Christian Faith on the Rise
Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to discuss two crucial subjects: First, the major global story that is being overlooked or downplayed by the Western press; and, second, in light of the recent United States elections last November in which people of faith played a major role, what (therefore) do people of faith want for their country in the years ahead?
First, the big story. For the past century, the world has been experiencing the most profound revival of the Christian religion in all of history. This has taken place alongside two world wars and the rise and fall of Communism.
Here are the startling facts. At present, Christianity is by far the world's largest religion, encompassing one third of the world's population. Christianity has been, and still is growing at a much faster rate than the overall population.
In 2005, there are 2,135,783,000 Christians in the world. By 2025, global Christianity will explode to 2,640,000,000 adherents. Of these, 798,320,000 will be Pentecostals and Charismatics -- a group that could only count several hundred adherents at the beginning of the 20th century.
At present, there are an estimated 100 million Christians in Mainland China, and 28,000 Chinese are coming to faith in Jesus Christ every day. According to David Aikman, former Time Magazine bureau chief in Beijing, in 20 to 30 years the Chinese population will be 25 to 30 percent Christian, making that country, according to Aikman, the largest Christian nation on earth.
There was recently a tsunami wave in Southeast Asia, but a more profound Christian tidal wave is sweeping across the Southern Hemisphere and Asia.
In 1900, there were 10 million Christians in Africa, representing 10 percent of the population. Today there are 360 million Christians in Africa, representing just under half of the population. According to Penn State University distinguished professor Phillip Jenkins, author of a landmark book, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, the greatest movement of the past Century was not Communism or capitalism. "Do the math," he says, "and the winner is spirit-filled Christianity, known as Pentecostalism."
The growth of Christianity has taken place in the Southern Hemisphere and Asia, outside of the radar of most Western media. The new Christianity represents a return to the Bible -- to a faith in a supernatural Jesus who saves from sin, heals diseases, and overcomes the power of evil.
While the American media is fixated on priestly sex abuse and homosexual marriages, the real story is on simple faith and supernatural power literally exploding around the world.
Two hundred sixty million Christians live in North America, but 480 million live in South America, 360 million live in Africa, and 313 million live in Asia. By 2025, an estimated 640 million Christians will live in Asia, 633 million in Africa, 460 million in Latin America. Sixty seven percent of the world's expected 2.6 billion Christians will come from what demographers call the "Global South."
Now more Presbyterians worship in Ghana than in Scotland. More Anglicans worship in Nigeria than in Britain. These Christians from "the global south" cannot relate to the watered down religion of their fellow religionists in the Northern liberal churches. For example, in the worldwide Anglican Communion on the one hand, there is a growing movement to brand the American Episcopal Church apostate, and on the other hand American Episcopal churches and dioceses are placing themselves under biblically oriented Anglican prelates from Singapore, Rwanda, and Uganda.
The experience of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which I head, confirms the statistical findings of Professor Jenkins and the findings of the Status of Global Mission, 2005, published by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, and the findings of the Global Survey of World Missions, compiled by Professor David Barrett, editor of World Christian Encyclopedia.
My organization broadcasts in 200 countries using 26 different languages. Since 1990, our in-depth statistical surveys show that an incredible 369 million people worldwide have professed faith in Christ through our broadcasts. Of note are the 14 million handwritten letters that have been received in our office in Kiev from all over the former Soviet Union. There have been huge responses in Nigeria, Indonesia, the Philippines, Central, and South America.
Another interesting side note to the spiritual revival are the increasing number of Muslims in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Yemen, Egypt, and North Africa who report experiencing dreams in which Jesus Christ appears to them. CBN is planning to distribute a television documentary dramatizing these remarkable true life experiences. Our staff is discovering something else not reported in the Western press -- that throughout the Muslim world there is a profound spiritual hunger and a willingness to learn more about Jesus Christ.
Obviously, a wave of religious revival of the magnitude I have been describing has also washed ashore in the United States and, in the process, had a profound effect on our electoral politics. Exit surveys point to the key role people of faith played in last November's election. Post election, I (and others like me) are being asked: "What do you want for America?"
I would be presumptuous in the extreme to say I speak for all of the people of faith in the United States; however, as a former candidate for the Presidency, the founder of a major Christian grassroots political organization, and as a newscaster with 43 years experience reporting the attitudes of religious people, I believe I am qualified to offer a few suggestions.
(1) First and foremost, people of faith give assent to the truth of two verses from the Book of Proverbs:
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." (14:34)
"Where there is no vision of God, the people run amok." (29:18)
At the drafting of the United States Constitution, John Adams remarked, "We have not a government capable of restraining the animal passions of mankind, this Constitution was intended only for a moral and a religious people, it is totally inadequate for the government of any other."
The Gallup Organization recently released a study of the breadth and depth of religious commitment in the United States. This study, in development for ten years, showed that eight out of ten Americans (77 percent) think that the health of our nation depends on the spiritual health of the country.
What people of faith want above all else is an acknowledgement by government, by media, by educators, and especially the courts that the greatness of our nation depends on its spiritual strength. The vast majority of the American people do not want their collective wisdom to be derided, ridiculed, and ignored by a tiny elite who are working tirelessly to strip our nation of its spiritual heritage and its moral foundation.
To people of faith, their religion has deep significance. They do not want to be branded intellectually backward, intolerant, or violative of the separation of church and state when they applaud the words of George Washington spoken in his first inaugural address "It would be improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplication to the Almighty Being, who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of the nations;" or these words from John Kennedy who said, "The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."
(2) Secondly, people of faith are passionate for freedom. In 1988, when I was a candidate, I drew gasps from some elites when I declared, "The long range goal of the foreign policy of the United States should be the elimination of Communism throughout the world, especially the Soviet Union." We were opposed to Détente with the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and we are opposed in 2005 to a policy of silent acquiescence to tyrannical regimes, like Iran and North Korea, which brutalize their citizens and threaten the world with nuclear holocaust.
(3) Even as we opposed tyranny abroad, we also oppose tyranny at home. In my view, the greatest cause of domestic political discord is the usurpation of legislative and executive power by non-elected judges who are not content adjudicating cases between litigants, but attempt to determine from the bench matters given by the Constitution to the elected Congress and the President.
Thomas Jefferson warned of the danger of ceding Constitutional interpretation solely to the Supreme Court when he said, "(This is) a very dangerous doctrine indeed and one which will place us under the tyranny of an oligarchy." Regrettably, our current experience has proved the wisdom of Jefferson's warning.
The cynicism of the judges was reflected at the beginning of the Twentieth Century in the remarks by Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who told a crowd at a civic luncheon in Elmira, New York, "We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is whatever the judges say it is."
That arrogance was evident in 1948 when the Supreme Court, with no authority whatsoever, declared that its decisions were on a par with the Constitution, acts of Congress, and treaties as "the Supreme law of the land."
People of faith feel outraged and helpless as they watch unelected judges methodically crafting a Constitution unknown to the founders which permits the virtual extirpation from the public square of our time-honored affirmation of faith, then gives by judicial fiat federal constitutional protection (beyond the reach of any elected body) to abortion on demand, homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and blatant Internet pornography.
People of faith want the Congress to take back the power given it under the Constitution to limit where necessary the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and follow clear constitutional guidelines for the confirmation of federal judges. The Senate Republicans have the votes to force up or down votes for the confirmation of the president's judicial appointments. Majority vote, not the filibuster, is the American way. The defeat of the former minority leader of the Senate should send a clear message that obstructionism, especially when it concerns the confirmation of Judges, does not sit well with American voters.
(4) People of faith want a change in educational policy. I speak on this subject as the president of a university whose graduate school of education is granting masters and doctoral degrees to hundreds of public school teachers, principals, and hopefully school superintendents.
The work of my university notwithstanding, people of faith believe the public schools in many large cities are failing their children. They resent the influence of a powerful left-wing teachers union in education, they deplore the lack of standards, they are offended by the ongoing vendetta against religious values and traditions in many public schools, and they do not want their children to be used as guinea pigs in far out social experimentation in sexuality and so-called values classification.
People of faith support free enterprise and oppose monopoly. Since competition in business normally results in better service to consumers, we believe that competition and choice in education would bring our nation much better educational outcomes than it now enjoys.
(5) I am the Founder and Chairman of an international relief organization, Operation Blessing, dedicated to helping the world's poor. In the United States, in addition to disaster relief, medical missions, and help for poor school children, our Hunger Strike Force will deliver about 125 million pounds of food to the poor in the inner cities and Appalachia this year.
The overhead of Operation Blessing runs at ten percent or less. Overhead for many government welfare programs runs as high as seventy percent.
People of faith care deeply about helping the poor. Experience shows that the good done by faith-based organizations is beyond calculation because they are able to serve not only the physical needs of the poor, but their spiritual needs as well.
(6) Time does not permit a discussion of our strong support for tax reform and tort reform, but I do wish to emphasize one final agenda item. It is unlawful and sinful for trustees to steal from trust funds, and it is even more sinful for one generation to spend beyond its means and send the bill to its children and grandchildren.
We believe that in the conduct of our personal lives, we are obligated to live within our means while saving enough to provide for the future of our children. We deplore the unbelievable fiscal excesses of elected representatives of both major political parties and their seeming inability to make the simple adjustments necessary to bring the federal budget into balance.
Only Almighty God has the unlimited resources necessary to care for all people. When any government attempts to play the role of God in the lives of its citizens, it will ultimately bankrupt itself.
People of faith applaud the efforts of the President to foster in our nation free enterprise, individual initiative, and an ownership society free from the intrusion and whims of big government.
In closing, I want to say that people of faith thank Almighty God for the privilege of living in this great nation and are proud to contribute their part to building a successful and prosperous future for all Americans.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.