I’ve been following the discussion on politics and the pulpit the past couple of weeks. Last weekend, several pastors publically endorsed candidates while delivering messages (sermons) to their respective congregations. According to reports, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) assisted in the orchestration of at least 33 pastors to openly challenge an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rule preventing non-profits from promoting or endorsing candidates. The Americans United for Separation of Church and State vowed to report any such violations to the IRS. Apparently, six violations were reported. The ADF’s is challenging the current IRS rule claiming it to be a violation of first amendment rights.
Here’s my take on the deal – the church should be free to teach and discuss any life topic of relevance to the church member and attender. The Bible has something to say to just about every circumstance in life. Elections, candidates, and politics are a part of every person’s life. You can’t get away or hide from it – even though I wish I could at times.
We have to understand the dynamic of our governance structure. We live in a democracy where people “supposedly” have a say into the creation and in some cases the enforcement of laws. We’re guaranteed a right to oppose injustice, greed, lawlessness, and excess. While we have an obligation to obey the law; we also have a role in creating, opposing, and changing the law. Opposing or questioning the validity of a law isn’t necessarily breaking the law or requires such.
While I don’t have any plans to publically endorse a specific candidate, I do have plans in the upcoming weeks to address a system on how we choose candidates – a system called values based voting – according to issues. Numerous polls demonstrate that a majority of Americans believe the church should steer clear of politics. While I can appreciate this position, I’ve got a question. When should the majority of Americans – that do not attend church on a consistent basis – decide what is taught from the pulpit? That’s a valid question!
I’m a pessimist when it comes to governmental invention. I believe the day will come – the 50 year old IRS ruling is just the tip of the iceberg – when I will be told what I’m allowed and not allowed to preach, discuss, and promote. There’s this little understood cultural mandate called tolerance that’s getting ready to challenge, threaten and potentially compromise Christian teaching and organizations which promote such.
Don’t say I didn’t tell you so…