God and Guns: Discussion on our First Amendment Freedoms

Sam Rohrer:                               Well, the importance of the First Amendment and religious freedom is first among the bill of rights, which obviously it is. First Amendment, religious freedom is right there, because of its primal role in maintaining civil freedom in our nation. Now that freedom’s been under severe attack by many in government and in the media for really a long time. Donald Trump seems to understand the necessity to restore the right, particularly for Christians to be able to speak moral truth and to live a Christian life as they believe the bible defines it to be.

Sam Rohrer:                      Today on this program, our theme is going to be the First Amendment, from guns to religious freedom. In segments two to four, we’re going to talk with special guest, constitutional attorney David New about Attorney General Sessions’ formation of a religious liberty task force. Then we’re going to talk about Secretary of State Pompeo’s pronouncement that US foreign policy is going to be guided by the goal of advancing religious freedom worldwide.

Sam Rohrer:                      Now in segment one, we’re going to talk with legislative counsel to gun owners of America, Mike Hammond is his name, about how the First Amendment ties in with the Second Amendment, in the current controversy of the ability to 3D print firearms. Now listen this will be an interesting conjecture. Well, not conjecture but a nexus. All of this is going to be more here on today’s edition of Stand in the Gap Today. With that introduction I’d like to welcome you to the program.

Sam Rohrer:                      I’m Sam Rohrer and I’m joined today by Dr. Gary Dull and our special guest in this first segment, Mike Hammond, who I mentioned is legislative counsel for gun owners of America, whose website can be found at gunowners.org. Mike, thank you for calling in today and joining us on the program for this first segment.

Mike Hammond:              Thank you for having me honorable Sam, and hello America.

Sam Rohrer:                      Well I’ll tell you Mike, we’re glad to have you on and this is what it’s going to be about. We got a big issue. We only have about 10 minutes in this first segment, but there’s a current controversy out there, that’s being engaged in across the country. It stems from a decision by a Texas judge to prevent companies from disseminating the plans by which guns can be made by the new 3D printing process.

Sam Rohrer:                      On one hand, this is a First Amendment issue because it talks about the ability to communicate freely. But on the other hand, it’s a Second Amendment issue because it concerns guns, and a number of the states attorneys general have filed a claim to stop the communication of these plans, citing that it will impinge upon their firearms control act within the various states. At this point, Mike, I’m not yet seen a good analysis of this controversy, and I know of no one better qualified than gun owners of America and you to give some clarity. This is the question I want to pose first. Is this controversy a First Amendment issue? Is it a Second Amendment issue or is it even more than that?

Mike Hammond:              Well it’s both a First and a Second Amendment issue. It’s a First Amendment issue because of this. That program that allows you to make that gun with the 3D printer is basically computer code, just as everything else that goes over the internet is a computer code. Well, what the government tried to do, and what eight states are now trying to do is say that certain types of computer code should be illegal because of the content of the information they convey.

Mike Hammond:              Now the First Amendment is not absolute in any sense. The same analogy or metaphor is that you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, but basically you’re talking about a suppression of speech which really doesn’t have much of a purpose here. The plastic guns which would be created by this computer code can fire about, without a metal barrel, can fire about two rounds before they blow up in your face. With the metal barrel, they are detectable by metal detectors. Bullets are detectable by metal detectors, and even plastic guns without barrels or bullets are detectable by x-ray machines and by body scanners. You have a suppression of First Amendment rights for no purpose whatsoever other than the fact that there’s some people in America who don’t like guns.

Sam Rohrer:                      So you’re saying that basically, even if a person downloads the code and can print themselves out something made in plastic, it doesn’t work much anyways but the point you’re saying is limiting code or qualifying what is an appropriate code is the problem. If that’s the case, a host of other things could be limited by governmental action of determining what’s good or bad as well. Is that correct?

Mike Hammond:              Yeah, basically.

Sam Rohrer:                      Okay.

Mike Hammond:              When anything that you disagree with. As the listeners to your program probably know, those people who run around with their hair on fire screaming about the primacy of the First Amendment when it comes to articles in the New York Times or Washington Post or broadcast on MSNBC, have no problem suppressing speech when it’s speech they disagree with.

Sam Rohrer:                      Okay. Now all right. We’ve got about two minutes here. I want, one final question. And as I said we’re only going to be able to touch on this, but you went to the heart of that and I appreciate it. This is the other question I have. In simple terms, since citizens do have the right to own and use firearms, and while that right has been limited by law, we know, in a number of ways, even then, do citizens have the right to make their firearms if they are able to do so? Therefore, whether they choose to do it by 3D printing or any other method, do they not have that right to do so and must not that right be protected if it’s there?

Mike Hammond:              Yes. In virtually every case, the law recognizes the right of an individual to make his own firearms for his own personal use if that firearm doesn’t travel in interstate or foreign commerce. That is the law, irrespective of whether it’s constitutional or not. You have the right to make your own firearm. My guess is that if Brett Cavanaugh gets on the Supreme Court, you’re going to see a lot of the laws which currently exist, particularly in states like New York or California, just completely blowing up.

Sam Rohrer:                      Meaning? You brought him up.

Mike Hammond:              Meaning that a lot of laws which is exist are almost certainly unconstitutional and will probably shortly be found to be unconstitutional but the right to make your own firearm, for use by yourself, in your own home, is something which even the law recognizes.

Sam Rohrer:                      Okay. All right, so how do you think this is going to come around? Do you think the judge is going to turn in on his decision?

Mike Hammond:              Currently the State Department has entered into an agreement with Corey Wilson, the Texas code maker that he can continue to send his code over the internet. Now eight states have gone into three different liberal jurisdictions and tried to get orders preventing that court from validating that agreement. If one court is allowed to interfere with the actions of a higher court, particularly the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, that’s going to be a very interesting outcome. I don’t think that would be considered reasonable, contest other than a crazy liberalism that we’re facing now from the anti-gun movement.

Sam Rohrer:                      All right, well Mike Hammond, and legislative counsel for gun owners of America, which you can go to their website and I encourage you to do so. Gunowners.org. Great organization. Mike, thanks for being with us.

Mike Hammond:              Thank you.

Sam Rohrer:                      And taking us right to the heart of a very thorny issue. I want to get you back at some point.

Sam Rohrer:                      Well the foundation of the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States, found its root in the pursuit of religious liberty, and that started with the pilgrims and went to the Puritans and William Penn of Pennsylvania and many others. While our nation remembered this foundation of freedom to worship God without governmental restraint, while we did that, America has been blessed.

Sam Rohrer:                      But when this freedom has been undermined, belittled, redefined or attacked, as it has been in recent administrations, God’s blessing has been diminished, along with it. Now under the Trump administration, great efforts are being made to restore the fullness of the First Amendment, starting with the president signing a relationship freedom statement over a year ago. But now, two notable events coming in sequence after that, have occurred in this administration. We believe that they both noteworthy and need to be discussed. One of them is domestic and the other has to do with international, which we’ll talk about that in the next segment.

Sam Rohrer:                      We’re going to discuss this now with our special guest, constitutional attorney and historian and author David New. But before I bring him in and ask him his opinion, let me play about two minutes worth here of a longer presentation by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, where he just announced the formation of a religious liberty task force. Now enjoy what he’s saying. Listen to this.

Jeff Sessions:                     This president and this Department of Justice are determined to protect and advance our magnificent heritage of freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is indeed our first freedom, being the first listed right in the First Amendment. This has been a core American principle from the beginning. It was one of the reasons this country was settled in the first place. The promise of freedom of conscience brought the pilgrims to Plymouth, the Catholics to Maryland, the Quakers to Pennsylvania, Scot Presbyterians to middle colonies, Roger Williams to Rhode Island.

Jeff Sessions:                     Each of these groups and others knew what it was like to be hated, persecuted, outnumbered and discriminated against. Each one knew what it was like to have a majority try to force them to deny their natural right to practice the faith they hold dear. Our founders gave religious expression a double protection in the First Amendment. Not only do we possess the freedom to exercise our religious belief, we also enjoy the freedom of speech.

Jeff Sessions:                     Our founders’ understanding of and commitment to religious freedom was truly brilliant. It was historic, really. It arose in large part from the principles delineated in the Virginia statute for religious freedom and its effective, brilliant advocates Madison and Jefferson. These guys were ferocious. This weekend I was reading Gary Wills’ fabulous, “Head and Heart,” in which he quotes extensively from Jefferson’s statute for religious freedom in Virginia. I commend all of it to you, but one line stood out in particular to me. “That Almighty God hath created the mind free and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain, by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint.”

Sam Rohrer:                      Wow, and there was a whole lot more to that presentation, ladies and gentlemen, but you got the essence of what the attorney general was saying and what a difference from previous administrations. I want to bring in right now, David New. Thanks David for being with us. You’re a constitutional attorney. We’ve talked a lot about matters of freedom and religious freedom, but when you heard what I just played there, with Attorney General Sessions, was there an overarching message that he was delivering in this statement? If so, what do you think it was?

David New:                        Well one of the great themes of world history is a fight between two positions. Is God above the state or is the state above God? You go back in world history, and you’ll see different regimes in the world answer that question differently. As the vice-president said in his speech, 83% of the population of the world do not enjoy religious freedom. That’s because their governments say the state is above God.

David New:                        There’s a reason why they do that. There’s a reason why religious freedom is not popular with governments. I’m going to use the modern term, and I don’t mean to be irreverent when I use it, but if you have God above the state, what you in effect allow, is God to be a separate power center from the government. The governments don’t like that.

Sam Rohrer:                      Okay say that again. It’s worth repeating. Say that again.

David New:                        If you allow God to be above the state, which is what most of the governments of the world don’t want, because God becomes a competitor to the state. It becomes a competitor to the government. God becomes and is a separate power center within the culture. It limits government. God limits government through the process of voting and through the process of the people. Tyrannical governments don’t like that. They don’t want to be limited by God or anything else. That’s why most of the world does not have religious freedom because governments don’t want to be constrained by God.

Sam Rohrer:                      So what you are saying there is that, effectively, the overarching message that Attorney General Sessions made was that he acknowledged a biblical worldview position, that recognizes that God is above all, and that includes government. That is a startling distinction and difference from previous administrations, is it not?

David New:                        Absolutely. That is one of the great debates in history. Is God above the state or is the state above God? That’s the big fight. America has said, God is above the state. The secularists, the secularists who are gaining power in America, their position is, the state is above God, and that’s why they’re going to lead us into tyranny.

Sam Rohrer:                      Gary, let me go to you right now. We all listen from our perspectives. David New is an attorney, constitutional attorney. You’re a pastor. I’ve been in office. I preach. We all have a little different perspective. When you listen to that presentation by the Attorney General, what was it that stood out to you that really caught your attention?

Gary Dull:                           Well actually Sam, there were two things that stood out to me, and I appreciate Jeff Sessions bringing this out and it’s brought out clearly and it needs to be heard. That is number one, as it relates to our first freedom. He said that the reason why this country was settled in the first place, was for this freedom. You know, the freedom of religion, the freedom to be able to practice one’s faith as we see fit to do so. That’s something that people across this country need to know today.

Gary Dull:                           But then the second thing that he brought out, that I really appreciated, that we need to herald, because we are living in a day and age, when people are trying to suppress it. That is the double protection that we have in that First Amendment. That number one, we’ve got the freedom to practice our religion, to practice our faith. Not only that, but in the United States of America, according to the wisdom that God gave our founders, we’ve got the freedom to talk about it as well.

Gary Dull:                           That freedom goes far beyond what any liberal or secularist or communist would like to try to take away from us today. Those are two points that he brought out that really stood out to me, that we need to promote more and more I believe. I’m glad he said it. I think that was just great.

Sam Rohrer:                      I did too. David New, let me go back to you on that, because Gary referenced something there, those freedoms. That they are there. One thing we’ve talked about a lot and you’ve talked about it. Freedoms and having them down there in the First Amendment, the Second Amendment and all of those things, that’s very, very important, but what is our citizen’s duty, relative to those freedoms? We have to exercise them and if we don’t, don’t we run in trouble? Talk a little bit about the responsibility to recognize and exercise those freedoms, lest we lose them.

David New:                        If you don’t use it, you lose it. Now I want to say something about the First Amendment by the way, because you hear this all the time. Everybody’s right when we say, well the freedom of religion is the first freedom listed in the First Amendment, that is correct. But historically, the First Amendment was number three on the list of Bill of Rights. It wasn’t number one.

David New:                        The first, when the Congress sent the Bill of Rights to the states, they sent 12 amendments. 12, not 10. The first two failed to pass. The third to the 12th passed. That third was the First Amendment. The original First Amendment had to do with apportionment. Now if you want to read the original Second Amendment, go the 27th Amendment of the constitution of the United States. It was ratified in 1992, exactly the same wording. It is the original Second Amendment, but it took 203 years to pass. When people say religion is our first freedom, you need to understand what that means. It doesn’t mean it was first on the list because originally, as I said, the First Amendment originally was number three. It becomes number one because the first and second fail to pass, but the second that was sent to the states in 1789 along with all the other amendments, it was ratified in 1992. All during World War I, World War II, nobody knew it, but we were still ratifying the original Second Amendment.

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Sam Rohrer:                      Well ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to continue talking about this because the Attorney General did mention that when the Quakers came, the Puritans came, the Pilgrims came, the Scottish came, the Roman Catholics to Maryland, all of that, he did say the importance of the driving passion of people to come here. That is a fact as well. So all these things go together into what we now has as the First Amendment.

Sam Rohrer:                      Let me shift now to the matter of religious freedom on the international level. The First Amendment, the foundation of religious liberty and the entire concept that all rights come from God is essential for all of those in positions of authority, if freedom as we have known it, is to endure both here and around the world.

Sam Rohrer:                      Anyone who’s in position of authority, if they don’t understand that, and David New talked about it earlier on, it’s a view. Either God is above government or government is above God. That mindset is critical in how policies are implemented and put into place. The leadership of the United States though, in matters of truth and freedom have existed for generations, and nations around the world today owe their freedom today, to the United States because of our commitment to religious freedom and an understanding that those rights come from God.

Sam Rohrer:                      Not only has the Trump administration through Jeff Sessions the Attorney General in announcing the new religious liberty task force, Secretary of State Pompeo last week initiated a new ministerial to advance religious freedom. That was the name of it. Ministerial to advance religious freedom. He did that on a worldwide basis and there were people from all over the world who came to Washington DC. Listen to just a minute of what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said about this initiative. I think you’ll also be encouraged by what he said.

Mike Pompeo:                  This year more than 80 delegations, including dozens of minister level representatives from around the world are here today. Thank you for making this cause a priority in your country. Thank you for working with us. My own faith is of the greatest importance to me personally. As an American I’ve been blessed with the right to live out what I believe without fear of persecution or reprisal from my government.

Mike Pompeo:                  I want everyone else to enjoy this blessing too. President Trump’s unwavering commitment to religious freedom and to decision to hold this first ever religious freedom ministerial is not driven by my own personal story, but rather it is rooted in the American story. The Trump administration recognizes that religious freedom is a fundamental American liberty, and this has been clear from the administration’s earliest days and indeed the earliest days of our nation. The United States advances religious freedom in our foreign policy because it is not exclusively an American right. It is a God-given universal right bestowed on all of mankind.

Sam Rohrer:                      Wow, that’s pretty powerful. David New, I’m going to go back to you. First right off here, I asked you your opinion of what Jeff Sessions said. Now I’m going to ask you what you think about what Mike Pompeo just said, in light of the fact, how aggressively the Obama and Clinton administration used taxpayer dollars and the State Department’s position using taxpayer dollars to leverage other nations to advance the cause of abortion, the LGBT agenda and they did nothing, literally nothing to help persecuted Christians around the world. This, by Mike Pompeo and the State Department and this administration is nothing short of an amazing turnaround. Give me your reaction to what Secretary of State Pompeo said in that last clip.

David New:                        Well as former Senator Barbara Boxer of California said, “Elections have consequences.” God has blessed America with a new president and a new Secretary of State who have their priorities straight. I say straight not just in terms of rank, but I mean in terms of family values as well. Now, what’s being stated here is something that’s very, very important. There is a very, very thin line between religion and politics. The line is so thin it’s almost imperceptible. Most Christians don’t think of it that way, but it’s quite true. If you want to read a powerful political statement … It’s a spiritual statement, but it’s a very powerful political statement and it ultimately resulted in the American revolution, turn to the book of Ephesians.

David New:                        The second chapter and verse 8, this is not only a spiritual truth. It is a political position. It is a political statement. “For by grace,” there’s the key word, “For by grace are you saved by faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift,” there’s the second word, “Of God.” Where does that give the government power over religion? It immediately throws it out. The doctrine of grace eliminates government from controlling religious freedom.

David New:                        Salvation is not something the government gives you. It’s a gift that cuts the government out. Now, how did this affect the American Revolution? Samuel Adams is the father of the American Revolution, but before Samuel Adams, there was George Whitfield, and George Whitfield went around all over the colonies in the 1730s and so forth, and the ’60s and all that. He was saying you’re saved by grace and that not of yourselves, and that it’s a gift of God. What does that mean? That means that the king of England, who says he’s the head of the church and that the king’s soldiers who are God’s soldiers, guess what that does? It ruins it and eliminates it. It makes it possible for Americans to shoot at the king’s soldiers and not fear hell.

Sam Rohrer:                      Wow. David, that is a wonderful piece of news. You go into the heart of it again. You said it in the first segment. It’s either God above government or government above God. Now you come back in to say again, that if the king is God, it’s one view because the king is actually government as the same time. If you change that, you change the entire view of politics.

David New:                        Yes.

Sam Rohrer:                      Policy.

David New:                        Absolutely.

Sam Rohrer:                      And everything that happens. Gary, let me go to you right now for your opinion here. Because we’re talking about this from the standpoint of how we as Christians and constitutionalists view these policy statements made by the Attorney General and Secretary of State Pompeo on matters of religious freedom. We can draw a contrast between now and what we saw in the previous administration. I’m more concerned even about what God thinks about that. Gary can you just kind of give us a biblical perspective of how God is looking down on these things that we’re talking about? Can you bring some biblical focus on this now to us?

Gary Dull:                           Oh I would say right to the point, that I think that as God looks down upon these freedoms that we are talking about today, that in a great many ways have been restricted or were on their way to greater restriction, and as we see these freedoms growing today, I think God’s pleased with that. But you know, what a change. Think about it, Sam. What a change. For instance, we heard what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said about his own personal faith in that statement that he gave, and we know that he’s brought Sam Brownback on to work with him as it relates to religious freedom here in this country and around the world.

Gary Dull:                           Now, where I’m going with that is here. I was involved eight, ten years ago, when we were working to get Susan Johnson Cook into the State Department to be the ambassador at large for religious freedom under Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. You remember that Sam? I think you probably remember us talking about that. Never, ever, ever did I hear such a clear statement from Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State or Barack Obama, the President of the United States concerning religious freedom as we are hearing from our current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and our currently President Donald Trump.

Gary Dull:                           Now Susan Johnson Cook was an advocate of religious freedom indeed, but she was restricted. She told us personally how restricted she was in doing certain things. I don’t think that there’s any restriction right here with Sam Brownback, with Mike Pompeo, under the administration of Donald Trump. I’ll tell you what. It’s the difference between black and white. It’s the difference between day and night. I’m thankful for what we’re seeing today, and I think God’s pleased with it too.

Sam Rohrer:                      Gary I think that he is as well, because when this happens, it reflects again a biblical worldview that David New, you called out, that we talk about a lot on this program. For that God will bless, but countering that ladies and gentlemen, does not bring God’s blessing, but actually judgment on the country. This is a right direction.

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Sam Rohrer:                      The First Amendment is first with religious freedom at the front for a reason. We went through a little bit on the program today how it actually got there, but our founders knew, its foundational importance when they came to our country. We’ve already talked about it and Dave mentioned it, David New mentioned it. Our pulpits exercised that freedom by boldly declaring the truth of God’s word and a biblical worldview. That helped to set the stage for an emerging nation to be able to adopt and accept the principles of the declaration, ultimately the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and our whole concept of justice. It all came from that.

Sam Rohrer:                      Yet it seems that we now have a culture with little memory of what it took to maintain freedom, to start freedom, to maintain freedom, be it the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, all the way to the Tenth Amendment. The question is what are the basic pillars of thought that must be in place for our nation to maintain religious freedom and our First Amendment that has so blessed this nation. We’ve talked about it, the contrast between the last administration and what we’re now seeing, with these recent decisions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Sam Rohrer:                      Now David, you’ve already delved into this a little bit, but I want to ask you form a historical perspective here, how specifically were the tenets, these underpinnings of religious freedom defined by the pulpits in America? You’ve referred to all this a little bit. What were they and to what degree are these tenets being undermined today?

David New:                        Well there’s no question of that the pulpits of America were instrumental because George Whitfield said we’re saved by grace. We can fight the king’s soldiers, who they think represent God. But it goes even deeper to that. I wanted to go into a little bit about what the Attorney General said about Thomas Jefferson’s bill for establishing religious freedom. That was bill number 82 out of 126 bills.

David New:                        Thomas Jefferson considered that bill 82 as the foundation for religious freedom in America and the Supreme Court considers it as well. They cite bill 82, the bill for establishing religious freedom as the way to interpret the First Amendment. What’s important about that bill is this. It is not based on secularism. The bill 82, our religious freedom doesn’t come from secularism, especially in the modern sense of the word, the post-Darwin sense of the word.

David New:                        Our freedom of religion is based upon God and that’s what Thomas Jefferson believed. Let’s look carefully at the very first sentence of what Jefferson said in bill number 82. By the way, of the three things listed on Jefferson’s tombstone, one was his authorship of the Declaration of Independence. The other was his foundation of the University of Virginia. And this bill, number 82. He won international fame because of this bill number 82.

David New:                        What he did once he got it passed, or Madison got it passed for him in 1786, he sent copies of that bill all over the world, and that grew his reputation. Now here’s the first sentence, and the Attorney General quoted it in part. It says, “Whereas Almighty God,” now you see that word Almighty God ladies and gentlemen? El Shaddai, Genesis 17:1. That means religious freedom is not based on secularism. It’s based upon God. It goes on.

David New:                        “Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free and that all civil governments who try to interfere it are as an ends of the persons are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion.” This excludes the modern concept of secularism that the ACLU promote. They say if you want to have a lot of religious freedom, promote secularism in the post-Darwin sense of the word, and that is false. If you want to have religious freedom, you promote secularism in the pre-Darwin sense of the word which means God is the source of freedom.

Sam Rohrer:                      Gary I want to go to you right now. You’ve laid that out just perfectly well. Gary, the modern culture, and we talk about it in this program a lot. Bringing to bear biblical worldview principles to impact our culture. Well, we know, we’ve talked about it a lot. The role of the pulpit in America has been greatly diminished. The value of it, let’s put it this way, the viewed value of it by the culture has been diminished. Not diminished in God’s eyes, but it’s been diminished in the eyes of the culture.

Sam Rohrer:                      Many pulpits we know have gone incredibly silent on matters of applying biblical principles to these issues, what we’re talking about right here. As a culture, I think without question, we’ve turned our worship of God who as David said clearly, it’s either God above government or government above God, we’ve turned it from God and actually put government or at least the creation of man of some type in front of it, a dangerous perspective, which is what makes these statements by Attorney General Sessions and Mike Pompeo so significant. But Gary, this is where I want to go with you. You’re a pastor. You’ve been preaching for a long time now. Is it possible for religious freedom in this country, the basic tenets of what we believe and hold and have, is it possible that that can continue without the pulpits reawakening our people to who God is?

Gary Dull:                           No. That’s what the pulpits need to do. You know, Sam, it’s interesting you ask that question, and of course, you know taking into consideration, this word, the reacquaintance with who God is. You know there are three statements that I render often, probably once a sermon or at least close to it when I preach here. Thank God the church at Altoona, Pennsylvania is this. We need to get to know who God is, what God expects, and how God operates. Until we get to know who God is, what God expects and how God operates, everything’s going to go awry.

Gary Dull:                           Preachers in the pulpit need to preach that. People in the pew need to search it out and believe it and we need to proclaim it. One of the reasons why we’ve got the freedoms that we have today is because the pulpits were strong in the day on who God is, what God expects and how God operates. Yes, we need to get reacquainted with who God is. Then everything else, Sam, would come into order, as God would have it to be.

Sam Rohrer:                      Gary, that’s a great way to conclude. Ladies and gentlemen, we often say our fourth segment is our solutions segment. I think all of us listening, we understand the value … Let’s put it this way, to some extent we understand the importance of religious freedom. When we start to get squeezed, we understand it even more. When persecution becomes prevalent we understand it even more. What Brother Gary just said there is really what it is. We have to understand who God is, what God expects, how God operates. If he’s not on top, government is, or something else, and at that point, it’s upside down and God cannot bless.

Human Trafficking Disguised as Immigration at the Border

While the mainstream media has reported what they believe to be a tragedy—the brief separation of immigrant children and parents illegally in the U.S.—that’s not the real story. The real story is what is happening to thousands of children, whether born here, naturalized or undocumented, who wind up in a form of slavery that should provoke moral outrage from all.

The United States is now a destination country and global slavery auction for thousands of men, women and children trafficked from all areas of the world, usually for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. Lured from their homes with false promises of well-paying jobs, they are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude, farm or factory labor, or other types of forced labor.

How Does ICE Define Trafficking Versus Smuggling?

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),”Human trafficking and human smuggling are distinct criminal activities, and the terms are not interchangeable.

Human trafficking centers on exploitation and is generally defined as:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  • Recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Human smuggling centers on transportation and is generally defined as:

  • Importation of people into the United States involving deliberate evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing illegal aliens into the country, as well as the unlawful transportation and harboring of aliens already in the United States.”

Slaves Here in America?

Human trafficking as well as human smuggling of children is taking place at our nation’s borders, and much of the time, for one reason: sexual slavery. The average age of entry into America’s sex trade is 12 to 14 years old. Forced into a life they never chose, and manipulated, abused and tortured, children are sold on the streets, on the internet and at truck stops every night. They didn’t make bad choices; they are victims of child sex trafficking. They come from our neighborhoods, schools, churches and homes. Our national consciousness is starting to realize the evil of sex trafficking and becoming morally outraged by this depraved industry that is motivated by sexual pleasure or greed. Slavery is illegal in our day. However, in this realm, it still exists.

Human objectification is also presented in a daily barrage of sexual images fed to us through almost every medium.Our sociocultural context sexually objectifies these individuals and equates human worth with bodily appearance and sexuality, and minimizes the harm done to them through exploitation conducted for personal gratification. Objectification theory provides an important framework for understanding, researching, and intervening to improve the lives of women, children, and especially teens.

It is the duty of pastors to include biblically based education for their members and the public so they can address these issues, raise awareness and engage the complex factors that contribute to this atrocity. So, how does the Christian worldview apply to sex trafficking? How should we think about these issues in a distinctly biblical manner? Here are a few brief points for consideration:

  1. Sex trafficking is an offense to the sanctity of human life. All human beings are made in the image of God and are equally valuable. All people are viewed the same by God. It is an offense against God to force another human into slavery.
  2. Sex trafficking illustrates the sexual perversity of our fallen world.It illustrates how powerful sex is. Something created by God for good has been twisted into something deeply wicked. God gives this gift to married couples for His glory.
  3. Sex trafficking is a picture of human bondage.Whether it’s materialism, ambition, greed, pride, bitterness or sexual sin, they are slave masters who couldn’t care less about their victims.
  4. Sex trafficking reveals our need for repentance.As horrific evils, lust, selfishness and a desire to use others shows our guilt before a holy God. Because Jesus Christ came into this world as a slave and paid the sin debt we all carry, there is now forgiveness, hope and liberation from sin and adoption by a loving Father.

Christians should labor for the cause of justice. In whatever ways we can, we should support causes that are working to uncover and prosecute those who are driving the industry of sex slavery.

How can people who have stood by silently during the slaughter of more than 60 million pre-born children through abortion in America since Roe v. Wade compare a short time of child separation during an immigration process as something equivalent? As Shakespeare wisely wrote, “The lady doth protest too much.”

This article was originally published on The Christian Post.

Churchgoers Stay for the Theology, Not the Music or the Pastor

The results of a new survey from Lifeway Research may come as a surprise to pastors and worship leaders.

The study found that most churchgoers will put up with a change in music style or a different preacher, but they will choose to leave a church if the foundational beliefs are tampered with.

These findings can serve as a wake-up call, says the American Pastors Network to pastors who may be trying to reach people through music, programs, or style rather than the substance of the Gospel.

“It is crucial that American churches return to the core of the Gospel—the true focus of who and what the church should be,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “Today’s pastors can get caught up in the style of music, programs offered, the environment, and even how leaders dress. While these things may deserve some attention, they should not be the focus. The foundation of the church must be its theological position and how strongly it is rooted in the Word of God. Rightfully so, the people in the pews realize this.”

According to the survey, most churchgoers are committed to staying at their current church for the long haul, but more than half of respondents (54 percent) said they would strongly consider leaving if the church’s core beliefs or doctrine changed.

Perhaps the reasoning for staying at a current church is that, for the most part, churchgoers say they agree with their church’s teaching. About half (52 percent) say their beliefs are completely aligned with those of the church; 42 percent say their beliefs are mostly aligned.

“We see many churches today wrestling with what should be foundational beliefs for any church, such as God’s definition of marriage, his design for sexuality and gender, and many other cultural and societal issues,” Rohrer added. “While churches must maintain biblical positions on these matters and address them from the pulpit, it is a grave mistake for them to change their foundational beliefs in order to welcome more people, appease more members, or otherwise engage the culture.”

Of the 1,000-plus surveyed, 35 percent have been at their church between 10 and 24 years, and 27 percent have been there for 25 years or more—meaning that most church members have been at their church longer than the pastor. Just under 40 percent have been at their current church for nine years or fewer. Overall, 15 percent of churchgoers say they have thought about going to another church in the past six months. Eighty-five percent say they have not.

Besides a change in church doctrine, churchgoers say several other reasons might cause them to switch:

  • 48 percent would change churches if they moved to a new home
  • 19 percent if the preaching style changed
  • 12 percent if the pastor left
  • 10 percent if a family member wanted a new church
  • 9 percent would leave over politics
  • 6 percent would leave if they didn’t feel needed
  • 5 percent if the music style changed
  • 4 percent if they had a conflict
  • 3 percent if a friend stopped attending

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

Watch Stand in the Gap TV Show Archives

The new “Stand in the Gap” television show debuted Sunday, April 22, at 3pm on the WBPH Cable Network, which reaches a potential of 7 million viewers in the Philadelphia region, as well as online. The “Stand in the Gap” television programs consider transcending cultural issues—seemingly difficult to navigate—from a biblical worldview perspective, offering listeners views they won’t find in the mainstream media.

The program airs at 3pm on Sundays, and is rebroadcasted Tuesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 7:30pm. Check the WBPH listings for more information on how to watch the program live.

Archived programs and links:

  • Episode 1 (Air date: April 22). This pilot episode introduces the mission of bringing clarity to cultural confusion and making sense out of the nonsense around us. Like Stand in the Gap Radio, Stand in the Gap TV will focus on root problems and apply Biblical principles so God’s people can know and live the truth. Co-hosts: Sam Rohrer & Pastor Isaac Crockett.
  • Episode 2 (Air date: April 29). Gun Control, God, and the 2nd Amendment. Topics discussed: The Biblical Position on Guns and Weapons, The Moral Foundation and Purpose of The 2nd Amendment, Can Christians Remain Silent on This Issue? Co-hosts: Sam Rohrer & Pastor Isaac Crockett.
  • Episode 3 (Air date: May 6). Immigration & Open Borders: God’s Design vs. Man’s Re-Design. Topics discussed include: What’s the Biblical definition of “stranger”? How do we balance compassion and justice? Why are borders and nations God’s idea? What does the Constitution guarantee about immigration? Co-hosts: Sam Rohrer & Pastor Isaac Crockett.
  • Episode 4 (Air date: May 13). The Opioid Crisis: Part 1. Topics discussed include: A look at the scope of the problem, the root causes vs. the symptoms, how addictions cause physical and spiritual bondage, and some personal testimonies. Co-hosts: Sam Rohrer & Pastor Isaac Crockett Guest: Pastor Joel Jakubowski (PA Adult & Teen Challenge).
  • Episode 5 (Air date: May 20). The Opioid Crisis: Part 2. Topics discussed include: A look at the scope of the problem, the root causes vs. the symptoms, how addictions cause physical and spiritual bondage, and some personal testimonies. Co-hosts: Sam Rohrer & Pastor Isaac Crockett Guest: Pastor Joel Jakubowski (PA Adult & Teen Challenge).
  • Episode 6 (Air date: May 27). Successfully Bridging the Racial Divide: Part 1. Topics discussed include: the issue of racial division and racism in America, why the media and so many political figures insist on trying to create division by fixating on racial differences and racial inequalities. Co-hosts: Sam Rohrer & Pastor Isaac Crockett. Guest: Pastor Joe Green.
  • Episode 7 (Air date: June 3). Successfully Bridging the Racial Divide: Part 2. Topics discussed include: How did the racial divide happen and what are the biblical solutions that can successfully heal the division from an individual, family, church and government perspective. Co-hosts: Sam Rohrer & Pastor Isaac Crockett. Guest: Pastor Joe Green.
  • Episode 8 (Air date: June 10). With All Due Respect: Restoring Civility to Politics and Society. Topics discussed include: The national and even international concern of negative campaigning where lies, distortions, arrogance, and pride dominate the landscape. The solutions to restoring civility, honor, and fidelity to this “Holy Experiment” in self-government and our society. Co-hosts: Sam Rohrer & Pastor Isaac Crockett. Guest: Jeff Coleman.

Are You “Christian” or “A Christian”?

Perhaps more than ever before, “church” is making headlines, whether it is about denominational division, pastor scandal or how religion plays into politics. But regardless, says the American Pastors Network, the core focus of the American church has strayed.

“Why are we talking about denominations?” asks APN President Sam Rohrer. “How does it affect both believers and nonbelievers? What responsibility do denominational leaders have? For one, there is a branding problem within denominations—older churchgoers want it, while the younger do not. But the question remains: Is Christianity any longer a brand? Church is now a social gathering of like-minded people. Can any of these people identify—or do they want to identify—with the things that are genuinely Christian, or with what the Bible says about the most pressing issues of our day? The answer is no.”

It is crucial, Rohrer added, that American churches return to the core of the Gospel. The foundations of denominations are being lost because of salacious headlines, which take away from the true focus of who and what the church should be.

“Christianity is becoming a way of worship that allows us to lead a moral life and be a good person, but we are pushing out the power of God and His Word,” Rohrer said. “Research shows that true Bible-believing Christians are becoming less and less. ‘Christian’ can mean: ‘I believe the Bible but never open it, I believe in the flag, I believe in the Constitution.’ But being a true Christ-follower is much different. It’s ‘being a Christian’ versus ‘being Christian.’”

APN recently debuted its new television program, “Stand in the Gap,” which considers transcending cultural issues, seemingly difficult to navigate, from a biblical worldview perspective. “Stand in the Gap” TV also seeks to bring clarity to cultural confusion and makes sense of the nonsense around us, focusing on the root problems of our nation and applies biblical principles so God’s people can know the truth.

“Stand in the Gap” TV airs weekly on WBPH-TV60, a station in the Philadelphia market that reaches a potential of 7 million viewers by cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, off-air antenna, and online. Programs air at 3pm ET Sundays and will be rebroadcast Tuesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 7:30pm Check the WBPH listings for more information on how to watch. here or view a promo for the show Learn more about the program.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Are Today’s Churches “Of the Culture” or “In the Culture”?

Much has been made recently about America’s mainline church denominations—the changes, division and uncertainty within.

But the American Pastors Network’s says the focus should be on something else—getting back on the basics of Christianity.

“Christians must unite around the core of the gospel, not divide because of man-made denominations,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “Above all, the focus must be on how to communicate the Gospel. Churches can change their music, change the way the pastor dresses, or change the public statements, but many of today’s churches are walking away from the authority of Scripture and the necessity of protecting the authority of God’s Word. That never grows old, and no one can change that without directly attacking the Word of God. Bit by bit, we are collectively retreating from a hard, fast, and firm commitment to Scripture, and searching for ways to make it more palatable to the next generation—whatever that might look like.”

Another damaging matter, Rohrer added, is churches desiring to or giving into the allure of being of the culture rather than in the culture, ultimately straying from the Gospel to meet cultural needs.

“Many churches are trying to change to become like the culture, but the long-term effects of leaving the Gospel will be damaging beyond belief,” he said. “Many elements have pervaded our country’s denominations, such as transgenderism, same-sex marriage, sexual assault, and social justice, just to name a few. The Left loves to see the divide of some of the largest of these denominations, which are doing much self-promotion, inviting media to be part of the ‘experience’ and by moving away from traditional church business and opening the doors of today’s critiques of Christianity, either through the mainstream media or social media. And all the discord is playing out in public, which is not helping the spread of the Gospel one bit.”

APN recently debuted its new television program, “Stand in the Gap,” which considers transcending cultural issues, seemingly difficult to navigate, from a biblical worldview perspective. “Stand in the Gap” TV also seeks to bring clarity to cultural confusion and makes sense of the nonsense around us, focusing on the root problems of our nation and applies biblical principles so God’s people can know the truth.

“Stand in the Gap” TV airs weekly on WBPH-TV60, a station in the Philadelphia market that reaches a potential of 7 million viewers by cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, off-air antenna, and online. Programs air at 3pm ET Sundays and will be rebroadcast Tuesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 7:30pm Check the WBPH listings for more information on how to watch. here or view a promo for the show Learn more about the program.

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Sharing Faith Increasingly “Optional” for Christians

What is “optional” for Christians? Church attendance, going to Bible studies, tithing, giving to charity? As it turns out, many Christians say it’s becoming increasingly “optional” to share their faith in Christ with others.

This is the finding of a new survey from social science researcher George Barna, who is a friend of the American Pastors Network, and frequent guest on its popular daily radio program “Stand in the Gap Today.”

“Our world has changed,” said APN President and “Stand in the Gap” radio and TV host Sam Rohrer. “Decades ago, sitting with our friends, family members, neighbors, and fellow believers, often talking about our faith in God, was commonplace. Today, with how technology has drastically changed the way we interact, those conversations don’t happen nearly as much. How does this impact our faith—and the potential saving faith for others? Our good friend George Barna explores this question and gives insight on Christians feels about sharing our belief in and reliance upon Jesus.”

In 1993, Barna partnered with Lutheran Hour Ministries to research reasons why people did and did not engage in intentional outreach. Much has changed since that initial study, so 25 years later researchers asked follow-up questions to see if talk of faith has become labored in a culture that is more digital, secular, and contested than ever. The results are contained in Barna’s new report Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age.

“When was the last time you had a conversation about God?” Barna wrote to introduce the follow-up study. “For most people, the unfortunate and surprising answer to that question is not very often. Spiritual conversations are exceedingly rare for most Americans, and even for Christians, who are at best reluctant to have them.”

Barna’s research found that a growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the Good News as a personal responsibility. Just 10 percent of Christians in 1993 agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual. Today, nearly three in 10 Christians (29 percent) say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility—a threefold increase. This jump could be the result of many factors, Barna reported, including poor ecclesiology (believing “the local church” is somehow separate from the people who are a part of it) or personal and cultural barriers to sharing faith.

An even more dramatic divergence occurred on this statement: “Every Christian has a responsibility to share their faith.” In 1993, nine out of 10 Christians (89 percent) agreed, but today, just two-thirds say the same (64 percent)—a 25-point drop.

Barna will be the featured guest again on “Stand in the Gap Today” on June 7, when he will discuss the newest research.

APN’s Voting Checklist Helps Equip Christians Before Heading to Polls

As 20 States Hold Primaries Over Next Six Weeks, APN President Sam Rohrer Offers Five Questions to Guide Voters at the Ballot Box

Millions of registered voters will head to the polls over the next six weeks, with 25 states planning primaries from May 15 to June 26.

Among them is Pennsylvania, the headquarters of the American Pastors Network. APN President Sam Rohrer has been involved in politics in the Keystone State for more than 20 years and has used his own “Voting Integrity Checklist” for decades as a legislator. Now he is offering some of the same ideals from the list to voters around the country in advance of these important upcoming primaries.

“Voting truly does have a lifetime of accountability,” Rohrer said. “The faithful cannot simply choose a name on a whim, listen to the headlines of a very biased media, or go along with what the polls are dictating. Rather, voting must be a carefully considered, prayerful, and serious decision. Our prayer is that every Christian will base their voting decisions on biblical principles and wisdom, rather than emotion, news reports, or even social media.”

Decades ago, Rohrer created his “Voting Integrity Checklist,” a series of questions he developed for himself to use during his nearly 20 years in office as a legislator. It helped him ensure votes of integrity, but also to permit his fellow legislators and candidates to have a measuring stick on how to conduct themselves while in office. Ultimately, a number of Rohrer’s fellow lawmakers adopted his simple checklist.

This list, says Rohrer, is easily adaptable for voters as they head to the polls, whether in primaries or general elections:

  1. Is the issue I am voting for biblically moral? Does this candidate live by a set of biblical morals?
  2. Is this issue I am voting for constitutional? Is this candidate committed to upholding constitutional principles?
  3. Will voting for this issue preserve individual freedom and responsibility (versus strengthening government control) and does it preserve and strengthen the traditional family? Is this candidate also committed to these freedoms and ideals?
  4. Is this issue in the best interest of the general public (versus only special interests)? Does this candidate also advocate on behalf of constituents rather than special interest groups?
  5. Will the measure be governed in an efficient, effective and financially sound way? Is this candidate also committed to efficiency and sound fiscal spending?

APN is also partnering with iVoter Guide, a comprehensive, data-driven voter guide that is “grounded in God” and “rooted in research.” The guide provides voters with side-by-side comparisons of candidates for the primary elections, allowing them to identify who most closely shares their values and who has the record to back up campaign promises.

APN Conference Call for Pastors Highlights APN Benefits on June 5

We hope you’ll join us for a valuable Pastors Conference Call on June 5 to learn more about the new APN Benefits program!

The guest speaker will be Peter Persuitti, Managing Director of Arthur J. Gallagher Co., a non-profit risk management, insurance, and consulting agency. This organization is partnering with APN to present benefits to pastors and churches.

Who: American Pastors Network
What: Conference Call: “7 Reasons Why APN Benefits Membership Assists Pastors and Churches”
Where: Call in to (515) 739-1030, access code: 466203852 #
When: 9:00-10:30am EST Tuesday, June 5
How: Register for the call. There will be a time for Q&A at the end of the call. Learn more about APN Benefits, such as Compliance and Crisis Management Resources, Church Governance and Human Resources Services, Accident Insurance and Ministry Protection, Travel, Health, Life and Long-Term Insurance Coverage, and much more. To find out more, visit the APN Benefits Membership website.

Photo by Rayi Christian Wicaksono on Unsplash

What Is God’s Plan for Israel on Its 70th Anniversary?

American Pastors Network Explores News Surrounding Israel, Iran, and More on “Stand in the Gap Today” Radio Program

It’s been a busy few days for headlines surrounding Israel—from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposing Iran’s lies to the U.S. withdrawal of the Iran nuclear deal to the impending 70th anniversary of Israel becoming a nation on May 14, 1948.

The American Pastors Network has been following all this news on its popular radio program, “Stand in the Gap Today,” heard on 425 stations around the country.

Nearly once a week, “Stand in the Gap Today” host and APN President Sam Rohrer focuses on issues surrounding Israel by welcoming expert guests on the topic, as well as addressing news coming out of the Middle East from a biblical and constitutional perspective.

“Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu called a news-shattering news conference about the lies of Iran regarding its nuclear program and figuratively shook the ground underneath the Iran nuclear deal that was deceptively negotiated between the leaders of Iran and former President Barack Obama,” Rohrer said. “But before this exposé, Israel literally shook the ground in Syria as it inflicted a wound not only against Syrian forces, but as an attack against Iran and its ambitions to destroy Israel and the United States. Although they may think it’s thousands of miles and several time zones away, Christians are directly impacted by news like this, and must be up to speed on all that is happening daily in the Middle East and how it relates back to God’s Word.

“Now more than ever, the faithful must be tuned in to God’s plans for this world, our country and the nation of Israel, which on Monday, will look back on the 70 years since becoming a nation,” he added. “Where has Israel been, where is it headed, and what is God’s plan for this nation? These are questions important to American Christians everywhere.”

“Stand in the Gap Today” will address Israel and Iran again today on the program. The show can be heard live online from noon to 1pm EST at American Pastors Network.com, or find a station.

Listen to clips from a recent “Stand in the Gap Today” program on these topics