Tuesday, July 1, 2008

pulpit politics

UPDATED 7/7 - See below.

Went to church while on vacation this week where I learned a valuable lesson. If I want to consider myself a follower of Christ and an American, then I should vote for John McCain.

Yes, it was certainly distracting that a wonderful sermon on the role of faith in the foundation of our country included the following slide:

To be a Christian and a Patriot, you need to vote for the presidential candidate who:
1. Best on national security
2. Will appoint pro-life justices
3. Good family values

(Of course, “good family values” is church code that means you can have an affair, divorce and remarry as long as you condemn the gays. But I digress... )

Now I have no issue with a pastor who promotes one candidate over another. But by slipping this into a liturgical sermon, the message was clear that you would please God by voting for McCain.

I wrote to the pastor Sunday night. I thanked him for the warm, welcoming feeling of his church, the inspiring music and the insights he provided. But I also let him now that when he put up this slide, I was distracted, disappointed and quite insulted. My concluding words:

This November, when I go into the voting booth, I will be thinking about the final lesson our Lord taught us before his Passion. And when I pull the lever, I will consider which man will help this country feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, invite in the unwanted, clothe the homeless, look after the sick and visit those in prison. And despite what you claimed this morning, my vote for Senator Obama will be an act of a Christian and a patriot.

Will let you know if I get a response.

UPDATE 7/7. Received a warm response from the pastor who had given this sermon, noting that his intent was to encourage his congregation to think through these issues as Christians and patriots -- and he was very positive that had taken both matters so seriously in my consideration of the two candidates. I am glad that I wrote to him.


trace said...


Anonymous said...


As a member of this church, let me say that I'm glad that you joined us. Let me also say that I regret that you took offense to what what you heard in the sermon.

I think that your response was very well written, and I think that its really cool that you had the courage and care for our church to not only blog about it, but to actually email the pastor himself (I wish more people in the blogosphere showed that kind of integrity!)

From reading your comments though, it sounds like you may have misunderstood part of the message.

I think instead of saying "To be a Christian and a Patriot, you need to vote for the presidential candidate who..." What he said was more like:

"Here are 3 areas I will consider when voting:
1) National Defense: Who is better prepared to protect us as a nation?
2) Supreme Justices: Who will nominate judges that are pro-life?
3) The Family: Who will promote policies that will strengthen the family structure?"

Also, at least in our church, we don't think that divorce or affairs are good things, and we don't single-out "gays" for condemnation.

Again, I comment not to because any kind of dispute but to offer a bit of clarity. Glad you were able to join us for worship.

You brother in Christ,


Kansas Bob said...

By listing the 3 areas and not including other areas, like the poor, the pastor certainly communicated a preference of candidate.. of course I might argue that Obama is stronger on #3.. especially for poorer families.

Kudos to you Ed for seeing through the religious facade.. probably something very difficault for an insider to see.

wilsonian said...

Wow, Ed. I feel like a middle-schooler reading this, because I would have been upset and not done a thing about it. Thank you for a great example of living out truth in love.

Ed G. said...

Brian: thank you for visiting!
And thank you for the clarification.

I should also clarify that my "church code" comment was not meant to reflect on your fine church, but rather a sentiment I have about "the American Church" which includes my local place of worship. God bless you, EG

Wilsonian: thank you for the encouragement.