Imagine what we'd talk about if you invited us all to dinner....
Pastor Steve Hickey joins the fray on the question of pastors endorsing political candidates from the pulpit. Pastor Hickey is an interesting case: he'll be spending lots of time endorsing himself for District 9 State House. I have no problem with his taking the hustings at Tea Parties and candidate fora to say, "Vote for me!" (well, no problem aside from the fact that voting for him would drive us into a Dark Ages of theocracy). I would have a problem if I heard he was issuing self-endorsements from the pulpit.
Both Pastor Hickey and Dr. Ken Blanchard have made some good points about the need for churches to engage in politics. Indeed, in my favorite definition of the word, politics is the art of living together in community. Churches are all about that. Love thy neighbor is a political statement: it keeps the polis from degenerating into Russian mafia anarcho-capitalism. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave political sermons exhorting all of us to make our community more just.
But there seems to be a line between advocating for justice and advocating for a specific candidate to lead us to justice. Christian churches face a challenge of being in the world but not of the world. Churches must challenge Caesar without picking or becoming Caesar.
The issue of the constitutionality of political endorsements from the pulpit is perhaps less important to resolving the issue than the question of the proper role of the church. Declaring any person more worthy than another doesn't seem a proper use of the pulpit. When we drag our sorry butts before the preacher on Sunday morning, we are all sinners, preachers and politicians, too. To hold up any man but Jesus for praise on Sunday morning might be Constitutional, but it doesn't feel Scriptural.
p.s.: Pastor Hickey reports that the candidate who got this muckball rolling, Gordon Howie, is saying that his raising of this issue has raised his profile and boosted his campaign. Horsehockey. Howie would say that if his T-RV ran over a bunch of nuns. Gordon Howie is not crusading for justice. He's trying to co-opt pastors and pulpits to support his campaign. Howie is a crass opportunist trying to stir up headlines for a campaign that has failed to gain traction against the Daugaard machine.
pp.s.: Mr. Price also joins the fray... and shows Shad Olson isn't smart enough for the fight.
ppp.s.: "some guy" doesn't raise his profile with Pastor Shel... but Pastor Shel does rip into my characterization of tax-exempt status as a subsidy and discuss the useful role of church in society.
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