I’m going to tell you who to vote for regarding the upcoming Presidential Election. But first you’ve got to put up with my political rambling. Here is:
Every four years the American people begin a process which I’m very proud of, and which horrifies me at the same time. We begin that process of nominating and electing the President of the United States of America. That process has now begun, and the news media is having its pre-election field-day, following candidates, analyzing polls, and dividing the American people into polarized camps.
I’m proud to live in a democracy, but I find the whole political process uncomfortable, and even distasteful. And as we brace ourselves for the coming onslaught of negative political ads, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about politics and faith, and specifically how we as a family of faith can avoid being sucked into the negative atmosphere that tends to permeate political discourse.
While there are a number of Americans who seem to want politics discussed from the pulpit, I’m not a big fan of mixing Christianity and political ideologies. So here’s why I think we need to keep partisan politics out of the Maple Avenue Pulpit.
1. Churches that become political are in danger of losing their tax exempt status. In other words, freedom of expression guarantees my right to preach political sermons, but doing so could jeopardize our congregation’s non-profit status. Obviously this law isn’t enforced very often, and it’s easy to find congregations and clergy who ignore it with no bad consequences. Still, I intend to respect this separation of church and state.
2. We live in a politically diverse congregation, and I’m proud of this fact! We have strong Republicans and we have strong Democrats. If we start dividing up into political teams it would harm, or even destroy, our ministry together. For that reason it is essential for us to focus on our life together above our political agendas. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say that our joint ministry is more important than our political agendas.
3. Our ministry is more important than political agendas because we seek first the kingdom of God…not the kingdom of Democrats, or the Kingdom of Republicans, or the Kingdom of Independents. The Christian faith must always rise above our narrow political ideologies, and whenever Christianity becomes entangled with a particular political stance it gets dragged into the political mud. Jesus was not a Republican, and neither was he a Democrat.
4. Because we’re rising above politics, we need to respect each others political views. We are citizens of the United States of America and we have a duty to be politically informed and vote our conscience. But whenever I come to believe that the person on the other side of the political fence is just crazy, doesn’t make any sense, and doesn’t need to be heard, I’ve destroyed any possible dialogue and unfairly demonized that other person. In a church we need to operate under the assumption that all sides of a political debate have some valid points to make and are worth considering. In a church, we don’t always agree but we always respect one another.
I do have political opinions and I have no problem sharing them--especially if you ply me with coffee and ask me privately. I’m sure the same thing is true of most of our members. But in a church we operate by a different set of rules than others in the world, and we must always resist the temptation to get sucked into political divisiveness.
So here’s where I tell you who to vote for. After careful consideration, vote for the person you think is best qualified to lead our country. I’ll respect you and your decision, and I hope we can all do the same for one another.