Local Paper front page—Politics from the Pulpit: A good idea or a bad mix?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Where to draw the line?

It probably wasn't illegal, but some concerned churchgoers and pastors are questioning the wisdom of U.S. Rep. Tim Scott's recent sermon at Seacoast Church during which he criticized national economic policy.

In the 40-minute sermon, devoted to faith, life and politics in roughly equal measure, the Charleston Republican took aim at the federal government's deficit spending, comparing it to a personal household budget that relies on "a credit card drawer."

The message contained no explicit reference to individual policy makers or political parties in Washington, but advanced a perspective often heard from Republicans and right-leaning pundits -- that government spending is out of control.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina

7 Comments
Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Kendall Harmon wrote:

Part of the way I understand the blog to work is to cover material in the local context that is seen to be important. Hence this article which was a major piece on on the front page of yesterday’s paper offers me no choice.

As someone who grew up in central New Jersey, I do not pretend to even begin to understand South Carolina politics. But this is where I live and move and have my being.

A number of you may recall that Seacoast is a major megachurch on the area, which I mention for further context.

Please keep the comments to the content of the article as much as possible.  Thank you.

September 26, 8:48 am | [comment link]
2. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Odd how few seem concerned when the politically-tinged messages are in support of LEFT-wing causes. One need go no farther than the Episcopal Church for myriad examples, but even they are often outdone by United Church of Christ, ELCA, many Presbyterians, and plenty of others—to say nothing of what’s preached in many ‘black’ churches (Jeremiah Wright being unusual only in degree) or the Liberation Theology components of the Roman church.

There is quite ample scriptural support for an anti-debt, anti-profligacy, anti-intergenerational-theft message from the pulpit, particularly when we are also advised “don’t put your trust in princes and men of power because they’ll lead you astray for their own ends.” (Ps 146).

That one amongst such “men of power” would convey a message declaring that thrift, prudence and self-control ought to apply equally in Washington and East Gopher Gulch is to me a sign for some bit of hope.

Self-control is one fruit of the Spirit too many wish to overlook.

September 26, 9:21 am | [comment link]
3. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

Personally, I don’t have a major problem with churches being involved in politics as long as they put their money where their mouth is and lose their tax exempt status (and get regulated like any other political action committee). It’s when they try to double dip, as it were, that they get on my nerves.

As a priest, however, I make it a policy to never discuss politics with parishioners. If someone wants to come to me in private and look at various political topics and think through what the Bible or Tradition might have to say on a particular political topic, I’m more than happy to do that. But, to me, I am a spiritual father, and the minute I delve into endorsing candidates or whatever, I cease to be a spiritual father and become a political advisor.

That is simply a place I refuse to go in terms of ministry because the Jesus I read about in the Gospels was apolitical. People were always wanting him to make all sorts of political comments against the Roman Empire, and he always refused to do it.

September 26, 10:31 am | [comment link]
4. Sarah wrote:

I actually think it is not a good idea to have political candidates or secular politicians in the pulpit of a church, nor do I think that a clergy member should comment on “national economic policy” no matter the position.

I would not appreciate that in any church I was a part of, no matter whether conservative or liberal the politics preached.

I *do* think that clergy have the responsibility to teach and preach about good stewardship of money—thriftiness, the danger of owing the lender, inheritance, and so much more is covered in Holy Scripture—and individual parishioners can certainly extrapolate from that teaching to the Federal Government’s actions on their own.

The only two currently politically-forced topics I could think of that a priest could comment on from the pulpit is of course abortion—which has become a State-encouraged activity—and the approval of sex between men—which has also become a State-encouraged activity.

Once *the State* enters into a moral issue, it becomes politicized, but it began as a moral issue and can thus be commented on from the pulpit directly, as long as the broader issues of 1) murder and the value of human life and 2) sex belonging within the sacrament of marriage is what is primarily covered.  Of course, one might in a brief sentence mention that the State has unfortunately stepped into these moral issues with funding and encouragement of immorality—but the real issue is that of the people and our hearts, which are made of stone rather than real flesh.

Whether a government should follow its sworn duty to the Constitution of our country is, of course, tangentially moral—it’s wrong for elected officials to freely and happily violate their oaths of office.  But that can be covered in a sermon on oath-breaking and keeping one’s word and need not be at all political.

September 26, 11:25 am | [comment link]
5. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

The only two currently politically-forced topics I could think of that a priest could comment on from the pulpit is of course abortion—which has become a State-encouraged activity—and the approval of sex between men—which has also become a State-encouraged activity

To which I added recently from the pulpit;  out of wedlock births as being the foundation for cultural disintegration and perpetual poverty [and state encouraged] and cradle-to-grave welfare which has destroyed and is destroying the integrity of the [multi-generational] family unit [also state encouraged].  Both are themes of strong scriptural emphasis.

Keeping political considerations of life’s issues out of the pulpit or church sidesteps a teaching about life that is very real.  Keeping political endorsements out of the church is certainly a wise course.

September 26, 11:49 am | [comment link]
6. Br. Michael wrote:

Actually I think that Churches should be totally tax immune.  Regulating one’s political activities and controlling what they say etc. by way of the income tax is simply wrong.

September 26, 11:53 am | [comment link]
7. Scatcatpdx wrote:

Let see a simple search shows no mention of sin or the Gospel are not mention in the article.
I do not have problem with church discussing politics at any other time but when we get together to worship, the only duty of the pastor / priest is to proclaim Christ and rightfully administer the sacraments. when politics are proclaimed from the pulpit be it from the right a la “Christian conservatism” or from the left a la social justice, Christ, and the proclamation of scripture is thrown by the wayside.
Wost when the pastor allows a politician, who most likely have no clue how to handle the scriptures, the pastor is engaged in the sin of “dereliction of duty’ to his flock.

September 27, 1:20 am | [comment link]
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