Traditionalist Decries Religion's `Surrender': Enemies of Freedom Benefit, Author Says

By McCain, Robert Stacy | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 27, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Traditionalist Decries Religion's `Surrender': Enemies of Freedom Benefit, Author Says


McCain, Robert Stacy, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Clergy who preach a "feel-good theology" are "opening the floodgates to the archenemy of America's God-given freedoms," according to a new book by conservative activist John W. Chalfant.

In "Abandonment Theology: The Clergy and the Decline of American Christianity," Mr. Chalfant argues that many pastors have succumbed to "fatalism." By preaching a "doctrine of surrender and political noninvolvement" to their congregations, he says, these pastors are promoting a "false interpretation" of Christianity - and forsaking the nation's Christian tradition.

"This country was born in the pulpits," Mr. Chalfant said in an interview, citing the influence of Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Mr. Chalfant, who is promoting the book through his organization, "America - A Call to Greatness," is critical of ministers whose apocalyptic message about the "last days" might encourage Christians to withdraw from public affairs.

"The poison and the disaster for America's freedoms . . . is the concept that America has become so decadent that it can be equated to ancient, pagan Rome," Mr. Chalfant says. "That is totally false, and biblically blasphemous. America was founded upon Jesus Christ and the Old Testament. All of our civil laws in the Constitution are derivatives of the Bible."

Quoting Witherspoon - who wrote, "God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable" - Mr. Chalfant says it is certain that by "true religion," Witherspoon meant Christianity.

It is a "false teaching," Mr. Chalfant says, for some ministers to say that Christians should shun political involvement. "The duty of the Christian today is to occupy until Christ comes again," he says, "and there is no authorization anywhere in the Scriptures" for Christians "to abandon" their government to others.

Mr. Chalfant says "abandonment" has been most evident in education, which he calls "the core of our problem" since the Supreme Court decisions of 1962 and 1963 "kicked God out of the schools," he says.

"What Christ taught was the primacy of the spirit and the worth and dignity of the individual," Mr.

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