Political Courting

August 05, 2010

During Tuesday's primaries, the candidates for the Missouri U.S. Senate race were officially nominated. The race, which pits Republican Roy Blunt against Democrat Robin Carnahan, promises to be one of the closest Senate races in this year's midterms elections. As the campaign heats up, the path to victory seems to be through churches as both candidates are courting African-American pastors. However, at least one pastor seems to be cautioning clergy to be careful with such political outreach efforts. Reverend Starsky D. Wilson wrote in the St. Louis American:

It is the job of the politician to reach as many people as possible. In the black community, the church provides the most efficient, regular opportunity to do so. So, for them, it's good political strategy and calculation. But, the pastor who calculates that it is his or her business to play kingmaker through the process of political endorsements has misread the charge of the sacred texts. Maybe they got a hold of the underground, screw-tape remix of the Beatitudes' ("Blessed are the peacemakers") and the Lord's Prayer (“Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done"). But, the scriptures never read "Blessed are the Kingmakers." ... The broader witness of the church has been more consistent with that of the Christ, challenging political powers on behalf of the poor, not anointing them.
Novelist Amy Greene makes a similar point in the New York Times today as she critiques candidates in today's Tennessee gubernatorial primary for publicizing their religion in hopes of finding political salvation. She argued:
This is the opposite of what my grandfather and my dad and Appalachian preachers of their ilk tried to teach - a devotion that is as much a part of our mountain heritage as the land, that can't be reduced to campaign propaganda, that shouldn’t be exploited for one vote or one issue. It's way too big for that. I just wish politicians and pastors would stop making it so small.
Amen! Hopefully, pastors will follow the wisdom of Wilson and Greene as the elections near.