In polite company, one doesn't speak of politics (or sex, religion and income). But it's election time, and the silly season is upon us. Churches and faith communities intentionally discuss big questions — so is it an appropriate place to have a good political debate?
How do faith leaders guide a congregation that presumably includes "red," "blue," or otherwise-inclined voters? If a candidate is a member of your congregation, does that change your conversation? Are you willing to share how you voted with your fellow congregants?
That's the Question of Faith we posed to our Kentucky.com Faith Blog Network. Here are some of their answers.
Kory Wilcoxson, Crestwood Christian Church, Lexington: Our church spans the spectrum in its membership, from the chair of the Fayette County Republican Party to the Democratic governor of our fair state. So to take a political side would not only be un-Christian, it would guarantee that half the church would be mad at me.
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My goal — in and out of political season — is to preach the Gospel and help the congregation understand how the Bible applies to life in 2010. Therefore, what I preach doesn't change during election time.
I trust that my congregation members all have 1. opinions, and 2. brains, and my job is to help them weave their faith into the exercising of both.
Roger Bruner, Mill Street Church of Christ, London: Pastors are to shepherd their flock by spiritual feeding. Whether a member of the flock is a political candidate has no bearing on my conversation, and why should it? I am to speak as the oracles of God without respect of persons; furthermore, partiality is sin.
Man's problem is sin; it is not going to be remedied in the political realm, but through repentance from sin and obedience to the commands of the son of God.
Mary Seeger Weese, Midway Presbyterian Church: One of the best guides I've found for sorting through issues and candidates comes from Jim Wallis and the folks at Sojourners (Sojo.net). Their questions have really made me think:
How does a candidate look to resolve conflict? Does he/she see life as a sacred gift, for children, prisoners, the marginalized? Is he/she compassionate in treatment of all humans regardless of race, gender, creed, sexuality, nationality or background?
Does he/she work to restore integrity and honesty to civic and business practices? Will he/she prioritize stewardship and the protection of God's creation, even at the cost of our consumer-driven lifestyles?
I ask these questions with my congregation during election season and we have some spirited discussions, but in the end, I respect the decisions people make as decisions they have struggled with in their own relationship with God.
Dale White, St. Luke Anglican Church, Lexington: Each person should vote his/her own conscience, of course; after learning what the real issues are, decide what they believe should be done to correct the problems, and then make a choice of which candidate they believe will work to bring about right solutions.
If I were to guide them, my advice would come from a Christian conservative world view. I would ask them to formulate their convictions on what God's word teaches; not on what the secular society says is popular or easier.
I know opinions are changing, but I believe it is an absolute fact that this country's foundation was built on Judeo-Christian morals and values, and that fact should dictate how and for whom we vote. We must vote our Christian moral values, guided by love and compassion for all people.
Bob Evely, Grace Evangel Fellowship, Wilmore: As believers, our citizenship is first and foremost in the heavens. Yet as we live in this present age upon the earth, we are to be concerned in these temporal affairs upon the earth — yet are to be guided by those things that are deemed by God to be important.
I vote, and would encourage others to vote, based upon which individual candidate is the best choice based upon their positions on crucial matters.
Protecting the freedom, safety and peace of its citizens is government's most important responsibility.
These are some of the guiding principles that I use when choosing the right candidate.
Joseph N. Greenfield, Help Me to Live Again Ministries Inc., Wilmore: Jesus was all too familiar with the politicians of his day. As with anything, and for a variety of reasons, there are those who are "good" at what they do, and there are those who are "not so good" at what they do.
However, politician or postman, the Lord is looking not so much at what you do, but whether or not He has your heart. He is looking for those who reflect his ways, in thought, in word and in deed. My prayer is that we all do the same this November.
Rachael Brooks, New Hope Church, Lexington: As a pastor it is not my place to guide anyone down any particular political pathway. My job is to preach the Gospel and ignore political ideology.
In fact, traveling down the path of political ideology is dangerous. Political views espoused from the pulpit would not only compromise our church's tax status, but it would also compromise my call as a pastor.
The idea that certain political views more accurately represent the views of Christ seems to be the downfall of many mainline denominations.
Fortunately, our congregation is made up of "reds," "blues" and "neithers," and that very fact fills me with joy because the Gospel should and will always transcend political views if properly preached and taught.
Nothing can alter my adherence to a "no politics from the pulpit" policy — not even if a member of my congregation was running for office.
I never openly share my personal voting record, nor do I post signs or bumper stickers in my yard or on my car, yet some in my congregation assume I am "red," some assume I am "blue" and many assume that I am "neither."
One could say that my congregation's motto is, "In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, (red nor blue) for you are all one in Christ Jesus," and I would like to keep it that way.