In his book, Original Intent, David Barton details the bravery of colonial pastors who spoke out against the tyranny of England and in many cases led the charge for independence. Barton tells the story of Rev. John Peter Muhlenberg who, on January 21, 1776, preached to his Virginia congregation concerning the crisis then facing America. He recounted to them how America had been founded in pursuit of religious and civil liberties and how they were now in danger of losing those liberties. He concluded with these words:
In the language of the Holy Writ [Ecclesiastes 3], there [is] a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away.
And then in a loud voice, he quoted from verse 8, saying:
There is a time to fight – and that time has now come!
His sermon finished, he offered the benediction, and then deliberately disrobed in front of his congregation, revealing the uniform of a military officer beneath his clerical robes. He descended from the pulpit, marched to the back door of the church, and ordered the drums to beat for recruits. Three hundred men joined him, and they became the Eighth Virginia Regiment. Pastor John Peter Muhlenberg went on to become one of the highest-ranking officers in the American Revolution, attaining the rank of Major-General.
A statue of Rev. Muhlenberg removing his clerical robe to reveal a military uniform stands in statuary hall in the U.S. Capitol building. Barton went on, quoting historian Daniel Dorchester, to detail even more exploits by America’s patriot pastors:
Of Rev. John Craighead it is said that “he fought and preached alternately.” Rev. Dr. Cooper was captain of a military company. Rev. John Blair Smith, president of Hampden-Sidney College, was captain of a company that rallied to support the retreating Americans after the battle of Cowpens. Rev. James Hall commanded a company that armed against Cornwallis. Rev. Wm. Graham rallied his own neighbors to dispute the passage of Rockfish Gap with Tarleton and his Britain dragoons. Rev. Dr. Ashbel Green was an orderly sergeant. Rev. Dr. Moses Hodge served in the Army of the Revolution.
These patriot pastors were bold and unafraid to act on their convictions. Pastor, are you likewise bold and unafraid? America would be a much different place had it not been for the courageous involvement of America’s pastors in our fight for independence. Today, independence is threatened once again and on many different levels, calling for our pastors to take a courageous stand. One such threat is the regime of government censorship and control over what a pastor may say from the pulpit. That’s why ADF has created the Pulpit Initiative – to restore the rich heritage of pastors speaking freely from their pulpits without fearing government censorship or control and to stop the IRS from censoring what pastors can and cannot say from the pulpit.
America needs patriot pastors today more than ever. If you are a pastor, would you prayerfully consider joining with us in the Pulpit Initiative? If you know of a pastor, would you encourage them to sign up today?
James Madison said, “It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.” Well, we find ourselves long past the time for alarm and well into the time for action, as the Johnson Amendment’s “experiment” on our liberties has turned into an outright denial of the Church’s liberty to speak and act in accordance with biblical principles. Stand with us today and join the ranks of those patriot pastors who have gone before – sign up to be a part of the Pulpit Initiative.
Please share your comments below and to join the conversation join our facebook page Facebook.com/SpeakUpChurch