Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: I Want Your Opinion

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Want Your Opinion

Hey everyone, I want your opinion and argument on this question: Can/should ministers publicly support a presidential candidate outside the arena of the local church? In other words, I think we all would agree that a pastor or a church should refrain from supporting a candidate from the pulpit. However, what about the pastor's personal life and citizenship? Should he feel the freedom to support, campaign, and promote as a part of his (or her) private life as a citizen of the United States, or is the line between the pulpit and private life too blurred in this particular instance.

Let me know your thoughts.


Blogger Barry said...

I'm thinking a pastor, by virtue of his being the spiritual leader of a congregation 24/7, and not defining his ministry only when he's behind the pulpit, should restrain from tying himself or herself definitively to a political campaign.

No matter how they want to feel they are "off duty" when not at the church or doing something in an official capacity, to take sides in a political competition might be off-putting to potential congregation members that may be wanting to be at an unbiased, nonpolitical church.

October 09, 2008 4:14 PM  
Blogger Tom Wilkinson said...

I agree with Barry's comments. Although we do not expect our priests to relinquish their other freedoms as U.S. citizens.

October 09, 2008 4:49 PM  
Blogger Michael Ruffin said...

So far as I know, there is nothing that legally bars a pastor from endorsing or supporting a candidate so long as he or she does so as a private citizen and does not use church facilities or communications to put forward that opinion.

That being said, I think that a pastor should ordinarily not do so. There are several reasons for this.

First, when is the pastor of the church not the pastor of the church? As much as we might dislike it, the fact is that we are always thought of as the pastor of the church and are always heard as speaking as pastor of the church.

Second, in many if not most churches, the people in the pew have varied opinions as to who should be elected. Why should we risk alienating those whose choice differs from ours? Now, in an ideal world and in an ideal church, we would all be mature enough to respect such differencs and so our church members would not hold our divergent opinion against. But that's not the world in which we live.

Third, we model something that we shouldn't if we attach ourselves too strongly to one candidate. The Hebrew prophets had something to say about God's people trusting in less than God. Sometimes fervent loyalists of a candidate, even Christian supporters, seem to me to place too much stress on the importance of this or that candidate. I think we should participate in the process by voting and by praying and by discussing the issues, but we need to model for our folks responsible involvement in the process that does not buy too much into the process. Our ultimate responsibility it to proclaim and to model citizenship in the kingdom of God.

October 09, 2008 5:06 PM  
Blogger Darin said...

I'm actually writing a guide for a senior Religion class on the subject of how Christians should vote right now. :) I, as a pastor (but not a congregational one), am not crazy about speaking publicly about candidates if only because I don't want to tie the message of the Church to a particular individual person that's not a member of my congregation. I can't really seem to vouch for anyone personally, so I'm not willing to risk endorsing someone.

October 09, 2008 5:07 PM  
Blogger The Beast said...

Thanks everyone for your comments, keep them coming.

Barry - it seems you have set the tone for everyone's opinion thus far.

Tom - you raise a good point, but I think a pastor's spiritual citizenship might supercede their American citizenship.

Mike - Your third point above really resonates with me. Thanks for your insight.

Darin - Thanks for your comments and good luck with the guide. I'm not sure if I have seen you around the Lair before, so welcome.

October 09, 2008 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Agag said...

I agree with everyone else, a pastor should refrain from all public political support for the sake of his church.

October 11, 2008 1:18 PM  

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