My simple answer is “no.” Our Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...”
This has been interpreted to champion the separation of church and state, which I heartily endorse. I do not want the government to interfere with my religion or mode of worship or tell me when or where I can practice that religion.
Now if we go back thousands of years to the eighth century, prophets had no reserve in chastising kings, judges or any other authority if they believed that their actions were in some way against the laws of the land or the laws of God. The prophets spoke their minds and thundered, “Thus saith the Lord.”
However, the Hebrew prophets were speaking to a specific group of people: the Israelites.
Today, I do not believe that religious leaders should get into the field of politics. If they endorse one candidate over another, are they speaking for the entire congregation? Do all their members believe the same way? Does the fact that you are the leader of a church, synagogue or mosque give you the right to speak for all the members of your flock? I do not think so.
Should religious leaders preach about religious matters that are part of an individual church’s belief system, even if these happen to be politically debatable? Yes! Members of any religious body should be aware of that body’s teaching. Then they can make up their own minds about an individual candidate.
The bottom line is this: Religious leaders should not endorse a political candidate. They can, however, make it clear what beliefs that particular church embraces, and then its members can apply that teaching to their decision in the confines of the voting booth.
David Baylinson, Temple Beth El, Anniston
Not a pastor’s calling
No. It is not the role of a pastor or other religious leader to endorse a particular party or candidate in any political contest. As leaders in the community, it is our role to help shape the thought process that is underlying the voting process, but direct political endorsement violates the call that God has placed on our lives.
Our church, Grace Fellowship, is made up of individuals from all backgrounds, socio-economic classes and political convictions, so for me to endorse any one candidate would be offensive. It is possible for truly committed followers of Jesus Christ to stand on opposite sides of a political contest.
What is the role of the pastor in the political process? First, as servants of Jesus Christ and His church, it is our role to preach the gospel. This will lead to Christ-centered thinking in all areas of life, including our political decisions.
Second, a pastor should preach the whole counsel of God, which will lead to instruction on social issues from the word of God.
Finally, we should be leading our people to pray and respect the leaders of our city, county, state and federal governments. God commands that his people support and pray for our civil leaders (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; 1 Peter 2:13-17). As leaders of God’s church we should be praying for our leaders, voting in elections, but trusting in the Lord Jesus and His kingdom.
Carlton Weathers, Grace Fellowship, Anniston