La. Pastor Defends 'Christian Nation' Comments During Santorum Visit

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By Paul Stanley , Christian Post Reporter
March 20, 2012|3:04 pm

The Rev. Dennis Terry of Greenwell Springs Baptist Church never thought his Sunday evening sermon about America being a Christian nation would ignite a media firestorm. But then again, it's not every day a presidential candidate is speaking at your church. In a phone interview with The Christian Post, Terry defended his remarks, saying they don't reflect the intent of his sermon.

  • Rick Santorum, Rev. Dennis Terry and Tony Perkins at Greenwell Baptist Church
    (Reuters/Sean Gardner)
    Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (C) receives a blessing from Pastor Dennis E. Terry, Sr. (L) after being interviewed by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (R) at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana March 18, 2012.

"What are seeing on YouTube – all that is a blatant distortion of what I said and the intent of how I said it," Terry said in the interview. "I do love my country and what it stands for, that everyone can worship as they please. But I have as much right to stand and proclaim Jesus as a Muslim does to proclaim Allah."

"Am I a firm believer that America was founded as a Christian nation? You bet I am," he added. "Why is it that Christianity seems to be the only religion under attack – even in America? I'm being told that I am against other religions and that is not true."

The Louisiana pastor is currently being labeled a "Jeremiah Wright" after saying on Sunday that America is a Christian nation and that non-Christians can leave if they don't agree with the nation's "Christian" heritage.

"I don't care what the naysayers say. This nation was founded as a Christian nation," Terry said in his sermon while Rick Santorum was visiting. "The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. There is only one God. There is only one God, and his name is Jesus."

"I'm tired of people telling me that I can't say those words. I'm tired of people telling us as Christians that we can't say those words. I'm tired of people telling us as Christians that we can't voice our beliefs or we can no longer pray in public. Listen to me. If you don't love America, and you don't like the way we do things, I've got one thing to say, get out!"

Terry preached on the second chapter of 1 Peter. He explained to CP that the gist of his sermon was "that we should submit to the king, who in our case is known as the president.

"But if you disagree with my comments, then you are in turn disagreeing with the Word of God, and that may be part of our nation's problems."

1 Peter 2:13-17 reads: "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."

The Baptist minister said his message focused on the themes mentioned in verse 17 – the social aspect of honoring all men, the political aspect in that we are to honor our nation's leaders, and the church in that we are to love our brothers and we are to fear God.

Terry was concerned about how his remarks were being portrayed and stressed that as a minister of God's Word, he has both a responsibility and duty to defend Christian values.

On Monday, in Moline, Ill., reporters peppered Santorum with questions, asking if he was in agreement with the pastor's remarks about non-Christians leaving America?

"If the question is, do I agree with his statement that America shouldn't do that? No, if he was speaking for himself he's obviously allowed to believe what he wants to believe but, obviously I believe in freedom of religion and all religions are welcome and should be," said Santorum.

"I think I've made that pretty clear throughout my campaign that I believe very much in freedom of religion, and folks should be able to worship whoever they want to worship and bring their thoughts in the public square and have at it and give them the opportunity to make their faiths claims, and make their claims to reason and any other claims."

The former Pennsylvania senator also reminded the reporters that he did not clap when he heard that particular statement at church.

"I didn't clap when he said that. I do remember him saying that, I said, well, I wasn't quite sure he was saying it for himself," Santorum stated. "I wasn't quite listening to everything to be honest with you. But I wasn't sure whether he was speaking for himself or speaking generally, but I didn't clap when he said that because it's not how I feel."

 

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