Compromise in the Church

(Stephen E. Strang is an award-winning journalist, Charisma founder and author of the best-seller “God and Donald Trump.” This content was excerpted from his new book, “God, Trump, and the 2020 Election.”)

By Stephen E. Strang

If the enemy causes the extremists on the Left and others in culture to oppose the work of God, what role is the church supposed to play? The Bible says that “judgment [begins] at the house of God.” Is it possible then that the church is partly responsible for our nation’s current condition because it has abdicated its prophetic role?

And will this have an effect on the 2020 election?

While there has never been a perfect time since mankind sinned way back in the Garden of Eden, it seems things are getting worse—almost as if our cultural decline is happening at warp speed now. It’s manifesting itself on a global scale but also through the cultural divide we see so plainly in our own nation.

The belief that what has happened in America over the last century has to do with the differences between Republicans and Democrats betrays serious confusion. As I explain in my new book, “God, Trump, and the 2020 Election,” the war is spiritual. It is a battle between evil and good, between darkness and light. To put it in other terms, two distinct religions are vying for control of America’s public square: secularism and Christianity. They cannot coexist; one will ultimately cause the destruction of the other.

From Anti-Religious to Anti-Church

To claim, as many do, that liberals are anti-religious or anti-Christian is one thing, but to show statistically that Democrats believe churches have a negative impact on society is a couple of steps beyond mere suspicion. But that’s precisely what the Pew Research Center discovered when it examined liberal and conservative opinions of the church. In a July 2017 report, Pew found that 44% of liberal Democrats view churches as a negative influence. (Just 14% of Republicans held that view.) The study also found that 46% of those unaffiliated with any religion (and 43% of those who seldom or never attend religious services) believe churches have a negative impact on society.

To show how divided the worldviews of Republicans and Democrats are, the same study found that 85% of Republicans believe the national news media have a negative impact on society, but only 46% of Democrats held that view. (Note that 51% of liberal Democrats say the news media have a positive impact on the country.)

Reacting to the report, Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C., said he believes the Democratic Party is rapidly on its way to becoming the opposition party to the Christian church in America. “We’ve [never] really had a political party, as many European nations do, with an opposition to the church,” he said, “and hopefully we never will, but the trend seems to be that much of the Democratic Party—a plurality—seems to be heading in that direction.”

It would be a great historical irony if the nation were to end up with a two-party system that was essentially a pro-religion political party and an anti-religion political party going head to head in America—a salutary reminder of the English Civil War with the Protestant Roundheads versus the royalist Cavaliers. As Tooley said, such a scenario “would be potentially dangerous.”

Tooley noted that “many liberals ideologically are very statist … so for them, the Church and other institutions in civil society may seem peripheral—or unneeded—as the government can do it all on its own.” He added that many people hostile to religion fail to fully appreciate the impact religious institutions can have for good in society. But a substantial number of Americans have apparently made up their minds, deciding that the label “No Religion” best describes their belief system.

Conservative activist David Lane, founder of the American Renewal Project, has been sounding this alarm for years. “‘Western culture that at first drifted and is now rushing headlong into apostasy from the Triune God’ is a direct result of the vacuum created as American Christendom relinquished the town square. The disengagement from the culture by Christians left a void in America that is now being filled by everything anti-Christ,” Lane wrote in his weekly American Renewal Project newsletter.

“Decisions have consequences. The gathering storm engendered by Baby Boomers and passed on to the Millennial and Gen Z generations to sort out, will come down hard on the weak-kneed and lily-livered,” he wrote. “What Christian minister and cultural theologian P. Andrew Sandlin styled ‘Sunday-go-to-meetin’ Christianity’ has been the prevailing attitude over the last century. Making no demands on the culture, this attitude exposed ‘the entire West to the risk of a grave cultural and political crisis, and perhaps to a collapse of civilization.’ … The last two generations of Americans handed down this attitude to their children and their children’s children.

Lane predicts that a battle over freedom of conscience is coming, and it will be “with the secular and media luminaries who dominate the spiritual, intellectual, educational, economic, and vocational cultural mountains of influence in America. ‘Big Business’ has become allied with the secular Left, turning into active combatants attempting to put the final nail in the coffin of America’s once biblically-based culture. Public education already did so about fifty years ago, bringing America’s schooling down to the lowest common denominator.”

In another newsletter Lane noted that “contemporary secular political leadership ‘hates knowledge of the moral order and scorns correction.’ … Expecting them to comprehend that moral relativism, state-enforced morality and political correctness embody the death knell to sustainable freedom is equally unlikely, and foolish altogether to them, as expecting natural man to dismiss that life and life’s events are endowed with the Spirit of God.”

This is all the more reason to get behind a president like Donald Trump—and many are getting the message. Historian David Barton noticed an interesting trend among evangelical pastors, many of whom did not support Trump in 2016 probably because they didn’t like his personality. Recent polls show 50% of these pastors are finally supporting the president. Still, it is likely that Trump has less support among evangelical pastors than he does among Evangelicals overall. In 2016 some 81% of white Evangelicals voted for the brash developer from Queens, and Evangelicals have continued to support him despite the constant stream of negative news by most of the mainstream media and their criticism of nearly everything he does.

Barton says that in the current anti-Christian environment many pastors have been able to finally get over not liking Trump’s tweets or the way he is shaking things up and, like most lay evangelical Christians, see the president as their champion. But their members saw it first and in 2016 actually ignored the advice of many of their pastors and other Christian leaders who were active Never Trumpers.

The urgent call in present-day America is for Christians to expose the current idols active in the public square. Nonbelievers lack both the moral fiber and the will to fathom what the battle for the soul of America is about.