When the Pulpit Becomes Bully

In the first church I served as a pastor, we were a polling site. On a Monday, a man pulled up and asked when the polls opened. I politely responded that polls open on Tuesday. He then proceeded to stand on a soap box (that he provided for himself) questioning the faith of anyone who voted for a particular party.

I gathered that what he really wanted was me to share who I was going to vote for in the election. My response to him was simply this,
"It isn't my place to stand in judgment on who someone might choose to vote for in any election. We are still a free country. As to who I will vote for, my congregation does not even know."

I've been troubled in the recent publicity surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama. I do understand that in the black church, there is a fuzzy area between religion and politics that is part of the culture. If Barack was never running for office, would this ever have been an issue? Thirty years ago, there wouldn't have been clips of video to even debate about. It still does not change, I think, the need for reflection on the comments of a pastor from the pulpit.

In his blog, Pure Church: Irreverent Wrongs, Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile makes five points that I think any and all pastors ought to consider:

1. Feed the sheep, feed the sheep, feed the sheep.
"...the appropriate response from the pastor isn't a series of interviews but Galatians 6:1-2, gently pulling the erring brother aside."

2. Be willing to suffer reproach for doing good.
"...[the pastor] should willingly and joyfully suffer for doing good (1 Pet. 2:20-24; 3:13-17)."

3. Think carefully about a separation of church and state principle in my own ministry and public comments on public issues.
"Whenever or if ever I am called to speak on some public issue, I need to do the hard work of knowing where the Bible stops speaking, where my opinion begins, and where either state concerns are over-running more fundamental biblical concerns or vice-versa."

4. Seek counsel before speaking.
"That hardly needs any elaboration, except to say that on stages as large as this, and on a thousand smaller ones, we either help the cause of Christ by speaking well or hinder it by speaking poorly."

5. Pray and war against pride.

As pastors but even as Christians, these are words and cautions we all should note. Clergy are not infallible. None of us are, be it at church, at work or at home. Would that we would all be more quick to repent than to reject correction.

May I Ask: What politics are appropriate to be preached from the pulpit?
May I Suggest: Read further Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile's blog on Pure Church: Irreverent Wrongs,


Dan said...

And besides, would you want any member of your congregation who might seek political office to have to answer for all of the sermons you've ever preached? LOL!

Nice level-headed stuff as always. Are you keeping up with General Conference? I've written about it some if you're interested...

Jedi Pastor Ken said...

LOL is right! I know there are sermons I don't want to answer for myself. ;)

I've only viewed a little bit of it. I'll have to check your thoughts on it.

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