What If You Held a Protest and Nobody Came?

This past weekend, pulpits across the country heard, in most cases for the first time, endorsements of political candidates. A conservative (naturally) based group called “The Alliance Defending Freedom” sponsored its annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” which coincidentally (ha!) has been held since Barack Obama has been a candidate for the United States Presidency. They were able to rally about 1,500 mostly white, evangelical pastors to sign off on this project.

They wanted to “speak truth to power” and declare in most cases (I have yet to hear anyone that supported President Obama for re-election) their support of the Mitt Romney presidency despite their culture and religious divides against Mormonism – they view the President as an enigma of their personal beliefs and believe that pulpits have been muzzled from political activity.

However, they have developed amnesia. These same evangelicals blew gaskets when Baghwan Shree Rajneesh entered into politics in Oregon in the 1980s. These same evangelicals cast a weary eye when Sun Moon entered into the realm of politics and started the Washington Post as a conservative tool to influence politics. These same evangelicals have denounced the building of Mosques (so went the freedom of religion) and have even lower tolerance for other religious forms of expression.

Here’s the point that will blow their minds – no one cared about Pulpit Freedom Sunday. It didn’t grab any major headlines across the country. Neither political candidate mentioned it, the IRS is not rattled about it, and many of the proponents for this nonsense, including Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in El Cajon, California chickened out in their endorsement, if the endorsement was supposed to trigger reaction to the polls:

“I did make an endorsement. I endorsed biblical principles,” said Garlow in a statement. “My confidence is not and never has been in a political party or a candidate.  My confidence is in the scriptural constructs for our communities and our nation.  Christians should vote for whoever most aligns with biblical truth.

“I shared that I will vote for Mitt Romney, but that was merely a statement, not an endorsement.  I encouraged each person in the church to think through the biblical principles and vote for the personal they sense most aligns with scriptural truth as God directs them.”

That’s not guts. That’s not speaking truth to power. That’s walking a fine-line in order to keep your precious IRS exemption on your multi-million dollar property (I’ve been to that church and grounds). It’s a non-endorsement – it’s gobbly-gook wrapped in right-wing religious fervor.

The bottom line is that nobody cares. The late Dr. E.V. Hill once said that “if you say you’re a leader and nobody’s following you, you’re just taking a walk.” Pastor Garlow and others are just taking a walk.

I’ve encouraged the people at First Baptist Church to be politically active and aware – but not once have I told them who to vote for. I’ve been a big proponent of voting. I’ve only missed one election since I turned 18. I believe it’s the moral and ethical thing to do if we intend to interact in a democratic society. I don’t tow the company line of the party I’m affiliated with and I do reserve the right to disagree with my party leaders. But that’s how democracy is.

I frankly don’t have time to address politics in my sermon. I’m too busy trying to tell people about Jesus. I’m not going to fall into the trap of coy presentations and telling people to “Vote for Jesus” as some preachers do around election time. He’s not on the ballot. For HIM to be on the ballot would be a demotion of His majesty.

I ask you to vote – but who you vote for and why you vote for the individual – is your own business.

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by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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