So, here’s the question: should preachers get into politics in the pulpit?
The answer isn’t a simple Yes or No.
We are a deeply divided electorate – more divided and more toxic in our divisions than at any time I can recall. I think clergy – and other faith leaders – need to be deeply concerned about these divisions. They should preach about them, hold them up to the scrutiny of Scripture and common sense, suggest the critical issues that are getting lost in poisonous barbs, and provide constituents with opportunities to share and to find common ground. Simply avoiding politics won’t accomplish any of that.
If candidates are lying and no one seems to care, for example, the preacher ought to care and to comment. If one or the other party is stirring racial hatred, that should be called out. If no one is mentioning jobs and corruption because they want to remain in the good graces of wealth, the preacher ought to speak up.
Endorsing a candidate is easy work. It’s much tougher duty to name the issues, to stump for truth and mercy, and to know that a divided people will penalize you for anything except silence.
FAITH Q & A
Q: I find Mitt Romney a very intriguing figure. He graduated from Harvard Business School as a Baker Scholar, and Harvard Law, founded and made a fortune with Bain Capital, claims and seems to live a life of deep faith, but yet seems to possess no beliefs or core values at all. I would love to hear your opinion of him.
A: At some point – I blame Richard Nixon, of course – national politics in the US became mired in artifice, slogans, evasion, crowd-pleasing, wealth-chasing and outright lying. In that stew, “beliefs and core values” aren’t likely to survive. I can’t recall a single national political figure in recent decades who was guided by beliefs and values, stuck to them even when under attack, who conscientiously “did the next right thing,” rather than the expedient thing, and was willing to lose an election rather than go cheap.
That said, Mitt Romney seems one more in a long line. Why reporters are surprised – who knows? Making money as a business consultant is one thing. Using the national stage to heal a divided nation, bring sense to insanity and navigate a dangerous world is something else entirely.
I saw one decent politician on a Jon Stewart interview – Gov. Mitch Daniels, of Indiana. I found him appealing and honest – and I’m not surprised he bowed off the national stage immediately.