Pastors Should Preach The Gospel Not Endorse Politicians

By ELIJAH CORBITT Staff Writer

Tensions continue to rise as November draws near on both sides of the campaign trail. Insults are constantly hurled and the media continue to enflame this kind of rhetoric leaving many Americans feeling as if they’re only in a position to choose between the lesser of two evils. With two presidential candidates who seem unfit to lead the free world, many people are seeking sound advice to help them decide in whom they should cast their vote.

One place people gather for guidance is a place of worship. Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) puts churches at risk of losing their tax-exemption status if they publicly endorse a candidate. However, I do not find it appropriate for pastors to be endorsing candidates from the pulpit. The pastor’s job is to speak strictly from the Bible, and the Gospel cannot be diluted.

If a minister chooses to use anything besides the Bible as a source of preaching, it is simply not preaching. Even if it is Christian-themed, inspirational, or even morally sound, anything less than a biblical sermon is a speech. When preaching, touching on political hot topics or moral statements is inevitable. For example, if a sermon is based on Psalm 139, you can’t help but affirm the sanctity of life. Many pastors today use a style known as expository preaching which is a form of preaching that details the meaning of a particular scripture. When using this style, pastors must be wise enough to let the scripture guide the sermon, and trying to incorporate political talking points would be spiritual malpractice.

It is quite amusing when certain groups on the right of the political spectrum want pastors to “speak up”. What they want is for pastors to endorse a specific candidate. Of course pastors are speaking up, just not about a particular candidate or political hot topic. Many people are quick to say pastors are being too passive, but are even quicker to forget that congregations have many different political affiliations.

If a minister chooses to use anything besides the Bible as a source of preaching, it is simply not preaching.

Churchgoers and leaders on the left and right of the political spectrum must realize that the Bible cuts both ways. 1 Corinthians 7 is a concrete example of the Bible supporting traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and Jeremiah 1:5 validates life at all stages of production. Many people on the right will take those verses and say all Christians must vote republican. However, that train of thinking is wildly incomplete. You will find many scriptures on justice, caring and taking care of the poor, along with the treatment of immigrants. I often hear many republicans say, “The left is in opposition to everything they stand for as Christians.” I find that ironic because Jesus’ main antagonists throughout the Gospels were the Pharisees and they would be considered the religious right of ancient times. Pastors should never bow to any political party or their talking points.

“The way the message is carried and who carries the message will influence what people think about the message,” Pastor Nate Howard, senior pastor of Living Faith Alliance Church eloquently says. “If we align ourselves too closely to someone like Donald Trump, people will interpret it through what they see in the life of Donald Trump.” This isn’t Trump bashing or Hilary Clinton praising, but what he is saying is there’s no room for the Gospel to be politicized.

Of course churches should engage in culture and the important issues of the day, but the engagement must be an outgrowth of the sanctifying work of the Gospel. This isn’t about shying away from endorsements because of the IRS, but because Jesus Christ must be at the center of every sermon.

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National Anthem Protest: Where do you stand?

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By STEVEN J. RISLEY Staff Writer

With all the violence, wars, and rioting going on in the world today, you would think that a silent protest would be welcomed with open arms.

When Colin Kaepernick decided he was going to sit out during the national anthem, he began to receive unimaginable amounts of hate, which only further proves his point. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explains.

As you can imagine, many people showed their support, including other players around the NFL. Others find his protest disrespectful. These same people believe the NFL should take action and penalize players for exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. By taking that route, the NFL would be doing exactly what the players are protesting; oppressing them.

The protest has even reached the high school level. Many pictures and articles have surfaced of entire sports teams taking a knee during the national anthem. Even on a lesser stage, these players feel they have a voice that needs to be heard.

The Camden Diocese has had members come out and say that they will discipline players if they were to take a knee. “…We are not public institutions and free speech in all its demonstrations, including protests is not a guaranteed right. Failure to demonstrate appropriate respect will result in suspension from play (2 games) or dismissal from the team for subsequent offenses,” Superintendent Mary P. Boyle states in an email.

As a private institution, they are allowed, arbitrarily, to make their own rules. However, limiting students’ rights is crossing the line. In no way should it be acceptable to go against the Constitution in the name of discipline.

Megan Rapinoe, US Women’s National Soccer Team player, has also joined the protest. She is the only member of the team to take a knee during the national anthem. As a member of the LGBT community, she claims that she, “knows what it means to look at the flag and not have your rights protected.” Rapinoe hasn’t gotten nearly as much hate as Kaepernick receives. She believes that more people need to come together and stand up for the cause.

Whether you believe in the reasons behind the protest or not, you must understand that it is something these athletes have a right to do. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are First Amendment rights that are upheld by the Constitution.

Although everyone has the right to disagree, we need to realize their opinions are simply that; opinions. There are people who claim that Kaepernick’s actions are “disrespecting” the flag and those who fought for our freedom in which it represents. These same people need to understand that the flag stands for different things to different people. The protest is calling for change, and positive change is the only way the protests will come to an end.