In the uproar over Fort Lauderdale’s celebration of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, much has been written about the church’s history of anti-LGBT positions.
The burning question still lingers: Have those positions changed?
For answers look no further than lead pastor Rob Pacienza. In accepting the city’s proclamation, Pacienza said, “I think for far too long, the church has been known more for what they’ve been against than what they’ve been for, and we look forward to building those bridges.”
However, a closer look into Pacienza’s theology reveals a man enamored with black-robed patriots who does not hesitate to bring politics into the pulpit.
In October of last year, Pacienza co-sponsored a webinar with John Stemberger, an Orlando attorney and longtime opponent of same-sex marriage and transgender rights. Titled “A Gospel-Centered Approach to Leading in 2020” the webinar featured six theologians offering opinions on how to be impactful in advance of the 2020 election.
While some of the panelists did not attempt to hide their support for the re-election of former President Donald Trump nor their contempt for the LGBT movement, Pacienza was more subtle in his comments. Near the end of the webinar, Pacienza revealed where he stood on social issues.
“We are voting for the sanctity of human life, we’re voting for God’s definition of marriage, we’re voting for religious liberty because these are issues that have always concerned the people of God,” Pacienza said. “We’ve got to rescue it from the progressive agenda that want to make them mere political issues that are subjective and make them what they are — they’re moral issues that are grounded in absolute truth.”
During the webinar, Pacienza spoke of his fondness for the Black Robe Regiment, a group of clergies who fought in the American Revolution and in particular John Witherspoon, the president of the College of New Jersey which is now Princeton University.
“It was through his [Witherspoon’s] preaching that was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the revolution, laying the groundwork for the freedoms that we enjoy today,” Pacienza said.
Clergy, Pacienza said, cannot be politically neutral.
“As pastors we need to recover these moral issues and say they are not just political issues that are subjective, these are moral issues that have always been concerning to the people of God,” Pacienza said.
Pacienza went on to declare public servants are to be used by God.
“For us to treat politicians and politics dismissively is as ignorant as saying we need to defund the police,” he said. “Police and fire responders and politicians are used under the sovereign hand of God as the servants of the Lord and the church needs to understand that.”