On the heels of Republican Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's controversial veto of the Pastor Protection Act, legislation intended to protect the religious freedoms of clergy and religious entities, California megachurch Pastor David Jeremiah held a rally in Atlanta Thursday urging Christians to "stand up for your faith."
While Jeremiah's message centered on the resurrection story of Jesus Christ, the pastor also addressed the 2016 presidential election, issuing a wake-up call to those who say they've lost hope in America's political process.
"You've had your hope in the wrong place. If this year's election doesn't prove to you that our hope is not in politics, I don't know what else could," Jeremiah told the audience of 7,000 gathered at the city's Infinite Energy Arena.
The Shadow Mountain Community Church pastor went a step further, urging rally attendees to be more than just spectators of the political process, but to get involved and educate themselves about the issues and to make their voices heard through their vote. "It's important for you to vote and to be involved in the process," Jeremiah said. "Don't sit at home … make your decision and then go vote. If you don't vote, don't complain."
Jeremiah continued, "Our hope is not in Washington. … I am here to tell you that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, the Lord of lords and the King of kings. The tomb of Jesus is famous not for what it contains but what it does not contain. It was empty on the first Easter and it has been empty ever since."
The Atlanta rally comes just days after Georgia's governor stunned the evangelical community with his decision to veto the Pastor Protection Act, a move seen by many evangelicals as a betrayal of conservative values.
Facing mounting pressure from numerous companies that threatened to boycott the state, including Disney, Apple and the NFL — which said the bill could jeopardize the Super Bowl bid of "the peach state" — Deal decided to strike down the legislation, as previously reported by The Christian Post.
In a statement posted on the Georgia state website Monday, Deal said: "Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people. And that is what we should want. They choose to worship God in the way they see fit in a myriad of ways, in a variety of different settings. I believe that that is our best side. And our people, every day, work side-by-side without regard to the color of the skin of their fellow mate. Or the religion that their co-worker might adhere to. They are simply trying to make life better for themselves, their families and their communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way."
Jeremiah is planning to host another event similar to his "stand up for your faith" rally, this time in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 21. Jeremiah is the senior pastor of California-based Shadow Mountain Community Church and the founder and host of "Turning Point," a 30-minute radio broadcast ministry and television program. He is also the best-selling author of more than 50 titles.