I read with some interest the news accounts of the The Pulpit Freedom Sunday of the Alliance Defense Fund, the group of pastors who decided to challenge IRS regulations that prohibit the use of churches to endorse political candidates. No surprise - the conservative pastors en masse urged their congregations to vote for Senator John McCain and to not vote for Senator Barack Obama.
Among the more incendiary of the preachers was the Reverend Wiley Drake, of the First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, CA:
According to my Bible and in my opinion, there is no way in the world a Christian can vote for Barack Hussein Obama. Mr. Obama is not standing up for anything that is tradition in America.Hey, Reverend? I'm a Christian, and I just cannot see any reference in my Bible about voting, let alone voting for a candidate of a particular party, or whose middle name happens to be Hussein. Could you point that out for me?
Now, as an independent voter, my loyalty is to policy over party, and I evaluate candidates based upon how I perceive their platforms will affect me and my family. While I have problems with some of Obama's policies, and I have yet to decide if his shortcomings outweigh his positive attributes, the last thing I need is to be annoyed with partisan propaganda in the middle of a religious service.
While an effective argument can made against the use of non-profit tax status of churches starring political-minded preachers, I think the larger issue is the abuse of the pulpit in the name of Christ. From what I have read in my decades of religious reading, just about the last worry of Christ would be the political persuasion of the next President of the United States.
His message is simple:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.I think we can best address the sacrilege of secular political propaganda by marching our God-fearing derrieres straight from church the minute our minister launches into an irrelevant political tirade. Of course, for those folks who view their pastors as some sort of holy men - blackheads, warts, and all - this is easier said than done, but it seems to me that there is something warped about a church's interpretation of the Gospel when preachers are telling us how to cast our ballots.
And maybe - just maybe - preachers like Reverend Wiley S. Drake need to look in the mirror and question their true motives.