Faith is political...it just is
Just a couple of weeks ago I, along with other faith leaders in the community, was asked by the local paper to participate in an article that at its core was about the relationship between faith and politics. There was an ad hoc list of possible questions to be used simply as a prime for the conversation:
"As a faith leader, how do you navigate these challenging times? Is there a role for faith leaders in such a partisan environment? How different are the times from one or two generations ago? Is there a role for you and other leaders of our faith communities to discuss politics or is it a subject best left unaddressed? Should churches, in other words, be politics-free zones? Or, given the times, you may feel a moral imperative to speak out and address issues you believe are critical to living a life of faith."
The article in the Post Bulletin can be found by clicking HERE
I thank the Post, the reporter, and the editor who took my thoughts and integrated them into the article. I think they did justice to my position.THANK YOU!
All of that being said, below is the full text that was shared with the Post Bulletin so even greater context can be understood. PLEASE consider this an invitation to a conversation. Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions, disagreements and/or support. This is and should be an open (and respectful) conversation.
When it comes to the role of faith leaders in today’s hyper-political environment, there is a tension between loving and praying for even those that we disagree with the very most (Matt. 5:44) and seeking justice and correcting oppression (Isaiah 1:17). There is a tension between honoring the separation between church and state (not preaching in favor or against candidates from the pulpit) and calling out the people and policies that clearly are not in line with a gospel of inviting in the stranger, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick (Matt. 25:43). So what are we to do? What should the masses expect from faith leaders? What are we to do with that tension? What is a ‘faithful’ voice in the midst of a political environment?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor in Nazi German who is quoted to have said, “Silence in the face of evil, is evil itself.” He may or may not have actually said this, but I do believe that there is a line in the sand that all faith leaders should be aware of and should be struggling with every time they make any public statements of any kind whether overtly political…or not.
The reality is that faith does have a political voice. It is political. As a Christian pastor, I cannot ignore the clear statements from Jesus and the prophets that take direct and overt stances in regards to the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the alien, etc. These are political issues and have been for centuries. Therefore, we are not to avoid politics just to keep the peace.
The trick however is how this is to be done. I believe faith communities have to ride that tension, ride a fine line of being clear as to the theological position of the community (Isaiah 1:17) as well as be kind, loving and respectful (Matthew 5:44)…creating a safe place for discussions, debate, and disagreement over these very issues.
The problem isn’t that faith communities should or shouldn’t engage in politics. It is that when we do engage, we have forgotten to care for the same people Jesus cared for…collectively, we have forgotten who the oppressed, the hungry, the voiceless and the homeless are…and we have forgotten to love each other when the debate and the vote is over.