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Prayer breakfast speaker: U.S. must return to Christianity

The Rev. Peter Marshall addresses a crowd of 300 people during the 17th Annual Kitsap County Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Silverdale on Thursday morning.  Marshall claimed the United States is in deep moral trouble because it is falling away from its Christian heritage. - photo by John R. Olson
The Rev. Peter Marshall addresses a crowd of 300 people during the 17th Annual Kitsap County Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Silverdale on Thursday morning. Marshall claimed the United States is in deep moral trouble because it is falling away from its Christian heritage.
— image credit: photo by John R. Olson

Judging from the 300 people crammed into the Admiral Ballroom at the WestCoast Silverdale hotel Thursday, one could hardly believe the speaker at the 17th Kitsap County Leadership Prayer Breakfast.

Harvard and Princeton-educated the Rev. Peter Marshall said the Pacific Northwest was the least “churched” part of the United States.

Marshall didn’t stop in the Northwest in chastising the nation for letting go of its Christian roots.

“It is my deep conviction that this nation is in deep trouble,” said Marshall, whose father was chaplain of the U.S. Senate and whose mother was a renowned Christian author.

Marshall said Karl Marx once declared: “Take away the heritage of a people and they are easily persuaded.”

The theme of Marshall’s speech to the crowd — which included many Kitsap County leaders and elected officials — came from the New Testament Gospel of Saint Mark.

Marshall spoke on the “rich young ruler” who Jesus told would have to give up his riches to get into heaven.

“Money is neutral,” Marshall said. “It is a tool. It’s like a hammer. You can use it to build a house or you can use it to kill someone.”

Marshall’s message then turned evangelical.

“We need a supernatural savior and that is who Jesus is. He doesn’t give us a program. He gives us a person. He will wait you out until you are out of gas. He will wait you out until you hit the wall,” Marshall said.

Marshall said it is not good enough to just attend church on Sunday.

“Just because you sit in a church, doesn’t make you a Christian,” he said. “Not anymore than sitting in a garage makes you a car.”

Marshall said the country must change — one person at a time.

“Do you have any idea what it means to have a truly free conscience?” he said. “You can’t buy that out there. There is only one way to get that and that is to hear Jesus say: You are forgiven.”

Earlier in the program wheelchair- bound Todd Stabelfeldt gave a testimony of Christian faith to the throng.

Stabelfeldt was nearly fully paralyzed 15 years ago during a gun accident.

“I made a choice,” Stabelfeldt said. “It was a bad one. But I am living with it. With my current decisions and all I have to go through now, all it comes down to is faith.”

The “Prayer for Leadership” was given by Rear Adm. Bruce Engelhardt, commander of Sub Group Nine at Bangor. Engelhardt was inside the Pentagon on Sept. 11, but referred Thursday morning to the most recent tragedy to descend near the nation’s capital.

“Comfort the family and the victims of the Washington, D.C. sniper attacks,” Engelhardt prayed. “Let justice be done.”

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