HOUSTON (Christian Examiner) – Todd Starnes, the popular Fox News reporter and commentator, was hailed Nov. 2 by Family Research Counsel President Tony Perkins as an "exception to those in the media" who by and large ignore violations of religious liberty.
Starnes' address did not disappoint, but earned multiple standing ovations and roused the crowd with thundering patriotic and faith-filled remarks.
Introduced at the Nov. 2 "I Stand Sunday" rally in Houston as instrumental in shining the national spotlight on the "Houston 5" – a group of pastors targeted with subpoenas resulting from a controversial Human Rights Ordinance in the nation's fourth largest city – Starnes stirred the crowd with a few stories from his recently published, "God Less America: Real Stories the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values."
"There is a war on religious liberty in America," Starnes said. "It is not a war targeting people of Muslim faith or Jewish faith or the Buddhist faith; this war on religious liberty is targeting people of the Christian faith."
Retelling the story of Roy Costner, an 18-year-old Southern Baptist high school student from Liberty, S.C. who was to deliver the Valedictorian speech at graduation, Starnes said all references to Christianity, Jesus and the Bible were redacted from his prepared talk that he was forced to have reviewed by school officials.
"It looked like an NSA document that had been redacted," Starnes said to the crowd's roar.
Costner, Starnes said, took a stand. He ripped the "government approved" speech placed on the platform for him and recited the Lord's Prayer to a cheering audience.
"I believe God is raising up the next Billy Graham and Billy Sunday among this generation of Christians," Starnes said. Earlier in the day, Starnes, who formerly worked for Baptist Press, spoke during morning worship at First Baptist Church in Katy, the church of pastor Randy White who challenged Houston's Mayor Annise Parker to a stand-off during a pulpit sermon, declaring he would never yield, not even a "jot or a tittle."
"Brothers and sisters in Houston, Texas, I want to ask you right here, right now, who among you is willing to take a stand with the Roy Costers of the world, and with the Houston 5 of the world," Starnes thundered.
"Who among you is willing to stand in the face of adversity? Who among you is willing to stand in the face of persecution?" he asked the thousands who stood. "They may demand to know the content of our prayers, they may demand to shut down our bakeries -- but brothers and sisters, we will not be silenced. We will not be intimidated!"
Giving assurance that even when things appear to be hopeless, Starnes said, "hope is not lost" and that "true hope and change can only be found at the cross of Calvary and a life changed by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ."
Drawing on the words of a popular hymn, he repeated: "Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow, no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus."
"So, rise up, oh men of God; rise up, oh women of God," Starnes urged the standing crowd. "And let the cry go out from the hill country of Texas to the concrete canons of New York City that these United States are still -- and may they always be -- one nation under God."