America's 'Silent, Spineless Clergy'

James L. Lambert - Guest Columnist - 4/3/2009 8:15:00 AM Across America you will find thousands of courageous ministers and priests who regularly stand strong for moral and biblical positions against the tide of public opinion. These folks take a stand for biblically-based positions on moral issues -- no matter the cost. I admire both their courage and their integrity.

At the same time, however, it is appropriate to confront the thousands of pastors and priests across the nation who, by their silence, refuse to address the moral issues of our times -- issues like pornography, abortion, and homosexuality. Here are just a few examples of what I consider to be moral cowardice among our clergy:

• Approximately nine years ago, the senior pastor of a large church in north San Diego County refused to show his personal support for a men's sexual addiction-recovery group because he was "embarrassed" to discuss the subject from the pulpit. Subsequently the group leader of that support group had to leave the church. That leader told me later that he knew personally of numerous men in that pastor's church who were struggling with sexual and/or porn addiction. The fact that this program could not get the support from this well-known senior pastor greatly frustrated the group leader.

• While on assignment for AgapePress, I covered a demonstration in front of a popular Orange County church that refused to comment to the media why pro-life protesters were camped outside their facility. I reported that "senior pastors were reluctant to comment on the demonstration....Pro-life organizer Steve Klein felt the need to demonstrate in front of [the] church was due, in part, to their leadership's reluctance to support a [pro-life] cause that many inside the clergy felt is too 'political'. Cheryl Sullenger, a spokeswoman for Operation Rescue, goes even further by explaining that with so many women being having abortions over the years, the pastors commonly will place the financial concerns of their church over the moral issues of the day."

• A group of Christians -- including one activist who tried to shut down some newspaper stands in the neighborhood that sold porn to minors -- wanted to warn a large church in central San Diego of the dangers of pornography in their neighborhood. Upon approaching the anti-porn activists one Sunday morning, church officials started to become hostile when they asked the activists to leave the public sidewalks outside the church. They didn't like the presence of anyone distributing literature to their congregants. Yet all that the anti-porn activists wanted to do was warn members about what was happening near their church.

• In 2006 James Hartline, a former homosexual and now a Christian activist, tried for months to organize church leaders to oppose a decision by the San Diego City Council involving a local historic cross that essentially agreed with atheist Phillip Paulson. Paulson and his attorney wanted to see the cross atop Mt. Soledad in nearby La Jolla removed because it was on public property. (The present cross, which was built in 1954, was dedicated as a war memorial in the 1950s. A cross has been on the site since 1913.) Hartline urged ministers across San Diego County to appear before the Council to dissuade city leaders from removing the cross. He talked to the media, spoke on talk radio, and published stories on an Internet site in an effort to convince the clergy and the public to get involved. On the day of the hearing for public comment, only about a dozen ministers showed up -- from a county with more than 1,800 churches.

• Marriage is defined by Christ Himself in the New Testament (Matt. 19:5). Yet thousands of today's clergy find it difficult to defend traditional marriage. Why? Writing for Townhall.com, attorney Janet LaRue asks: "Are those pastors who are missing in action (and not defending traditional marriage) conceding that sexual conduct which God condemns is morally equivalent to marriage? What do they think will happen in the public schools? And in the workplace? And are they going to remain silent if the court expands its ruling to include polygamy and marriage between close relatives?" She notes in her column from last October that of the 11,911 churches in California, only 203 supported the marriage amendment. LaRue, the former counsel for Concerned Women of America, confronted pastors and priests with a poignant question: "John the Baptist lost his head for speaking out against the king's perversion of marriage. What are you afraid of losing?"

• Finally, President Barack Obama is set to speak in May at the University of Notre Dame. The school has a long Catholic tradition and is viewed as one of the premier Catholic universities in the world. But rather than standing up for unborn children, Notre Dame's administrators recently invited Mr. Obama -- the most radically pro-abortion president in U.S. history -- to deliver the commencement address at their upcoming graduation. And on top of that, the school plans to award the president an honorary doctorate degree. Obama is on record defending even the most extreme forms of infanticide. Since taking office in January, he has re-enacted federal funding for abortions not only in this country but around the world (through the U.N.). This is outrageous -- and that's why every priest in America should call the office of the Notre Dame president (574-631-5000) and demand that Obama not be honored with an appearance at the school and with an honorary degree.

It's time for all of us to stand up for what is right for our country's sake instead of following the path of least resistance. It's time we demand that our spiritual leaders to do the same. You can help by posting this article on the front door of your church and praying for your spiritual leaders.

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