Politics from the Pulpit?
This morning I received a letter from a church that I once attended and still feel warmly towards. I grew up there and learned kindness and love in the best way—by seeing it in practice. Even though I no longer follow the teachings, members consistently reach out to me, letting me know that they are there to help spiritually as well as physically if I need them.
At least once a month, I receive a small handwritten note or at least a typed form letter that usually includes some gentle reminder about the Church’s teachings and, of course, what hours services are held. But this morning’s letter carried propaganda on why I should vote for Proposition 8–“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
Angrily, I crumpled the pages and tossed them into the wastebasket. I wanted to tell the people who sent it to me how closed minded they were. I wanted to remind them that many of the same arguments they were using against gay marriage were used not so long ago against interracial marriage. Most of all I wanted to tell them how betrayed I felt that they used our spiritual relationship to foist their views on me. But….
In spite of my anger, I don’t want anyone to tell them it is illegal to have or to promote political views. Greg and Carol’s blog relates how several conservative pastors are planning on fighting the current restrictions on political speech from the pulpit.
I hate their politics
I don’t want any church, with me or against me politically, to have their speech restricted. I may think it impolite or unwise to speak out the way some churches or their pastors do but they have the right to do so. In 2004, a Reverend Regas preached a sermon against the war in Iraq, subsequently his church became subject to a protracted IRS investigation. In the same year, another non-profit (this time secular), the NAACP found itself facing an investigation because its chairman spoke out and “condemned the administration policies of George W. Bush on education, the economy, and the war in Iraq.”
Intrinsic to the mission of many churches is promoting peace and condeming war; thus failure to speak out would have been failure to follow their mission. In addition, intrinsic to the NAACP is promoting the welfare of black people. Wouldn’t the leaders of the organization be remiss if they didn’t speak out about policies they feared harmful to their members?
Churches(like other non-profits) have agendas that can best be met in the political arena. Just as Trees Foundation, NAACP, and the NRA all need to issue political statements in order to spread their beliefs so to do Churches. Like other non-profits, let them freely express their views without fearing losing their tax exempt status.
Thus, may the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have tax exempt status along with California Episcopal Bishops against Prop. 8 and, even Conservative Christians for Pickling Marriage in Outdated Modalities and Ignoring Rights and Realities of Anyone besides Us deserve to have the same tax exempt status as other non-profits.
Let Freedom ring… from the pulpit as well as the political podium.