Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Bully Pulpit

**disclaimer: I'm not very well versed in the area of political opinion, but I am opinionated, nonetheless**

According to news, Barack Obama has resigned from his home branch of the Trinity United Church (oh, I am sure the bulk emails will be flying with claims of "see, he really is a Muslim, he denounced the Christan faith!!!). He saw that every time divisive comments were made by his pastor, Rev. Wright, and just recently by Rev. Pfleger, who depicted and mocked Clinton as a crybaby, whining about how Obama, a black man, "stole her show", those comments reflected badly not only on him and his campaign, but on his church as a whole.

This whole issue made me ask myself, "should the church pulpit be used for political opinion?". In the case of abortion, which churches see as a moral, ethical and religious issue, I know there is a fine line there. I believe though, that the line gets crossed when the pulpit is used to sway the congregation as to who to vote for in an upcoming election as some churches are known to do (you could vote for so-in-so, but just don't be standing in the wafer isle). My personal opinion on that is, God will be the one dealing with me when the time comes, until then, I'm sitting in yr pewz, singing yr hymz.

Well, hypothetically speaking, because with the exception of my sister's wedding last year, my feet haven't stepped on Holy Ground for quite some time now. But, digressing as usual...

In the cases of Rev Wright and Rev. Pfleger, the rhetoric was far from doctrinal issues, and very much personal political opinion. Comments were said purposely to entice, inflame, and hopefully gainer 15 minutes of fame.

On the other hand, and you know there always is one, politicians make it a habit to visit churches, be guest speakers during election time. They reach out to widen their popularity base. Press the Flesh en masse, no pun intended. They turn the religious pulpit into a political one. The are not told, "Okay, you got five minutes up there, but no discussing Iraq, or taxes, or the price of gas."

So, it stands to reason that the religious head of these pulpits would do the same during their hypothetical five minutes ('hypothetical',because if a reverend were to only speak for five minutes during a sermon, that's a church I'd want to go to).

But the thing is, should they? Should the clergy spout personal political opinion? Does one go to church to listen to the Word of God, or to listen to a political pundit? Or a political rally?

1 comment:

  1. Actually, those preachers who talk overtly about political issues are seriously risking their church's non-profit status, according to my favorite ex-pastor, Mike Kyle. Just as "division of church and state" means no proselytizing using government money (i.e. in public schools), it also means that the non-profit church status should at least theoretically disappear if the church veers too far into politics.

    On the other hand, this IS the Bush Administration, so the lines have blurred sufficiently.

    Myself, I think Obama is wise to step back from his church, because I seriously think Obama wants to be a uniter, and I think he more than anyone has the power to do so.