Earlier today, Mary Walter, one of the hosts of WMAL’s popular Mornings on the Mall show, stated in the first segment of their talk show format that churches should not be involved in politics or political matters, but should keep themselves limited to spiritual matters or matters of faith.
Quite frankly, Ms. Walter is so far wrong and so off base that she has obviously forgotten everything about our history. It is well known that if you did not have a Christian church in the 1770’s in the then colonies, you have no American Revolution. It was only with great American patriots such as Anglican Minister John Peter Muhlenberg of Woodstock Va, that we have independence. One Sunday, Muhlenberg gave his congregation a list of the sins committed by King George on the American people to his flock. He then read from the book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, saying there was a time for love and a time for hate. A time for war and a time for peace. Muhlenberg then tore off his priestly robes and he was wearing a Colonel’s uniform of the Virginia militia, declared that he chose war, and asked his congregation to follow him. That little band of soldiers became the 8th Virginia Continental Infantry, which served the Americans from 1776 through 1780. For those of us in Shenandoah County, our children grow up learning about Peter Muhlenberg, and that it was the pulpit which helped give us independence from Great Britain.
The necessity of pastors preaching on issues of the day was also in vogue during the 1800’s when the anti slavery movement took root in the pulpits of the US. One could not be a Methodist or a Baptist without being told that to hold another human in bondage was against God’s law. As early as 1784, the Methodist hierarchy tried to expel church members who held slaves, but found the policy unenforceable and had to withdraw their ban against churchgoers owning slaves. But Methodist ministers still railed against the practice of slavery. http://www.christianchronicler.com/history1/slavery_and_the_churches.htm
Baptists formed their first Anti Slavery Society in 1840, and it was understood that Baptist preachers were to rail against slavery from their pulpits.
After the Civil War, it was Northern ministers and their missionaries who flocked to the South to help the freed slaves learn to read and write. However old prejudices sometimes die hard. And while blacks were technically free, they did not have many of the rights that we take for granted, including the right to vote. It was churches in the South in the mid 1900’s – including The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (NOTE THE REVEREND AT THE BEGINNING OF HIS NAME) who preached for the black man to be given the same rights as the white man and did so from the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia. He took this message to churches all across the Southern USA.
So it was with the help of churches that African American men and women were finally treated as equals under the law regarding voting and other issues.
I will agree with those who say that we are on a slippery slope, and that we must be careful as these rights will also be given to non Christians (aka Muslims who practice Sharia) and could backfire. Patrick Henry understood that the USA must remain a Christian nation, and that the moment we ceased to be a Christian nation, that meant our future could take a dark turn. I will also grant that a church should not endorse candidates as a whole. But pastors have the responsibility to tutor their flock about issues of the day, everything from abortion to gun ownership (remember that in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 22 verse 36, Jesus tells his disciples to have a sword, and if the disciple did not have a sword, they should sell their coat and buy a sword) to taxes and everything in between. And to remember the teachings of Paul to the Ephesians chapter 4 verse 26 – Be angry yet do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Meaning be outraged, but do something about your anger. Don’t let it fester but use your anger to further the public good.
We have a right and responsibility to protest when our Republican Congress continues to fund Planned Parenthood. We should be outraged when Christians are slaughtered around the globe and our previous administration denied this was occurring. And these and many others are among the issues which should be called out by our churches. And to say our churches should not be involved in issues of the day is not only wrong, it is irresponsible and does not further the public good.