Yesterday, I recounted the question that had been pinballing in my mind since I was interviewed about the SC Primaries. The reporter I was talking to was from a European publication and was trying to understand the evangelical conservative movement, especially in SC. As I was explaining to the best of my ability what it was like as a woman to grow up in a conservative church and how the conservative evangelical movement impacted the greater culture of the south, he commented that he had spent a lot of time in the Middle East and that what I was describing sounded an awful lot like Islam in which church and state were combined.
I responded, “Doesn’t it though and to think that’s what many of the Republican party candidates are railing against.” For me, there is a very important reason I don’t use the pulpit to endorse a candidate. Using God’s holy desk to speak God’s word is the most important work that is done here on earth, but using the pulpit to influence people towards not thinking for themselves and following blindly sets a dangerous precedent that stands in opposition to how Jesus made disciples and to why America was founded.
America was founded on religious freedom; a place and a space for those who were being persecuted to come and to have a second chance at life. The conservative evangelical movement intermingling church and state is a recipe for disaster we have seen again and again in other countries.
As a pastor, I am a citizen as well, so you can ask me personally about my political views, but to ask me that same question in my church will receive a different response. Our calling as religious leaders is not to create robots who follow blindly, but rather to lead and guide our congregants towards working out the calling God has placed on their lives. When we preach only to have more followers, we are preaching for our own gospel and not the gospel of Jesus.
It is easy to follow the loudest voice. It is easy to follow the religious voice. It is harder to imagine that there are those in ministry and in politics who are not at all interested in the well-being of their congregants or constituents, but are only interested in their own power.
May God guide us all as we debate and decide on the leadership of our country.