On Sunday, the nationally syndicated columnist, author and Fox News Channel contributor took to the pulpit to air his views before the Republican National Convention got under way.
“If one accepts the Bible as true, as I do, then one must accept guidance from God and not politicians,” he told a receptive congregation of mostly like-minded thinkers at Bell Shoals Baptist Church. “I’m under no illusion that our problems in this country are economic or political. Our problem is moral and spiritual, period.”
A fired-up Thomas, who punctuated some of his commentary with Scriptures, sounded more like an evangelist than the wry TV commentator. He drew about 3,000 people to the 9 and 11 a.m. services. Afterward, he signed copies of his latest book and spoke at a private luncheon with an intimate question-and-answer format.
Once a spokesman for the late Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, Thomas, 69, says he has no allegiances to any particular denomination. He said he gave up organized religion when he met Jesus Christ.
“The only denominations I believe in are fives, 10s and 20s,” he quipped.
Thomas, who is among the 15,000 members of the media covering the convention this week, said his disgust over the country’s current state can be spread between Democrats and Republicans. Issues he railed about years ago have been debated by administrations on both sides, he said, yet they’re still in stalemate with no immediate solutions in sight.
And don’t get him going on the country’s $16 trillion debt. Government has become nothing more than “a giant ATM” with all notions of personal responsibility and accountability thrown out the door, he told his audience.
The government should only be counted on as a last resort; instead, it’s the first point of resource, he said.
“We can’t even get our postal system working right, so how can we expect to solve the health care crisis?” he asked. “We’ve got all these social and cultural problems because we don’t put our trust in God, where it should be.”
One area that’s been lost in the political arena is the art of compromise, Thomas said. He lauded his friend, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, for being a “notorious compromiser” when it came to advancing his agenda. Conservative Christians could learn a lesson from that, he said.
“Too many of our people denounce anyone who compromises at all,” he said. “And look where that gets us.”
The best advice in dealing with people on the opposite side of the fence? “Love your enemies,” he said. “That’s the best way to demonstrate the love of God. And by loving them, you will confuse the heck out of them.”
Several of his comments drew applause from the crowd. Jim Cherry of Valrico was among the majority in agreement with Thomas.
“I like to think of myself as an optimist,” Cherry said. “But until this country gets back to the Godly principles that it was founded upon, I don’t have much hope. We’ve got a serious decay of our moral fiber.”
That said, he also wants to hear a strong message from Romney this week on the economy.
“I’m in sales and, face it, we’ve been stagnant these last four years,” Cherry said. “I want to hear about lowering taxes, getting back to work and reducing government regulations.”
Church member Roberto Minaya said he voted for Barack Obama in 2008, buying into “all those promises that weren’t fulfilled.” Now with the election looming in November, he’s conflicted about the choices before him.
“I’m going to be doing a lot of praying,” he admitted.
At the luncheon session, Thomas fretted about the rise of radical fundamental Islamic groups operating freely in America, how the military needs to be strengthened and reinforced, and the crisis in the country’s public education system. If you want your children to be taught the “truth” of the nation’s history, he said, you’ll have to put them in private school or a homeschooling program.
When asked about the future of America, Thomas didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I looked it up in the Bible and I didn’t see one,” he said. “I’m not a prophet or a son of a prophet, but this much I know: We can’t continue as we are.” Tampa Bay Online