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.

2 comments

  1. The answer to the question of church and state is very simple, and it comes from the mouth of Jesus:

    Matthew 22:21 - "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s"

    The separation of church and state established by the Founders of this nation was intended to protect both the state and the church from influence from the other party. It was also to prevent the establishment of an official state church, as was/is the case in many European countries.

    While some in the Christian community see the Establishment Clause as anti-religious, it is worth pointing out that the official separation has provided more freedom of religion than was ever available to people living in European countries with official churches. The variety and bounty of religions in America would not have been possible otherwise.

    I would very much like to see the Christian community in the United States return to the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus rather than spend their time meddling with our political system. Each individual person has a human and civil right to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. For any church or anyone in the church to instruct other members how to cast that vote is abominable and the penalty of losing tax-exempt status is certainly called for.

    Preach the word. Focus on Jesus' teachings and how to apply them to our lives. Stop trying to gain political power and influence - that belongs to "Caesar".

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