If predictions held true, somewhere around 1500 pastors in America endorsed either a political party or a particular presidential candidate in the pulpit yesterday – a clear violation of IRS guidelines. Wayne Grudem, in the Christian Post, spelled out his reasons for participating, and I think he made an excellent case.
According to Grudem:
- The IRS’ guidelines restricting political speech from the pulpit is an encroachment on freedom of religion and freedom of speech. I tend to agree.
- He says that the only way to challenge such IRS guidelines is for someone to violate them and then take the case to court. So, Grudem (and others) have sent the IRS tapes of their sermons, essentially turning themselves in and begging to be prosecuted. My guess is that the IRS will ignore this. But, if the IRS does not take the bait, it will be hard for them to enforce the regulations in the future. Seems like a pretty effective strategy by the Pulpit Freedom people.
- Grudem argued that he and his church were not violating Romans 13’s admonition to be subject to our governing authorities because this is the only process available to those who wish to challenge the IRS ruling. The IRS makes rulings, usually in its favor, then either Congress or the courts have to correct them. That is the process.
I am glad that pastors are making those challenges, but, though one of the men in my church suggested that I participate, I chose not to do so. I would like to give my reasons.
1) Ultimately, I did not get the assent of the church to expose it to legal difficulty. That is my practical reason. If the IRS would come after me, it would not be I who stood in danger, but my church and its tax status. I would not do that without the consent of the church. This is a minor reason, of course, but I don’t think a pastor should make a choice like this unilaterally.
2) The key reason is simple: I do not believe in any candidate or party enough to bring them to the sacred pulpit. I believe in the importance of the pulpit. It is a place devoted to the proclamation of God’s Word. And I just do not think there is a political party or candidate worthy of mention there.
I am not, in any way, wishy-washy about my political views. I do not mind telling you what I believe. I am a Republican by conviction. The platform of the Republican party most closely conforms to that which I believe is biblical and moral.
- I find abortion to be a stain on the American soul and for me, it is a make or break issue.
- I am committed to traditional marriage.
- I do not believe in the redistribution of wealth or socialist-based ideas that the Democrats are increasingly committed to.
- At the risk of being guilty of pushing platitudes, I think smaller government, rather than bigger government is better. My hope is that Obamacare will be dismantled before it is implemented. Obama’s regal presidency is a dangerous thing – ruling by executive order rather than law.
- As I have previously said, I think that spending our grandchildren’s prosperity to fund our own comfort is immoral. We cannot continue to overspend by a trillion dollars a year.
- If Obama is allowed to place more left-wing radicals on the Supreme Court, great damage can be done to the Republic.
So, on these convictions I am a Republican. But I am not messianic about the Republican party. I watched (and voted for) the Reagan revolution and was enthused by much that the Gipper did. But Republicans in power blew it and became as corrupt as the Democrats they replaced. Then, when the Contract with America led to a second Republican revolution, we had another chance to “clean up Washington.” Again, we took power and after an initial hopeful time, the Republican majority became more interested in holding power than in changing the game.
Would I rather see a Republican in the Oval Office? Yes. Would I like to see a Republican House and Senate majority? Absolutely. But is the Republican party really committed to the elimination of abortion? Republicans are preferable to Democrats on this issue, but they have not always demonstrated a genuine passion for the elimination of the murder of babies in their mother’s wombs.
I am just not confident enough in Republicans to endorse them from the pulpit.
3) The Word of God never fails. Republicans and candidates do.
What if I endorsed my party in the pulpit and they blow it badly? What does that say to the people who listen to me? The Bible is a sure word of prophecy that speaks without any mixture of error. Why would I stand in the sacred pulpit and endorse candidates who fail and a party that disappoints?
4) The work of the church and the work of the political party should not be conflated.
Ed Dobson and Cal Thomas wrote a fantastic book that has colored my political involvement through the years, called, “Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America?” They made a key point. Political parties are about gaining and maintaining power. The church is about proclaiming truth. Sometimes, truth is unpopular and holding to the truth will make us less popular. Political parties are willing to compromise truth to gain or maintain power, but the church can never do that.
The Republican Party is closer to what I believe than the Democrats, the Libertarians or independent candidates I have seen. I hope they win. But the goals of the Republican Party are not the purposes of the Kingdom of God and to stand in the pulpit and advocate the Republican Party would be wron g according to my convictions.
5) I question how a thoughtful, conscientious Christian can vote Democrat.
I did not do this, but I believe that I could stand in the pulpit and question how a biblical Christian could even consider voting for Democrats. I wouldn’t do it and I didn’t do it, but in my mind, the choice is between the Republicans, third party or independent candidates, or simply not voting.
At their recent convention, the Democrats showed their true colors pretty clearly:
- They embraced a pro-abortion platform that was aggressive and unequivocal.
- They had to resort to parliamentary chicanery to even restore a mention of God into their platform. As I understand it, that change required a two-thirds majority and I am not sure that it got a simple majority.
- The Democrats are clearly aligned with and in support of homosexuality and the normalization of immorality and perversion.
I just cannot get past these things. The platform of the Democratic party is biblically reprehensible and I cannot see how Bible-believing Christians can support them. I disagree with their economic policies, their increasing socialism and class warfare, and their big-government solutions to our nation’s economic woes. But Christians can disagree on these things.
But the moral issues I mentioned above just seem so clear to me – the Democrats have adopted a morally reprehensible platform.
Let me be clear: you vote for whomever you think it best. It is not for me to determine who you can vote for. But it is my right to say that I simply cannot understand how a biblical Christian could even consider a vote in support of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic party is committed to things that are abhorrent and abominable. They enthusiastically and fanatically embrace abortion and homosexuality. They increased their commitment to allowing babies to be butchered in their mothers’ wombs.
That is something of a secondary issue. I wanted to make sure no one thought me a closet liberal (as if anyone who knew me would). But I just do not believe in the Republican Party enough to stand in the pulpit and promote them. I support the aims of the promoters of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, but because of the reasons I gave above, I did not participate and likely would not in the future.