When I started this blog many months ago I wrote an article “Why You Won’t Hear Me Preach on Politics.” I began the blog in January of this year and the last eight months have been interesting. I’ve talked about many issues and it’s been fun. I look forward to tackling more as we continue this journey. I do wish folks who read would leave comments but other than that it’s a great journey. The most viewed article I wrote is the one on how to read the book of Daniel. The series on Mormonism drew the most conversation and the biggest day of viewing.
I want to return to this one issue though because I feel it is the most relevant in this campaign season. We are in the midst of the Democratic Convention and next week the Republican Convention will be on. The first debate is scheduled for the end of September. Obama has chosen his VP and McCain is about to at any time. After two years of everyone running back and forth opening to be the one the election is upon us.
Rick Warren had an interesting approach. He hosted an interview live at his church and I found his questions to be insightful, engaging, and very well done. He is remaining neutral and is hoping to provide civility in our nation which has had two very divided elections this century.
So will I still NOT preach on politics? Of course! When I say this I mean I will not ever tell anyone who to vote for or push or push against specific people or parties from the pulpit. As a Baptist I believe strongly in the separation of church and state.
At this moment Christians are taking various approaches to politics.
*There are those who are very much political and side with the Republican party. Some do this very openly and others do it without naming names but it is very clear they are Republican. They say they are interested in issues but they step close or right over the line all the time. Listen to “Christian” radio and you hear political shows all over the place. These type of Christians tend to be very conservative.
*There are those who against mixing the two and keep strict separation of church and state. The campaign is not mentioned and they are neutral while voting privately.
*There are Christians who are democrats who do the same as the Republicans. They tend to be more liberal and support various issues of this party and are open to this.
*There are Christians who are not promoting parties or candidates but do speak about the issues. Some speak against abortion and homosexual marriage and other issues. “Red letter” Christians are folks who focus on the texts that are about or said by Jesus. They focus on poverty, social justice, the environment and other issues more than just the usual morality ones and are still evangelicals. They are not ‘liberal’ but believe more issues need to be addressed than those that the moral majority and others have pushed. Some are more ‘liberal’ and push other issues. This camp though is clear that issues need to be addressed and Christians need to vote values but they often differ on what values need to be addressed.
So where do I fit in? I have no idea but what I do believe—
*I do not think that a pastor or church should push a party or candidate. We must not cross this line.
*I do not think the church should run the country.
*I do not think the state should run the church.
*I do not think churches should take money from the state. I do not like the faith based programs that are funded by state dollars. I believe this crosses a line that can lead to trouble. With money comes strings. I would rather the money churches use come from members and not the government. This doesn’t mean we do not work with government agencies on specific projects. After Hurricane Katrina churches worked as did the government. Yet we don’t need their money but we are only working on similar projects. God’s people do better without government money and control!
*I do believe Christians should vote and vote their values. Being a Christian should impact all of our lives and our decisions in life are shaped by what we believe. I realize this means that Christians will vote for Democrats, Republicans, and other parties. Morality, poverty, and so many others issues are important for us to pray about and figure out our role. I believe we are to pay taxes, obey the laws, vote, and be good citizens.
*I do believe Christians should act like Christians in politics. We do not have a right to demonize, spread lies, email rumors, or talk sinfully about people who are running for office. We should pray for peace and pray for those who run and those who eventually lead. As free citizens we can complain and talk about issues we disagree with but saying mean things is never right. I can’t tell you how many false emails, rumors, and such I’ve received from folks etc.
So I have opinions. I watch the debates, etc. I will vote. I talk about it with close friends. But as a pastor I do not cross the line. I do not support parties. My job is to preach the gospel and not to promote politicians. Yet who I am as a believer shapes all that I do, believe, say, and support.