Archive for May 13, 2008

For years, pastors have been (IMHO) neglecting their pulpits in place of punditry, as noted in this previous post. However, they have done so at their peril.

IRS and JesusYou see, the Feds have a little issue with that so they created a code in the IRS saying essentially that if churches want to be tax-exempt there must be conditions. One that has stuck in the craw of the aforementioned shepherds has been the Church should not engage in politics.

Obviously, this argument comes up in headlines every four years, but this time, some pastors are getting more terse than usual, as noted in the Wall Street Journal.

A couple of myths in this article:

The section of the tax code barring nonprofits from intervening in political campaigns has long frustrated clergy. Many ministers consider the provision an inappropriate government intrusion, blocking the duty of clergy to advise congregants.

FALSE. Pastor of astigmatism (because evidently you can’t see what’s directly in front of you), THIS is a Bible. You are called to minister to your flock the principles, truths and teachings in it. NOWHERE in these 66 chapters do we read, “Thus saith the Lord, VOTE FOR…” Your “duty to advise” revolves around issues and those predicated upon biblical principal, NOT the people YOU THINK have those issues.

Mr. [Rev. Steve of Grace Community Church in Houston] Riggle says he told his congregation from the pulpit, before the Texas primary in March, that he was supporting former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee for president. “As a pastor, a private citizen, I can speak for myself. The IRS cannot quench my voice,” he says.

TRUE. Well, kinda. You are a private citizen, therefore have certain unalienable rights… blah, blah, blah. You can say what you want regardless of how idiotic or intelligent it may be. So, to say, “I AM supporting Candidate X” is suitable in the privacy of your own circle of friends. However, to do so in the sacred pulpit of your church where 1000s of impressionable sheep go to pasture is an abuse of your authority. Pastor, there are sins of commission and others of omission. This is both. You knew what you did wasn’t proper and negated the fact that half of your flock would follow suit because they don’t have the responsibility to read the issues on their own.

Last summer, the tax agency said it was reviewing complaints against 44 churches for activities in the 2006 election cycle. Churches found to be in violation can be fined or lose their tax exemptions.

TRUE. Then there are issues like Bishop Charles Ellis in Detroit, Mich. He evidently isn’t in tune to his spiritual gift of prophecy as he dawned then-presidential candidate Al Gore with a jacket with the lovely inscription, “President Al Gore.” And for him, his status should be lost as a penalty. Listen, whether Al Gore was the right man for the job and did win the popular vote is not of concern. What is the focus is that this is nowhere near the place of a pastor.

WWJCIn summary: pastors need to find more meat in their homiletics to help them abstain from the temptation of declaring the next political candidate du jour.

If you are called to be in the pulpit, there is a greater obligation than what you think your church should do in the polls.

Those people warming your pews rely on your counsel and leadership. Find issues intertwined in the parables. Discover truths lost in the scriptures. Reveal guidance found in biblical stories. But, whatever you do, force them to ask WWJD? Or even HWJV?

This has nothing to do with you… Pastor. Voting is an issue that is bigger than all of us to get it right.