Political Pulpits

With the presidential election on the agenda of things we will do in America this year, I have a question. Should our church leaders involve themselves in the support of particular candidates? Should they publicly endorse a candidate for the President of the United States of America?

I must be honest with you. I didn’t wake up with this on my mind this morning. As a matter of fact, topics like this rarely even cross my mind. But one of the sites I frequently visit, presented a post declaring a very adamant position on pastors and their involvement in politics, which really got my mind swirling.

The author at Zwinglius Redivivus presented an article titled Pastors Have No Business ‘Endorsing’ ANY Politician. Period.

There, he writes, When pastors become tools of the state, they abandon their purpose, calling, and right-function.” *

And goes on to say, “Pastors should be like Nathan- pointing their finger in the face and power, and denouncing it! Not like toadying sycophants who lap up the drippings of popularity from the drool-buckets of the politicos.”*

He has much more to say on this topic, including a paragraph about Constantine and his contribution to church history. I guess I’m just curious as to what others think.

*Copyright Rules for the site, Zwinglius Redivius can be found here

About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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10 Responses to Political Pulpits

  1. Debbie says:

    Like Carley, I hesitate to broach this at all. But since you asked…
    As believers, I think we have a rather unfortunate tendency to desire homogeneity, so I doubt the impact would be very great.
    That said, if a pastor wishes to share with me who he or she plans to vote for and why, that’s OK. If the implication is that I need to vote the same way to be in submission, then it’s certainly not OK.
    My son is a Political Science professor (and a Christian). If I have political questions, I take them to Dan – it’s his area. I welcome well informed input. Then I think I need to accept my God given responsibility to be intentionally prayerful and thoughtful.
    Maybe I’m just talking around the question.
    What are your thoughts, Michael?

  2. Chaz says:

    I wonder if we, the church, should not seek to keep a narrower focus such as loving people as Jesus instructed us?

    One thing I find exhausting about many Church situations is the propensity to spread ourselves so thinly over numerous issues.

    Could a pastor not simply endorse principles and issues rather than a candidate? What if that candidate messed up? Many do… we all have our weaknesses.

    While in my experience, faith should and virtually always does underlie any political system…. whether that faith be in God or any other greater being or concept. Yet history speaks clearly to me that church and state getting intertwined has never been successful.

    In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey shares the observation that Christianity centres around grace, while politics and many other systems of man oprate around what he terms, “ungrace”. And any time humanity has sought to legislate christianity, grace tends to lose out to legalism.

    So put me down as a “no”. I don’t see that a formal connection, including explicit endorsements of candidates, between church/ministers and state has ever been effective.

    Endorsement is just one step closer on the slippery slope of the state/church connection.



  3. I think that churches shouldn’t necessarily endorse a candidate if they don’t know the type of spirit they have towards the agenda of their leadership. All I can say is that the church can participate in elections by praying to GOD for the right candidate who has a heart for the people to become leader over the land through prayer. I think it is better we pray for a candidate that is God fearing rather than become of part of the quagmire of elections by endorsing someone to whom we (the church) have no idea has their own agenda when they get the votes cast in their favour because of such misguided endorsements. So I agree with Clarke Bunch and Lol about the ice-cream and doggie poop. 😉

  4. Clark Bunch says:

    It’s actually dangerous for church leaders to endorse specific candidates. If a church pastor tells his congregation which candidate to vote for, he is violated the separation of church and state that should exist, and runs the risk of losing that church’s tax exempt status.

    We should pray for our political leaders. Political and religious topics are going to overlap, such as abortion and gay marriage. Pastors must teach the morality of these issues based on scripture, but avoid saying which candidate should be placed in office. I think churches should encourage their members to go to the polls and vote, but I know some Christians that do not vote in any election.

    Separation of church and state is in our best interest. Michael Spencer said mixing church and state is sort of like mixing ice cream with dog crap; you can’t make the crap any better but you can sure ruin your ice cream!

  5. Steven Sarff says:

    I think Hank had some good thoughts on this. Still, the fact that churches are tax exempt does not mean that they cannot stand for the truth. In fact, I would venture that with or without tax exemption, there are those who will “preach the word and be instant in season and out of season”.
    Paul, a roman citizen by birth, used that to his advantage several times in his ministry. We as citizens in a country that allows voting should do the best we can to elect those who are best qualified. However, our primary job is not to be political, in fact, I would say that doesn’t’ even qualify as a job but rather a side effect of our job. Our job is to promote the kingdom of God and, to the extent that we live our lives in alignment with God’s laws and are responsible citizens who obey the laws of the land, we can take advantage to vote and promote those who would be wise leaders.

    The Gospel is the message of the church, let the politicians speak for themselves. I would not invite a politician to address our congregation unless he was a Christian and was there to encourage us from God’s word. If he wanted to make a political speech (or a sales speech) there are venues for that.
    We can’t and won’t change the world. I am not even sure that we can be a huge influence on a world wide stage. We can change lives though by the preaching of the Gospel, a few at a time.

  6. granbee says:

    I do honor the principle of our Founding Fathers in preserving separation of church and state. Jesus gave us the perfect guideline when he said, “Give unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and unto God what is God’s.” There is no way I could say anything more or anything better.

  7. CC says:

    Interesting that Dr. West calls on prophets to “be like Nathan pointing their finger in the face of power, and denouncing it”…but in the article does not recognize the positive work of a prophet to see the world as God sees it and to proclaim how it lines up with truth. Sometimes that is a word of encouragement, and not denunciation! Prophets notice the good and the bad, and speak forth. Isn’t that needed today?

    Dr. West seems to be concerned specifically with “endorsement” of individuals. His use of the words “tools of the state” reminded me of something Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, bur rather the conscience of the state….It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. It the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

    We (the church) are called to be the conscience of the state; the church doesn’t have a social ethic, the church IS a social ethic. Dr. West’s concern is that endorsement equals muffling your conscience and watering down your ethics. This is a valid concern. But our endorsement is for the truth. How can the church be salt and light and preach the good news of the gospel without bringing truth to ALL areas of life? I hope there are some political science theologians who will speak on this. We are listening.

  8. Hank says:

    Pastors are already a tool of the government. The very fact that they receive mercy from the government via paying no taxes(the church), means that the government will continue to tell them what they can and can’t say from behind their pulpits on government issues. And it will only get worse as political correctness gains momentum. Churches have given up their right to free speech for the government bribe to keep more of their money.Pastors are also called to be shepherds. Protecting their people should include warning of the wolves that make up the political cesspool. We have already been told by God to pray for our leaders so that we can lead a quiet and peaceful life as christians. Our pastors as well as ourselves should not only pray, but put some feet to those prayers as long as we have the freedom to do so. The “separation of church and state” as defined by our government now is a lie and has been used to keep our churches and their pastors “in their place” so that the trouble they stir can be controlled and mitigated. And like good little sheep, we bow to our true masters as long as the bribe keeps coming.

  9. lambskinny says:

    Okay I really hesitate to go here, but since you brought it up — think of the question that haunts the Roman Catholic church — that it did not do enough with its great power to stop Hitler in Germany and Europe when it probably could have made a huge difference…

  10. loopyloo305 says:

    So this man thinks that the rest of the Pastor’s should follow his advice and not point out when a government leader is actively leading people to destruction? Should not point out that people need to look for candidates that support the values and laws of God?
    I am sorry, but I don’t think that God ever told us to turn a blind eye. Support the government yes, understand that they are ruling with the will of God yes, but above all that when we have a choice, choose for God! If that is not the job of the Pastor to lead, what is?

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