The Ellis County Tea Party hosted the Power from the Pulpit event Tuesday morning at the Waxahachie Civic Center. The purpose of the event was to give Attorney Gary Bennett, Pastor Dan Cummins and Dr. Craig Mitchell an opportunity to address pastors, ministers and other concerned Americans about the rights clergy members have in the pulpit today.

Bennett was the first speaker to take to the podium. His topic covered the church versus state, and the controversy that surrounds “the separation of church and state.”

“I'm here today to address the so-called doctrine of 'separation of church and state that has somehow found it's way into our churches,'” Bennett said. “Those words appear nowhere in the Constitution, and yet they have been used frequently and carelessly.”

During his presentation, Bennett posed a question to the audience, “How did this phrase become a part of our every day conversation, and what does that mean for the church today?”

He informed them of the history of the statement and how it has no place in the church. He said back in 1801the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Conn., sent a letter to the newly elected President Thomas Jefferson. The members were expressing concern over the lack in their state constitution of explicit protection of religious liberty, and against a government establishment of religion. In their letter to the president they affirmed that "our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty, and that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals. No man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, and that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor.”

Bennett said according to the document, the group was concerned that a religious majority might "reproach their chief magistrate, because he will not, dare not assume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make laws to govern the kingdom of Christ," thus establishing a state religion at the cost of the liberties of religious minorities.

Bennett said that Jefferson responded with this statement, dated January 1, 1802, concurs with the Danbury Baptists' views on religious liberty, and the accompanying separation of civil government from concerns of religious doctrine and practice. Jefferson wrote, "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and state."

Bennett said this doctrine, known as the "wall of separation" or "strict separationism," would later become highly influential in 20th century Supreme Court understandings of the relationship between church and state.

He said everything in society is influenced by perception, and it relates to this topic, the government has used this doctrine to scare pastors into keeping their mouths shut.

“Many pastors are under the impression that they can't address societal issues in the pulpit, because their exemption status will be in jeopardy,” Bennett said. “At no time are you prohibited from speaking out against issues. That fear has had a chilling affect on the church today. I haven't found one instance where a church has lost their exemption status for speaking out against issues.”

Bennett said it all started with taking prayer out of schools, and it's time for God's people to stand up once again and fight for what's right.

“Taking prayer out of public school is a travesty, and churches have not taken the necessary action to stand against such things,” he said. “The churches are the first line of defense. Why are we still silent? I encourage all of you to start turning this thing around and take a stand. If you believe in what you preach don't you think God will be there with you?”

After concluding his presentation, it was time for Pastor Dan Cummins to address the audience. Cummins said in the midst of all the evil and things that have taken place in America to pull people away from God, he was there to ensure one thing, “God ain't through with America yet.”

“My wife and I are excited about what God is doing,” Cummins said. “I'm happy to say that God ain't through with America yet.”

He said after pastoring a church for several years, the Lord began to burden him concerning the direction the country was taking. He said in times past, it was America's clergy that led the way and lit the ground for the colonies.

“The clergy were the ones who first held democracy's plow,” he said. “They understood the balance of church and state, not the separation thereof.”

Cummins said it's time for all pastors to come to America's aid.

“The church is in a state of separation, because the preachers have taken their hands off of democracy's plow. If the church is degenerate and worldly the pulpit is responsible.”

He said in a country that has at least 300,000 churches, there should be more than 650 pastors willing to take a stand.

“It's time for pastors to stand up and say that we will not be silent,” Cummins said. “What is America's hope? That her pastors wake up and that a Holy Ghost revival will sweep over this nation, because God ain't through with America yet.”

When it was Dr. Craig Mitchell's turn to take to the podium, he said the issue is that people aren't grasping a hold to the message of the Bible. He said the preaching the gospel is the only thing that's going to change lives.

“If we want to change our culture, we must do it through evangelism and the gospel,” Mitchell said.

At the conclusion of the event, members of the Ellis County Tea Party informed attendees that this is something they are planning to host on an annual basis.

About the Ellis County Tea Party

The Ellis County Tea Party is a group of citizens that aim to be peaceful and law-abiding. They work within the boundaries of the law under their constitutional rights in an effort to reign in what they feel is an out-of-control government. They welcome all persons who agree with their principles, but will not tolerate any unlawful, hurtful or violent activities. They are outraged by the out-of-control spending and intrusions by all levels of government, and therefore are dedicated to organizing like-minded citizens to return to the vision of the founding fathers.

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