Church Forced to Remove ‘Anger Provoking’ Billboards Declaring ‘America is a Christian Nation’

But the effort to silence the church may have backfired.

Pastor Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, introduces US President Donald Trump at the Celebrate Freedom concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC on July 1, 2017.

By Todd Starnes Published on June 19, 2018

Editor’s Note: Updated with a response from the mayor’s office.

Billboards promoting a celebration of faith and freedom at the First Baptist Church in Dallas were removed after complaints from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Dallas Morning News.

The patriotic billboard campaign included the title of the sermon Dr. Robert Jeffress planned to deliver on June 24 – “America is a Christian Nation.”

“We were told by the billboard company that the message was divisive,” Jeffress told the Todd Starnes Radio Show.

The sermon title was inspired by a comments made by Supreme Court Justices John Jay and David Josiah Brewer — both of whom described America as a Christian nation.

“The message will present the historical evidence for the bedrock of faith upon which America was founded,” said Jeffress.

However, the Dallas Morning News and Mayor Rawlings blasted the pastor’s sermon title suggesting it was hateful and divisive.

“That is not the Christ I follow,” the mayor told the newspaper. “It’s not the Dallas I want to be — to say things that do not unite us but divide us. I never heard those words — that voice come out of Christ. Just the opposite. I was brought up to believe: Be proud of yours, but do not diminish mine.”

Columnist Robert Wilonsky started the controversy with a scathing column on June 7 titled, “First Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress’ gospel of division does not represent my Dallas.”

Wilonsky was apparently triggered by the patriotic billboard while stuck in traffic and suffered a massive microaggression.

“My rabbi warned me there would be days like this,” he wrote. “All I saw Wednesday was someone telling me and everyone else who does not worship Jesus Christ that we do not belong here.”

The following day the church received a message from the billboard company that their signed contract was being canceled and the billboards would be taken down.

“We are getting hammered by the media for the ‘America is a Christian Nation’ tagline on the billboards,” a representative of Outfront Media wrote to a church leader. “Dallas Morning News and other news affiliates are doing stories on how it’s offensive and bigoted. Someone called our corporate office in New York about the ‘offensive’ billboards and following our lawyer’s advice, we have to take them down ASAP.”

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The church offered to revise the sermon title, “Is America a Christian Nation?” but that, too, was rejected by the billboard company.

“We were told that the title was ‘anger-provoking rather than ‘thought provoking,’” the pastor told me.

The local representative was apologetic — but it was clear the New York-based company was no match for angry anti-Christian radicals.

“The reason those on the Left do not want people to hear my message is that they know the historical evidence is on my side that America was founded on the principles of the Christian faith,” Jeffress said. “We will not be deterred as we defend the foundational values of our country.”

City Hall spokesman Scott Goldstein defended the mayor on Twitter.

“Mayor @Mike_Rawlings speaks for the real Dallas. The guy on the billboard does not,” he wrote.

To be clear, First Baptist Dallas has no beef with Outfront Media. They are a privately owned company and they have a right to decide who they do business with.

“We support the right of businesses to refuse service to customers based on religious conviction,” said Jeffress, who is also one of the top spiritual advisors to President Trump.

The problem, he said, is the Dallas Morning News and Mayor Rawlings.

“It should greatly concern people of any faith when those in the press or government proactively seek to defeat, censor or silence any religious message with which they disagree,” Jeffress said. “We don’t believe Dallas city officials have any right to directly or indirectly be involved in censoring a church’s message.”

The mayor denied having any involvement in having the billboards removed.

“I don’t ‘oppose’ the billboards,” the mayor told me in a written statement. “My Christian faith teaches me not to be judgmental and to love those that are different than me. I also believe that as an American I can honor my devout Christian beliefs and still respect the fact that this is a diverse world and I represent a diverse constituency. Those two thoughts can go together. I don’t believe that the billboard captured those important nuances.”

As for that bastion of free speech known as the Dallas Morning News?

“For the Dallas Morning News — who pose as champions of free speech, to try to censor our church’s message is gross hypocrisy,” the pastor said.

The key word is “try.”

It turns out another billboard company offered to put up the church’s message on 20 billboards, not two.

In other words, Mr. Wilonsky might want to find another way to work — or else prepare for another traffic jam microaggression.

 

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.

Originally published on ToddStarnes.com, June 18, 2018 and is reprinted with permission.

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  • Trilemma

    There was a time when you could say that America was mostly a nation of Christians. But that doesn’t make America a Christian nation. The founders very intentionally did not create the government of America based on the Christian religion. Therefor, America has never been a Christian nation.

    • John Connor

      Well said

    • John A.

      I think you and a lot of people would be surprised to know that George Washington required soldiers in the Continental Army to attend church services. Although not created as a theocracy, the founders absolutely did create a gov’t founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Virtually 100% to a man (and woman), they expected the government to operate in a way that set it in a position of humility towards, not in hostile opposition to, the one true God.

      • Trilemma

        Lucky for George Washington, the First Amendment did not exist when he required his soldiers to attend church services.

        What Judeo-Christian principles were used to justify rebelling against God’s authority? What Judeo-Christian principles were used to form a democracy; the three branches of government; the right to bear arms; etc.?

        • Bryan

          Actually it’s lucky that lawyers didn’t prosecute inanities during the war of independence. Also, he didn’t specify a specific denomination which all soldier were to abide by. Under then understanding of the First Amendment at the time it was written, he wasn’t in violation of it either.
          As to your next questions, the primary impetus behind a democracy, the first and second amendments, etc. is the value of the human being as an image bearer of the one who created him. If there isn’t value in a person, then there is no reason to give them a vote (Darwinian evolution predicts the survival of the fittest); there is no reason to state a person has inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; there is no reason for a person to be allowed the means to defend himself or fight against tyranny.
          The three branches of government is derived from the fallen nature of man as understood by the Judeo-Christian tradition. If man is a fallen creature, then power needs to be shared among more than one person. At the federal level that is the three branches of government, each with their own powers and responsibilities. Ultimately though, the power is supposed to be assumed and exercised by the People who are governed.
          These are just a few principles that were understood and applied at the founding of the country. There are others, but more lengthy discourse on this can be found from scholars much more well versed than I am.

          • Trilemma

            The Judeo-Christian principle of government is either a theocracy or a kingdom. God is over a kingdom not a democracy. If humans are fallen then they shouldn’t get a vote since their votes will be based on selfish motives. The idea that humans are created equal and have inalienable rights such as life liberty and the pursuit of happiness comes from deism and the enlightenment and not Christianity. The Bible doesn’t list any inalienable rights.

          • Bryan

            “The Judeo-Christian principle of government is either a theocracy or a kingdom.”
            No. God is King of Kings. But he has instituted men to rule other men. All, both the rulers and the ruled, are subject to God’s ultimate authority. Remember the phrase: One nation, Under God. Whether you believe in God or not, you are under His authority.
            “If humans are fallen then they shouldn’t get a vote since their votes will be based on selfish motives.”
            No. This is why humans should not have absolute authority over other humans. Look at how Paul describes the church as a body with Christ as the head. Even though there are many hands, feet, legs, etc., all are subject to Christ as the head. Even the rulers and authorities that are placed over men in the form of earthly governments whether they are kingdoms, republics, or other forms of governance.
            “The idea that humans are created equal and have inalienable rights such as life liberty and the pursuit of happiness comes from deism and the enlightenment and not Christianity.” Which form of “deism” are you referring to? Islam doesn’t give you inalienable rights. So you’re left with Jewish deism or Christian deism. Judeo-Christian sounds like it has something to do with Christianity.
            “The Bible doesn’t list any inalienable rights.” This is one of the funnier statements. They Bible doesn’t have to. God never said, “Thou shalt create a democracy and it shall have three branches of government.” In fact, about the only authoritative statement God makes on governance, is that “You shall have no other gods before me.” That leaves a lot to interpretation. (We do see shortly after that declaration that Moses was free to appoint local judges and leaders over smaller communities in order to help spread the work and distribute power.)
            The Bible is not an exhaustive list of rules and regulations. It’s a collection of histories, songs, parables, wisdom, and discipline that show how God has moved through history and give guidance for living in many situations. It is not a formula where variables are plugged in and God pops out a predetermined solution. It’s the ultimate story of perfection, fallenness, salvation, and redemption.
            I’ve already listed principles that are gleaned from the Bible that are foundational to several of our rights. I don’t think it’s necessary to lengthen this post by restating those again.

          • Chip Crawford

            Thank you so much for your contributions on this site. You are shining a light instead of just cursing the darkness.

          • Trilemma

            “God is king of kings.” God was not elected. His commandments were not voted on. The Bible’s principle of government is a kingdom not a democracy.

            “All are subject to Christ.” Again the Christian principle is a kingdom. In a democracy, Christ would be subject to all.

            You appear to agree that the Bible does not list any inalienable rights. That’s because the Bible views Christians as slaves or property of God. The idea that humans have inalienable rights comes from deism and the enlightenment.

        • Justin Nother

          “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”
          – Thomas Jefferson quotes (3rd US President (1801-09). Author of the Declaration of Independence. 1762-1826)

          And if you’re an atheist, you have no business erroneously using the Bible to push your misguided hatred of America”s heritage.

          • Trilemma

            Why are you quoting Thomas Jefferson? Do you consider him a Christian even though he denies the virgin birth and considers the Bible to be mutilated, misstated and unintelligible?

            “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” – Thomas Jefferson

            “The authors of the gospels were unlettered and ignorant men and the teachings of Jesus have come to us mutilated, misstated and unintelligible.” – Thomas Jefferson

            Can you quote a Bible verse that says resistance to tyrants is obedience to God?

    • Sapient

      You’re as wrong as you can possibly be. Don’t know what kind of educational pedigree you have, but as to the true, unabridged, and exceedingly rich history of this country—you are woefully uninformed. Nevertheless, I recall from past attempts to educate you that you are hopelessly stubborn and altogether uninterested in any truth apart from the one you have crafted. So…Enjoy the darkness…

      • Trilemma

        Based on Romans 13, the Revolutionary War was rebellion against God’s authority. What Christian principle allows Christians to kill fellow Christians? How is a democracy based on the Christian religion?

        • Kevin Quillen

          We are NOT a democracy! We are a Constitutional Republic! Learn the difference and you will learn the truth.

          • Trilemma

            Even though we are a Constitutional Republic we are also a representative democracy which is a type of democracy. So, we are a democracy organized as a Constitutional Republic.

        • Bryan

          Gotta ask: Have you read the Declaration of Independence? That would deal with your first question. Your second question doesn’t even really apply to this discussion. It’s tangential at best and has probably been discussed, with you, in other articles regarding Just War.
          Your third question is addressed by me in comments below.

          • Trilemma

            Yes, I have read the Declaration of Independence. It goes against the Christian religion. True Christians did not go along with it. They were persecuted and had to flee to Canada.

    • obamaisacorn

      Of course the founders said: Freedom OF religion. Not FROM Religion. To that point, Moses prominently sits on our building. Another is the Jefferson Memorial into which Jefferson’s words have been carved, four are God-centered, including Jefferson’s declaration that “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
      The Capitol includes the words “America! God shed His grace on thee” are inscribed; at the east Senate entrance with the words “Annuit Coeptis” – Latin for “God has favored our undertakings”; and in numerous other locations.

      Too many more to mention…….

      • Trilemma

        Why are you quoting Thomas Jefferson? Do you consider him a Christian even though he denies the Bible being the inerrant inspired word of God?

        “The authors of the gospels were unlettered and ignorant men and the teachings of Jesus have come to us mutilated, misstated and unintelligible.” – Thomas Jefferson

        Thomas Jefferson was a deist. The government of the United States was based on the beliefs of deism and the enlightenment.

  • Chip Crawford

    I admire and appreciate Dr. Jeffress’ strength and stand in this.

  • Up_Words

    Bravo, Dr. Jeffress! It’s time to do more than TALK about being like the apostle Paul.

  • Sapient

    Love Dr Jeffress and hope 20 turns into 200!

    • Jed

      So Wilonsky the Newspaper columnist
      —-> is entitled to an influential platform

      And Rawlings the Mayor
      —-> is entitled to an influential platform

      But … The First Baptist Church is NOT
      —-> even if they pay for it.

  • mallen717

    Intolerance police, aka Leftists, attacking freedom of speech again.

  • Cynthia Campbell

    The Dallas Mayor? He is NO Christian! He is a Judas and a TRAITOR and would have denied Christ and sold him out for pesos. He must be ousted!

  • Cynthia Campbell

    Mayor Rawlings is very supportive of and friendly toward Muslims. Dallas is being set up to become another London or Munich. Rawlins is no Christian
    He is responding to the haters in his beloved Muslim community. HE MUST GO!

  • douginjax

    The government applied pressure to curtail free speech. Sue for civil rights violations.

  • Hmmm…

    “Anger provoking” – so, when they can’t tolerate something, there’s no requirement for them to exercise self control even, much less giving space to another view. It appears Pastor Jeffress resisted evil in this case. I pray he will hear the Lord on what he is to do or not going forward. God has wisdom and a specific will for each episode like this, and we must seek it afresh each time, it seems.

  • obamaisacorn

    From 1 billboard to 20, with quotes from two supreme court justices? Man, the failures of liberalism are a boon for freedom loving Americans.

  • Jed

    ——> Empowerment <—— makes wussies out of Men …!!!

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