I saw this in the news yesterday and just kind of shook my head. Apparently about a hundred churches took part in ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ yesterday and in defiance of laws passed in the fifties, spoke about election issues and candidates to support/not support. As a bit of background, a part of the conditions set in churches tax exempt status is the law that we are to not endorse specific candidates, etc.
I find myself having a couple reactions to this article and others talking about this ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday.’
One of my discomforts in ministry for years has been this idea that we have in a way been bought off as churches. In other words, in exchange for tax exempt status, we have allowed the government to forbid us certain topics to talk about from the pulpit, and this makes me uncomfortable. I think our only obligation should be God and the Bible, so for a while now there is a part of me that hasn’t thought tax exemption is worth it – government should not be mixed up in the things of the church. It seems a dangerous first step in controlling and dictating other aspects of the church.
On the flip side … my other reaction is with these churches. I don’t feel politics is an issue that needs to be preached! Yes, discernment and wisdom are Biblical values to be taught, but I don’t think we see the heart of God being focused on telling His people who to elect. In fact, the New Testament repeatedly tells the church to pray for and support their government leaders – leaders who were outlawing them and putting them to death! The critical issue for the church is connecting people without God to God! I think we get too focused on things outside of God’s calling for us when we begin speaking on these issues from the pulpit.
So all that to say, as a pastor I think it’s a wrong focus to speak directly on politics and endorsing (or not endorsing) candidates from the pulpit, but at the same time, I am uncomfortable with the feeling of being bought as a preacher with the way the laws currently are. What are your thoughts?