(Photo: Westside Christian Fellowship)
Pastor Shane Idleman is all too aware of the moral decline he sees in the United States and he's speaking out about it. But what irritates him is the cowardice he finds in many churches when it comes to tackling "hot button" issues.
"I'm sick and tired of the passive, lukewarm, coward church doing nothing and saying nothing because it offends people. Yeah, it's a hot button, absolutely. But if the truth doesn't come from here (church), where does it come from?" he posed during his Sunday sermon at Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, Calif.
Idleman wasn't afraid to be blunt as he joined hundreds of other pastors throughout the country in preaching on politics just ahead of the November presidential election as part of Pulpit Freedom Sunday.
"If I were to be honest, there's cowards in our pulpits in our nation," he stated. "I'm going to come up here and preach about being nice to your neighbor ... as limbs are being pulled from uteruses? Vacuumed out because you don't want it (the baby)? Let's support that, let's fund that. It's ridiculous!"
During his hour-long sermon, Idleman didn't specifically speak about the presidential candidates – President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney – and their positions, other than to say that one calls himself a Christian when he's "clearly not" and the other is not a Christian "because he's in a cult." Obama is a self-professed Christian while Romney is a Mormon.
But he clearly spoke to his concerns about wicked leadership and the murder of millions of babies in the womb since 1973.
The California pastor blasted recent legislation, including the measure banning sexual orientation change efforts for minors in California – which was signed into law last month. He also denounced the New York City Department of Education's decision to make the morning after pill – which many Christians view as an abortifacient – available to high school girls at 13 public schools.
"God help us," he said, lamenting the moral direction of America.
"The minute that somebody tells me that leadership does not matter, that legislation does not matter, they better wake up folks. They are legislating everything that goes against God's standard."
The nation, he said, is on a collision course to disaster as good is being called evil and evil, good. "We have forsaken God in many ways," Idleman stated.
The father of three became emotional when he addressed abortion.
"God's Word has some serious warnings about shedding innocent blood," he said. "The culture says 'I don't care.' The problem is, you're confusing God's patience with His approval.
"Our sin has consequences and these things do affect people."
Idleman made it clear that he wasn't getting political but rather speaking to what Scripture says as it pertains to national life.
"Politics is not the focus. The cross of Christ is the focus but that permeates all areas of life," he underscored. "So we can't avoid these things that are 'too controversial.'"
The Westside pastor also had a word of rebuke to churches that avoid tough issues as he pointed out how the church was once the conscience of the nation.
"We need to stop being so seeker sensitive and politically correct and 'I just want to be a motivational speaker up here,'" he exhorted. "We need to go back to proclaiming the truth of God's Word and hitting on these difficult topics."
Some 1,500 pastors participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, directly challenging the IRS restriction on tax-exempt religious organizations intervening in political campaigns.