Every pastor in America is just dying to tell their congregations how to vote. It happens every election season, but particularly during the presidential quadrennial. This yearning to lobby one's flock doesn't surprise me — it tempted me when I was a pastor.
What did surprise me was a report that said 31 pastors in 22 states this past Sunday endorsed a candidate from their pulpits. The nationwide event was orchestrated by the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, (ADF), which thinks churches should be able to take partisan stands without losing their tax exemption. The legal group hopes the sermons will prompt IRS reaction. In turn, the ADF will take the IRS to court and argue for a ruling that will abolish restrictions on church political speech.
Frankly, I hope they lose. I'm no legal scholar, and I have no idea whether current IRS policies deny churches' constitutionally guaranteed free speech. Who knows, they may just win. But good Lord, deliver us if they do.
This yearning to tell congregations how to vote arises out of a godly desire to teach how to live daily the Christian life, in political season and out. Politics is nothing if it is not about daily life. Whether it's the place of creationism in the local high-school curriculum, or how many immigrants to welcome into the country, or how much to spend on defense versus welfare — all political decisions affect our Day-Timers or our Form 1040. They influence things like how much our investments earn or what values our children imbibe in the public square.
Pastors are driven by a righteous desire to shape not just church members but also their communities according to biblical standards of justice and mercy.
But these same pastors often hanker ...1