Jonathan Falwell: It’s Not My Role To Tell People Who to Vote For
Orginally published on Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 7:24 AM
by Todd Rhoades
According to NewsAdvance.com, "With six Sundays to go until Election Day, some preachers may be weighing the risks of endorsing a presidential candidate. Or not. Endorsements involve spiritual, legal and practical viewpoints, as well as social repercussions. Most pastors avoid the potential conflicts; a few take them on. Two legal defense groups, one with a Lynchburg connection, say they stand ready to defend — for free — any church whose tax-exempt status is challenged for taking a political stand.
“We are not advocating that people go out and intentionally violate” a law, but “if someone is contacted by the IRS we will defend that church,” said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a public-interest law firm that has represented about 20 churches in tax issues.
At least one Lynchburg pastor says he plans to let his congregation know where he stands, personally, in the presidential race. “I think every preacher has a responsibility to share his or her decisions and their reflections on who should govern our land,” said the Rev. James E. Coleman of Providence Ministries International on Oakley Avenue.
The Rev. Jonathan Falwell said he will concentrate on preaching the Gospel at Thomas Road Baptist Church, where his father once left no doubt about his support for Republican candidates. Jerry Falwell gained national attention for backing politicians, starting with Ronald Reagan. “I don’t intend to endorse anyone,” Jonathan Falwell said. “I don’t think it’s my role to be telling anyone who to vote for.”
No church has ever lost its tax-exempt status over political remarks from a pulpit, Staver said.
Another group, calling itself the Alliance Defense Fund, hopes a minister somewhere will openly encourage the congregation to back a candidate, preferably next week. The ADF has declared Sept. 27 “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”
The defense fund also hopes the IRS will confront a pastor who supports a candidate, thereby producing a test case for a never-seriously-challenged 1954 law that prohibits tax-exempt nonprofit groups, including churches, from engaging in politics.
You can read the whole article here…
QUESTION: Are you publicly endorsing a candidate?
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There are 8 Comments:
No… it’s an unnecessary divider.
From the pulpit, I wont do that. If someone asks me personally, I will answer. I will and do tell everyone to vote.
Maybe they should have made Sept. 28 “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”. You know, since that’s a Sunday.
I really liked what Falwell said. It’s not the Pr.’s job to influence elections, it’s the Pr.’s job to preach the Kingdom (of God, not America). The pulpit is not for politics, we already have enough syncretism in American religion.
I think it is beyond dangerous, verging on heretical, to spend time in the church promoting politics. When religion is co-opted by politics, we no longer have the Gospel.
Good move on Falwell’s part. I also appreciate that it helps him separate himself from his father, which is something I think is always important with the “new pastor"--he is his father’s son, but he is not his father. His leadership will be different than Jerry’s.
BUt what about--Christianity Today has some articles about the role of the pulpit in encouraging the American Revolution. While some issues may have clear moral implications and therefore need biblical proclamation, what about if we werearound in colonial America--was supporting the idea of rebellion against England a valid, God-honoring thing to do? Todd, you may wish to delete this thought and save it if ro next 4 of July.
I really do not need to say from the pulpit who I will vote for or encourage the congregation to vote whom I vote for. It is not difficult for them to know where I stand--my preaching God’s Word gives that away.
However, I have no problem with a pastor telling his congregation who he will vote for and who he thinks they should vote for. But to spend more than a short time on it, well then I believe it becomes lobbying. Opinion isn’t lobbying, but excess opinionateing becomes lobbying and we have enough of them in DC.
I’m of the opinion that it’s not generally smart to endorse candidates.
However, I’m all over endorsing issues. We have an abortion initiative here in South Dakota that I believe all Christians and other thinking, caring people should support. I specifically tell my congregation from the pulpit that they should vote for it.
Bishopdave mentions the role of the pulpit in the American Revolution. I haven’t read the CT articles, so can’t comment specifically, but I do think of the slavery issue. It was the involvement of Bible-believing outspoken Christians and pastors from their pulpits who decried the practice that helped both England and America get rid of the practice. (Yes, I know the tired arguments that so-called Bible-believing Christians used the Bible to justify slavery. That doesn’t mean they were right!)
Slavery was a “political” issue - because politicians made the laws. But at its base, it’s a moral issue - just like abortion today (and state-sponsored lotteries, in my opinion...).
Bottom-line: speak not of candidates from the pulpit, speak loudly of issues from the pulpit.
“Fools live to regret their words; wise men, their silence.” Will Henry
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