Pulpit Freedom Sunday: Just because you can doesn't mean you should
Dr. Warren ThrockmortonWarren Throckmorton, PhD is Associate Professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at Grove City College (PA). He co-founded the Golden Rule Pledge which advocates bullying prevention in evangelical churches. His academic articles have been published by journals of the American Psychological Association and he is past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He is the author with fellow Grove City College professor, Michael Coulter, of the book, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President. Over 200 newspapers have published his columns. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2011 Sep 30
Pulpit Freedom Sunday is this coming Sunday.
The Alliance Defense Fund wants ministers to preach about politics on Sunday to the of point telling their flocks who they commend for various political offices.
I hope this does not catch on.
It may be Constitutional, but it doesn’t seem good. Churches have a job to do that can be hindered by ministers exercising this right. I have been in churches where such a freedom would split a church. I have witnessed disputes at church meetings over political issues. Congregants who think like the pastor on politics might feel empowered but the risk is great that those who don’t agree will feel intimidated in their own church family.
The church of Christ is called to peace and unity surrounding a spiritual calling and agenda, not a political one. Many churches already have tension over how to interpret the Bible on social and cultural matters. Some members home school, some support Christian schools, while others believe the public schools should be supported. Some members support military interventions around the world, and others don't. Some support the death penalty; others don't. The issues are many and existing tensions over these matters will only be heightened by pastors choosing sides from the pulpit.
I do believe Christians should be knowledgeable citizens and we should seek wisdom about our vote and participation in our communities. However, none of us are so enlightened as to have the right answer on all things political. Pastors are no exception.
I Corinthians raises some valid teaching about offending others with your liberty. The Apostle Paul encouraged Corinthian believers to voluntarily check certain freedoms for the sake of peace with other brothers. It is not weakness of will to regard the peace of the church over freedom to give your opinion from the pulpit. Pastors, think twice before you make politics more important than the people in the pews.