Matt Baeher is a Missional Team Leader for Cru, which is the name of Campus Crusade for Christ International in the U.S. Despite his heavy religious roots and my intentional lack thereof, we still enjoy a good debate and agree more often than not on many subjects. Matt is one of the smartest people I know which is why it boggles the mind how involved with religion he is but alas, he is, and I respect him.
During the 2012 Presidential election, one of the many topics debated by those not directly involved with the election was if pastors should preach politics from the pulpit. With regard to this discussion, Matt posted the following on my wall:
“Hey man. Here’s a really thoughtful and interesting discussion between 3 pastors on if politics should be preached from the pulpit. Would love to hear your thoughts.”
I disagree with the moral standpoints (obviously), such as the point of gay marriage. That aside, I like the one point made (this is probably a slight mis-quote), “If Caesar says something about Christ that goes against scripture, am I not allowed to preach about Christ because it’s now political?” The importance of this statement can’t be emphasized enough. The matters of morality as it pertains to our individual civil liberties should have no place in politics. Gay rights, women’s rights, abortion, stem cell research, etc.
This is not to say that Christians don’t have a right to have their moral opinions about it… in fact I would go as far as to say that it’s the responsibility of religious institution to guide those who would not otherwise have a moral path in life and need one. You know I’m not a Christian, nor a believer of any religion, but the fact remains that many people need moral guidance and religion is there to satisfy this need.
That said, there is an issue bigger than “Is the Pulpit Political?” and that is, “Should individual civil liberties have the ability to be taken away by politicians because of moral decisions based on religious belief?” The answer to that is “no, they shouldn’t.” Religion is, after all, an opinion to those who don’t believe, and thus it is the responsibility of politicians to respect ALL the people they represent. If an individual can’t think objectively in office, then they shouldn’t be in office.
Further on that point, it should be the responsibility of religious institutions to educate their followers on the stance of the individual congregation and then allow… or better, ‘trust’ their followers to make smart decisions based on it. If a Christian believes Gay Marriage is a sin for whatever reason, then they should believe it if they so choose. Does that mean that they have a right to take that away from someone else? Does that mean that we should make Gay Marriage illegal for all people? It’s ridiculous to me to think that it is, but alas, we are primitive. Federal law should not define marriage one way or the other.
Back to the point of the video, there are some good points made but they all agree that many pastors are indeed preaching politics, including one of the biggest pastors in the world who they bring up at the end. “It’s a big problem” one of them said.
People are corrupt. Believers, non-believers, politicians, citizens, military personnel… People are also inherently flawed and easily manipulated, myself included. The positive side of this is when individuals recognize the flaw in man and do their best to conquer their flaws. Matt, you do this by trying to lead a life with a heavy moral fabric, ‘mostly’ predefined by religion. I remember a conversation we had maybe… 8 years ago? (holy crap has it been that long?) I remember you telling me that you interpret the bible in your own way. That to me shows a leadership quality and it’s one of the reasons that despite a massive fundamental difference between us and years of not seeing each other I still call you my friend. You do not believe blindly. This is where you gain my respect (not that you were looking for it).
To finish, I would say that we as individual people, flawed as we are, shouldn’t have the right to take away the individual civil liberties of anyone if that liberty is not directly causing harm to others. We shouldn’t have the right to do this and yet we do. In this country we are supposed to have separation of church & state. This is simply not the case, and the government is focused entirely too much on morality and not enough on things like education. Do some pastors preach from the pulpit? Yes. Do some politicians bring religion into office? Yes. But the question, “should they?” The answer is, “No.”