Throughout these past fifty years as a pastor, and thirty years as a military chaplain, I have always been extremely careful to avoid using those positions to tout my personal political stance, believing it totally unfair to impose such upon the people who had to listen to me week after week. In the early years of my ministry I registered as an “Independent” so as not to be seen as partisan. (I changed that status later on in order to vote in primary elections—which I could not do as an Independent). At heart, I think I am still an Independent and have, on occasion, voted across party-lines.
The task of a Christian priest/pastor is to proclaim the Gospel (not partisan politics) to all people of all political persuasions. The message proclaimed is supposed to be a life-changing message, and therefore, quite naturally, should influence those who claim it in the area of politics. Politics and religion do go together—they must! Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state—not a separation from our faith and values and how we vote!
Those who have read my previous blogs will immediately suggest that I have certainly “taken sides” in the current political debate and you are absolutely right! I did so a year and a half ago, and I do so now, not as a Republican or as a Democrat, but on the basis of my Christian faith and the values that faith embodies. Neither of the candidates currently seeking the presidency of the United States is perfect—no president of this nation has ever been perfect. Whoever we elect will be imperfect (as we all are).
What is at stake in this election is a matter of immense importance. It has to do with the Gospel of Jesus. It is a matter of how we want to be treated and how we want others to be treated in our society. Do we want to be proclaimed guilty before a fair trial? Do we want to be told that if we are “against” we are “demons” and full of “hatred in our hearts?” Do we want walls that separate us into categories? Do we want to live in a world where it is “Us Against the World?” Do we want to live in an atmosphere of fear? Do we want conspiracy theories to guide us as a nation in this perilous time? Do we want to be called “foul-mouthed” when we cannot support? Do we want a president who thinks he is “a genius,” and has the audacity to imply that others are “ineffective” and “dumb” and “crooked?” I don’t! And now, you may “de-friend” me if you like!