A few weeks ago I was at a casual, social gathering with some friends. I was seated at a table with three others and one of my friends asked about my involvement leading worship at The Jefferson Gathering in the United States Capitol twice a month. These weekly worship services are for members of Congress, their staff and others who work on Capitol Hill. I began to explain that these services are called "The Jefferson Gathering" because Thomas Jefferson used to ride his horse to the Capitol each week to attend church services and how after 144 years, I had been asked to lead worship and sing as these services were being revived. I now travel to Washington, DC twice a month to give musical leadership.
Another friend at the table said, "What about separation of church and state?" She was going on about how these services are inappropriate. Unfortunately, she and millions of other Americans are totally uninformed when it comes to understanding separation of church and state. They also fail to understand that it was Thomas Jefferson who penned the phrase "separation of church and state." I went on to explain that the separation was to keep the government out of the affairs of the church and not the other way around. Unfortunately, the truth didn't go over very well. The conversation came to an abrupt halt.
Today, the church is suffering from a misinterpretation of the Johnson Amendment of 1954 regarding the free speech of an organization and how it might effect their nonprofit status. This is one of the reasons churches failed to speak out when prayer and Bible reading was stopped in schools in the 1960s. Churches erroneously believe they can no longer speak out on political and cultural issues of the day for fear that the Internal Revenue Service will take away their tax exempt status.
Many pulpits no longer speak the Truth out of fear of the IRS or the desire to be relevant to the culture of the day. Many pulpits have gone silent. The result is a nation that is in decline. A democracy only works when its citizens live by a moral code, when people, companies and government leaders understand there is right and wrong. Morality cannot be legislated but must be a part of moral fabric of the culture.
I don't believe that religious leaders and pastors should endorse candidates, but issues of morality, justice and righteousness must be addressed from the pulpit.
So I am traveling to Washington, DC twice a month tolead worship in the United States Capitol and to meet and pray with members of Congress, staff and others who work on Capitol Hill. Amerson Music Ministries receives no remuneration for my travel, hotel, meals and time. My participation is underwritten by those who believe in and contribute to this endeavor.
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Our nation will not be saved by the party of the elephant or the party of the donkey, but only by the power of the Lamb.
The church must rediscover its voice and the pulpits must speak the hard word. Pray for our nation, its leaders and pastors.