Thoughts to Ponder

Deafening Silence

Speaking of the worldwide persecution of Christians Mona Charen said the following:

The silence of American Christians is particularly hard to understand since they have been so unstinting in support of others in need. But when Michael Horowitz of the Manhattan Institute published an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal last July on persecution of Christians, the response was a resounding silence. (By MONA CHAREN, The Washington Times October 3, 1996)

Why are our churches silent about so many moral issues? Why don't we hear about the persecuted church? Why don't we hear about how the homosexuals are trying to influence our children in grade school? Why don't we hear about how our children are being taught the religion of Evolution in our schools? Why don't we hear about corrupt politicians? Why aren't people encouraged to vote and to seek public office? Why aren't the clergy in our churches warning people that their freedoms are being legislated away? Why aren't congregations told that they should voice their views to their elected officials?

Is it that pastors don't care about these issues? Is it possible that pastors don't care about abortion (the murdering of millions of unborn children)? Is it possible that pastors don't care if homosexual marriage is legalized and recognized by the government? Is it possible that pastors don't care that the U.N. is taking away America's sovereignty, with the help of our elected officials? Is it possible that pastors don't care that hate crime legislation could be the first step in silencing the Christian view point, or making it illegal to even quote parts of God's word? Is it possible that pastors don't care that Islam is being described as a peace loving religion when in fact it is responsible for the majority of religious persecution, rape and slavery in the world?

I think the problem is even more troubling than just a lack of concern. What could be worse then pastors not caring? How about their love of money causing them to not speak out?

(Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV) [5] Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
        "Never will I leave you;
        never will I forsake you."
[6] So we say with confidence,
        "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
        What can man do to me?"

(1 Timothy 6:10 NIV) [10] For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

I think that pastors and churches have become the slaves of the IRS. Let me quote from a government document:

501 subsection (c) subsection (3)

Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not 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 public office.

The following was copied from the IRS's website in reference to 501(c)(3):

Political activity. If any of the activities (whether or not substantial) of your organization consist of participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, your organization will not qualify for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3). Such participation or intervention includes the publishing or distributing of statements.

Have you heard of 501(c)(3) organizations? You should have, they are churches and other non-profit organizations. Why would a church or Christian organization want to be a 501(c)(3) exempt organization? The answer is simple, money. It allows them to obtain funds from people (congregations or supporters) and not have to pay taxes on those funds, it also allows the people who give to such organizations the ability to get a tax break on their individual income taxes.

So why don't pastors speak out? Many are afraid of losing their tax exempt status. They don't trust God to provide for His church if the tax exemption is taken away.

(Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV) [8] "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. [9] Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Doesn't that sound like unborn children? Doesn't that sound like persecuted Christians world wide?

It makes my stomach turn to think that the religious leaders in our country are more concerned about money then they are about doing what God has commanded us to do.

I look around the world and I see home churches in countries where Christian persecution is widespread. I see people who could care less about tax exemptions, all they care about is serving their Lord and Savior even though they know it might cost them everything they own, years in prison away from family and friends or even their lives.

I am not casting the first stone without realizing that I live in a glass house. I must admit that until recently (the past couple of years) I too only gave my money (tithe) to organizations which were 501(c)(3) so that I could take the amount off my taxes. But I came to realize that I was not doing God's will, I was serving myself. I would rather give money to a church that would help someone, than to reach out to someone I knew personally, because if I gave money directly to the person, I could not get a tax break.

I here and now publicly repent of those thoughts and actions. I now give where I believe God has asked me to give, not were I can get a tax credit. I will not allow my ministries to be a slave to anyone other than Jesus Christ, meaning that I will not ask for funds nor will I become a 501(c)(3) partner with the IRS. I will speak out boldly without fear of man, because I know whom I serve.

Don't take what I have said the wrong way. I don't believe it is wrong for a church to be tax exempt, but when that tax exception interferes with their ability to speak the truth and serve God then they must choose whom they will serve. I am afraid all too often the answer is the IRS and not God!

I usually try not to call names when I write articles, but there are times when I believe it is warranted and I believe this is such a time. Before I start let me explain a fact about myself for those who do not know me personally or have not seen my picture. I am white. I am not proud of that fact and I am not embarrassed of that fact. God placed my soul in a white body, so I have no right to be proud, nor do I have the right to be embarrassed of God's work. I wanted to address that because the two names I am going to name happen to be black men. That fact is not due to any accomplishment of theirs nor is it their fault, it again, is simply the work of the Creator. Some people may take my naming of these men and my criticism as racist. Feel free to view it that way but it is not. I will not be afraid of such criticism from others either, for to be afraid would mean not speaking out what I believe God has placed on my heart.

I want to address one particular issue in reference to these two men. That is the Christian persecution in Sudan. The two men are the "Reverend" Jessie Jackson and the "Reverend" Al Sharpton. Both men have voiced aspirations to be President of the United States at some point. Both men by the title they so proudly wear, "Reverend," claim to be Christians. Both men claim to care about the plight of people of color, or as they used to be called Blacks, or African-Americans.

They have both gained national attention because of their stand on civil rights issues. They continually bring up American slavery, which was a blight on America, but which was abolished almost 150 years ago. Slavery was a terrible thing and I am glad that it was abolished, but that is not my point. My point is that these men make money and gain influence by continually bringing up this past atrocity.

Yet when it comes to modern slavery they are silent. Why? Why would they be silent when it comes to present day suffering and slavery and yet continually speak out about something that is well over a hundred years old? It can't be a matter of race, because the slavery I am speaking about is taking place in Sudan, among 'black' Christians at the hands of non-black Arab Muslims.

Shouldn't these men be shouting from the roof tops, trying to help their brothers and sisters in Sudan? Where are their voices? They will rush to any city where black criminals are burning or looting or where black criminals have started a fight and then gotten expelled from school. They will argue that every black child should be allowed into Harvard even if they don't qualify, but they are silent on the suffering of the people of Sudan.

They both claim to want to run this country, so surely they can't claim not to know anything about such an important foreign affair as this.

Could it be that the Sudanese Christians don't have any political clout to gain these men's favor? Could it be that the Sudanese Christians will never be able to vote for them? Their organizations are overtly political so they can't be afraid of speaking out for fear of the IRS. It has to be some other reason.

Politicians shake in their shoes when these two men take on a cause, so they could have tremendous influence on this issue, yet they are silent. As "Reverends" they should be speaking out against Christian persecution worldwide, but they don't. But most appalling to me is their silence on Sudan.

In case you have not read much about the persecution going on in Sudan, let me give you a brief description. Men are killed out right, young girls and women are sold into slavery. They are sexually abused and beaten at the whim of their Islamic masters. If a Muslim man decides to marry one of these women, he will force her to convert to Islam. That is not as simple a thing as it might sound. One of the things that the women who are forcibly converted must endure is female circumcision. This is a barbaric procedure, which I choose not to describe here, but I encourage you to do the research for yourself.

Why have I singled out these two men? The bare truth is because they are black and because they make a living denouncing slavery in this country, yet they are silent on the suffering of other blacks who are being sold into slavery every day.

I am very upset that other pastors, black, white, yellow, brown and red are not speaking out too, but at least most of them don't make a living on the subject while ignoring it's present day continuation.

These men also support the devil's work by supporting pro-choice (pro-murder) candidates. I don't know their hearts, but I can only assume that they care more about political gain then moral absolutes or God's word. They could do so much good, but they choose to embrace homosexuals and their lifestyle for political reasons. They choose to embrace the killing of the unborn for political reasons. They choose to be divisive and cause continued racial tension because it serves their political agendas.

There are many unfair things that happen in America. Some of them are blatantly racist, some are blatantly sexist, some are blatantly religious. None of them are excusable, but none of them come up to the scale of what is happening around the world either. America will never be a color blind society until we put God back in our schools and our public forums. Until we are brothers and sisters in Christ we will not treat each other as equals, only God is able to change the evil heart of men.

I believe God is looking for men and women who will take a stand and speak out boldly no matter what the personal cost of doing so.

(Ezekiel 22:30 NIV) [30] "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none."

Will He find any in our day and our country? Will He find anyone willing to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves?

My wife, my daughter and I are starting a new ministry called Valley of Decision .Net. The URL is http://www.cnsnews.com//  We are just in the process of building it, but I encourage you to go and check it out. On the resources page you will find sample letters to law makers. These are in both html and Word formats, you can print them use them as a template or download and edit them, but please send something to your elected officials asking them to speak out.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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July 2003