Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Presidential Endorsements Here

I read with much interest, some amusement, and a lot of discomfort as other pastors endorse candidates on their blogs. You will find no such endorsement here. Not for president or any other office. Not even dog catcher.

If a pastor chooses to do so, that is certainly their right - as long as they comply with those sticky IRS regulations. It's not the IRS that worries me, I just don't think it's a good idea.

I have no desire for people to think I am speaking for my church when it comes to political candidates. I never speak for my church when it comes to politics; I'm not sure I speak for them on anything, actually. I am a Baptist - sometimes barely hanging onto remaining a Baptist by my fingernails - and the heritage of Baptist is that we are encouraged to have an individual voice but also that we generally only speak for ourselves.

The reason I do not want to endorse a candidate is because as pastor of a church my opinions are sometimes seen as reflective of my church. It is absolutely not my desire that anyone would think my political opinions reflect that of my church. The church I pastor is very diverse in its political views and there is no way we could come to a consensus on much of anything in the realm of politics. Such is the Baptist way, and that's what keeps my life interesting.

I also don't endorse candidates because I prefer the tradition of being free to criticize any and all candidates when I so choose. I know I can still do this if I endorse a particular candidate, but it doesn't appear to be very objective. Perhaps I will publish criticisms of some of these candidates as the campaign for president intensifies (I did criticize John McCain in an earlier post).

So pastors, endorse away on your blogs if you so choose. But keep this in mind - your endorsement most likely has little impact on how anyone votes, but it does make you appear to associate the Gospel with a particular political ideology that may hurt your witness and your ability to be prophetic. I believe that many people outside of the church are turned off to the church because of the overly strident political positions advocated by so many pastors. While there are certainly times to be prophetic, being partisan is a different matter. You are free to do what you want, but I will take advantage of my freedom to say that I believe you are terribly wrong when you make an endorsement. And don't bother asking me how I am registered or how I vote - I keep that information to myself.

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