Friday, May 23, 2008

Presidential Endorsements from Religious Leaders

Both apparent candidates for the US Presidency have received considerable criticism in this election year over ties with church leaders. I posted earlier about Sen. Obama's now past relationship with the Rev. Wright here.

Yesterday's news included Sen. McCain's rejection of an endorsement of the Rev. John Hagee, a highly popular, albeit controversial Texas pastor. Hagee, in turn, withdrew his endorsement, citing the criticisms and attacks he has faced. And today McCain has repudiated Rod Parsley, another TBN preacher's endorsement.

Should pastors and religious leaders give their endorsements of political candidates? You can cast a vote on my poll. If you'd like to express your thoughts in a comment PLEASE stick to the question and don't launch into an attack against either candidates or religious personalities. The question is not about them, it's about Constitutional issues of freedom of speech and the relationship of religion, the political process and government.

As a pastor I ask this question over and over in my mind. After all, I am just as much an American as anyone else, so why should my opinion be censored? But then, my position as a spokesman for my church and as an "ambassador" for Christ demands my opinions be very thoughtfully chosen and expressed.

Some questions mulling through my mind...

If I put a candidate's bumper sticker on my car, am I violating some principle or even jeopardizing my church's tax exempt status? Why is it that some churches regularly invite candidates to speak from their pulpits, yet if other's do the same they are threatened and accused of violating some "church/state" laws?

Inquiring minds want to know.


TerryKM said...

This is definitely a tricky issue. Let me just say that as leaders of the church there are certain liberties and freedoms we must give up, both those given by our country and even those given by God. Some of those liberties we're to give up are easy to spot, while others. . .well, a bit in the gray.

As far as endorsements for political candidates are concerned, it seems, to me, the wisest course is to address the issues more so than the candidates. Of course, this can easily end up looking like endorsements of the candidates you that side a certain way on the issues.

Since this isn't a subject I've tackled yet in ministry I'm sure there's plenty I don't know about concerning the complexity of it all.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

I rather think that here in the UK it would absolutely kill a candidate's chances! Sad, but true.

To clarify (which is why I deleted my first attempt), I don't think any ministers or preachers here would wish to tell their congregations how to vote. It is our business to be political, but not party political! Also, we would take it very strange indeed if someone like the Archbishop of Canterbury came out in favour of a particular politician - against a party policy, certainly, but not for it!

Mind you, our system is so different that it doesn't really bear comparison.

Lady Eli said...

I don't think the church should endorse a canidate but at the same time the pastor is a person and should feel free to express his beliefs outside the church (ex. a bumper sticker or his personal feelings to others).

Bill and Peggy said...

As a military member, while I am in uniform, it is against the law for me to give my endorsement to any candidate or issue on the ballot. However, if I am in civilian clothes and no longer representing my affiliation with the government, I am free to "endorse" whomever I choose. As a Pastor, do you ever take your "uniform" off?

Unknown said...

I would ask, who owns the car?

If you do, then your personal affection is perfectly acceptable, in my opinion.

The clergy in my religion, state often that they will never as a church endorse a political candidate. And to my knowledge they never have.

However, they do let their views be known on topics. Abortion, Alternative Lifestyles, ect.

But in their private lives, they endorse whom they want.

Just my two cents.

Apple said...

I'd like to say that being a preacher is your job, not who your are. But, we all know that some people can't make the differentiation (and maybe you don't want them to).

Just don't put a bumber sticker on the church van. :)

A Jersey Girl said...

I too think that as a person you should be able to do as you please i.e. bumper sticker on your personal car. I think where it becomes an issue is if YOU as a preacher stand in front of your congregation and tell them to endorse someone, and if a church is inviting a candidate to speak, I believe the other side should get "equal time" of atleat also be invited.

When I was teaching, I was not allowed to share my religious or political views with my students or parents at school, but when I left school I was welcome to volunteer at a campaign event or say whatever I pleased.

When in a position of authority, I think you walk a fine line between informing and leading people in their decisions and that is where the argument with preachers/pastors/priests becomes a blurred issue.

Thanks for hearing my out!


DogsDontPurr said...

I think the church/pastor should remain neutral. I don't think religion should become political at all. (Although, unfortunately, it certainly has.) I think it's fine for the church to discuss hot topics and issues, but it should not draw a line between one candidate or the other. I was taught that God accepts everyone, flaws or not. It's the lessons learned from whatever action, not about whether we like this person or that.