Liberal group continues to harass KC-area church
Don HinklePathway Editor
September 28, 2004
KANSAS CITY – There is a gadfly loose along the Missouri-Kansas border.
Jerry Johnston, pastor, First Family Church, a 3,000-member Southern Baptist congregation in Overland Park, Kan., is giving a liberal group a migraine because he dares to break silence when it comes to a Christian citizens’ responsibility to participate in politics.
In recent weeks Johnston has hosted meetings with area pastors to explain what they and their churches can – and cannot – say and do as the Nov. 2 elections near. The church is also distributing voter guides – much to the consternation of the Mainstream Coalition, a Kansas City-based liberal group with ties to the Democratic Party.
The Mainstream Coalition claims about 100 volunteers, self-appointed inspectors of Kansas City-area churches who drop-in to make sure congregations do not break Internal Revenue Service rules by endorsing candidates. They pass themselves off as non-partisan, but an examination of the group’s Web site shows links with the Democratic Party and numerous pro-homosexual organizations. Area pastors have criticized the Mainstream Coalition’s activities as harassment and at least one organization, the Christian Seniors Association, has called on U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate the group.
The Mainstream Coalition has been hounding Johnston for the past several weeks and their howling reached a crescendo when Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority and pastor of the 24,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Va., showed up at First Family Sept. 22 to begin a series of briefings across Kansas with Johnston, Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline and Kris Kobach, professor of constitutional law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Meanwhile, the Mainstream Coalition has intensified its vitriolic rhetoric against Johnston.
First it hissed about Johnston meeting with local clergy to stress the scriptural basis for Christian involvement in the political process. Then it bellowed about First Family’s voter guides (which addressed issues only and endorsed no candidates). I suspect what really motivated the coalition’s grumbling was that the guides disclosed which state legislators voted against a constitutional amendment in Kansas that would have banned homosexual marriage.
Then when Falwell arrived, the coalition went on the attack again.
“I expect it to be a kind of ‘Let me tell you what I know about how to get away with politics in the church,” Caroline McKnight, Mainstream’s president told The Johnson County Sun.
But Johnston said he invited Falwell to come and rally local church leaders to become national role models. He added that he would like to see local pastors make an impact on politics in four ways.
“First, we need to teach and preach the Word of God without trying to be politically correct and be given to double speak so characteristic of politicians who try to please everyone and stand for nothing,” he told The Sun.
Johnston said he also wants to keep people aware of the issues of importance to people of faith, to target the large population of evangelical Christians who don’t vote and eventually to minister to elected officials.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Johnston is attempting. This brother, who is being harassed, needs our prayers and support.
Sometimes a gadfly is just what the doctor ordered.