Levellers

Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Christian Leaders Should Not Endorse Political Candidates

Bruce Prescott has an excellent article on this here. He clearly shows that the refusal of ministers and other Christian leaders to endorse particular candidates does NOT prevent them as individuals from “engaging in the political process” as some have contended.  This appears to be about the debate between Chuck Curry and Welton Gaddy, but others Prescott names (e.g., Gene Robinson), and some he does not name (e.g., Bob Cornwall) are just as guilty as Curry in crossing this line. 

I will raise the issues–even from the pulpit if given the opportunity.  I will compare and contrast candidate positions on this blog and indicate which ones I believe closer to biblical views (on those issues), while insisting that no single issue is “God’s issue.” I will praise politicians (even ones I generally dislike overall) when I think they are doing something good. I will publicly dissent or even rebuke politicians when I think they are doing something wrong or unwise (even if I generally like them or think privately that they are a better choice than their rivals).  Since neither my wife or myself are currently on a church staff or the staff of a Christian organization, once I figure out which presidential candidate I am voting for, I will put said person’s sign in my yard (which I would not do if either or us were employed by a church or Christian organization).  As Bruce says, I may staff a phone bank, or pass out literature–without relating anything about my faith or my vocation.  But because this is a theology blog, I will not endorse any particular candidate or party–because the Christian faith is not to be identified with any party, ideology, or candidate.  Also, the church is not to become a special interest lobby or a cheerleader for the state or any party.

For ministers or bishops or church leaders of any kind to endorse candidates is to cross the line.  Don’t do it.

August 3, 2007 - Posted by | church-state separation

4 Comments

  1. Well put. And I mostly agree with you. Sometimes, however, I think it’s appropriate to endorse a particular candidate if the choice is so obvious from a Christian perspective. At the same time, though, if it is so obvious, does it really need to be formally stated? Probably not. So in practice, I guess my actions would be just as you described. Speak to the issues, and let competant Christians make up their minds.

    Comment by Chris Huff | August 3, 2007

  2. I could not agree with you more. Thanks for this timely reminder.

    Comment by D. W. Congdon | August 5, 2007

  3. The church is to be a “special interest lobby” or a “cheerleader” for biblical morality. Pointing out candidates who follow the teachings of the Bible is what a Christian leader is obligated to do. I would go so far as to say that if they don’t do that…they are not being what the Bible says that a Christian leader ought to be.

    Comment by Rick McGowan | August 11, 2007

  4. Well, Rick, I don’t think there has ever been a political candidate who has been a perfect model of “biblical morality.” Candidate “A” champions the poor, is an advocate for children’s welfare, has a long record of defending human rights and pursuing peace. All of these are biblical priorities. Should church leaders, then, endorse candidate “A?” Before you answer, it should be noted that “A” is divorced and remarried and his first marriage broke up because he was cheating on his wife. He has also promoted government run lotteries and is a champion of the legality of abortion on demand. These things are harder justify biblically, if at all.
    Candidate “B,” on the other hand, is a deacon in a local church, has been married to one husband since she was 19, and has been endorsed by several “Right to Life” groups. Should a church or Christian leader endorse “B?” Before you answer, you should know that she was a lawyer who defended companies with horrible environmental records and a reputation for horrible labor and safety records.

    Candidates for political office are, like the rest of us, flawed human beings. We make political choices among less than perfect candidates who have platforms and characters and records we only partly agree with. That’s the nature of politics. If churches and political leaders are independent voices, not too closely identified with any party or candidate, then they are free to give prophetic voice–criticizing and praising anyone when they deserve it. But if the church or a leader of the church endorses a party or candidate, then they become identified with EVERYTHING about said party or candidate–which makes it quite difficult for the church to teach the gospel as the secular world confuses the gospel with a flawed party or candidate.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | August 11, 2007


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