No, this isn’t about politics.

This is about the unbelievable torrent of anonymous criticism unleashed upon Sarah Palin by certain unnamed sources within the McCain campaign since the election on Tuesday night. Yesterday she fired back. In an interview from the governor’s office in Anchorage, she said of the anonymous criticism, “It’s mean-spirited, it’s immature, it’s unprofessional, and those guys are jerks"

She is absolutely right. 

That’s not a political judgment. That’s just a fact. 

Let me add my two cents. Anonymous criticism is cowardly. If you don’t have the courage to put your name to what you say, then don’t say it.

When I was a pastor, I told the office staff not to show me unsigned letters or notes because I wouldn’t read them. For that matter, I told the staff never to bring anonymous criticism to a staff meeting. We had a simple rule that no one could say things like . . .

"Some people don’t like this idea."
"I’ve been getting some negative feedback."
"I can’t say who told me this."
"I promised not to mention any names."

Anonymous criticism is unfair because opinions should be weighed, not counted. Negative statements and strong disagreements are fine, but you need to know the context. It’s unfair because there is no way to dialogue with your critics. And in really rough times, anonymous criticism is a Gestapo tactic, a way to intimidate people with vague, unsourced gossip and slander. 

I would give the same advice to President-elect Obama or to any Democrat or Republican. And I think it’s a good rule for pastors and for all church leaders. 

Ignore anonymous criticism. 

Man up.
Sign your own name.
Stand behind your opinions.

As I’m writing this entry, I’m surprised by how strongly I feel about this. But I’ve seen too many good people hurt by anonymous criticism. 

It’s destructive, it’s wrong, and no one should do it. 

That’s what I think. And in case you wonder . . .

I’m Ray Pritchard and I approve this message.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.