Sep 29, 2008

On Pulpits and Politics

Reverend Wiley S. Drake: politics and religion mix well for him

I read with some interest the news accounts of the The Pulpit Freedom Sunday of the Alliance Defense Fund, the group of pastors who decided to challenge IRS regulations that prohibit the use of churches to endorse political candidates. No surprise - the conservative pastors en masse urged their congregations to vote for Senator John McCain and to not vote for Senator Barack Obama.

Among the more incendiary of the preachers was the Reverend Wiley Drake, of the First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, CA:
According to my Bible and in my opinion, there is no way in the world a Christian can vote for Barack Hussein Obama. Mr. Obama is not standing up for anything that is tradition in America.
Hey, Reverend? I'm a Christian, and I just cannot see any reference in my Bible about voting, let alone voting for a candidate of a particular party, or whose middle name happens to be Hussein. Could you point that out for me?

Now, as an independent voter, my loyalty is to policy over party, and I evaluate candidates based upon how I perceive their platforms will affect me and my family. While I have problems with some of Obama's policies, and I have yet to decide if his shortcomings outweigh his positive attributes, the last thing I need is to be annoyed with partisan propaganda in the middle of a religious service.

While an effective argument can made against the use of non-profit tax status of churches starring political-minded preachers, I think the larger issue is the abuse of the pulpit in the name of Christ. From what I have read in my decades of religious reading, just about the last worry of Christ would be the political persuasion of the next President of the United States.

His message is simple:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
I think we can best address the sacrilege of secular political propaganda by marching our God-fearing derrieres straight from church the minute our minister launches into an irrelevant political tirade. Of course, for those folks who view their pastors as some sort of holy men - blackheads, warts, and all - this is easier said than done, but it seems to me that there is something warped about a church's interpretation of the Gospel when preachers are telling us how to cast our ballots.

And maybe - just maybe - preachers like Reverend Wiley S. Drake need to look in the mirror and question their true motives.


kooz said...

Correct, there is nothing about voting in the Bible. However, there is plenty in the Bible about the sin of murder. Jesus said that for those who hurt children, it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their neck and drowned compared to what they will face on judgement day.

With Obama's overt support for abortion...there is no way a true Christian could vote for such a man.

While I don't deny God is a god of love...lets not deny the overwhelming examples in the Bible of God judging, punishing, etc.

kooz said...

I find it interesting that so many people have a problem with churches endorsing candidates...a church that people CHOOSE to go to. But, nobody seems to have a problem with newspapers endorsing candidates who are supposed to be non-bias. And, nobody has a problem with labor unions supporting candidates even though the workers are forced to pay union dues.

I especially have a problem with the National Education Association endorsing candidates. Why is it teachers and schools can try to influence votes but churches can't?

Does this have anything to do with party affiliation? If unions were endorsing republicans would we be calling foul like we do for churches? I highly doubt it.

Mad Jack said...

With Obama's overt support for abortion...there is no way a true Christian could vote for such a man.

Not so. I am a true Christian and I'd vote for Obama, based on his support for abortion.

Your arguments against abortion do not hold water for several reasons. From Leviticus 20:

9 " 'If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.

10 " 'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

11 " 'If a man sleeps with his father's wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

12 " 'If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.

13 " 'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

14 " 'If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.

15 " 'If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

16 " 'If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

17 " 'If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They must be cut off before the eyes of their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible.

How is it that the people slaying these women knew whether the women were pregnant or not?

Secondly, note that we celebrate the date we were born. We celebrate Jesus' birth and other notable births. We do not celebrate the date of conception, which was well known before Jesus time. Our life begins at birth, not at conception. Moreover, abortion has been a reality for hundreds of years. The argument about conception is recent, brought about by anti-freedom groups as another way to control the population.

In response to your complaint about the freedom of speech, candidate endorsement and the separation of church and state, allow me to point out that the Church pays no tax. This is a trade off between the Church and the State. You may not like it, but it's far better than allowing the Catholic Church to support candidates from the pulpit, and the same is true for the Southern Baptist Convention.

historymike said...

A few thoughts, Kooz:

1. If Obama should be opposed for not opposing abortion, then McCain should be opposed for not opposing murder (Iraq War) and adultery (cheating on his wife, who stood by him while he was a POW). Personally, I think ALL politicians (like just about all humans, with the possible exception of Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Bono (just kidding)) are morally flawed.

2. As Christians, we cannot achieve a consensus on abortion, and we are not in a position to demand the abolition of abortion. Part of this is technological in nature, as medical advances push back the point at which a human fetus can be viable outside the womb. I suspect abortion will become even more divisive if (or perhaps WHEN) scientists can carry to term an embryo completely outside the womb. As it stands, though, there are sharp differences as to when a fetus is "human": at conception (fundamentalists and Catholics), viability outside the womb (some Protestant denominations), or when the fetus leaves the womb, even at full term. Then, of course, there are the more difficult moral dilemmas, like in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is in danger.

3. Getting back to my original point: I resent when spiritual leaders neglect their religious responsibilities and enter the realm of the secular political world, especially when they take on self-appointed roles as something akin to Islamic mullahs. I do not need a spokesperson for my faith, and besides: Christ probably pays no attention to politics.

After all, He would have been on Larry King by now. :-}

dr-exmedic said...

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s."

Matthew 22:21 has often been used to justify churches not getting involved in politics.

microdot said...

Kooz does not have a problem with churches endorsing candidates, but with secular institutions endorsing them?

The...uummm...constitutional separation of church and state?

or is that some thing he has a problem with as well?

Billy Pilgrim said...

Kooz, as an established journalist, I must say it is sad in my opinion that many Christians such as yourself have become "one issue" voters. For like-minded individuals, the only litmus test for a candidate is the hot-button abortion issue, to the utter neglect, it would seem, of all other worldly concerns.

What I find even more distressing, however, is that any intelligent American could actually believe the President of the United States has any control over abortion's legality. Bush is a supposedly pro-life president; what has he done in the past eight years to thwart the so-called murder of innocents?

The fact of the matter is that abortion is a perrennial red herring in presidential elections, and is simply a way for both parties to shore up their respective bases. Apart from Supreme Court nominees, the president has absolutely no control over the status of abortion, and even then we've seen profoundly conservative justices (i.e. Roberts) completely unwilling to reconsider Roe V. Wade.

Now if you'll excuse me, my copy of Asian Bangfest 17 just arrived via UPS, so I need to continue my, er, research.