with respect to what are deemed ‘political issues,’ when, really, these are moral issues,” Kistler said during the program. “If President Trump is successful in removing or repealing the Johnson Amendment, will that affect the speech of pastors in the pulpit? Some say yes, while others say no. In some cases, it may not be solely the Johnson Amendment that has muzzled preachers across America. Those in the pulpit who have not spoken out forthrightly have not been motivated by fear of violating a tax code law. They have been motivated by fear of something else.”

The Johnson Amendment does a number of things, Kistler noted, but it does not do the following:

  1. It does not prohibit pastors from speaking out against political corruption.
  2. It does not prohibit pastors from speaking out against LGBT activism.
  3. It does not prohibit pastors from speaking out against controversial subjects such as abortion or marriage.
  4. It does not prohibit pastors from speaking out against other moral or culturally relevant issues.

“So if pastors are not speaking about these things and addressing them from the pulpit now,” Kistler asks, “then the question is, if the Johnson Amendment is repealed, will they speak out about it at all? This is a question we will be addressing through the pastors’ networks and on our radio program, and we pray that pastors are emboldened by these truths.”

American Pastors Network Prays Trump Will Stay Committed to Repealing Johnson Amendment

Christian evangelical voters were key in electing newly inaugurated President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Among the reasons for their votes were the promises Trump and Pence made to the faithful on the campaign trail and the support they showed to pastors and churches.

One of those commitments was to peel back the Johnson Amendment, which for more than 60 years has restricted the free speech of pastors and churches.

Stated Trump at the Republican National Convention in July, “An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago, threatens religious institutions. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans.” According to the Daily Caller, he echoed that sentiment at the Value Voters Summit in September: “We’re going to get rid of that law … we’re going to get rid of it so fast.”

“Pastors are charged by God to always speak biblical truth from the pulpit,” said APN president Sam Rohrer. “From abortion and marriage to tyranny in office, the Bible is very clear on social, cultural and political issues. Efforts by government to intimidate pastors on preaching biblical truth not only violate God’s direct command but are also unconstitutional. We encourage pastors to stand up for truth by continuing to urge President Trump and Vice President Pence to make good on their commitment to repeal the Johnson Amendment.” 

Proposed by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and passed by Congress in 1954, the law prohibits tax-exempt organizations—including churches and other nonprofits—from lobbying elected officials, campaigning on behalf of a political party, and supporting or opposing candidates for office. Reports the Daily Caller, “Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code bestows tax-exempt status upon nonprofit groups as long as they don’t ‘participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for office.’ (The ‘in opposition to’ clause was added in 1986.)”

So, for example, a church opposed to abortion is prohibited from explicitly supporting a pro-life candidate running for Congress.

Research from the American Culture & Faith Institute has found 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. Rohrer noted that many pastors fear losing their church’s 501(c)(3) status and, therefore, avoid preaching on political issues.

“Churches, by their very nature, operate under God’s jurisdiction and as such have historically been tax-exempt,” Rohrer said. “They predated the IRS and any another-man made provision such as incorporation or 501(c)(3) status, and these rights remain inviolate. When it comes to preaching the truth of God’s Word, the pastor’s obligation is to God, not government. This chance to repeal the Johnson Amendment is an ideal opportunity for pastors across this nation to reaffirm their biblical duty and constitutional rights.”

What Can Pastors and Churches Expect Post-Inauguration?

Evangelical leaders, pastors and churches were a huge factor in the election of President-elect Donald Trump in November. Now, just days from his inauguration, this same group is wondering what to expect under a Trump-Pence administration.

For one, says the American Pastors Network, Trump stated on the campaign trail, namely at this summer’s Republican National Convention, that he would “work hard” to repeal the Johnson Amendment.

“An amendment,” Trump had said, according to MSNBC, “pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans.”

Many important issues for Christians—including religious freedom, abortion, and marriage—have been making major headlines since the election, and will continue to do so after Trump is sworn into office on Friday.

Sam Rohrer, president of the American Pastors Network, says that with the election of Trump, pastors and churches now have a responsibility as well.

“God answered the pleas and the prayers of His people and provided a reprieve,” Rohrer said. “His continued blessing will be linked directly to our level of obedience. Yes, He has given us a stay, but the length of that stay is dependent on whether God’s people will be obedient or will go back to sleep. We will very easily return to the same comfortable, status quo ways if we fail to lead appropriately. This is about much more than winning an election; it’s a complete lifestyle shift and a change in the hearts of God’s people. And it starts at the pulpits of America’s churches.”

American Pastors Network Urges Churches to Mark Sanctity of Human Life Sunday—a Time to Reflect on God’s Gifts and Need to Protect Them

In a parting shot to pro-life efforts around the nation, President Barack Obama issued a rule last month that bars states from denying federal funds to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Obama’s rule will take effect two days before President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated, reported the New York Times, and just a few days after churches nationwide observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on Jan. 15.

But late last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed that Republican lawmakers “will move to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood as part of the process they are using early this year to dismantle Obamacare,” reported CNN.

Regardless of how the situation progresses, the American Pastors Network is urging pastors and churches to stand up for life—especially in January during Sanctity of Human Life Month.

“Although life is precious every day of the year,” said APN President Sam Rohrer, “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is a time when pastors and churches can truly focus on protecting life in their communities. We can no longer ignore abortion in our churches. Many may be struggling with the scars of abortion in their own lives, and looking to the church for help, healing and restoration. Additionally, we must equip our people to stand up for the sanctity of life in their own communities, states and across the nation. Let’s work toward the goal that 2017 will be the year that Planned Parenthood is defunded for good, that a new Supreme Court justice who will stand for life will be appointed, and that the killing of innocent babies will no longer continue to be stain on the pages of our nation’s history.”

More than three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring Jan. 22, 1984, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. The Sunday closest to this day is observed as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

Jan. 22 marks the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, which legalized abortion in America. LifeNews.com estimates that nearly 59 million babies have been aborted since then.

How Can Families, Pastors and People in the Pews Redefine ‘Success’ in 2017?

As many look ahead to the changes they want to make in 2017, the American Pastors Network  is analyzing what success means for Christians, especially when it comes to the definition of success—both in the world and from God’s Word.

APN President Sam Rohrer recently talked with renowned social science researcher George Barna, who is a regular guest on APN’s nationally syndicated “Stand in the Gap Today” radio program. The two discussed both the secular definition of success—the fulfillment of popularity and the attainment of wealth—and the biblical definition of success, referencing Joshua 1:8 and the Hebrew meaning of “success,” which is actually “wisdom.”

“As we begin a new year,” Rohrer said, “it’s appropriate to look back and take stock of where we are, then look ahead and say, ‘What can we do to succeed or to improve?’ This world pushes the concept of success, but almost always defines it deceptively. With the election of Donald Trump and his promise to make America great again, it’s a perfect time to talk about greatness and what that means in terms of success.”

Rohrer said there are three areas that Christians and pastors especially can think about in terms of success: family, the pulpit and the pews. {Listen to the full radio program on this topic here.}

The Family

Barna shared that at the end of each year, the American Culture & Faith Institute examines seven dimensions of the culture, and one is the family. Barna added that the family, in general, was not “successful” in America over the past year, citing a declining number of marriages, cohabitation on the rise, a high divorce rate among first-world nations and a rising number of children born outside of marriage.

“We look at faith indicators, whether families are spending time worshiping together, studying the Bible together, praying together—all of those indicators are down,” Barna said on “Stand in the Gap Today.” “We look at the amount of time that families are spending together—that’s down. We look at the morals and values that families have embraced and that they’re teaching to their children (as well as) the kinds of situations they’re putting them (to) learn morals, values, ethics—that’s on the decline.”

Rohrer and Barna also discussed four areas that should be re-prioritized for families:

  1. That families would work together to establish their priorities in terms of faith, family, a God-given purpose or mission, and civic duty.
  2. That families would be committed to the things that matter to God, such as marriage, parenting or a faith-based worldview.
  3. That families would work to share their faith better with each other, study the Bible together, worship together and share the Gospel with others.
  4. That families would be consistent in these crucial areas.

The Pulpit

Regarding leadership at the pulpit, Rohrer and Barna also discussed that success for both the nation and for the family must be led by pastors and churches.

“That’s why the American Pastors Network is committed to building up, praying for and being a resource for pastors,” Rohrer said. “All that we do helps communicate these kinds of principles that will help us all to live more wisely and live by a biblical definition of success so that God can bless our families and bless our nation. But it doesn’t happen accidentally.”

In regards to pastors reprioritizing their purpose, Barna added that a key focus for the American Culture & Faith Institute is analyzing faith and church issues, including urging pastors to teach about practical and applicable ideas from the pulpit, such as matters that made news in this most recent election.

“Being able to relate God’s truth principles to the very kinds of things that we face day-to-day in the trenches of life would be useful,” Barna said, “having that kind of information and giving us some kind of metrics or measurable approaches to how to figure out are we on track—of course, all of this leading to us increasingly developing a biblical worldview. That’s really where the rubber meets the road, and that’s one of the things that demonstrably through the research is lacking in America.”

Barna also called for stronger, clearer, focused and forceful leadership in churches, as well as a willingness for the church to take ministry outside the church walls and a commitment to redefine success in ways other than the numbers of people in the pews, square footage, programs or the amount of money given.

“Jesus didn’t die on the cross for any of that,” Barna added, “so we’ve got to go back and identify what are the things that really, really matter.”

The Pews

Lastly, Rohrer and Barna discussed how the people in the pews can reprioritize and redefine success.

“Ultimately, it’s the individual—all of us in the pews of America—that must change in order for there to be national blessing—for God’s blessing and for greatness or success ever to be realized,” Rohrer said. “Whether we realize it or not, none of us as individuals will ever be able to stand before God and say, ‘My pastor didn’t teach me’ or ‘The media led me astray.’ None of that will matter when we stand before God, because we all make our own decisions. Ultimately it comes down to us in the pews, the parents in the homes in how they raised their children, and the pastors in the pulpit and the church leaders in how they led their people.”

Why Just 53% of Americans Trust Religious Leaders

This fall, the Pew Research Center found that just over half of Americans trust religious leaders to do what’s in their best interest; 53 percent of survey respondents noted that they had “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in faith leaders.

Only business leaders (41 percent), the news media (38 percent) and elected officials (27 percent) ranked lower, with the military and scientists topping the list.

Sam Rohrer, president of the American Pastors Network, recently talked about the study during an interview with host Perry Atkinson on “Focus Today” on The Dove TV and radio, which covers the Pacific Northwest and is also available to listeners online.

“Although this research shows that Americans trust religious leaders more than elected officials, the fact that just over half trust our faith leaders is a sorry statement,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “One question is why. Why don’t more people trust religious leaders? In my opinion, it’s because, in some cases, the truth is not being fully told. A flat-out lie will certainly erode trust, but for many in the pulpit, it’s not that they are speaking falsehoods necessarily, but may be deceiving their congregations when it comes to the Gospel or faith in Jesus Christ as being the only way to heaven. Unfortunately, too many today do not preach the whole counsel of God, as the Bible instructs and as the American Pastors Network encourages.”

Rohrer added that this guilt comes by omission rather than commission, and that those in the pews want their church leaders to speak out on biblical issues and apply these principles to the matters of the day. In fact, a separate study found that while 90 percent of theologically conservative pastors believe the Bible speaks to societal issues, fewer than 10 percent of them are teaching people what the Bible says on these topics. (Read more here about the study from the American Culture and Faith Institute.)

“The trust factor, in large part, comes down to this point—if pastors won’t speak on these issues, their congregations may wonder what else their pastor is not telling them,” Rohrer continued. “There’s no substitute for the telling the truth all the time, exactly as God has laid it out. After all, that’s how He will measure us. There’s an old phrase that says the church follows the world by 10 steps. The reality is that the failure of the church to lead puts the world about 10 steps behind. The benchmark or standard for everything we do—culturally, in the family, financially or in anything else—is the biblical standard. That’s God’s standard.

Today, many would say that the culture is dragging down the church, but in reality, the church is dragging down the culture by failing to uphold the standards across the spectrum of cultural living,” he added. “That puts the burden on the church and, ultimately, on the pulpit. The failure to preach the whole gospel—where many pastors fall short—lies with refusing to speak biblical principles and truth to the issues of the day. In the end, churchgoers cannot blame any of this on the pastors; everyone is responsible for themselves. But as they lead at the pulpit, it is the responsibility of pastors to apply these biblical principles to everything and remind their people of God’s commands in all things. Once that happens—even though it may seem difficult, uncomfortable and controversial—faith in the church, as well as trust in our faith leaders, will be restored.”

Can Christmas Be Merry Again?

At a rally in Michigan on Friday, President-elect Donald Trump exclaimed, “Merry Christmas! We’re going to start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again!”

The American Pastors Network says his declaration, which he repeated last night in Wisconsin, is a hopeful sign of perhaps what is ahead with the incoming Trump-Pence administration, especially since Jesus Christ’s name cannot be ignored in America any longer.

“Christ is not only central to this holiday, but also central to history,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “The Word of Christ cannot be watered down, and it must be bolder than ever. A key to that is to have leaders who are not afraid to state that ‘Merry Christmas’ is no longer a politically incorrect statement in America. This shunning of His name, even at the time of His birth, boils down to a hatred of the name of Christ. And why do people hate Christ? His name reminds them of their sin. But there’s no denying that we must think of him at Christmastime—what He did and what He died for.”

Rohrer added that the influence of the Muslim brotherhood throughout mainstream media and in government is more significant than many may realize, with filters and cleansers in place in an attempt to purge public references to Christ.

At the Michigan rally, Trump noted that over the past number of years, many department stores have kept their more secular decorations, like fake snow, red walls and bells, “but they don’t have ‘Merry Christmas,’” Fox News reported.

Trump appeared to echo some of the sentiments expressed by Fox’s Bill O’Reilly in a 2013 monologue, in which the “O’Reilly Factor” host responded to comments by comedian Jon Stewart by stating that the secular-progressive movement has instituted somewhat of a “war” on the idea of Christmas as a widely-accepted holiday.

What’s Next for Pastors and the Church?

After the election came somewhat of a stunned silence among those, both for and against Donald Trump, who never thought he would be elected president of the United States. Then, reality set in. Many embarked on a buoyant, hopeful journey for what was ahead for the nation, while others took to the streets in anger and fear.

Regardless of how divided the country may seem, pastors and churches will be a key component to renewal, restoration and revival in America.

“The process for renewal of our nation must be led on our knees in prayer,” said APN President Sam Rohrer, “as we humble ourselves before God and seek His blessing. It also involves a commitment by the pastors in the pulpits of America to once again preach the whole counsel of God and reteach our people that the biblical principles that made America great are the same principles that can restore and heal our nation—one nation under God.”

One fact the country must realize, Rohrer said, is that half of voters did not choose Donald Trump for president, and are now in despair and despondent. The other half, however, feeling forgotten and desperate for change, did cast a vote for Trump, and are feeling hopeful and perhaps relieved. Rohrer commented that this dichotomy marks one of Christians’ greatest chances to tell the life-saving story of Jesus’ love and grace, in this relatively small window God has granted us again; He has given us a stay.

“How we think and act as believers,” Rohrer said, “will be crucial in not only how our nation will ultimately be united, but how the message of Christ will be furthered. The voters today who are in despair were seeking and searching for something, but they did not find it in the outcome of this election. This is an incredible time to share the hope and the truth of the Gospel. And we must remember that when we have a disagreement with someone, we must pray for them. It’s impossible to remain in strife with those for whom we are praying. This is biblical truth. Therefore, true unity is only possible when we come into agreement with God’s commandments and with His plans—both for our lives and for this nation.”

Rohrer hosts the daily, live, one-hour “Stand in the Gap Today,” the news and commentary radio program from APN that airs on about 425 stations nationwide daily at noon ET. Social science researcher George Barna is a regular guest on the show and recently shared election insight from his organization, American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI). (Read more: “God Uses Strong Christian Support to Place Donald Trump in the White House”)

This election season, Barna’s surveys of SAGE Cons—Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservatives—focused on voting trends, polls and the issues that were important to evangelicals. The latest research shows that the largest segment of support behind Trump was the Christian conservative vote.

While the Institute found that Trump was not the preferred option of SAGE Cons, they were the most reliable base of support he had. In an election night survey of 1,000 SAGE Cons, ACFI found:

  • More than 90% of them turned out to vote.
  • 94% of them cast their ballot for Donald Trump.
  • More than half (52%) didn’t expect him to win.
  • Two-thirds (67%) said they preferred his stand on key issues.
  • Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) said they disliked Hillary Clinton.
  • Key issues for these opinions were the candidates’ stands on abortion (53%) and Supreme Court nominations (49%).

On Thursday’s “Stand in the Gap Today” program (listen here), Rohrer and Barna discussed several key questions, including: What role did Christian conservatives play in the outcome of the election? What role did God play? Where do we go from here?

“God has given us a narrow window of opportunity,” Rohrer said. “Now we ask ourselves, what must be done in that window? God has given us grace and mercy, so what can we do with that gift? God answered the pleas and the prayers of His people and provided a reprieve. His continued blessing will be linked directly to our level of obedience. Yes, He has given us a stay, but the length of that stay is dependent on whether God’s people will be obedient or will go back to sleep. We will very easily return to the same comfortable, status quo ways if we fail to lead appropriately. This is about much more than winning an election; it’s a complete lifestyle shift and a change in the hearts of God’s people. And it starts at the pulpits of America’s churches.”