ATLANTA – Longtime college football coach Tommy Bowden challenged Georgia pastors and politicians on Thursday to always take bold stands for Christ despite the fallout they may face as a result.
“You’re in a battle with Washington D.C,” he said. “You’re in a battle with Hollywood. You’re in a battle with print media. You’re in a battle with tele-media. You’re in a battle with social media. I mean, man, if you take a stand for Christ, it is tough.”
Bowden’s central message at a legislative prayer breakfast sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board was to take their stand because the future of the United States depends on them refusing to compromise on biblical issues at a time when many of the nation’s leaders seem to have drifted away from God.
The state Mission Board’s executive director, W. Thomas Hammond Jr., said his group organizes the prayer breakfast each year to put pastors and politicians in the same room to pray together and to discuss the state’s most pressing issues.
“You’re the thin line right now,” Bowden told some 200 people gathered in a conference room next door to the state Capitol. “What I’m scared of is that if we continue to compromise the Word of God, we will pay a price, and it looks like we’re heading that direction.”
Bowden, who served as head coach at Tulane and Clemson, isn’t shy about sharing his faith and typically challenges others not to be, either.
In his Atlanta presentation, Bowden pointed to Israel’s history, in particular the times when the Israelites distanced themselves from God. The result, he said, was that they faced God’s judgement. Bowden warned that could also happen to the United States where some 70 percent of the population identify as Christian.
“God does not have a covenant with the United States,” he said, “but He does have a covenant with His people. He says, hey, you are supposed to represent me. You are my ambassadors. And, if you don’t be careful now, I’m going to punish you.”
Bowden, one of the most sought-after Christian speakers in the country, said he knows it can be difficult to take strong stands.
“It was hard 2,000 years ago, and it’s hard today,” he said. “Man, you get ridiculed, you get persecuted in the media if you take a stand. But it’s important that you do. So many people depend on you and your influence.”
Despite cultural shifts and political rifts, the United States remains “the greatest country in the history of the world,” he said.
“We’re the wealthiest country in the history of the world,” he said. “We’re the most educated country in the history of the world. We’re the most charitable country in the history of the world. … And we’re the freest country in the history of the world. People are dying to get into this place.”
Bowden asked the pastors and politicians if they had ever asked why God has blessed the United States.
“Why not another country?” he asked. “Why not some country in the Middle East? Why not a country in Europe? Why not Africa? Why not Asia? Why the United States? If you look at our history, our forefathers had a fear, had a respect, and they honored God Almighty.” As a result, he said, “We have been blessed by the hand of God.”
The coach said his greatest hope for political leaders is that they will honor God.
“Whatever you do, don’t pass a law, don’t write legislation, don’t sign executive orders that will embarrass or shame the Word of God, because we’re heading down a slippery slope if we do,” he said.
Bowden reminded believers at the prayer breakfast that they aren’t alone, that people in small towns and big cities all over the country hold to the same Christian principles they do.
Don’t give up,” he said. “Don’t give in. Have some backbone. Have some character. Have some boldness about your faith. You are Christians.”
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