When Politics and the Pulpit Collide
Tony BeamDr. Tony Beam's Weblog
- 2005 May 10
Jeff Foxworthy has made a nice living off of his signature line,"You might be a redneck if...."series of jokes. I am thinking about starting a joke series of my own that begins with the phrase, "You might be living in the last days if....." My first joke could be something like, "You might be living in the last days if you are a pastor and you have to bring your Bible and your lawyer to church." The problem is, for Pastor Chan Chandler of East Waynesville Baptist Church in North Carolina the situation is all to real to be a punch line.
Pastor Chandler did show up on a recent Sunday morning with his lawyer because of the national furor that has erupted over the alleged expulsion of nine members of the church because they refused to, in Pastor Chandler's words, "repent or resign" over votinig for John Kerry in the November presidential election.
I say alleged expulsion because through his lawyer, John Pavey Jr., Pastor Chandler has denied asking any specific members to leave. What he hasn't denied is the content of an audio tape of a message he preached last fall where he says those who voted for Kerry should "repent or resign." According to one source who has heard the entire tape, Pastor Chandler made his remarks in the context of standing firm behind what the Bible says about the sin of homosexual marriage (or civil unions) and abortion, two issues which Kerry admittedly supported.
The Democrat Party in North Carolina wasted no time jumping on this issue by posting the following statement on their website:
"One of the Bible's most repeated commands is to 'love your neighbor.' If these reports are true, this minister is not only acting extremely inappropriately by injecting partisan politics into a house of worship, but he is also potentially breaking the law and threatening the church's non-profit status."
Stop the presses! Hold page one! A pastor has expressed an opinion about the sinfulness of at least two contemporary moral issues and he is holding his congregation to a scriptural standard! That certainly is startling news but not for the reason the North Carolina Democrat Party thinks it's startling. It is startling because so few pastors are willing to take strong stands on contemporary moral issues.
Let's pause for a moment and take a look at the statement from the NCDP. Like most statements issued by politicians, it reflects a complete lack of correct biblical interpretation. What does "loving your neighbor" have to do with calling believers into account over their support of abortion and gay rights? The Christian worldview says loving my neighbor includes my willingness to confront my neighbor when they hold beleifs that are contrary to Scripture and therefore, ultimately destructive.
If I see someone engaging in destructive behavior and I silently allow them to continue to destroy themselves I am aiding and abetting in their destruction. Where is the love in that?
The second part of the statement accuses the pastor of "injecting partisan politics ito a house of worship." Are they serious or just trying to be funny? Every political season we are subjected to Democrat after Democrat speaking from the pulpit of black churches while accusing Republicans of "partisan politics from the pulpit." Why is it wrong for a Baptist pastor in Waynesville, North Carolina to point out the sinfulness of John Kerry's postion on social issues but it is perfectly fine for John Kerry to speak from a pulpit about the evil of positions taken by President Bush?
Make no mistake....there is plenty of moral wrong to point out in both major political parties. If Pastor Chandler singled out Democrats as being the only offenders on social issues he needs to check out the positions of Republican Party stars like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Senators Lincoln Chaffee, Olympia Snow, and John McCain. At least when a Democrat stands for abortion and gay rights they are simply supporting their own party platform. It is much worse when Republicans chose to ignore their platform, yoking themselves up with Leftists who are pushing our country further and further from its Judeo-Christian foundation.
If there is any wrong in what Pastor Chandler said or did (and I am not at all sure there is any wrong) it is the singling out of Democrats for being Democrats alone rather than calling them into account because of their beliefs.
Emily Davis, a resident of Waynesville reacted to Pastor Chandler's action by saying, "I think it's a shame. People have been asked to leave the church that they've attended all their lives because of their political beliefs." What Emily obviously doesn't understand is a person's political cannot be divorced from their Christian beliefs.
Christians who have a biblical worldview cannot hold one set of beliefs when it comes to politics and another set when it comes to God's Word. One of the main reasons we find our culture in the state it is in is because we have tried to compartmentalize our thinking in just that way.