One of Richmond’s “Heritage” Churches Cancels Islam History Presentation

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Travis Witt | Virginia First Foundation

This Op/Ed was sent to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and was rejected. I guess they are not interested in posting opinion pieces about these topics. 

The cancellation announcement of Bill Federer’s presentation two days before he was to speak about Islam at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond on December 2 was surprising. The event was sponsored by Virginia Christian Alliance (VCA) and Hope for Israel. Grove Avenue advertised the event on Sundays and through other media venues. VCA’s email notification said Federer’s lecture would be rescheduled at another location.

Obviously, the speaker did not renege. Grove Avenue would be used when a different date was determined. Federer lives in Virginia Beach and his travel expenses and accommodations would not create a financial burden for the hosts. VCA and Hope for Israel were hosting one of the foremost American and world historians. The expected numbers of those attending were strong. Leading up to the final days before the event, something happened to the leadership of Grove Avenue Baptist Church stopping the lecture – intimidation.

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Interfaith groups in the Richmond area heard about Federer’s presentation. Several phone calls were made and emails were sent to Grove Avenue asking them to cancel the event because “Federer is a radical who does not compromise biblical absolutes or historical truths”. Coercive and intolerant pressure from those who believe we can “Coexist”, sing Kum ba yah so the world will get along, reject certain passages in the Word of God, and revise history forced Grove Avenue leadership to capitulate. Agree and you are tolerated. Disagree, and the ‘tolerant’ demand silence.

What happened to the backbone of the American pastor or the American church?

The Federer lecture at Grove Avenue is not some isolated incident. Churches throughout America are kowtowing to political, multicultural bullies willing to verbally threaten and intimidate pastors. Church leadership now fears man’s threats rather than God’s directives.

Revolutionary pastors were willing to die to maintain the right to preach the uncompromised Word of God and live without governmental oversight or restraints. John Adams declared that pastors were the reason America won the war with Great Britain. Pastors were the moral megaphone in this nation…until the 1954 Johnston amendment.

Today, America’s ethical voice has been neutered by what Arnold Toynbee calls a “schism of the soul”. In his book, A Study of History, Toynbee stated that America has blended religious traditions and can no longer declare with certainty any distinction between good and evil. Isaiah 5:20 warns, “Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” Does the American church know and declare these differences?

The Federer cancellation at Grove Avenue Baptist Church is a microcosm of a greater issue.

The American church continues to walk away from truth. She fails to speak truth to power and refuses to stand firm on fundamental issues.

A recent survey revealed that most Christians want biblical answers for current issues – abortion, Islam, immigration, etc. Yet a vast majority of ministers refuse to address these controversial subjects.


Pastor Travis Witt has a Masters’ degrees in Religious Education and Counseling, graduating in 1986 from Liberty University. Pastor Witt has worked on various fatherhood initiatives, including the Virginia First Foundation project, “Fathers of Light,” that urges fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, and uncles to take a stand against a culture that diminshes the role God has placed on them. This same passion, and willingness to lead, has given Pastor Witt the opportunity to advise many candidates for local and state-wide office regarding family matters.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Virginia Christian Alliance
The mission of the VIRGINIA CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE is to promote moral, social and scientific issues we face today from a Biblical point of view. In addition we will refute and oppose, not with hate, but with facts and humor, the secular cultural abuses that have overridden laws and standards of conduct of the past. We will encourage Christians to participate in these efforts through conferences, development of position papers, booklets and tracts, radio/TV spots, newspaper ads and articles and letters-to-the editor, web sites, newsletters and providing speakers for church and civic meetings.