President Clinton's admission of moral failure has spurred a national conversation on sin, forgiveness, and repentance and engaged many American pulpits and Sunday-school classes that normally steer clear of politics.

"This has hit a raw nerve deep in the soul of millions of people," says Walt Kallestad, senior pastor of Community of Joy Lutheran Church in Glendale, Arizona.

Kallestad's 4,000 plus- member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation devoted all of its services to the subject on the weekend following Clinton's August 17 confession of an "inappropriate relationship" with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Pastors fielded questions from the congregation after the reading of a "letter to Bill Clinton from Jesus."

Parents streamed to an open microphone, asking questions such as: How do I talk to my children about oral sex? and How do I build trust again in leaders?

"We said: If you have personal questions, you can e-mail, you can fax, you can write, you can call," Kallestad says. "We wanted to make ourselves available, because it has had an impact on people of all ages."

In Tacoma, Washington, Bill Wolfson, pastor of Bethel Church, an independent charismatic congregation, drew lessons from the White House crisis in a three-part sermon series presented to his multiethnic congregation. "I got a lot more questions about Clinton than I ever got during the [Jimmy] Swaggart debacle and during the moral failure of [Jim] Bakker," Wolfson says.

Wolfson says some parents in his church are extremely distressed. "They come to me asking, 'How can I raise my children with a President like this?'"

The inevitable discussion of appropriate consequences for the President's behavior has perplexed some Christians, says Kent ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: