Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Are Pastors Afraid to Influence Congregations to Vote?

Disclaimer: This is my second political rant in a week. As a Christian, I believe we belong in all areas of the culture, including politics.  As Noah Webster said,
 ...if the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted.
If you dislike political blog rants, please don't read any further! 
I look forward to this election being over so I can go back to sounding like a mild-mannered romance author! If you're feeling intrepid, by all means read on.

A dear friend and I discussed recently how we'd both come across pastors who were afraid--or just plain unwilling--to influence their congregations to vote this election.

I visited a church recently that I miss. We used to attend regularly, but when Sovereign Grace Ministries began a church plant in the area, my husband, a theology geek, moved our family there. It's a great church. Nevertheless, I love this other church. Love the pastor. Love his wife. Love the worship music.

I enjoyed that worship began with a reminder to pray for our nation. I believe it was mentioned again, how important it is to pray for our country. But there wasn't a word about voting, and especially not a word about which way to vote.  

Being an ex-New Yorker (that's my excuse, anyway) and therefore not afraid of speaking my mind (read: I can be blunt), I took a moment to speak with the pastor after the service.

I told him I was glad his church prayed for our nation. But it troubled me that I could have sat through the service, been an Obama supporter, but never got a clue that perhaps my choice wasn't the best, from a VALUES standpoint only.  (This was a Christian church, so we're talking Christian values here.)

He seemed proud of the fact that in more than 30 years of pastoring, he'd never once influenced a congregation how to vote. He said he left it in God's hands to influence people.

That has the sound of piety, doesn't it? Hey, I like this guy and he's as sincere and wonderful a human being as you'll find behind a pulpit. He's really gifted at speaking, too. His messages are tight and to the point.

I just wish he'd THINK THROUGH that answer closely.  

My dear friend had asked her pastor when he would be giving a sermon about voting. His answer? Never. He wasn't going to do it.

His reasoning was that neither candidate is wonderful and both would probably not keep all their promises. But does this justify silence?
(It rather boggles the mind.) 
This is as lame an excuse as the Christian who doesn't vote because they can't wholeheartedly support either candidate, uses.
You can still choose the one who MOST aligns with your values.
You can encourage your congregation, if you have one, to do the same.

There is a choice to be made this November.

Even the candidates themselves recognize the vast difference in their platforms, encouraging Americans to make a choice for the future.  

So what are these grown men afraid of? Legal action? There are limits, from what I understand, to how much they can say, but we're not talking about naming names, here. The issue is that they have a platform where they can encourage people to get out and vote their VALUES. That isn't endorsing a candidate by name (although anyone with a brain knows there's one candidate who is automatically out of the running if we use a values standard. Heck, use just about any standard, and he's out.).

The venerable Billy Graham ran a full-page ad recently in which he encouraged Americans to vote their values. He said it was the first time he was coming out and saying this. He is 94 and felt it was time. (I'd say: ABOUT time!) But even Mr. Graham felt the stakes are just too high this election to remain silent. 

If Billy Graham can do it, why can't our local pastors and ministers do the same?    

What about you? Has your pastor encouraged the congregation to vote their values? Did you, or would you  appreciate it if he did?


Loraine Ertelt said...

Linore I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think a lot of pastors don't touch this subject as they are afraid of offending some in their congregations or stirring up controversy. But goodness, isn't that what Jesus was exactly about in his ministry? Make people think and examine their beliefs. Our church is having a two hour prayer vigil for the election next Saturday but not once from the pulpit has anything been said about looking at the candidate's values and seeing how they align with the Bible, and we know for certain that one candidate comes closer to that than the other. Praying for our country and this election.

Linore Burkard said...

Yes, Loraine, you get it! We need to pray for our pastors to be strong in the Lord. When I spoke to the first pastor I mentioned, I said, "Go ahead and step on toes if you must;" but that seems to be the bottom line: They're afraid to do that. Also, they have a hazy idea of their rights--aren't sure what they can or can't say--but instead of finding out, they play it safe.
Jesus didn't play it safe!
Thanks for coming by. (I JUST prayed for your husband before getting online. Hope he's hanging in there.)

Loraine Ertelt said...

Thanks for the prayers for my husband. We are on a countdown to surgery - Nov 8. He is in so much pain that the pain meds only dull that he can't wait for it to get here even though he is apprehensive. He has a great surgeon though who has does this surgery 50 to 60 times a year and has been for 20 years so I feel confident that God has him in the right hands.

Linore Burkard said...


Just wondering how your hubby is doing?
Prayers going your way,...

Loraine Ertelt said...

Linore - Thanks so much for asking and your prayers. He is doing a little better each day. The surgery went very well, and his surgeon was very pleased. Now we work on recuperation. He was unable to do much walking or standing for almost 7 months before the surgery so his leg muscles have gotten really weak. He is walking 2 laps around the inside of our house (too cold right now outside) 3 times a day now and we hope in a couple more weeks we will be able to go to the hospital 2 blocks away from us where he had his surgery and walk some laps on its main floor.

Linore Burkard said...

Oh, I'm glad to hear this, Loraine. It sounds like things are heading in the right direction. I pray for continual healing, strength, and endurance. For BOTH of you! (I know how hard it is for a spouse when one of the pair is so sick.)
God bless you, inside and out! Hugs,


Loraine Ertelt said...

Thanks for the hugs Linore. They are always appreciated:)

Have a great day.