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Lockdown Lessons

A year has passed since the first declaration of lockdowns in the U.S. and around the globe – an action that nearly shut down the entire world economy. In some ways it seems like it started just a short time ago. But in many ways, it seems like it has gone on forever. As in all things, we must ask ourselves what we learned from this situation. What lessons will we remember; what warnings will we be on the lookout for in the future; and what items will we add to our “never again” list? We need to be prepared not just in “the years to come,” but over the course of the next few months. In particular, what are the key lessons learned for Pastors and faith leaders? How do Pastors need to lead in light of what we have experienced over the last 12 months?

When the lockdowns were first announced, right at the top of the list of leaders who had their mettle tested were…Pastors. Why? First, because they are trusted local leaders in their community. And in times of crisis and disruption, people look to leaders that are closest to them. Those who can immediately make a difference in their lives because they know them personally in comparison to an elected official they have never met in a distant capitol building.

Secondly, government leaders decided – in their flawed wisdom – that church gatherings were not “essential” to society. You heard that right. The first liberty that is enshrined in our Bill of Rights (and some have argued persuasively that it is the liberty that serves as a guarantor for all other liberties) states that Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. By making these unconstitutional decrees, government officials in cities, states and at the federal level have started to chip away at the foundation of American society. There is no doubt about it, PASTORS are THE frontline defense against such oppression.

In order to comply with government’s coercive commands, officials declared places of faith must follow “science” to be safe. “Believe in Science,” “Trust the Scientists,” “Be Led by the Science.” These are all mantras that we hear over and over again. But remember this – scientists do not always agree with one another. There are always competing scientific views and what often happens is the “science” that is promulgated is often impacted by strongly held ideological or political belief. Whenever you are trying to discern an issue, whether on a personal, social, or political level remember this axiom of life: “The mind justifies what the heart has chosen.”

Power is an intoxicating elixir. What we saw in many cases across the nation were political leaders exerting power in unprecedented ways. The nature of power and politicians is “if you give them an inch, they will take a mile.” The real problem is that once you acquiesce to the power-grabs of governing officials they are very reluctant to give up that control. Coupled with their mindset that you never let a serious crisis go to waste, you have a real powder keg on your hands. It gives them an opportunity to do things they would never think possible under normal conditions.

Early on, we were told a singular mask would be the solution to the pandemic – then it became two. For most of 2020, we were told that it was crucial that everyone keep six feet of distance between them and others – yet some medical journals emphatically state that merely three feet is as effective. And above all levels of hypocrisy, some politicians were silent when protests and violence ravaged communities, but were quick to act in shutting down places of worship…all in the name of “safety,” just to name a few.

So let us be clear what happened here: “science” was only truth when it was convenient or fit a specific narrative. The playbook has been made clear, and it’s up to us to stop it.

Thankfully, we can point to a number of instances of exemplary leadership by Pastors who answered the bell when faced with the coercive commands of government officials. Pastors who have showed us how to keep our Churches open and flourishing, even in the midst of a national public health crisis. Here are a few that stand out:

Pastor Charles Clark of Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin, New Jersey

Pastor Charles Clark took a courageous stand when the governor of his state decreed through executive order that Churches were non-essential. The stay-at-home directive prohibited them from meeting in-person in their normal manner. Pastor Clark stated, “We are not breaking the law by going to Church.” He followed up by explaining they would keep the doors of the Church open and would take all health and safety precautions above and beyond that which businesses and organizations were doing that were deemed essential and were allowed to remain open, including social distancing, deep cleaning, and temperature checks at the door.

Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California

When Pastor John MacArthur was faced with menacing mandates from his state’s governor and county officials, he wrote a thorough theological case on why it was the Church’s duty to remain open, appealing directly to the Bible itself. The Church and the county filed dueling lawsuits and, in the end, MacArthur won the legal fight to hold indoor services.

Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in the city of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada

Pastor James Coates was recently jailed when he refused to adhere to the onerous orders issued by Alberta’s chief medical officer of health on how they were to conduct Church services. Pastor Coates is still in jail and his case goes to trial this coming May 3, 2021.

In addition to the Pastors above who have faced heavy oppression and jail time for leading their flocks in a time of crisis, we also want to highlight examples of the many Pastors throughout America who, while not harassed, continued to preach and conduct Church services. Day by day they led their congregations through massive disruption and uncertainty. These men have proven themselves to be earnest Pastors. Biblical, balanced men who love their Church members and communities. Here are a few that stand out:

Pastor Billy Ingram of Canaan Baptist Church in Covington, Georgia

Pastor Ingram has led Canaan Baptist Church since 2014. Under his leadership they engage in strategic and systematic ministry to the counties surrounding the Atlanta area.

Pastor Josiah Kagin of Grace Baptist Church in Kettering, Ohio

Pastor Kagin was called to be the senior pastor in October of 2015 after serving for seven years as assistant pastor. He is passionate about leading lost hearts to Jesus and discipling new believers.

Pastor Tim Cruse of Shining Light Baptist Church in Monroe, North Carolina

Pastor Cruse has led Shining Light Baptist since 1990. He has expanded their outreach and discipleship efforts including a children’s home, an academy (K-12), and radio ministry.

So, what should we be doing as Pastors, faith leaders, and citizens? The events of the last 12 months are proof that we need to take a stand and make our voices heard in the public square. We must continue to devote a portion of our time to engage politically as agents of salt and light. We must protect our rights on a local, state, and national level. And we must implore those we love and lead to join with us and do the same.

American Freedom and H.R.1

Faith Wins has spoken out about the real impact pastors and faith leaders can make when they engage this culture. Far too many pastors declare that “we just don’t get involved in politics…” and I always ask them, “how can we be salt and light in our world if we do not get involved in every aspect of our nation and culture??”

While Faith Wins nor any other 501 C3 ministry endorses candidates or parties, we are eager to educate and activate pastors to engage their congregations on issues that affect our faith, our churches and our religious liberties. The current bill, HR 1, would have a massive impact on American freedoms if it passes the current US Senate and is signed by President Joe Biden.

The very cornerstone of our form of government is at stake with HR 1. I cannot sum up the issue any better than our friends at The Heritage Foundation have done already. Please read this summary to learn just how threatening to American liberties this piece of legislation really is.

The Issue From The Heritage Foundation

H.R. 1 would federalize and micromanage the election process administered by the states, imposing unnecessary, unwise, and unconstitutional mandates on the states and reversing the decentralization of the American election process—which is essential to the protection of our liberty and freedom. It would implement nationwide the worst changes in election rules that occurred during the 2020 election and go even further in eroding and eliminating basic security protocols that states have in place. The bill would interfere with the ability of states and their citizens to determine the qualifications and eligibility of voters, to ensure the accuracy of voter registration rolls, to secure the fairness and integrity of elections, to participate and speak freely in the political process, and to determine the district boundary lines for electing their representatives.

What H.R. 1 Would Do: 

  • Seize the authority of states to regulate voter registration and the voting process by forcing states to implement early voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, online voter registration, and no-fault absentee balloting.
  • Make it easier to commit fraud and promote chaos at the polls through same-day registration, as election officials would have no time to verify the accuracy of voter registration information and the eligibility of an individual to vote and could not anticipate the number of ballots and precinct workers that would be needed at specific polling locations.
  • Hurt voter turnout through 15 days of mandated early voting by diffusing the intensity of get-out-the-vote efforts; it would raise the cost of campaigns. Voters who vote early don’t have the same information as those who vote on Election Day, missing late-breaking developments that could affect their choices.
  • Degrade the accuracy of registration lists by requiring states to automatically register all individuals (as opposed to “citizens”) from state and federal databases, such as state Departments of Motor Vehicles, corrections and welfare offices, and federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Labor, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Department of Health and Human Services. This would register large numbers of ineligible voters, including aliens, and cause multiple or duplicate registrations of the same individuals and put federal agencies in charge of determining a person’s domicile for voting purposes (as well as that individual’s taxing state).
  • Constitute a recipe for massive voter registration fraud by hackers and cyber criminals through online voter registration that is not tied to an existing state record, such as a driver’s license. It would make it a criminal offense for a state official to reject a voter registration application even when it is rejected “under color of law” because the official believes the individual is ineligible to vote. It would also require states to allow 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to register; when combined with a ban on voter ID and restrictions on the ability to challenge the eligibility of a voter, this would effectively ensure that underage individuals could vote with impunity.
  • Require states to count ballots cast by voters outside of their assigned precincts, overriding the precinct system used by almost all states that allows election officials to monitor votes, staff polling places, provide enough ballots, and prevent election fraud.
  • Mandate no-fault absentee ballots, which are the tool of choice for vote thieves. It would ban witness signature or notarization requirements for absentee ballots; force states to accept absentee ballots received up to 10 days after Election Day as long as they are postmarked by Election Day; and require states to allow vote trafficking (vote harvesting) so that any third parties—including campaign staffers and political consultants—can pick up and deliver absentee ballots.
  • Prevent election officials from checking the eligibility and qualifications of voters and removing ineligible voters. This includes restrictions on using the U.S. Postal Service’s national change-of-address system to verify the address of registered voters; participating in state programs that compare voter registration lists to detect individuals registered in multiple states; or ever removing registrants due to a failure to vote no matter how much time has elapsed. It also would substantially limit the public release of voter registration information, making it almost impossible for nonpartisan organizations to verify the accuracy of registration rolls, and prohibit states from using undeliverable election mail as a basis for challenging a registrant’s eligibility.
  • Ban state voter ID laws by forcing states to allow individuals to vote without an ID and merely signing a statement in which they claim they are who they say they are.
  • Violate the First Amendment with respect to a vast range of legal activity. Voter intimidation or coercion that prevents someone from registering or voting is already a federal crime under the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. But H.R. 1 would add a provision criminalizing “hindering, interfering, or preventing” anyone from registering or voting, which is so vague and so broad that it could prevent providing any information to election officials about the ineligibility of an individual, such as an applicant not being a U.S. citizen.
  • Expand regulation and government censorship of campaigns and political activity and speech, including online and policy-related speechH.R. 1 would impose onerous legal and administrative compliance burdens and costs on candidates, citizens, civic groups, unions, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Many of these provisions violate the First Amendment, protect incumbents, and reduce the accountability of politicians to the public; its onerous disclosure requirements for nonprofit organizations would subject their members and donors to intimidation and harassment—the modern equivalent of the type of disclosure requirements the U.S. Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama (1958) held violated associational rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Reduce the number of Federal Election Commission members from six to five, allowing the political party with three commission seats to control the commission and engage in partisan enforcement activities.
  • Prohibit state election officials from participating in federal elections and impose numerous other “ethics” rules that are unconstitutional or unfairly restrict political activity, eliminating the ability of the residents of specific states to make their own decisions about what rules should govern their state government officials.
  • Require states to restore the ability of felons to vote the moment they are out of prison regardless of uncompleted parole, probation, or restitution requirements. Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment gives states the constitutional authority to decide when felons who committed crimes against their fellow citizens may vote again. Congress cannot override a constitutional amendment with a statute.
  • Transfer the right to draw congressional districts from state legislatures to “independent” commissions whose members are unaccountable to voters. H.R. 1 would make it a violation of federal law to engage in “partisan” redistricting and mandate the inclusion of alien population, both legal and illegal, in all redistricting. This is an anti-democratic, unconstitutional measure that would take away the ability of the citizens of a state to make their own decisions about redistricting.
  • Authorize the Internal Revenue Service to engage in partisan activity. H.R. 1 would permit the IRS to investigate and consider the political and policy positions of nonprofit organizations before granting tax-exempt status, thus enabling IRS officials to target organizations engaging in First Amendment activity with disfavored views.
  • Limit access to federal courts for anyone challenging H.R. 1. The bill would prohibit the filing of any lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of H.R. 1 anywhere except in the District Court for the District of Columbia and would allow the court to order all plaintiffs and intervenors, regardless of their number (such as all 50 states), “to file joint papers or to be represented by a single attorney at oral argument,” severely limiting the legal representation and due process rights of challengers.
  • Establish a “Commission to Protect Democratic Institutions” that would threaten the independence of the judiciary. H.R. 1 defines “democratic institutions” as those that are “essential to ensuring an independent judiciary, free and fair elections and the rule of law.” The commission would be given the authority to compel judges to testify and justify their legal decisions, threatening their independent judgment and subjecting them to political pressure and harassment.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about this threat to our national freedom. We’ve even included a sample letter that you can adapt to your US Congressman or US Senator. I’d also tell you that right now, it appears that West Virginia’s Joe Manchin (D) and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (D) hold the key to stopping HR 1 from becoming law. You should definitely contact your federal representatives and senators, but absolutely Senators Sinema and Manchin need to hear from you too. Please pass this information along to any friends you have in Arizona and West Virginia so that we know they are hearing from their voters on this crucial issue!

Voter Reorganization Resources

Time To Get Organized!

Elections and officials come and go, some elections go the way we’d prefer and others don’t, but issues remain no matter who is in office at any level. We as Believers should be involved at our local, state and national levels when it comes to making sure that candidates and elected officials support and vote for issues that most closely align with our Biblical worldview. When we engage the culture, FAITH does win, when we don’t, we get to live with the consequences of bad laws.

One of the first ways that we should be involved is with our local and state party organization. Very few people even understand the impact of being involved with the local party groups and likely aren’t even aware that most state parties “reorganize” at the precinct and county levels every couple of years. Watch this video to learn more about how precinct reorganization works – find your state party contact information below: 

STATE State Republican Party State Democratic Party
Alabama205-212-5900334-262-2221
Alaska907-868-1093907-258-3050
Arizona602-957-7770602-298-4200
Arkansas501-372-7301501-374-2361
California916-448-9496916-442-5707
Colorado303-758-3333303-623-4762
Connecticut860-426-1920860-560-1775
Delaware302-668-1954302-328-9036
Florida850-222-7920850-222-3411
Georgia404-257-5559470-788-8922
Hawaii808-593-8180808-596-2980
Idaho208-343-6405208-336-1815
Illinois312-201-9000217-546-7404
Indiana317-635-7561317-231-7100
Iowa515-282-8105515-244-7292
Kansas785-234-3456785-234-0425
Kentucky502-875-5130502-695-4828
Louisiana225-389-4495225-336-4155
Maine207-622-6247207-622-6233
Maryland443-906-3534410-269-8818
Massachusetts617-523-5005617-939-0800
Michigan517-487-5413517-371-5410
Minnesota651- 222-0022651-293-1200
Mississippi601-948-5191601-969-2913
Missouri636-600-0258573-777-1364
Montana406-442-6469406-442-9520
Nebraska402-475-2122402-434-2180
Nevada702-586-2000702-737-8683
New Hampshire603-225-9341603-225-6899
New Jersey609-989-7300609-392-3367
New Mexico505-298-3662505-830-3650
New York518-462-2601212-687-6540
North Carolina919-828-6423919-821-2777
North Dakota701-255-0030701-255-0460
Ohio614-228-2481614-221-6563
Oklahoma405-528-3501405-427-3366
Oregon503-595-8881503-224-8200
Pennsylvania717- 234-4901717-920-8470
Rhode Island401-732-8282401-272-3367
South Carolina803-988-8440803-799-7798
South Dakota605-610-1479605-271-5405
Tennessee615-269-4260615-327-9779
Texas512-477-9821512-478-9800
Utah801-533-9777801-328-1212
Vermont802-223-3411802-229-1783
Virginia804-780-0111804-644-1966
Washington425-460-0570206-583-0664
West Virginia304-768-0493304-342-8121
Wisconsin608-257-4765608-255-5172
Wyoming307-234-9166307-514-3551

Faith Wins Five State Tour​

Faith Wins Five State Tour

With the countdown to the 2020 election on the horizon, Faith Wins has been on a whirlwind tour across five states this week.

”Our team has been laser focused on meeting with pastors and getting them engaged in voter registration,” said Chad Connelly, Founder and President of Faith Wins. “We have seen more than 95% of the pastors we’ve met commit to voter registration in their churches. That is phenomenal.”

Connelly and Evangelist Byron Foxx held face-to—face meetings with more than 150 pastors in six cities:

  • Norfolk, VA
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Canton, OH
  • Dayton, OH
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Asheville, NC
Evangelist Byron Foxx, Gov. Mike Huckabee and Faith Wins Founder & President Chad Connelly on the set of The Huckabee Show

The team capped the week with a Friday evening taping of The Huckabee Show in Nashville, TN with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. That show will first air Saturday, August 15th at 8pm ET on TBN.

”It was an honor to be on the set with my good friend Mike Huckabee,” Connelly added. “His voice has a resounding impact in outreach to the evangelical community. What a way to end a tremendous week.”

New Tools for Pastors and Churches to Engage in Voter Registration​

New Tools for Pastors and Churches to Engage in Voter Registration

This week, Faith Wins launched two major tools in its voter registration effort:

Pastors Tool Kit – an online resource portal for pastors to use to engage their congregations in voter registration.

MyVoice 2020 – a direct-to-potential-voter tool to, during the COVID-19 pandemic, make it easier for churches to invite individuals to register to vote. Text “MyVoice” to 76076 to access this resource from your mobile device.

”We want to make it easier for pastors and church leaders to host voter registration — whether their churches are meeting in person or virtually right now,” said Chad Connelly, Founder and President of Faith Wins. “Both of these tools give pastors what they need to make voter registration possible.”

U.S. Senator Tim Scott’s National Faith Leaders Briefing

This week’s National Faith Leaders Briefing included a great conversation between Faith Wins Founder and President Chad Connelly and his good friend U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) joining live from Washington, D.C.

 

Highlights from the conversation bring pastors and faith leaders important information, insights and inspiration not only on COVID-19 impacts and the importance of reopening our economy, but the story of Senator Scott’s faith journey.

Religious Liberty

Liability Protection
for Churches

COVID-19 Response

Senator Scott's
Faith Story

Nine attendees on the Zoom call received a copy of Senator Scott’s new book Opportunity Knocks: How Hard Work, Community, and Business Can Improve Lives and End Poverty.

National Faith Briefing with U.S. Sen Tim Scott

Today, it is more important than ever that faith leaders be up-to-date on national level policies that can impact ministry, and who better to bring that kind of perspective than U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC).
 
This Wednesday, join Faith Wins Founder and President Chad Connelly as he, Bob Jones University President Dr. Steve Pettit, and Evangelist Byron Foxx host an important National Faith Briefing Zoom meeting with Sen. Scott.
 
Special guests include Kevan Bartlett, Mike Creed, Johnny Pope, Tim Rabon and John Wilkerson.
 
Nine attendees will receive a copy of Senator Scott’s new book Opportunity Knocks: How Hard Work, Community, and Business Can Improve Lives and End Poverty. During this call, Sen. Scott will join from Washington, DC to offer his insights on what’s happening right now on a number of issues that are vitally important to our faith outreach work.

This is a MUST JOIN call that you will not want to miss. Make sure to sign up below.

If you missed our last National Faith Leaders call, check out this important message to pastors and faith leaders from former White House Chief of Staff and Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus.