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Evangelicals rising as U.S. falters, Land says
Dwayne Hastings, Baptist Press
June 17, 2011
7 MIN READ TIME

Evangelicals rising as U.S. falters, Land says

Evangelicals rising as U.S. falters, Land says
Dwayne Hastings, Baptist Press
June 17, 2011

PHOENIX — While the number of evangelicals in the United

States is rising, the moral health of the nation continues to falter, Richard

Land told messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting

June 14.

In his report to the convention, Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics &

Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), said the ERLC continues to fight for the

sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death and “everywhere in

between.”

Land said he was encouraged by recent polls that show a shift in opinions on

the life issue, noting that more than 50 percent of Americans described

themselves as pro-life in a May 2009 Gallup survey.

While some of the movement to a life-affirming position flows from “brilliant

arguments on the part of Christian spokesmen,” the greater cause appears to be

a growing “fertility gap” between pro-life and pro-choice couples, Land said.

“Since Roe v. Wade there is now a 41 percent fertility gap between those that

are pro-life and those that are pro-choice,” he continued. Over 50 million

babies have been aborted in the 38 years since the Supreme Court ruled in the

landmark case.

Since the court decision in 1973 that effectively legalized abortion on demand,

pro-life couples have been having their babies and raising them to appreciate

the preciousness of human life, Land said, adding that “pro-choice couples have

not had their babies and they haven’t raised them to be anything.”

“The younger you are in America the more pro-life you are,” Land said. “Every

year, another year’s worth of pro-life voters are added to the rolls and are

voting for pro-life candidates.”

Saying it is a welcome sign for the future, Land noted that last year’s

election resulted in more than a dozen new U.S. congressmen who are Southern

Baptist.

Photo by Kent Harville

Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, gives a report and presentation June 14 on the first day of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Ariz.

Land recalled a visit he made in early 2010 to Houston to protest the opening

of one of the world’s largest abortion clinics, a 78,000-square-foot facility

he said includes an entire floor dedicated to providing late-term abortions. He

said he was amazed that the great majority of those alongside him picketing the

center were under the age of 30, calling the abundance of young protesters a “pro-choice

nightmare.”

“I am firmly convicted that if I live out a natural life span, I will live to

see the infamous Roe v. Wade decision end up on the ash heap of history, where

it belongs,” Land said.

Obamacare

Yet Land warned that the culture of death is “deeply imbedded” in the health

care reform measures signed into law by President Obama last year.

“We are called now not just to defend the unborn, but to defend those who are

terminally ill, those who are sick and those who are aged,” Land said. “Mark my

words: They are the new targets of Obamacare.”

Land expressed concern at the transfer of money from Medicare to fund the

president’s health care plan “just when Baby Boomers are hitting retirement.”

“People who are in Medicare will have to wait longer for a doctor. Once they

see a doctor, they will have to wait longer before they get treatment,” Land

said. “That is often a death sentence for those that are in that age category.

“Do not misunderstand me,” Land added. “We desperately need real health care

reform in America.” He cited a white paper developed by the ERLC’s Research

Institute, available on the entity’s website that outlines what he called “real

reform.”

“I can tell you with certainty that whatever the issue is, whatever the problem

is, Obamacare is not the answer,” Land said.

If the president’s health care plan is not rescinded, most Americans will live

shorter lives, Land warned, citing mortality statistics in nations with similar

health care plans.

‘Generational theft’

The ERLC is standing against the “generational theft” that is taking place in

Washington, D.C., Land said.

“Our government is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends. It is

borrowing it from our children and our grandchildren and we are putting upon

them an insurmountable debt that will foreclose their futures,” Land said. “It

is immoral; it is wrong; and it must stop.”

The ERLC executive expressed gratitude for Southern Baptists’ Cooperative

Program, noting its support of the commission and pivotal role in his family’s

life.

“As an entity head, as a person who considers it the honor and privilege of a

lifetime to have been asked to serve Southern Baptists, I am the product of the

Cooperative Program,” Land said, noting he and his father both were led to the

Lord in a church plant funded by the Cooperative Program.

“I was nurtured in the faith in a Southern Baptist church funded by the

Cooperative Program,” Land continued.

Yet Land said America is radically different than it was in the 1950s, when he

came to faith in Christ.

“At the end of the 1960s, our country took a wrong turn. We began to emphasize

rights and privileges at the expense of obligations and responsibilities,” Land

said, noting that the nation adopted the mantra of his generation: “Pursue your

own course. You are your own god.”

The litany of “expressive individualism” has led the culture down “dangerous

and corrosive” roads, Land said.

Marriage and parenthood

Social and economic issues cannot be separated as some are urging, Land said.

As an example, Land said, “Marriage is good for children. Marriage is good for

parents and marriage is good for society.”

Single parenthood has a “grim impact” on the majority of children in these

families, while noting there are some single parents who are performing “heroically”

and producing “well-adjusted, productive children,” Land said. “Yet the single

greatest cause of poverty in America is fathers who don’t marry the mothers of

their children or who don’t stay married.”

A majority of children today are growing up in single-parent homes, Land

lamented, noting these children are often more likely to engage in risky

behaviors, have academic and emotional issues and find themselves single

parents.

“How did we ever delude ourselves into thinking that this kind of generational

child abuse, perpetuated by selfish adults on children, was all right?” Land

asked. The U.S. government is spending millions of dollars a year “to make up

for the damage done by fathers who have not lived up to their obligations and

their responsibilities,” Land said.

“We need the gospel, and the gospel needs to be made clear that Jesus is a

changeless Savior for an ever-changing world,” Land said. “We need a revival.

We need churches to get right with God.”

Christians need to get “serious” about the gospel, Land said, noting that in

several social indices, evangelicals perform no better than the society at

large.

Noting that mainline Protestants are now on the “sideline,” Land said the U.S.

has seen a resurgence of evangelicals, yet the nation is “worse off morally”

today, except in areas of racism and the “prejudices of sexism.” To a great

degree, the world has influenced the church more than the church has influenced

the world, he said.

Only when Christ-followers diligently “apply the truths of the gospel to the

evils of society” will the nation see the reformation it so desperately needs,

Land said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hastings is a vice president of the Ethics & Religious

Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.)