More than 5,000 American pastors gave standing ovations to the former Baptist preacher turned politician Mike Huckabee Monday night during his speech defending moral and social issues at a conference in Florida.
The "Rediscovering God in America" pastor's conference, hosted by the influential American Family Association, featured Huckabee Monday and will present former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as Tuesday's keynote speaker.
Huckabee, who said he was not there as a presidential candidate, warmed up his conservative audience by declaring that overturning the Roe v. Wade court ruling was not enough because it would leave individual states to decide their own laws on abortion – a moral issue where there is a right and a wrong, he contends. He argues that a constitutional amendment that defines life at conception is necessary to prevent "50 versions of right and wrong."
"How could we expect God's future blessing on this country if we cannot come to the logical conclusion that every life He creates He creates with the same equal intrinsic value and worth as another?" Huckabee asked.
After listing several huge problems in America, the former preacher said the purpose of Christians on this earth, as taught by Jesus, is to be salt and light. Salt preserves while light overcomes darkness.
"We are taught that we are the salt of the earth. That means that when something is spoiling, we are to be there to keep it from spoiling," Huckabee explained. "We miss that if we think the purpose of believers is to be really, really well behaved in church.
"Being well behaved in church is a fine thing, but we don't change the world by being behaved in church," he pointed out to a receptive audience. "We change the world when we are the salt and that means we sometimes will irritate and sometimes agitate, but we will preserve."
Huckabee, who has been noted on the campaign trail for his witty sense of humor, commented in his sermon-like speech that the problem today is too many believers believe they have been called into "undercover work" rather than to be the light of the world, he said half-jokingly drawing a roomful of laughter.
"I do not believe, reading in Galatians, that timidity is a spiritual gift," he said.
"If our culture is decaying and if it is dark, it will not be saved just by electing people to offices," the Republican presidential hopeful said. "It will ultimately be preserved and saved by salt acting like salt and light acting like light."
"So I challenged you tonight to not just look for a political solution, but to say if there is going to be involvement in areas of institutions in our society … then let us be the salt and let us be the light. Because wherever there is something spoiling it needs salt, wherever somewhere is dark it needs light."
The former Arkansas governor was joined by his friend and best-selling Left Behind series author Tim LaHaye, Pastor Don McClure of Calvary Way Ministries, and David Barton of Wall Builders.
Tuesday's speakers will include Dr. Beverley LaHaye of Concerned Women for America, Dr. John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, and Dr. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel.
Besides the several thousands participating in the Orlando conference, another 30,000 people are registered to watch the event via simulcast, according to organizers.