Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Don't Let Your Preacher Tell You How to Vote

photo by Paula Walls / flickr

One of the planks in the Republican platform hopes to turn back is the Congress-passed rule that non-profits--particularly churches-- cannot get into the partisan politics.  In the present churches and others that carry the flag for one candidate are in danger of losing their tax-exempt status. Even though this law has been on the books since the Johnson years--it really has not been imposed often on violating churches and other non-profits.

Simply put: No preacher has any business telling you how to vote. That is your business. We still have separation of Church and State on the books. It doesn't mean that the church should not take moral stands or lead their congregations to struggle with rights and wrongs. Churches that were silent when the Civil Rights struggle was going on were simply caving in to expedience. I know--a lot of churches didn't want their Pastors to talk about this issue (and others)--but at bottom this was an integrity issue. Still is. Deacons stood at the front door of churches to make sure no black folks were allowed. Some kept saying we don't know what their motives are or what their agenda might be. Funny. They never raised that question about white folks that sauntered into the door. The same thing could be said about gays. Some churches turn them away by their attitudes even though no one stands at the door unless it is that weird bunch in Kansas.

When Jesus said Whosoever will may come--he did not qualify that whosoever. Any church that turns anyone away simply because of color or gender is violating the heart of the gospel. One preacher was sitting in a Deacon's meeting one night when the Deacons decided any black person that decided to join would be turned away. The preacher responded: "Ok. Go on and do this. And next Sunday there will be no Invitation. Or the next Sunday or the next. If everybody can't come and present themselves for membership in this church--nobody can." It didn't take long for the Deacons to change their policy.

Tony Campolo wrote a book in which he said: Jesus is not a Democrat or a Republican. He's right. So--we preachers should not be in the bid-ness of telling their people how to vote. The arrogance of such as a stance is appalling. Members do have brains and are not puppets. Years ago one prominent Cardinal of the Catholic church said: "You have to pay your own taxes, make your own love, and choose who you will vote for. There are some things you have to do for yourself."

Any preacher who stands behind what we used to call the "sacred desk" and tells people what candidate to vote for ought to be given his or her walking papers. For he or she has corrupted a Gospel that waves no national banner or tries to drag Jesus to their particular side. And I don't care if their names are Franklin Graham or Jerry Falwell Jr. or James Dobson.

Bob Allen of Baptist Global News has written a fine article about Pastors on Mr. Trump's Advisory Committee. Looks like some Baptist have forgotten their heritage.

--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogsplot.com

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