Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Letter to the editor
A few people have been asking me of late what I think of the political environment and in particular of a certain Baptist minister who is running for President. It’s flattering to be questioned on such matters, but as an individual who truly believes in the separation of church and state, I decline on endorsing any candidate publicly.
Unlike some of our sister churches in the African-American community and a growing number in the evangelical camp, where political figures are invited to attend and to campaign like an unsavory evangelist, I believe people have the right to vote their conscience without spiritual coercion.
In my opinion, churches should proclaim the gospel first, family second and country third. As I stated in a recent article, it is time we, the Church, proclaim God and Country with fervor. I believe ministers have every right to voice their political philosophy privately but not from the sacra-sensitive ground of the pulpit. Pastors should encourage political involvement and participation, and even pursue a public office for themselves if they so choose. However, ministers who pursue public office should not sermonize at the public’s expense. We are a democratic republic and not an Old Testament theocracy.
I also feel pastors can aid their congregation in prayerfully considering the strengths and possible weaknesses that a potential candidate might posses, but the minister should not be moved to endorse one person or the other from his ecclesiastical office. I realize many fellow ministers exhibit this willingness, but I would argue that such behavior only leads ultimately to a church that is more of a “cult of personality” than an assembly of believers.
To be honest, when Pat Robertson or any other self-proclaimed modern prophet instructs thousands and even millions from their heavenly television thrones on their divinitus inspirata political vision for America, or who to cast their vote for, two thoughts quickly cross my mind: first, what ego inflated motive do they have for saying it? and secondly, how weak-minded some people for listening as if God had said it.
Look I really believe in my gut, possibly to a fault, that every person has the native intelligence, if they would use it, to decide for themselves for whom to cast their vote. I also feel that every Christian should seek in prayer who God would have them choose.
Sadly, I believe it has been in part this tiny minority of Christian fanatics, who are themselves media giants, who in conjunction with their liberal national media counterparts have so polarized this heterogenous country into a state of political stupor. Maybe it is time for Christians from every church, the vast majority of us who do not run on the edge but who drive a little closer to the middle, to reclaim our role in American politics.
/s/ Dr. Andrew Brasher
Cornerstone Baptist Church