Pastors and Politics

I just want to take a quick moment to blog. By that I mean that I want to do what blogging used to be meant for: a web log of thoughts; a diary of sorts.

What thoughts do I want to record and share with the world? Politics. Specifically, pastors and the subject of politics.

The reason I want to simply “blog” is because I have not done any research, sourcing, or anything like that in order to craft a professional opinion piece. This is not meant to be an article worth publishing in a news paper or magazine. I have no links to news stories or pictures to share.

No, all this is meant to be is me sharing my thoughts off the cuff, unprepared, and dangerous.

You see, I have political opinions. I have my opinions about our President. I have strong opinions about the government and the direction we should be going as a country. Yet, as a pastor, my thoughts on these issues are considered taboo, off limits, no matter if they are spoken from the pulpit or elsewhere (and I’m speaking generically, not specifically about my current congregation).

It’s a strange situation to be in, actually. I mean, here we are, pillars in the community, men tasked with preaching truth without compromise, yet if we mention anything about conservative policies we think might better the community, we’re in danger of alienating people and running the risk of splitting a congregation!

It’s pretty sad, isn’t it? Shouldn’t the gospel apply to every area of life? Shouldn’t the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles find application in the voting booth? It would seem so. However, I could preach about anything, even against same-sex marriage, and aside from the vitriolic response I might get from friends of the rainbow, the average church member would support me in my pastoral, prophetic role. Yet, talk about anything political that might hint of my personal persuasions and I’d likely be censured.

Do you ever wonder why this is? Do you ever wonder why it is that a pastor cannot talk about politics that same way he can about adultery, lying, anger, murder, hate, hypocrisy, abuse, weighted scales, and bigotry?

Think about it… there are people in Christian media and print, along with nationally-known religious personalities, who are taking full advantage of their platforms to say anything negative about our President, even to the point of calling for his impeachment. Yet, if the average pastor stood behind the pulpit and said, “I think we ought to pray for Donald Trump, that he should succeed and become a great President, for our country and the world’s sake,” he’d likely be labeled a fascist, racist, evil Nazi sympathizer.

Oh, I forgot. It’s OK to admit you pray for the President, but only if you’re Nancy Pelosi and your ultimate goal is his imprisonment.

Here’s the thing, though. In every congregation of believers in Christ there are going to be people who are members of different political factions, and that goes for everywhere. Yet, when it comes to issues of right and wrong, good and evil, and how we should live out our faith in the public arena, which includes the voting booth, if God’s sufficient Word cannot find application that should guide the Christian, if there are areas in life that cannot be addressed by Scripture for fear that it might offend the Christian or bruise his personal sacred cow, then is the revealed Word of God really all it claims to be?

Prudence soaked in love; wisdom granted by the Spirit; and a keen contextual awareness are key when considering when, where, and how we should address these topics. However, fear should never be the motivating factor that intimidates us into silence when God has a Word to say.

Those are my thoughts on this Friday afternoon.

God bless.

18 Comments

Filed under America, blogging, Christian Unity, community, General Observations, politics, Preaching

18 responses to “Pastors and Politics

  1. You’re a brave man Anthony. I’m Canadian (ex-military), not American, so I try to avoid jumping onto someone else’s bandwagon because it has a tendency to not be productive. I, like you, have my personal opinions about President Trump but I try to keep them to myself. I have a non-Christian son who thinks the exact opposite of what I do about President Trump and we also have determined that avoiding that subject is the better path to go. I have Christian friends in the USA on both sides of the fence and I have learned that sincerity is not the issue. Apparently both sides are sincere although each side would probably question that. I’ve watched and listened to the ping pong assaults that go back and forth and it is distressing to say the least. Candidly I fear for our children and grandchildren because if the division worsens, there’s no telling where it will end. I think the only winners in what is happening is Russia and China and that is not good. I don’t envy the position you are in, it must be difficult. As ambassadors for Christ, I thought it was our Christian responsibility to discuss issues without attacking one another but apparently that doesn’t apply in all cases. Not really sure why that is. Can’t help but think that both sides have lost the high ground somewhere along the line. Could be that we’ve somehow lost sight of the true prize we’re supposed to be reaching for. I wish you well my friend. Blessings.

  2. The bully pulpit is one of the most powerful places a person can be other than on the pillow beside the president of some organization.
    While people in your church have one voice to speak to another person you have a voice to talk to all the persons. So it is a unfair advantage, ergo the bully pulpit.
    Pastors are laity elevated to speak. While some think they are the arrived elevated to speak, I think Gods gifting show that many out of a hundred are given gifts.

    Whats interesting about the gifts is, none of them are for politics. They are for the souls of men and women for the work of the ministry.

    But as for speaking your mind about politics, If you are not able to instill morals and convictions in the people you speak too, then who can. We make our choices by the morals and beliefs we have. We hope our children chose the right man or woman for a spouse, only rarely should we try and individually explain why that person is not right for them.

    I had a talk with my daughter, having my own sort of bully pulpit with her being her dad. Rather than alienate her by going to the extreme about her choice, we had a nice talk about God, I provided some proofs and some worship music, about Gods love for us and then I talked with her about her choices.

    Her Boy friend at the time wasn’t a christian and 5 years older, the foreman of the place she worked at. Yet he wasn’t going to church and at a family function showed little interest in the family. He really wasn’t going anywhere in life either. But my concern was spiritual.

    So I said, we know how important he is but how much more important God is and eternity. And we know about conflict and being unequally yoked. So, try and help him become a christian over the next 6 months, have talks with him. If it goes caustic you know how your marriage will be. If he alienates you from the family and from God, try a bit more but if you cant get anywhere drop him like a rock. Your life will survive it. There is so much more to life than this moment.

    So I did not have to force the end of their relationship. She ended it, not a couple months later.

    So I was careful how I used my bully pulpit.
    ————–
    You could destroy your relationship with people who might hate trump or might Love trump. Instead, simply preach what Christ wants in their lives and how important it is.

    One area Trump screwed up is this Idea of and eye for an eye. Clearly he thought that was a christian principle at first in what he was saying until someone said, Hey!! you know Jesus changed that.
    Clearly He hadn’t read a lot of the bible if any.

    A second thing Trump screwed up on is his moral crude language about women. Someone should wash his mouth out with soap. Obviously objectifying women, human trafficking, lusting after the flesh etc. is something David ran toward but then he was exposed by a friend and David showed a good side of himself a willingness to repent and change his way, right to the heart.

    Another place Trump screws up in is that he name calls and bickers. We all do that to a degree but he is well known for responding in kind which people have warned him about. Even Democrats who are slimy that way. They started the day the election happened and politics is all about scheming against the other guy. You can easily preach on the heart that comes with that. Even David realized what he had done when he cut off the robe of Saul.
    Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing against my master – the LORD’s anointed – to send my hand against him, for he is the LORD’s anointed!

    So with the most powerful pulpit in the church I think you can do a whole lot without grandstanding or shoving your opinion of who needs to be or shouldn’t be president without getting into it.

    You can simply list things Like I did and deal with them and others one at a time from finances to how you dress and what you do on your free time. You literally have to much power. You literally have control of peoples lives. I am actually surprised you are complaining you don’t have enough room to say what you want.

    If anything the church in general should complain that pastors have hogged the pulpit and wont let anyone elses contribute. Only God gave the gifts to them and everyone else are sheep. It seems to me that the gifts are given to the church not to the single person at the pulpit. So please don’t say you feel Oppressed.

    Let him who wants to lead be your minister. (meaning your servant.) I would like a dish of “what christ wants for me” and a dish of ice cream while you are at it.
    -Scott.

    • As strange as it may sound, I agree with you, but not completely. Actually, nothing you wrote was wrong (at first read), but I guess there’s a tiny bit more to my complaint than your comment addresses.

      To be more specific, what I think unfortunate is the fact that we can address nearly any subject from the pulpit (as long as it’s decent), including doctrines that clearly divide, yet if our words even smell of political issues, the pastor is chastised for going to far. People get offended over other things, don’t they? Why is this subject so taboo?

      Now, I do NOT believe it is appropriate to instruct our people who to vote for; I never do that. What I’m talking about are addressing the issues at hand that would be affected by a vote on way or another. For example, Sanctity of Life Sunday is coming up, soon. I am pro-life, anti-abortion, and think it should be outlawed except for the LIFE of the mother (not the “health” – that vague catch-all word). Is it not fair to suggest a Christian should consider whether or not his choice for political office would continue this evil practice?

      As to “hogging” the pulpit, that’s a complaint I’ve heard before, but it ignores the fact that there are plenty of other places within the church that people have the opportunity to speak and teach. And, if a congregation wants to constitute itself in such a way that allows or encourages multiple speakers from the pulpit, then they can do that. But, as our particular congregation has been constituted (by voting on semi-regularly updated bylaws), the pastor has sole discretion who preaches. That being said, just last week I questioned our deacons about any young men in the church that might have expressed a desire or calling.

      But I must remind anyone reading this that teaching and preaching, especially in the context of who is and who is not the under shepherd (pastor) of God’s flock (a local congregation) is not necessarily the same.

      Now, as to “oppressed,” I do feel the 1954 Johnson Amendment to the US tax code was a clear violation of free speech, particularly in how it threatened a pastor with imprisonment for either endorsing or opposing a political candidate. Whether it be proper or not to do so, it’s not the government’s business to tell a pastor what he can or can’t preach as long as he’s not intentionally inciting violence.

      So, yes, our main purpose is souls, not politics. And I can’t see any reason for a pastor to use his position to promote the general policies of one party or candidate over another. However, if the truth and principles of Scripture clearly contradict a bad law or policy under which my congregation will be harmed or forced to violate their consciences, then I feel it is perfectly acceptable for me to speak out on behalf of good to influence righteous judgment. And, where possible, I believe I should try to speak to directly to the lawmakers, as I have done on several occasions.

      I do appreciate your comment, though. Our hearts, I believe, are in the same place.

      • My Email did not pick up the replys, so sorry about the late reply.

        I think Older people are a well of biblical knowledge. Young people are not. Still thats two different issues.
        The point is having 6 people doing two sermons gives you 12 weeks of different faces. And you get to help develop leaders and preachers. If you have a few that have special areas of interest, great!. If they want to do a home group and do well, great! God is working! They can also take youth under their wing, and with a job to do, they will try to have a task each week for them. Poof, your church has doubled.
        Its funny you might end up having to hire one or two when the load increases. I know that Peoples church in Canada hired from within. And they are on TV internationally. Bret is not bad.
        https://thepeopleschurch.ca/
        The guy Mark isn’t Bret, or the past preacher, Charles Price.

        I think its great! You already know two or three who should be doing more with the gifts God gave them.

        Anyways. I agree with you that we should speak truth even about Politics but we should be careful that we do not alienate those we have made progress with. with patience people do change. You have 50 weeks to get through to people on issues.

      • Stephen

        Cool story fellas Lol

    • Stephen

      Scott,
      Hummm, cause christian marriages never end in divorce or abuse? Wether you admit or not, you willfully chose to manipulate your daughter and past judgement on a young man.. Not sure it’s much better then the other options to voice your concerns.
      As for hirelings in the pulpit, from one side of their mouth they say they would never tell someone who to vote for, but from the other side they suggest that “real christians” should vote a certain way.
      It’s not enough we got to hear the BS from the Des and Rep camp everywhere else in the world, no, the pulpit needs to chime in also.
      There is absolutely no difference between the world and those who attend and adhere to organized religion.

      • Stephen, thank you very much for your comment. I appreciate your concern, even though you paint with a broad brush.

      • Stephen

        We all have our opinions Anthony. Sometimes we try to pass them off as Gods’ truth. When we stand before Jesus Christ, we will then know the Truth. I long for that day cause I’ve had my fill of men who claim to have the Truth. Till then, I’ll rest in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
        I’ve tasted the paint religion paints with, and will not be painted with that brush. So I’ll continue to paint with my broad brush.

      • Well, it’s obvious you’ve been hurt and are angry. I’m sure you have good reasons. But maybe I could be somebody that could at least ease some of the burn with honesty and humility. I don’t know what you’ve experienced in particular, but I’m not like the picture you’re painting.

      • Stephen

        In all honesty Anthony, I haven’t been hurt and I’m not angry. All my life I’ve been surrounded by people who love and watch over me. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s The Lord Jesus who has orchestrated it all. Though most of my mentors never spoke His name or had any part in religion, they lived Christ.
        I have an amazing wife and 4 boys who give me no grief. Jesus has never let me down, I have no reason to be angry.
        If your blog is an accurate portrayal of who you are, then I can get a pretty good idea of who you are.

      • Awesome. It’s a pretty accurate description: quirky, flawed, honest, transparent (too much, says my wife), often opinionated, and real. You’re welcome to comment any time, even when you disagree.

      • Everything everyone says to anyone is a type of manipulation. I gladly impose my beliefs on my daughter. I thought of it, I gave instruction, I knew the topic and I passed judgment on a unfit person for my daughter. He could have fixed it. She likely tried, but the bond was not enough to keep it alive and it appears she took my advise. I use the bully pulpit I have when needed, but I do it out of love and carefully. I might have added some grand standing ultimatum in there to a small degree, that goes with the bully pulpit, but it was in love, it was not confrontational and it was about her soul.
        The way I see it is, You can ask people to join, be born again, but if they don’t want it, sorry suckers, your loss.
        It reminds me of the story Jesus told about the treasure in the field. I sold everything so I could have it. Sorry suckers you missed it. I found it, and I want my daughter to have it too. Yep, all day long I will be taking her aside and telling her what I found. Toss it all! Toss it all, If someone won’t come, toss em.

      • A boy (not a real man, a punk) was manipulating, pressuring, and practically stalking her. I took the manipulation to the next level when he showed up to our house after being prohibited from seeing her – I told him I’d be happy to go to prison if I saw him there again

      • LoL. Some guys with their hormones don’t know how to just let it go. Someone does have to sit them down and say, hey! If I think you are a punk now, how do you think this is going to go. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to go that far. And since then she has been better with me, likely because before she felt she was doing wrong and likely she distanced herself or he was distancing her from her family. She was smart enough but she may have needed an excuse, leaving things is just easier and there is some good days so why rock the boat, but My talk was about the big picture and about her and it worked.

        And you and I know that Daughters love it that their Dads have their backs. And Punks if they won’t let go, need to be told. so they will unlatch from their feeling of loss. They need to get over that this one doesn’t like you. And its not going to be the white picket fence, just the shovel and some dirt. LoL.

  3. This is something that I noticed too and have even seen in my own young ministry. In my case though, people try to censor me when I talk about anything that could have anything to do with politics such as homosexual marriage, purity, pro life and others. But we aren’t meant to bow down to the ones that want to scare us but rather be bold for Christ and preach his love to those we are talking to. I started my blog recently to put my thoughts down and to be given constructive criticism when I mess up in my devotionals. I would love to get to talk to you sometime and pick your brain. I hope you are having a great life and ministry in your church.

  4. Thanks for sharing. Although not a fan of Trump, I certainly wouldn’t find it objectionable if you were to pray for him or anyone else. Hopefully, you would also find time to pray for others as well; e.g., the children who have been severely traumatized by the “crime” of not being born in America and then having a parent or two who fled with that child seeking asylum in America. For the life of me, I find it hard to imagine a crime that a small child could commit which would justify chopping off one of its arms. No, the administration is not doing that. But given a choice, most small children would *prefer* to lose a limb than to be permanently separated from their parents. And, losing a limb would probably damage them less in the long run.

    Getting back to Trump, I will tell you a story which I know from my own personal experience. My wife and I belonged to a golf club in New York called Branton Woods. At some point, Donald Trump bought the club (long before he got into politics). I didn’t really know much about Donald Trump at the time; just another rich NY playboy. But apparently some of the members were familiar with his reputation as a businessman in the NY area — which was to borrow money, get investors, talk up projects, and then fail — but leave others holding the bag. He never lost money personally, but everyone around him did. At least, that’s how they felt so they quit the club.

    Now some of those folks who quit the club were quite good golfers. In fact, they had won the club championships so they had their names on plaques. Guess what Donald Trump did? He had new plaques made which showed his name as the club champion for those years. He not only did not win those tournaments. He didn’t even play in them. In all likelihood, he didn’t even know our club existed at that point. This astounded me. What kind of a person would feel “pride” or indeed anything but shame to look at a plaque that proclaimed them a champion when they knew it was a sham?

    Another odd thing about the club was that there was no potable water. You had to drink bottled water. Before Trump, several popular brands of bottled water were sold. After he took over the club, the only water for sale was “Trump Water.” An odd name, it seemed, but okay. Imagine my surprise when the water bottle not only had his name but *his* picture! If I were marketing the product, I might consider four cards, say, with a low spade taking the trick.

    That was then. This is now. Back then, I didn’t think much about it. But when Trump got into politics, he portrayed himself as an amazingly successful businessman. I bought his book, The Art of the Deal. I read it. Interesting. Nothing new or brilliant about it, but I suppose if you really had some brilliant ways to do business, you might not want to share them with all your competitors. I thought back to the Trump water though and the false trophies and began to wonder about his actual track record as a businessman. It turns out, he would have done much better to have simply invested his father’s cash as it was given to him and put it in an index fund. Then, I discovered that most of his businesses were failures including *casinos*…. casinos. You know, the rules of the game favor the house. You cannot lose money at a casino — not without bad management or poor choice of location.

    Anyway, let’s split up the work. You pray for Trump, the billionaire. I think I’ll focus on the children stolen from their parents.

    “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” — Matthew 25:40

    • Thank you, Dr. Thomas, for taking the time to leave a comment, and a substantial one at that 😉

      To be honest, I am not going to claim inerrant knowledge of Trump’s past or present, neither am I going to say I know all there is to know about the situation at the southern border. However, I believe we are a nation of laws and borders are there for a reason. Yet, I do believe we are to show mercy and compassion wherever possible (and Americans ARE the best at that).

      As to the President, I do not deny that he did a lot in his private life which disgusts me. And, for the record, I did not vote for him in the primaries specifically because there were several other men with much better character. But, now that he is President, God can do miraculous things in the heart of a leader, which is why we should pray.

      Proverbs 21:1 – “The king’s heart [is] in the hand of the LORD, [as] the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.