Planted firmly in the triad is Reclaiming America for Christ held on July 28 and 29 at First Baptist Church of Moore. The event featured speakers who did not avoid controversy, addressing issues such as scientific findings that counter a literal interpretation of the Bible and the practice of preaching politics from the pulpit.
Prominent figures who attended and spoke at the event include Attorney General Scott Pruitt, state Rep. Sally Kern (pictured below), U.S. Rep. James Lankford (via video), Edmond Pastor Paul Blair and Oklahoma City Pastor Tom Vineyard.
The agenda included sessions on “Dinosaurs and the Bible,” “The Homosexual Agenda and Attacks on Christian Liberty,” “America’s Christian Heritage” and “The Real Mount Sinai.”
Between lectures, those in attendance packed the exhibit area outside the sanctuary that included science textbooks written with a young-Earth creationism perspective, literature and presentations on the public education system, and groups such as The John Birch Society, Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee and Ron Paul for President.
The purpose of the event, said Blair, executive director of Reclaiming America for Christ and senior pastor at Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, is to reacquaint Oklahomans with the fact that Christians founded the U.S. on biblical principles. Standing beside a triceratops replica skeleton, Blair led the Pledge of Allegiance narrated by John Wayne via video recording.
The goal, Blair said, is to see America return to that Christian heritage and philosophical view of governance.
“We can either abandon this culture in which God has placed us, or we can confront it and transform it, and that is what we chose to do,” Blair said.
Public office and creationism
Pruitt was the first public official to speak during the initial day of the event. Pruitt said in order to maintain the ideals America was founded on, there should be no separation between one’s public life and their personal and religious life.
“That’s wrong, that’s not America,” Pruitt said. “I will say to you as your attorney general, I am committed to ensuring that our protections in the First Amendment to freely exercise our beliefs, to freely express what we believe in the public squares is going to be protected.”Pruitt likened the campaign of antiabortion groups to British Parliament member William Wilberforce’s fight against slavery in the 1700s, and said the ultimate goal is to have a fetus receive the protections of the 14th Amendment.
“His obstacles are no different than the obstacles we face to get an unborn child declared as a person protected under the 14th Amendment, which we should be fighting for every single day. We should be fighting for the 14th Amendment says no person should be deprived of life without process of law,” Pruitt told the audience, which responded with applause. “… That challenge is identical to the challenge he faced, but he kept going because he was a risk-taker and he stood for truth and it made a difference.”
During the event, G. Thomas Sharp, founder and chairman of the Creation Truth Foundation and founder of the Institute of Biblical Worldview Studies, spoke on issues such as climate change, dinosaurs and geological formations, specifically on the rapid formation of strata during the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.
When examining these phenomena, Sharp said, scientists filter the information through biases, and two of those can be looking at things from an evolutionary perspective or from a biblical standpoint Sharp took a young-Earth creationism perspective on the issues, specifically that the Earth is around 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs walked with humans, facing (along will all other species on the Earth) a near-extinction event in the form of the great flood mentioned in Genesis.
Broad scientific consensus holds that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, life began around 3.8 to 2.5 billion years ago and that modern humans emerged approximately 250,000 years ago.
However, Sharp stated that the biblical view of creation has “significant observational support and demands a hearing,” and that most of the dinosaurs became extinct during the biblical flood, although some baby dinosaurs may have been brought aboard Noah’s ark and went extinct later.
The date at which scientists say dinosaurs went extinct poses a problem, Sharp said, because it calls into question the Bible’s interpretation of events, especially for young children who are fascinated with the prehistoric beasts.
The Rev. Dan Fisher, senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon, spoke on the “Black Robed Regiment,” the term given to pastors who, during America’s colonial period, encouraged their respective congregations to partake in the American Revolution.
Although the group was not a formal organization during the Revolution, it has become one in recent years and has been promoted by talk radio personality Glenn Beck and controversial conservative historian David Barton.
Fisher, who wore a Continental Army uniform during his speech, said matters of public policy and politics were commonly addressed from the pulpit before, during and after the formation of the country. In 1954 the tax code was revised to revoke churches’ tax-exempt status if the church endorsed candidates or participated in partisan activity.
“Pastors today are convinced that they’re going to lose their nonprofit status, and they’re going to get in trouble with the (Internal Revenue Service) if they preach what they believe about what the Bible says about politics,” Fisher said. “Friends, that’s a fat lie because Paul Blair and I have been doing it for three years straight just daring the IRS to come here.”
Fisher said the moral decline in America is directly related to pastors and Christians not speaking out, and that silence about it is the same as giving consent:
“Even if they take away our nonprofit status, I would rather in a million years give away my nonprofit status than my freedom of speech. It is time for us to count the cost.”
Blair, one of the final speakers on the last night of the event, spoke over “America’s Christian Heritage.”
Almost all of the founders were Christian, Blair said, and even Ben Franklin, a self-proclaimed deist, and Thomas Jefferson, who created the Jefferson Bible that removed all supernatural aspects from the Gospels of the New Testament, held the Scriptures in reverence.
Blair closed by beseeching the attendees to strive for another Great Awakening through prayer, evangelism, education and activism for what they believe.
“God is not dependent upon America so he can stay in business, but America is dependent upon God if we’re going to stay in business,” he said. “It’s time for Christians to wake up, to get up, to stand up and man up and let’s reclaim America for Jesus Christ.”
Photos by Mark Hancock