by Jordan West
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMNews) – Truett-McConnell College was ecstatic to welcome Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes as he shared the importance of taking a stand for religious liberty during the schools weekly chapel service, Thursday, January 22.
“Folks are talking about you all across our great Southern Baptist Convention,” Starnes said as he opened the service. “It is so exciting to see what God is doing here in this place, raising up a huge generation of young Christian Baptist college students. I’m excited about what God is doing here in the mountains of North Georgia.”
After some lighthearted comments concerning Starnes, a true southerner, and his first few weeks in New York City, he shared about his work with Fox News: “I tell people stories about faith; I tell our stories. I want the world to know what Christians are really all about. I tell those stories to the nation.”
“God is doing amazing things,” Starnes said. “The body of Christ is truly changing our nation.”
Starnes then shared a concern and advised listeners to heed his words: “Today I stand before you to sound a warning. Because brothers and sisters, I truly believe there is a war on religious liberty in the United States of America. The war is targeting people of the Christian faith.”
He reminded the audience of recent fights that Christians have faced based on their biblical views, demonstrating just how necessary it is for Christians to take a stand. He mentioned Phil Robertson, the family patriarch on Duck Dynasty who has recently come under attack for voicing his views on traditional marriage.
Starnes also shared that Christians in the military are facing struggles because of their faith. He was emailed by a soldier who was serving in Afghanistan. He told Starnes that the Christian flag and cross-adorned stained glass were being taken down in fear of the religious themes offending others. Despite the persecution that is becoming all too frequent, Starnes reminded students of the most valuable hope in saying, “We serve a risen Savior.”
Starnes then voiced the heart of the problem, stating that many churches have become spiritually irrelevant in their search to become culturally relevant. “If we don’t stand for religious liberty, no one else will. The question is what are we going to do about this?” he asked those in attendance.
Despite the disheartening stories of persecution of religious liberty, Starnes ended his message by giving Truett-McConnell students advice on how to take a stand for their Christian beliefs. Starnes stated the solution to the problem is, “young men and women who are unashamed of the Gospel’s message.” He then told the story of Roy Costner IV, a high school senior from Liberty, S.C. He was honored as the valedictorian of his high school class but was forced to turn over his speech where the school edited and removed every reference to Jesus he wrote. When Costner stood up to the platform to speak, he ripped up the speech and instead recited the Lord’s Prayer. Starnes cited Costner as an example of what it means to fight for religious freedom.
Starnes expressed his concern for Christians coming together as one due to different political views. Politics should never get in the way of Christian unity he said while emphasizing that “we don’t bow down to the Democratic donkey and we don’t bow down to the Republican elephant. We bow down to the lion of Judah, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.”
“Things may appear to be hopeless, but hope is not lost!” Starnes exclaimed. “True hope and change cannot be found in the halls of Congress. True hope is not found at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. True hope and change can only be found at the cross of Calvary and in a life changed by the blood of Jesus Christ.”
In closing, Starnes shared a verse he references for encouragement in the Christian fight for religious liberty. Habakkuk 3:19 says, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Starnes cited God’s promises to Christians in this verse and said: “It’s real easy to get tangled up in the mess that is politics and the mess of this culture, but if we set our eyes on Jesus, He promises to make our feet like the feet of a deer. He’ll pick us up and He’ll take us up to the high place.”
Starnes was intentional with his final statement and left the crowd inspired. “Rise up, oh men of God. Rise up, oh women of God. Let the cry go out from the North Georgia Mountains to the concrete canyons of New York City that these United States are still, and may they always be, one nation under God.”
Jordan West in a junior english major and freelance writer for TMC.
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