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Ministering amid threats to religious liberty

 

Scott Barkley/Index

Roswell Street Baptist Church Senior Pastor Ernest Easley, left, talks with Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, during a break.

MARIETTA — With the backdrop of facing a societal shift against biblical principles, a group of ministers and spouses gathered Feb. 10 for training and encouragement on what is necessary to communicate the Gospel in today’s world.

Watchmen on the Wall, an organization affiliated with the Family Research Council of Washington D.C., organized the event hosted at Roswell Street Baptist Church. Held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., speakers covered topics such as the role of clergy in dissent, legal issues faced by people of faith, and steps of action to take.

Speakers included Atlanta ministers Garland Hunt and Wellington Boone, Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd, and E.W. Jackson, president of S.T.A.N.D., an organization dedicated to re-establishing America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

In outlining the motivation for the gathering, FRC President Tony Perkins pointed to a status many Christians find themselves in today.

“We’re shocked because we grew up in a time when the country predominately embraced Christianity...”

Tony Perkins, president
Family Research Council

“We’re shocked because we grew up in a time when the country predominately embraced Christianity,” Perkins said, “…[but] we’re to press forward in prayer and persistence.”

Perkins also tied in the loss of religious freedom in America with a rise of religious persecution in the world.

“We need to be speaking out on behalf of the freedoms … given to us by God and … protected by men and women who have laid down their lives for this country,” he said.

Throughout history, he added, “People in faraway places have looked to America as a source of hope. We have shaped this world because of our stand for that inherent human right – not an American right – of the freedom of religion.”

Common themes of the event included prayer, proclaiming/preaching, and partnering with others. One way to do that, speakers noted, was to raise support for Georgia House Bill 218, titled the “Preventing Government Overreach on Religious Expression Act.”

Scott Barkley/Index

At right, Stan Berrong, senior pastor of Glen Haven Baptist Church in McDonough, chats with GBC President Don Hattaway.

Don Hattaway, GBC president and senior pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville, spoke pointedly on the road that brought America to today’s culture in comparing secular humanists and liberal theologians to termites.

“In recent years the war against people of faith has increased in intensity and frequency,” he said. “Now secular humanists are taking aim at what we’re thinking, and trying to tell us we have no right to exercise our beliefs.”

Attorney Dave Corman of Alliance Defending Freedom spoke on the rise of court rulings against religious liberty.

“Tolerance is a two-way street,” Corman said. “That is something I think the government doesn’t realize. We as believers have to tolerate what’s going on, but [it seems] they don’t have to tolerate us.”

Amid the complexities of ministry in today’s world, Hattaway implored those listening to continue reaching others through the basics of the Gospel.

“We are to love these people. We are to pray for these people. But we’re to stand firm and know the battle is really on a spiritual level,” he said.

“That means we must do more than just organize. We must pray and seek the face of God. We need to make sure we’re where we need to be spiritually.”

Added Perkins in his closing remarks, “Do not lose heart, but rather pray and persist and God will do what only God can do.”

“Duty is ours. The results belong to Him.”