Crossing the Line

May 02, 2008

A conservative Christian leader is urging pastors to speak out about more about politics and take a partisan stand by telling those in their congregations who they should vote for. Kenyn Cureton of the Family Research Council stated:

The pastors need to speak more clearly about it. ... I'll tell you that we are working with the Alliance Defense Fund on a series of sermons this fall for pastors to preach, so that they educate their people on the issues. ... And finally we're going to be doing a candidate-comparison message that is going to ask pastors to cross the line.
He was then asked if "cross the line" meant "suggesting who they vote for." He responded:
Well we're going to go to pastors and say to them that we really believe that they need to challenge some of the thinking that we have going on in our society, which is that separation of church and state doctrine, that we really need to preach the Bible on these issues and apply them to the things that are going on in the culture today.
What he is encouraging, however, is a very dangerous line to cross. The pastors risk losing the church's tax-exempt status if they cross the line. The pastors risk hurting the gospel message if they cross the line. The pastors risk driving people away from God if they cross the line. And all for politics. It is simply not worth harming the church's mission and witness just to help a politician win an election. Perhaps Cureton should consider the wise words of singer Derek Webb:
you can always trust the devil or a politician
to be the devil or a politician
but beyond that friends you'd best beware
'cause at the Pentagon bar they're an inseparable pair
and as long as the lobbyists are paying their bills
we'll never have a savior on Capitol Hill
It is a great lesson that Cureton and many other religious leaders need to learn: we will not find a savior on Capitol Hill (or in the White House). Ministry can be difficult enough without adding another barrier because of one's public partisan involvement. As I argued in my book (For God's Sake, Shut Up!), we must not give up our higher calling in order to play politics.