Jun 10, 2009

Pet Peeve: Political Campaigning in the Pulpit

I am taking a break from posting on Just(ice)fication: Divine Righteousness from a post-colonial perspective and an extended break from posting on Insights for Christian activism to discuss one of my pet peeves about certain church services.


My favorite Gospel in the New Testament to read growing up as a wide-eyed eight year-old in Louisville, KY was the Gospel according to Matthew in the King James version. This would explain a lot about my religious and political beliefs because I take the Sermon on the Mount to be authoritative since, you know, Jesus is the Master of the Universe in addition to being a very intelligent Teacher. Matthew 22:21 I especially love to quote, even today in the poetic form of the AUTHORIZED version of God's Holy Word: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." This passage, after I took Dr. Ron Flowers "Church and State Law in America class" a few years ago took on a new meaning for me.

Do not get me wrong. I am not one of those people who say, well, Jesus was not into politics, as if a relationship with the Master and Messiah of my life has no implications whatsoever for my relationships with my neighbors, the opposite sex, my country, my government. Indeed, there are political obligations for those who wish to represent Jesus the Messiah, whether they be male or female, black or white, rich or poor, conservative or liberal, etc., etc.

What I disapprove of is the brand of Constantinian Christianity that says the church exists to legitimate the political powers that be, whether it is in the form of a democratic-republic, constitutional-monarchy, or Islamo-fascist state. Because of the Church's prophetic task to take the Good News to the world and make disciples, it is necessary for some Christians to become involved in politics. But this involvement should not be at the expense of ignoring Christian principles just to suit one's own agenda or appease the people.

What I continue to find disturbing is North American churches on the RIGHT and LEFT where the messages from the pulpit are little more than the campaign slogan of the last general election, maybe a YES WE CAN there just to get the people excited or COUNTRY FIRST here so we can wrap the cross of Christ around the American flag. It makes me sick to my stomach to see politicians come up in front of congregations and pretend they are not campaigning and tell about how much they love the LORD and how much of a family woman/man they are. I have heard horror stories, from white Democratic campaign activists themselves bragging to me how they love to go to Black churches to drop-off campaign material (identity politics aside-- i will address this in later posts)and I have also seen on television Charismatic pastors preach that George W. Bush was God's man in 2000 because God spoke to Moses through a burning bush in Exodus 3. These are plain abominations! But, alas no one cares because nothing is sacred any more. Very little distinction between the holy and the worldly, the Christian and the lost. But I guess that is the point, though, huh?

5 comments:

preachgirl_tasha said...

I agree that the pulpit shouldn't be used to endorse a political candidate. I've been to conferences and convocations where visiting political candidates were acknowledged and wondered, "If this candidate was not running for office, would he/she normally be at this church?" I believe that if more churches taught people how to have a relationship with God for themselves then the congregation would not need to be told how to vote because they will know how to prayerfully consider each candidate and make the right choice based on the Word of God that is already in their heart.

mike fox said...

rod, i tend to agree with you. it seems the church doesn't know enough bible to be informed by it in the public sphere. ministers feel too confident in their political leanings & ideologies. no one seems willing to critique their own constituency & allignments.

i faced this as a pastor in missouri. our church paid attention to politics & certain people wanted me to speak about certain issues from the pulpit. my answer was that my job was to teach biblical truth and inform the body so that they could go out and make their own informed decisions in the publich sphere. i still stand by that philosophy, though as a baptist i'm heavily influenced by our emphasis on the priesthood of all believers.

christmyrighteousness9587 said...

Rod:
This is not a North American Church phenomenon, rather a US (based) problem. It does not happen in Haiti or in Jamaica:)

It's an American thing!

Honestly, the whole thing bothers and frustrates me. I believe we know better to make the visible distinction between the secular and the sacred, the church and the state. On the other hand, we have to take into account the Evangelical community's influence on US politics and social thought.

christmyrighteousness9587 said...

Rod:
This is not a North American Church phenomenon, rather a US (based) problem. It does not happen in Haiti or in Jamaica:)

It's an American thing!

Honestly, the whole thing bothers and frustrates me. I believe we know better to make the visible distinction between the secular and the sacred, the church and the state. On the other hand, we have to take into account the Evangelical community's influence on US politics and social thought.

Rod said...

CJ,

I stand corrected.