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6 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2009 - 6:41PM #1
Godgirl
Posts: 973

How many of you think political issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes, republican verses democrat, gun control, immigration and any other political issue you can think of) should be discussed in church from the pastor while he or she is in the pulpit? How many of you don't think this is a good idea? How many of you would go to a church that the pastor does discuss these issues in the pulpit?

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2009 - 7:08PM #2
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

While I think that sermons that touch on politics in the broad sense -- i.e., how power is exercised in society -- are inevitable, especially since the Bible addresses issues of power, and more specifically holds forth an alternative view of power as exercised in the Reign of God (see Walter Wink, Dorothee Soelle, et al)...I disagree vehemently with partisan politics being shilled in church.  In Lutheranism, the way we handle sermons -- the formula is generally to preach on the Gospel text of the day, or perhaps one of the other lectionary texts, using a Law/Gospel dialectic -- militates against pastors ascending the bully pulpit and politicking in a partisan way on pet issues...but I know it happens elsewhere. And I don't like it.


If people are looking for someone to affirm their political viewpoints or, worse yet, tell them what political viewpoints to have -- hey; join a political party. Don't come to church and expect the church to be that for you.

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2009 - 7:22PM #3
anyuta64
Posts: 1,536

Jun 6, 2009 -- 6:41PM, Godgirl wrote:


How many of you think political issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes, republican verses democrat, gun control, immigration and any other political issue you can think of) should be discussed in church from the pastor while he or she is in the pulpit? How many of you don't think this is a good idea? How many of you would go to a church that the pastor does discuss these issues in the pulpit?




no, I don't thik POLITICS shold be discussed in chruch, and I would object to a pastor discussing these issues from the pulpit (well.. in my case, priest discussing them from he ambo, but same idea).


However, there are some issues which can be said to be political, yet which are religious as well.  abortion MAY be one, depending on how you view the issue.  there are other issues as well such as helping the poor, and the obligation we have of loving even the unlovable.


but... those same issues can be discussed in terms which are not political. even abortion.  I'd say that saying "abortion is bad, DO NOT HAVE ONE" is different from "abortion is bad.. work through political means to make it illegal". 


I would cringe if I heard the former (but not object).  I would strenuously object if I heard the second.. and perhaps even leave that congregation.  same for issues on the liberal end.  "you should do waht you can to help those who dont' have insurance" vs "vote for universal health care".  Although I am very much FOR universal health care, I wouldn't feel comfortable with my priest promoting it  in that way (although, to be honest, I'd be out the door faster if the priest was promoting political issues I oppose  vs those I agree with..but inthe end both would bother me,and I'd feel uncomfortable with both.but I won't lie and say that I'd feel EQUALLY uncomfortable. human nature. 

Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.

NOTE: This post is a natural product. The sleight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual charicter and beauty and in no way are to be considered flaws or defects.
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2009 - 7:40PM #4
smcisaac
Posts: 8,101

Jun 6, 2009 -- 6:41PM, Godgirl wrote:


How many of you think political issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes, republican verses democrat, gun control, immigration and any other political issue you can think of) should be discussed in church from the pastor while he or she is in the pulpit? How many of you don't think this is a good idea? How many of you would go to a church that the pastor does discuss these issues in the pulpit?




It goes on all the time in my denomination and I really resent it.  The sanctuary is for worship, IMHO.  Religion doesn't begin and end in the sanctuary alsone, but by the same token, the sanctuary is a place to revere what is holy and shouldn't be cluttered by competing worldy concerns.  I would draw a distinction between, for example, a sermon decrying particular inequities or injustices in the wider society as contrary to our religious values (acceptable, perhaps even prophetic) and a sermon supporting some particular political agenda (unacceptably wordly rather than sacred).


However, most of our congregations also have "social action committees" where charitable, social and political advocacy are all practiced, and I don't have a problem with that, as long as the advocacy is based in well-reasoned discernment and application of our religious values.  Prophetic witness is a fruit of the Spirit, and it must be active to be effective.

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2009 - 7:40PM #5
Verdugo
Posts: 5,258

I would go a bit further than Tawonda and say I think the distinction between religion and politics is an artificial one.  If we are truly loving God with "all our heart, soul, mind and strength", that will influence every area of life-- including how we think politically and socially.  Political issues ARE moral/spiritual issues.  As Jim Wallis says, "budgets are moral documents".  So in one sense, if you're not talking about politics from the pulpit, you're not preaching the gospel.


 


otoh, too much of "religious politics" is done poorly-- proof texting to blindly support one's predetermined ideology, or guilt/marginalize those with different perspectives.


 


So in general I would agree with the principle Tawonda laid out-- preaching the "grand themes" of the gospel, including the political themes of power, greed, justice and poverty.  Beyond that, though, I think there are times when we as preachers are called to speak prophetically-- to "speak forth" in more specific ways in applying one of those biblical principles to a specific issue of the day-- to "speak truth to power".  We shouldn't be afraid to do that.  However, we are wise if we do that carefully-- waiting, first of all, til we are sure we truly are "speaking for God" and not our own interests and agenda.  And waiting until we have built "political capitol"-- i.e. a relationship built on trust with a particular congregation where you have earned the right to be heard.


 


David Chappell's very scholarly depiction of the civil rights movement talks about the surprisingly high number of Southern pastors who spoke out against segregation and Jim Crow laws.  Most of those pastors were vehemently opposed by their congregants.  Yet they survived-- because of the relationship of trust they have built.  Chappell describes one such pastor who had an ongoing, heated debate in the local newspaper with a prominent member of his congregation.  Yet when Chappell interviewed the segregationist church member he was astonished at the suggestion he might have even considered either forcing the pastor out or joining another church.  


 


"he's my pastor" he explained, "when my mother died, he was the first to arrive and the last to leave."


 


You need to buy that kind of costly credibility before you go rattling the boat.

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2009 - 10:44PM #6
j_Rob
Posts: 506

Jun 6, 2009 -- 6:41PM, Godgirl wrote:


How many of you think political issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes, republican verses democrat, gun control, immigration and any other political issue you can think of) should be discussed in church from the pastor while he or she is in the pulpit? How many of you don't think this is a good idea? How many of you would go to a church that the pastor does discuss these issues in the pulpit?




 


For what it is worth, many Christian theologians (especially the early Church Fathers) wrote extensively on a vision of faith that is most genuine when it is divorced totally from political concerns.  St. John Chrysostom was fond of noting that no man can be perfect (as Christ commanded we all strive to be) while being "in the world."


Tawonda, of course, is quite right that when she says that if we truly integrate our faith into everything that we do, then it will transform how we think about social and political issues.  We will not always arrive at the same conclusion, but it will factor heavily into how we think.  Of course, if we do that, there is really no reason to discuss politics extensively in church.  And I don't want to get into the law or its associated chicanery, but churches need to be very careful about what they do in the realm of politics, lest they violate the terms of their 501(c)3 tax-exemptions. 


Personally, I would not go to a church where politics are a big part of things.  My reason is simple.  I was raised in the "church of conservative politics", and hated it.  Then I went to the "church of liberal politics", and didn't like it much more.  If I want politics, I will turn on CNN.  I go to church to bow down before the altar of Christ, not to bow down before a political philosophy.  When I am at church, the last thing I want to think about is politics.


j_Rob

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2009 - 4:01PM #7
Xristocharis
Posts: 5,051

To echo what others have said, I think it's inevitable to have "politics" in church. I actually come from the position that Christianity is as much a political movement as it is a religion (though, politics get radically redefined here). In other words, in the Church we're redefining politics, because God in the Church has established an alternative polis, a new city where the socio-economic-political ways of being persons in community get defined not by the world but are defined in Christ.


To also repeat what others have said, partisan politics simply have no business in church. The sacred space where we hear the Holy Word of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and participate in the Holy Sacraments and receive one another in the peace of Jesus Christ as brothers and sisters--children of the same and one God the Father--united in the Spirit of God is not the place to be preaching the gospels of the world.


To put it another way, Caesar has no right to the pulpit, that's where Christ and only Christ belongs.


-Jon

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." - Dom Hélder Câmara
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2009 - 5:33PM #8
Verdugo
Posts: 5,258

Jun 7, 2009 -- 4:01PM, Xristocharis wrote:


To echo what others have said, I think it's inevitable to have "politics" in church. I actually come from the position that Christianity is as much a political movement as it is a religion (though, politics get radically redefined here). In other words, in the Church we're redefining politics, because God in the Church has established an alternative polis, a new city where the socio-economic-political ways of being persons in community get defined not by the world but are defined in Christ.


To also repeat what others have said, partisan politics simply have no business in church. The sacred space where we hear the Holy Word of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and participate in the Holy Sacraments and receive one another in the peace of Jesus Christ as brothers and sisters--children of the same and one God the Father--united in the Spirit of God is not the place to be preaching the gospels of the world.


To put it another way, Caesar has no right to the pulpit, that's where Christ and only Christ belongs.


-Jon




 


I'm having trouble seeing how your 1st & 2nd paragraphs co-exist-- they seem to me like contradictions.  First you say "politics is inevitable" and even inherent to the gospel (albeit redefined) then you say "partisan politics have no place". So it's OK to talk about the political implications of the gospel, as long as no one gets offended?  I think Jesus said some pretty offensive things.  It seems to me some of our most prophetic preachers-- people like John Woolman and MLK dove head-long into extremely "partisan" politics-- and I very much believe did so under the inspiration and direction of the Spirit.


 


In fact, I've found that while people complain a lot about "politics" and church, most people like it when churches "get political" as long as they agree with them.  It's only when the preacher is preaching something that challenges their ideology that folks start complaining about "politics".


 


I think the power of the pulpit is considerable, and awe-some (in the literal sense).  It is something we preachers should approach literally "with fear and trembling".  We need to be extraordinarily careful to not abuse that power.  Engaging in partisan politics in a cavalier way or to support our own pet agenda (as is often the case) is an inexcusable abuse and exploitation of that power.  But ignoring social and political issues out of some misguided and IMHO unbiblical notion that "politics don't belong in church" is also an evasion of our responsibility and calling.  


 


I would advocate a very, very careful, responsible, fearful, humble use of that power always and prayerfully under the direction of the Spirit-- knowing that we will sometimes blow it and then have to seek forgiveness from our flock.  That's what makes us the church.

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 08, 2009 - 6:17AM #9
Xristocharis
Posts: 5,051

I don't think partisan politics have a place in the Church because partisan politics involves the advocacy of some political party. Our loyalties are to Christ and His kingdom, when we abuse the pulpit to preach upon this or that political party our loyalties have shifted from Christ and instead toward some political party.

It's because the Church is a political body that partisan politics simply have no place (and no right) to be present there.


-Jon

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." - Dom Hélder Câmara
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 08, 2009 - 10:03AM #10
Verdugo
Posts: 5,258

OK, I thought of "partisan politics" as controversial politics.  I guess your definition-- supporting a particular party-- makes more sense.  I'd agree with that.

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