Thus Saith The Preacher
Defying a federal law that prohibits U.S. clergy from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit, an evangelical Christian minister told his congregation Sunday that voting for Sen. Barack Obama would be evidence of "severe moral schizophrenia." ...
Johnson and 32 other pastors across the country set out Sunday to break the rules, hoping to generate a legal battle that will prompt federal courts to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.
The ministers contend they have a constitutional right to advise their worshipers how to vote. As Johnson put it during a break between sermons, "The point that the IRS says you can't do it, I'm saying you're wrong." ...
"We want people when you prick them, they bleed the word of God," Johnson said.
Johnson said ministers have a responsibility to guide their flocks in worldly matters, including politics, calling the dichotomy between the secular and the sacred a myth: "The issue is not 'Are we legislating morality?' This issue is 'Whose morality are we legislating?' " [Emphasis added]
Look, Pastor Johnson, your analysis of the issue is a bit specious, especially in light of the US Constitution. I don't want you legislating my morality. What you fail to understand is that your ancestors came to this country to get out from under the very system you would now impose on the rest of us: a governmentally sanctioned religion which mandated what was sacred and how it could be worshipped. Why are you throwing away your own history? Do you really think the government will accept your brand of conservative Christianity without modification, modification which might very well strike at the heart of your theology? Ever hear of a guy named Oliver Cromwell?
No one cares if you leave the pulpit and lead a rally in town for John McCain, least of all the IRS. You just can't do it from the pulpit. Is that really so hard to understand?
At least some religious leaders understand the reasoning behind the separation of church and state, and for that I am grateful:
In an open letter Saturday, a United Church of Christ minister, the Rev. Eric Williams, warned that many members of the clergy are "exchanging their historic religious authority for a fleeting promise of political power," to the detriment of their churches.
"The role of the church -- of congregation, synagogue, temple and mosque -- and of its religious leaders is to stand apart from government, to prophetically speak truth to power," Williams wrote, "and to encourage a national dialogue that transcends the divisiveness of electoral politics and preserves for every citizen our 'first liberty.' " [Emphasis added]
Thank you, Rev. Williams.
We don't need a Christian Taliban to legislate how we live. Not here, not now, not ever.
Labels: Separation of Church and State