Politics and the Church

One of the emerging fault-lines in the Christian Church is whether or not politics belongs in the pulpit. It’s an interesting question. Throughout our history politics has been a major topic in pulpits, and at the same time, preachers have been maligned and sometimes dismissed for “being too political.” One of the big criticisms of the Evangelical movement today is that it is hardly distinguishable from the ideology of the Republican party—a religious movement become established, if you will. Recently Christian leaders from 23 different organizations, including Dr. Tony Campolo, co-founder of Red Letter Christians, and Dr. Ron Sider, President Emeritus, Evangelicals for Social Action, signed a document that makes a seamless line of argument from faith to socio/political action.1 Our own Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry is among its signers. The document has six pairs of arguments that start out with, “We believe…” and conclude with “Therefore we reject….” I sent it out to my congregation and got a response back from someone for whom it was too political. I can see why the person felt that way, though I don’t agree.

What is the relationship between politics and the Church? Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”2 We cannot ignore the fact that the moral imperatives of the Gospel have political implications.

We have no business endorsing candidates or aligning ourselves with a given political party, but we must never shy away from critiquing policy in terms of the moral imperatives of the Gospel.

1 Read the full text at http://www.reclaimingjesus.org/

2
http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_a_knock_at_midnight/index.html

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