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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Church and Politics

Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's an election year. I know, because my phone rings more than it ever does otherwise.

In the last few weeks, much has been made about the IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt organizations (like churches) from endorsing a particular candidate or party. On Oct. 7, something like 1,500 pastors participated in what was billed as "pulpit freedom Sunday," endorsing by name particular candidates and then sending video of their sermons to the IRS. Their hope is to challenge in court the constitutionality of the law.

More recently, a church in eastern Iowa made headlines when a parishioner complained about the presence of political brochures in the church lobby. In response, the pastor chose not only to read from the brochure in the pulpit but also verbally assaulted the woman who complained. His rationale, again, is that the IRS rule is not constitutional.

I do not feel that it is my place as a pastor, or the role of the church, to endorse individual candidates or a political party. I feel that way for a couple of reasons:

First, as I understand it, the IRS rule is an "opt-in" rule. That is, tax exempt status is something that churches and other charitable organizations choose to apply for. A church that gives up its tax exempt status would be free to make all the political endorsements it wanted; but its donors would no longer be able to take deductions and the church's income would be subject to taxation as well.

Second, and more importantly, politics is not the church's mission. My fear is that the churches which are clamoring for the right to be involved in election campaigns have bought into the idea that control of the government will somehow save us. My conviction is that our hope lies not in who governs us or in what laws are passed, but in Jesus Christ. My job as a pastor, and the role of the church, is to point people to Jesus.

Psalm 20:7 says: "Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." I sometimes think that verse could be rewritten to say: "Some trust in the Democrats and some trust in the Republicans, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." It's important that we in the church remember where our real hope comes from.

Now, don't misunderstand me. The right to vote and participate in a democratic government is one of the greatest blessings God has given to us as Americans. Christians absolutely should have opinions, support candidates, run for office, work within the political parties, and vote. We should let Jesus inform our political positions, and we should pray for these elections and the candidates.

I'm not going to tell you how to vote though. It's not a part of my mission. And you don't need me to tell you who to vote for.


Comments
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If I went to a church that did this--I would never set foot in it again! but then where I live the catholic church had a HUGE bill board in their front lawn regarding voting against abortions---- several years ago!

-- Posted by iowagirl on Sat, Nov 3, 2012, at 4:49 PM

A nation that kills their children has no future.

I hope that every human being IS in support of the dignity of human life. All human life. Who's to say that someday maybe, our supreme courts vote it constitutional to murder adults who develop mental illness later in life.

Christ teaches us WE are our brother's keeper.

We have the obligation to defend the weak...who is weaker than an unborn child.

Nothing political in that issue at all. Common Sense need to be a little more common these days!

-- Posted by old timing man on Mon, Nov 5, 2012, at 11:07 AM

You don't seem to get the drift--they were talking about church preaching from the alter. If you don't believe in abortion--I hope you have your name on the list to adopt another not wanted baby--or maybe several of them! Or buy groceries for a single mom that is hungary! Betch never thought of that did you?

-- Posted by iowagirl on Sat, Nov 10, 2012, at 5:47 PM

One of the best opinions I've read. Amen!

-- Posted by joev on Sun, Nov 11, 2012, at 6:40 PM

I thought church is to be separate from state and state from the church? Should not the congregation know the ideology of the church? If one wants to hear from the pastor, it should be face to face. Not a sermon. If one wants to learn about what is going on, there is plenty of ppl that are involved outside of the church to find info.

I too would get up and walk out from the church if I heard the pastor start to preach about politics. When/if I go, I go to get rejuvinated to mustard up the strength to deal with the outside world.

-- Posted by acerdj on Mon, Nov 12, 2012, at 6:46 AM

If only we knew what caused pregnancy and how to avoid it happening until we ready to raise the children

-- Posted by Guy Fawkes on Tue, Nov 13, 2012, at 6:34 PM

No where does it say that church should be seperated from state.

-- Posted by Mechler on Sat, Nov 17, 2012, at 5:23 PM

Simpleperson I believe its the 1st Ammendment to the Constitution.

-- Posted by joev on Mon, Nov 19, 2012, at 12:57 PM

First amendment states, in part: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Therefore, the U.S. is not a Christian nation, though Christians and others should be free to exercise their religious beliefs without restriction.

Most of the idea was in a letter Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 about how there should be a "wall of separation" between the church and the government. The founding fathers believed government should not interfere with religion. To me, this includes any law that imposes the values and laws of any one religion upon free citizens.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Tue, Nov 20, 2012, at 3:38 PM

Your reponse to "Old Timing Man" is well put "Iowa Girl". My hat's off to ya.

-- Posted by Doctlby on Sat, Nov 24, 2012, at 2:43 PM

Iowa Girl...I always think of this! I am the oldest of 4. I was raised by a single mother. I am very glad that she realized that pregnancy and subsequent child birth is a NATURAL consequence to sex. I have a dear friend that is a product of a rape. I am also very glad that his birth mother had a faith in God's plan. I have a beautiful daughter that was adopted and 2 children by birth. I will never have a problem with people entrusted with the knowledge of the Holy Spirit in helping formulate moral decisions of people. Read a bible. That kind of is their job. The first and foremost function of the Church is to worship God. The 2nd is to teach and sanctify it's people.

-- Posted by old timing man on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 11:29 AM

@joev. The first amendment doesn't say that at all. It says that government will stay out of the church's business. It is a subtle but very important difference. Jefferson's "wall of separation" was intended to protect the church from the government, not the other way around. I refer you to this article:

http://www.truenews.org/Religious_Freedo...

-- Posted by Mechler on Fri, Nov 30, 2012, at 7:51 AM

@simpleperson - That isn't what the 1st Amendment says either. It says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." I refer you to...the First Amendment.

Also, truenews.org? Really? About as unbiased as au.org (on the other side of this issue).

-- Posted by Sony on Fri, Nov 30, 2012, at 9:14 AM

@Sony My "unbiased" is better than your "unbiased":^)

How about http://www.newswithviews.com/Bill/sizemo...

Or how about comments from our founders including the Federalist Papers?

http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/2009/...

-- Posted by Mechler on Fri, Nov 30, 2012, at 11:01 AM


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