Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Politics from the pulpit

Good counsel from Peter Wehner about politics from the pulpit. It is usually better to do less political advocacy than the law would allow. From "When Churches Play at Politics":
.... Over the years, for example, liberal and conservative churches and their pastors have damaged their credibility by taking stands on issues to which they brought no special competence or insight. In addition, there is a strong temptation to simplistically connect the dots between moral principles and particular public policies. Most issues, however, involve prudential judgment about which honorable people can disagree. And even on matters on which pastors may believe a biblical principle is clear, it’s not self-evident what the proper course of political action might be. ....

The role of the church and its leaders, at least as some of us interpret it, is to provide its members with a moral framework through which they can work out their duties as citizens and engage the world in a thoughtful way. It is one thing for a minister to speak about the inherent worth of every human life, our obligations to care for the poor and persecuted, and the importance of sexual fidelity and creation care; it is quite another to offer opinions on legislation and partisan battles. ....

.... The Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are not governing blueprints, ministers are not policy experts, and the church is not a place for political advocacy. It is a place to minister to souls, to heal wounds, and to dispense grace. So while ministers certainly have a First Amendment right to express their political views, they should realize that there are substantial costs when the faith to which they have declared their allegiance is seen, with some justification, as merely a tool of a specific political ideology or subordinate to a political party.
When Churches Play at Politics « Commentary Magazine