Background: Immediately following the U. S. Supreme Court’s decisions on homosexual marriage in June 2013, David Barton was a guest on a popular national radio program. He pointed out that by the striking down of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and thus the federal definition of what constitutes a marriage, there would be three immediate repercussions. The first would be in the military, for even when there still was a definition of marriage, chaplains were being pressured to violate their own religious conscience and perform homosexual marriages; that would only increase with the removal of DOMA. The second would be in the State Department, for even when the definition of marriage was still in place, it was pressuring foreign nations to accept homosexual marriage in order to receive U. S. foreign aid; that would only increase following the Court’s decision. The third would be in those states that had already legalized homosexual marriage. Already in those state, citizens who because of their religious beliefs had refused to participate in activities associated with homosexual marriages (e.g., photograph the wedding, provide the cake or flowers, make available a religious wedding chapel, etc.) were already being legally persecuted by those states, including the revoking of their tax-exempt statuses. The radio host then asked David when pastors were going to stand up and walk away from their government-granted tax exemptions and simply stand for Biblical truth. In the course of explaining that many pastors were doing that, but most were not, David mentioned that some pastors were simply on church welfare. A few pastors took objection to that phrase, so David wrote the piece below to clarify his use of that term.
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It was brought to my attention that there were some issues with statements I recently made on a national radio program. I regret any misunderstanding that may have occurred over my reference to “welfare” as associated with pastors. There are multiple meanings of the word, and some may have assumed it to be used in the context of laziness, which certainly was not my intent. Others may have made other assumptions unrelated to the way that I was using the word “welfare.” While the Godly pastors that I know are incredibly hard working in a very difficult job, I used the term “church welfare” to refer to an entirely different phenomenon: those pastors who neither believe in nor stand up for Biblical principles but nevertheless receive a check for not fulfilling their Biblical responsibilities as a pastor.
I meant it in the historic European sense of the term – such as with Anglican pastors in England who received their salary and would not jeopardize it by making anyone uncomfortable by teaching what the Bible said; the same with many of the Scandinavian nations, not to mention (as confirmed by Martin Niemoller and Dietrich Bonheoffer) even Nazi Germany. These pastors received their checks but did not hold forth Biblical teachings and did nothing to challenge or help move people or the culture in a Biblical direction.
Sadly, from a statistical standpoint, almost 90 percent of current American pastors do NOT believe that the Bible is God’s infallible Word, or that it applies to every aspect of life, or even that Jesus is Divine (see documentation below). We now have entire denominations of millions that endorse homosexual marriage, oppose Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, don’t oppose and in fact even support abortion, assert that God’s Word is not inspired, teach that one’s own effort can get him to heaven, etc. In fact, national polling affirms that in more than seventy categories, pollsters now find no statistical difference in the moral behavior of professed Christians and that of non-believers. Indisputably, much of this can be attributed to the teachings that Christians receive – or rather, don’t receive – at church. Nevertheless, these pastors receive a salary for teaching millions of people the exact opposite of what God’s Word says in so many areas – or in their efforts to not offend anyone, they water it down until it is no longer a clear and unequivocal message.
My objection therefore occurs when the concern for one’s salary alters the clarity or strength of message, or when someone takes a salary but does not hold forth even the most basic tenets of the Bible (which is the indisputable statistical condition of most of the Christian church in America today). However, I definitely do not include the ten percent of Biblical churches and pastors in the category of “church welfare.”
Finally, let me point out that I know the scope and demographics of the audience that listens to the program on which I appeared and who heard my interview; I appear on that program and network regularly. That audience knows my full body of work – how highly supportive of Biblical pastors that I have consistently been, and how that for nearly two decades, including some five years on that specific program, I have championed not only the role but also the important position of Biblical pastors, and they therefore understood my intent.
I hope that this clears up any confusion, but please be aware that currently, ministers who believe in and teach the full Bible are in the extreme minority right now in America. We need pastors to get back to the Acts 4:19-20 model of boldly proclaiming the truth of God’s Word without fear of man, their congregation, or their paycheck.
Again, my apologies for any misunderstanding with my use of the phrase “church welfare.” May God continue to prosper you and your endeavors for Him!
P. S. Please check out the pledge we encourage pastors to sign on our Black Robe Regiment website (brr.wallbuilders.com), where we also provide tools to help pastors take a bold and informed stand for Biblical principles as related to every facet of culture.
P. S. S. By the way, if anyone wonders about the statement above that “almost 90 percent of current American pastors do NOT believe . . .”, here is some information on the documentation for that statistic.
Consider information from the Center for the Study of American Culture and Faith.  This organization identifies churches that are considered to be a “culturally-impacting church” – that is, churches that:
Significantly, each day the Center individually contacts some 500 of America’s more than 350,000 churches to identify those which hold these seven beliefs. Of the tens of thousands of churches they have thus far contacted, only about ten percent embrace these positions. Having currently identified over 6,000 of these Biblically-conservative churches, noted national pollster George Barna conducts surveys solely among this group. Consider recent findings:
Believe the Bible is God’s holy infallible Word
Preach and teach the Bible
Believe life is sacred
Believe marriage is only between one man and one woman
Encourage the congregation to vote Biblical values
Believe that prayer is key
Believe that the church is responsible to be actively engaged in helping the community
97% of theologically conservative pastors believe that the Bible provides principles that relate to the morality of abortion
95% say the Scriptures offer moral principles related to same-sex marriage
92% argue that the Bible describes principles regarding the morality of environmental care
71% say that there are moral principles related to immigration policy in God’s Word 
In 2012 – an ideologically-charged election year in which the four issues in question were in the forefront of political discussions – none of those four issues was preached on by even half of the theologically-conservative pastors. 
So even though these pastors strongly believed that the Bible speaks to these issues, they themselves refused to publicly speak about those issues. In fact:
The survey found that, of the four issues, abortion was most often the subject of a sermon in a theologically-conservative church in 2012. Overall, 42% of the surveyed pastors preached about abortion, which was higher than the numbers who preached about same-sex marriage (36%), environmental care (21%), or immigration issues (10%). In 2013, even fewer pastors plan to preach on these four issues. While 42% of those pastors preached on abortion in 2012, pastors’ responses suggest that the figure is likely to drop to 34% in 2013. Same-sex marriage was taught about from 36% of these pulpits in 2012, but will likely drop to 26% in 2013. The frequency of preaching about environmental care is expected to drop almost by half (from 21% to 12%). Only immigration is anticipated to hold steady (10% in 2012, 10% planned in 2013). 
So, only around ten percent of America’s churches believe that the Bible is true and provides guidance on such issues, but only about one-third of that ten percent – or only about 3-4 percent of total churches nationally – will speak publicly about these issues. The CEO of the Center conducting the polling accurately observed, “Without such guidance [from pastors], the mass media takes the lead on providing the worldview that shapes cultural choices, producing lowest common denominator lifestyles and spineless leadership.”