During college I was a history major. My specialty was the Civil War. In my humble opinion, as a student of history and having lived in this country long enough to watch presidential races come and go, this is the most contentious, divided, negative period that I can remember in my lifetime. Our nation seems to be deeply divided. There is a new twist that I just read about. This Sunday, more than 400 pastors will be using their pulpits to preach politics and challenge the Internal Revenue Service’s regulations that restrict religious leaders from endorsing candidates and discussing policies with their congregations. Then on Oct. 2 Pulpit Freedom Sunday will be celebrated, and this year Alliance Defense Fund and its supporters have quadrupled its participation from last year. Last year, 100 pastors committed to the event, but this year, registration lists are exploding, with 475 pastors who will participate in the event. On Pulpit Freedom Day, registered pastors are encouraged to videotape themselves speaking to their congregations about the Scripture, politics and political candidates, and mail those videos to the IRS. ADF then stands ready to evaluate IRS complaints and legally represent those churches or ministries whose 501(c)(3) nontaxable status has been threatened in court.
I fundamentally disagree with this movement. We have freedom as individuals to believe and express ourselves politically but to use the pulpits of America to sway voters is beyond the pale in my book. We have a sacred trust that is based in Scripture. Jesus himself said, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Mark 12:17) We are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom and everything we are, or hope to be, belongs to God. It was kind of a disguised statement by Jesus. God is the owner of it all. We didn’t make it, when it comes to creation. Politics aside, we have many things in common as Americans and I want our country to be united even with a diversity of opinions. The pulpit remains off-limits to me when it comes to political views.
Every election is pointed to as, “the most important election in our lifetime.” As a person of faith I’m not worried, no matter who is elected because I trust God. Almost every election I find myself disagreeing with candidates from all the parties. No one man can represent all the people of this country. There is only one Man who fully represents me and that is Jesus – the Christ; and with Jesus all politics IS local.
Worry and division is the greatest enemy of a state, a church, and a family. Jesus also said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:20) Abraham Lincoln famously quoted this passage during the Civil War. We have a responsibility to make our discourse, conversation, and debate – CIVIL. Discuss your points, enjoin the conversation, debate your differences, but remember that if you follow the One who is Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer you are a part of a New Kingdom with a relationship not a bunch of rules. My favorite poet, Wendell Berry wrote, “Protest that endures…is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.”