Should a Pastor Preach on Politics?
I had a conversation yesterday with someone who had read my blog and was a bit horrified that as a pastor I've taken a public stance in support of a given candidate, and include visible propaganda inviting folks to vote for Obama. I don't find it a problem because: 1) I don't preach it during worship gatherings at the church I serve, 2) my blog is my blog not the church's that I serve as pastor, 3) I try to talk in a way that invites to dialogue, or is at least funny, and 4) aren't my personal politics already indirectly obvious from my blogging and public presence? I'm not going to end a sermon with a drive to register voters instead of with an altar call. I don't expect everyone to vote like I do. (Someone has to be wrong. Otherwise who would I blame?). I also think we should think about politics and faith. Jesus was hyper-political. They didn't kill him because he kept saying things that should go on precious moments greeting cards. He pissed people off as he challenged the authorities and pushed his community to actively live their faith in the way that they lived with each other. Isn't that what preaching is all about?
CNN posted a interesting video on the question regarding the anti-IRS-unconstitutional preaching of politics that undoubtedly took place across the country today. (If you preach politics by endorsing a candidate in the pulpit you can lose your non-profit status with the IRS as a church). Here's an embedded version of it.
At the same time - if you're on facebook there are some really interesting things going on in terms of faith, politics and clergy. There's a clergy for Obama group and a blog at clergy4obama.wordpress.com. YES - I'm being one-sided, because in the religiously-ignorant-country I call home most folks assume all Christian clergy are Republicans. And yes it shouldn't be so one sided, mostly because I'm not one of them :)
Part of our problem - both in and outside of the church - is that we still operate on two assumptions: 1) all pastors are old white guys, and 2) all churches communicate, relate and do ministry for older adults who have a 1950s world-view. Back then - and for many still today - you shouldn't pronounce your political views because folks might feel obligated to follow them to the letter., but we do actually live in a different world today where people - even those in my church (all except 1 person - there always has to be somebody right?) do actually want to hear what I think politically. Of course there is a time and a place for any and everything. An interesting article written by PC(USA) Pastor Carol Howard Merrit on the clergy4obama site is worth the read. So is her blog at tribalchurch.org.
So what do you think? Should a pastor preach on politics during church? Why not? If so how should they? and how much?