Did your church participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday yesterday? Yeah, neither did mine. Instead, I listened to a homily on importance of family and showing love to all of God’s children. There was also mention of divorce, so it wasn’t all easy peesy, but nothing that would trigger warnings from the IRS.
When I first heard about Pulpit Freedom Sunday, I rolled my eyes in disbelief. Then annoyance. I wasn’t the only one. From Paperback Theology:
… “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” … is the creation of a conservative political action group called the Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund (you can read a little bit about them here). The agenda behind Pulpit Freedom Sunday is to entice pastors to openly endorse a presidential candidate from their pulpit during a Sunday morning worship service, then to send evidence of the endorsement to the IRS, hoping that the IRS will bring a case against the church to revoke their non-profit status.
… I think Pulpit Freedom Sunday is a really bad idea. For one thing, it’s a rude intrusion of Pharaoh’s government into the sacred space of the worship of the one true God. For a second thing, it’s really not about freedom of religion. Pulpit Freedom Sunday grows out of the unholy marriage between the political right and American evangelicals. You need to look no further than the title sponsor (ADF), for that to be made clear.
Yet, none of those are the main reason I object. The main reason I object is that this is not what churches should be about.
If I stood up and endorsed a candidate in my church during a sermon, it would cause terrible division, would make those who disagree feel unwelcome, and leave us all more confused and divided than when we came. It’s called sewing the seeds of discord and it is not what worship should be about. The pastor’s job is not to prop up some politician, nor is it to encourage their congregations to put their trust in any political candidate or party.
I’m all for pastors having political convictions. But, there has to be a better outlet than the pulpit on Sunday morning for those convictions to be expressed. Doing so is an abuse of what we are there to do. The propaganda supporting Pulpit Freedom Sunday cites the history of pastors who used to pulpit during the abolitionist movement and civil rights. But this is a fundamentally different situation. Pulpit Freedom Sunday isn’t pastors protesting injustice, but pastors stumping for political candidates. Pastors should not be placing trust in politicians and we shouldn’t drag our church into the political blood-sport by endorsing a candidate from the pulpit.”
Agreed! I’m growing VERY UNCOMFORTABLE with all this mixing of politics and Christianity. I believe it’s really been a huge damper on our witness.