By Drew C. Wilson
Make no apologies, God was in the house at Havelock Tourist and Event Center Monday night.
More than 400 people turned out for the 19th God and Country Banquet sponsored by the Craven-Pamlico Christian Coalition.
“Ever since 1994 we’ve had this event to rally the troops so to speak on issues that are important to us,” said Jerry Schill a co-chairman of the coalition and master of ceremonies for the event. “We look at the social issues, such as pro life, pro family, pro marriage, standard definition, one man, one woman. We like to make sure people are registered to vote, to get them the right way. We are a non-partisan group but we are very conservative from an ideological standpoint.”
With November’s election less than 50 days away, the banquet drew a number of candidates, including N.C. Supreme Court justices and Dan Forest, a candidate for lieutenant governor.
“It’s just a lot of really good godly people, Christian people, and they get together and share some of the things that they have saved up all year,” said Barb Whiteman of Havelock. “They are really good to be around.”
All of the candidates had about a minute to speak to the attendees.
“The people here are very patriotic,” said Mike Causey, a candidate for N.C. Commissioner of Insurance. “They’re God-fearing people, church-going people, and just like the title implies, God and Country, they are strong believers in God and country and doing the right things, the type of people where you don’t have to sign a contract. You can shake their hand and their word is their bond.”
Tim Barton, a Texas minister and speaker for Wallbuilders, made the keynote speech. He spoke about what he called America’s forgotten Christian heroes, which included the Founding Fathers of the country.
“Looking back at a lot of their philosophy of government, today we commonly hear that they were agnostics, atheists and deists, that they believed in separating God from so much of practical life and politics and government, and the reality is that these guys very often would call on God to divinely intervene in political government situations knowing that without God’s help they would never really succeed in what they were doing,” Barton said.
Mercedes Riveria, of Havelock, is a member of the coalition and attended the event.
“The important thing is to unite the community at the grass roots level, to support politicians that share common morals and common moral views who share a common vision for our country,” Riveria said. “The people that I see here are the people that I grew up with. They are a very close-knit community and very supportive of each other, supportive of the military and supportive of old-fashion community values. This event gives them an opportunity to come together and support one another.”
Carol Leake of New Bern, whose husband Walter started the event, said the purpose of the event is to make sure Christians have a voice.
“I think people are really hungry for knowing the truth about what’s going on in government and to find out what we as people can do,” she said. “The effort has always been to educate the local citizens on what is going on politically and what we can do as Christians to influence our society. We’ve never had a problem getting a good-sized group.”