Insanity in the GOP Church
May 7, 2005

Have you heard about the Waynesville, North Carolina Baptist Pastor who led efforts to kick out congregants that didn't support Bush? Maddening. The AP reports:

Some in Pastor Chan Chandler's flock wish he had a little less zeal for the GOP.

Members of the small East Waynesville Baptist Church say Chandler led an effort to kick out congregants who didn't support President Bush. Nine members were voted out at a Monday church meeting in this mountain town, about 120 miles west of Charlotte.

"He's the kind of pastor who says do it my way or get out," said Selma Morris, the former church treasurer. "He's real negative all the time."

Chandler didn't return a message left by The Associated Press at his home Friday, and several calls to the church went unanswered. He told WLOS-TV in Asheville that the actions were not politically motivated.

The station also reported that 40 others in the 400-member congregation resigned in protest after Monday's vote.

There is a proper way to dismiss members from a local church--voting and partisan politics isn't the answer. This proves to me yet again that there is huge deception going on that the GOP is synonymous with righteousness or morality. If this were truly the case (which it most definitely isn't), the people of God would be in a big heap of trouble (don't make me name Republican names).

It seems political controversy is familiar territory with this Baptist pastor. The AP continues:

During the presidential election last year, Chandler told the congregation that anyone who planned to vote for Democratic Sen. John Kerry should either leave the church or repent, said former member Lorene Sutton.

Some church members left after Chandler made his ultimatum in October, Morris said.

I'll tell you who needs to repent. Pastor Chan Hussein that's who.

One of the beauties of living in America is that we're free to vote for whomever we choose according to our own good conscience. While I personally don't understand how a born-again Christian can call themselves a Republican or a Democrat, I'm certainly not about to try to dictate what does and doesn't fit correctly with another person's convictions.

The historical relationship between politics and the church have been interesting to say the least. The attempt to box God into a political party is so incredibly off-base and unbiblical that it shouldn't even be discussed. As Christians, we have to look beyond political boundaries and use the tools we have to discern which candidate, policy, and measure, most accurately aligns itself with truth. And while we're on truth, let's tell the truth: neither political party has a load of credibility in the morality department.

When we attempt to associate a political party with righteousness, we run the extreme risk of worshipping a man-made and incessantly flawed institution. You can count me out of that mess.

While I personally think Pastors should be able to freely discuss political matters (without coercion that is), it seems this country isn't ready for that. Why? Because we have politicians pimping the pulpit and pastors playing political manipulation games. It's all quite sickening if you ask me.

Posted by Ambra at May 7, 2005 5:52 PM in Politics
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Well said!

I'm a Pastor and a conservative who keeps his politics out of the pulpit! Neither party is lined up with God's Word and never have been and never well be!

Let the church be the church - and that's all and that's enough!

About Pastors sharing their political views - I don't because I don't see how it can be done from the pulpit without either sounding like coercion or driving those who disagree away from the Gospel.

So I try and stick to my job - preach the Gospel of Christ - and in private share my views from time to time, but not get caught up in it as I have more lasting and important things to do.

God bless and keep up the good work!

*Sigh*

Starting to understand that whole many are called few will enter thing.

Where is the love? This isn't a case of expelling the immoral brother - not all Christian Democrats support legalizing murdering babies and other policies that go against their beliefs.

But this is a pastor leading sheep - and he would set THAT kind of example? No wonder the church has been around since 1965 and is only 100-members strong. With that kind of example - any wonder if the Gospels are preached there?

You are wise beyond your years. I can't explain adequately enough how angry these religious hustlers make me. I remember when that (insert pejorative here) Jerry Falwell burst onto the scene with the so-called Moral Majority. It wasn't either! I have no doubt that all of the flaming political rhetoric coming from religious leaders is actually crippling the Body. It definitely isn't helping evangelism, you know?

While I think it is absolutely essential for believers to participate in politics, whether they be local or national, DISCERNMENT MUST be in the quiver of arrows he or she takes into that battle. For men and women of God to swallow ANY political parties dogma hook, line and sinker is IDOLATRY. We are supposed to influence the world-at-large, not the other way around. Jesus said it best: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." I often wonder if they know the difference...

In 1932, on year before Hitler took power, a Catholic priest told his congregation that no good Catholic could vote Nazi. The press predictably went running to his bishop hoping for a "Tut-tut, he shouldn't have said that." Instead, the bishop told them them the priest had it exactly right.

That sort of bold behavior is why in many Bavarian Cathoiic villages NO ONE voted Nazi. Contrast that to the Protestant north where virtually no Lutheran clergy were saying don't vote Nazi. There the Nazis got their largest voting majority in all of Germany--a chilling 70%. The economic conditions of farmers north and south were the same (dismal). The difference was the church leadership. The Catholic leaders were moral and brave. The Lutherans were morally deficient (big on submitting to authority) and cowards. That's why Hitler sneered about how spineless they were, claiming that they "sweat too much" under pressure.

If Protestant pastors had behaved like Catholic priests, Nazism would be a footnote in history. Tens of millions of Europeans and six million Jews would not have died. But of course, we'd have never know that. We'd just have heard how dreadfully partisan those Lutheran pastors were. "Telling people not to vote Nazi, the nerve of them. Who do they think they are!"

Of course, there is a difference. In 1932, the Nazis had killed very few Jews and most Germans thought they'd never do anything more than that. Nazism would treat the Jews about like the Democrats in American treated black people.

In contrast, for the past 32 years the Democratic party has congratulated itself for protecting the legal killing of one-million plus babies a year. They're proud of what the Nazis so carefully concealed. No picture of an aborted baby will move their ice-cold hearts.

That said, I don't think church expulsions are the best approach. Far better to do like Jesus did on numerous occasions and make the evil and hypocritical supporters of the Democratic party so uncomfortable they leave of their own accord. Jesus drove people away simply for being a bit legalistic about the Sabbath. We can certainly do that for those who keep abortion legal with their votes.

Nykola, your problem is that you don't really think abortion kills babies. You regard it as if it were dressing in poor taste or something. Yes, you're saying, the Democrats may mix horizonal and vertical strips in the same outfit, but that's no reason not to vote for them.

And you're wrong, very wrong. Far better to take a stand and let the people rage. My great-great-great-grandfather was killed by the Klan in 1874 Alabama for refusing to support the Democratic party as white supremacy returned to the South. I'm quite proud to be his descendant. Voting Democratic then was evil. Voting Democratic now is even more evil. It can be justified and it can't be excused.

As I tell people, "I don't vote Communist, I don't vote Nazi, and I don't vote Democratic. I'm not into killing innocent people by the millions. If you don't like that--tough."

I might add that the "I'm a pastor" remark above mine illustrates that pastorial spinelessness isn't confined to early 1930s Lutherans. The "Gospel of Christ" Himself included blasting loudly, direcly and in public those who promoted ethical matters as petty as overly strict Sabbath laws, laws that forgot the Sabbath was made for man but killed no one. And if the Gospel of Christ included matters that trivial simply because it hurt people created in the image of God, it certainly includes attacking from the pulpit slavery and racism in the past and abortion today. Jesus' gospel wasn't a free bus ticket to heaven. Ours shouldn't be either.

And in all fairness I might add that in 1934 and 1935, when Lutheran pastors realized that the Nazis intended to secularize or paganize their young people, they did acquire some backbone. Some 40% of Protestant pastors joined the Confessing Church and did protest as well as they could. But by then it was too late.

--Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

Ambra's Note: I don't respond to comments from people who clearly haven't read anything I've written over the last year and half

Mike, I haven't the faintest idea what you are talking about...

I'm a Registered Republican from North Carolina and I just have to shake my head in disbelief at this.

Ambra, Mike's (partisan) slip is showing.

Ambra, I read about this a few days ago. I've been looking around to see what would happen.

You are the first of the few blogs that I read that have mentioned it.

Some "silly" questions that I want to throw out there:


  • What's the difference between what he did, and what some Catholic bishops have done to politicians who support abortions?

  • A Black preacher whose initials are Jesse Lee Peterson has said that if you support the Democratic platform, you are pro-abortion, thus you are not a Christian. If you are not a Christian, why not kick you out of the church if you don't repent?
  • Just trying to see what you think.

    What's the difference between what he did, and what some Catholic bishops have done to politicians who support abortions?

    What exactly are you referring to when you say Catholic bishops have "done" to politicians who support abortions? That will better help me answer your question.

    A Black preacher whose initials are Jesse Lee Peterson has said that if you support the Democratic platform, you are pro-abortion, thus you are not a Christian. If you are not a Christian, why not kick you out of the church if you don't repent?

    Well, this is one of the many places at which Rev. Peterson and I depart. Jesse Lee is extreme just for extreme's sake and he's not doing anyone any good by being that way.

    Being raised in a Christian Democrat home, I can assuredly say that there are varying degrees to which Christians view the Democratic principles. For example, there are Democrats (Christian and non-Christian) who have a libertarian approach to social issues. For example not all Democrats support child killing rights. I grew up in Biblically-based home with parents who didn't feel the Christian/Democratic dynamic was conflicting. That was there conviction and they loved God just the same.

    Personally, I have an equally difficult time with a Christian being a Democrat or a Republican because I see both parties as having ideologies that are inconsistent with the mission and message of Jesus Christ.

    I don't think Ambra is saying religion and politics don't mix, but just that no human political party has God's direct endorsement.

    What makes me sad about this incident is that people are going to think, "Baptists are like that." Actually, Baptists are aghast at it.

    Ambra, if I remember correctly, some Catholic Bishops refused to give sacraments to politicians who supported abortion.

    Goes Googling and

    http://www.catholicworldnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=32440


    In an essay that will appear in the October 2004 issue of Catholic World Report, Bishop Rene Henry Gracida argues that bishops have a solemn duty to rebuke public sinners, including those who persistently violate Church teachings regarding the sanctity of life.

    Bishop Gracida goes on to say that while he headed the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, he imposed the canonical penalty of interdiction on a politician who repeatedly stated his support for legal abortion. Although he does not name the politician, Bishop Gracida-- who is now retired from the Corpus Christi diocese-- does say that the individual died while still under the interdict, barred from receiving Communion or the last rites.

    I'm pretty much eye to eye with your view on this one.


    Ambra:

    The preaching of a politically flavored Gospel from the pulpit is risky business. I will not say that politics has no place whatsoever in the pulpit (Christians live in the world after all), but those who do have political message in their sermons should be aware that one result may be unacceptable collateral damage to the Church. God, as C.S. Lewis once said, will not permit Himself to be used as a convenience.

    The political portraits of Jesus are quite varied and mutually incompatible. Rarely does a political sermon tell us anything more that what books, magazines and media outlets the person giving the sermon prefers.

    The denomination to which I belong - the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA - is a good example of a denomination whose leadership has developed an unhealthy itch for pulpit politics. The consequences have been ruinous. Membership is declining, the denomination's financial position is weak, and many missionaries and clergy are demoralized. If you are not absolutely thrilled by the ELCA's leftward lurch, you are alienated and depressed. This is unity? Feels more like an ongoing divorce.

    The East Waynesville Baptist Church - in fact, all denominations of the so-called Religious Right or Left - might want to take a good look at the ELCA. Our fate can be yours, too.

    I was SHOCKED when I saw this story in the news... this kind of attitude and behavior on the part of Christians does nothing but create a greater divide between believers and non-believers! How can we expect people to find Christians credible and how can we reach out to non-believers if this is what Christians are doing? Uggh... it is revolting and extremely discouraging. It is a sad day when Christians are shunning people because of political affiliation of all things... how pathetic! Thankfully that is the exception, not the rule.

    This is the first time I have written a comment, though I have been reading your blog for a few months now. I’m a black female, 23 years old and a writer, and therefore find a lot of relevance in the subjects you write about.

    Usually, I agree with your logic but not your conclusion. This time, I agree with your conclusion but not with the reasoning.

    True, it’s a misnomer to identify Republicans, or Democrats for that matter, as the righteous and moral party. But it’s not because the party members or leaders have committed moral transgressions. It’s because the parties are political entities and in America government does not (perhaps I should say, should not) rule by religious belief. America is not a theocracy.

    DarkStar brought up the issue of Catholic bishops refusing to give sacraments to politicians who “supported abortion.” It really annoys me when people use this type of phrasing to describe people who are pro-choice. I do not support abortion, but I believe any American adult has the right to have one.

    It is not our government's place to dictate morals, particularly when those morals are based in religious belief and when breaking those morals affects no one but the person who commits the infraction. I know this is where pro-lifers will say, “abortion affects the baby, too.” This, again, is a matter of religion, not science. When life begins is a matter for our pastors, not our law-makers.

    Yes, politics should stay out of the pulpit. But the pulpit needs to stay out of politics, too.

    What I first noticed was "why is this AP news?" Some backwater church preacher gets all huffy with his politics and 40 people leave and this is worthy of an Associated Press report? Sounded like small town gossipy stuff to me.

    Aren't there bigger events in the world that should have been in my Sunday paper than this? Genocide, wars, etc?

    Secondly, my local paper had this and then some long article about Bob Jones University (yawn). I am an evagelical Christian and there are lots of "good" things we are doing but this is what the MSM reports on? Seems more like one more article designed to portray and paint all Christians as backwater whackos. Or give more evidence for those that think freedom of religion maybe shouldn't be so free. I say you can go to this mans church or not. He doesn't speak for all Christians..

    I don't mind moral leadership from the pulpit, after all, nothing says I can't ignore it. Arguing with the minister is a revered tradition.

    Some churches, though, and some ministers fall into a dangerous place where disagreeing with the pastor is the same as disagreeing with God (shall we say extra-biblical revelation here?) and retribution for failing to conform is swift and terrible. There's biblical instructions for removing someone from a church but this goes farther than that into forbidding remaining members to even speak to those thrown out. It's the same sort of isolation that cultists use. It's subtle and pervasive... I've talked to many people in regular churches who experienced some measure. My sister found herself in a position, on prozac and having a terrible time and trying to simply reduce involvement to something she could deal with and being attacked by her pastor for opposing the will of God by destroying her husband's music ministry just because she needed his support at home... as if the desires of this pastor were the very desires and will of God.

    It's not the disagreements, the splits or the drama... those happen just because churches are dealing with people. It's the consequence and the level of control... is there a personality cult or not?

    In this case, is it possible to know if this was the last straw to a larger disagreement, that embarassing (bad witness) that sometimes happens... or is it a pastor with delusions of diety equating disagreement with his word with a sinful rejection of God? (There is something to be said for the frequent movement of pastors between congregations.)

    My home church has had some good pastors over the years and some doozies besides and for several years of listening to the doozies on Sunday it works well enough to grit your teeth and wait for them to leave or retire... and maybe be more careful with the next guy the calling committee selects. So I'm not talking about some of the stuff that comes out from the pulpit, pastors can be opinionated and wrong... I'm talking about the dynamics of control.

    And rambling terribly, it's late. Probably I've made no sense at all but hopefully, even if I'm incoherent, it will have sparked a thought or two.

    First of all, I agree that what this pastor did was a bit extreme. Second, I also agree that there were probably more important things to report on.

    However, this is one case where I think Ambra is being a bit naive. The vast majority of Democratic politicians now adays support things like abortion-on-demand, gay marriage, and some other things that go against God's word. God won't keep you out of Heaven just because you're in the wrong political party, but he will hold you accountable for your beliefs and actions. By voting for your average Democrat, you could be supporting all sorts of Godless policies, and just because you're in the privacy of a voting booth, don't think he won't notice.

    Ambra: you talk about how it's wrong to be part of a political party, but then you talk about how you grew up in a "Christian Democrat" home and act like there's nothing wrong with that, while just coming short of demonizing Republicans. I think this sort of double standard is disgusting, and something I'd expect from a liberal, not from you.

    Michele: You say you don't support abortion, but you also say you believe it's an adult's right to one. Who do you think you are? John Kerry? Pick a side! As for your assertion that it only affects one person, that's far from true. Do you know how many babies have been killed since abortion's been legalized? Over 40 million! That's over 40 million productive, tax paying citizens! That's also over 40 million mothers and fathers who could've helped grow our population! More importantly, these were over 40 million potential people who could've benefited society. Wiped out! You know why we face a social security deficit? That's why! Not only that, most of the women who get abortions are permanently damaged, both physically and emotionally, from this procedure! Many women die from it, others become sterile. That's more dead citizens, and more people who will never be born. Just do the research, and you should find that I'm right. All our actions affect someone else, whether we realize it or not.

    Back to the issue at hand, the Republicans aren't perfect, but neither is anyone else. Isn't that why Jesus died in the first place? If you can't associate with someone just because they're not perfect, then you'd might as well never talk to anyone else as long as you live. I say Republicans may not have a perfect moral track record, but theirs is better than the Democrats'. If I associate with the Republican party, it's because I want to be surrounded by people who share my political beliefs, not because I "worship" them. Most of them ARE conservatives after all. And Independent is SUCH a lonely political road. By the way, my favorite political commentator is Bill O'Reilly, who's an Independent, so there.

    Aah, you guys are making me waste my time.

    I see I've hit a hot spot. Good. It's about time we tapped into that tagline. And let's all stop referring to Ambra in the third person please--like I'm not in the room.....

    Isn't it interesting however, that even midly suggesting that the Republicans are faulty gains 200+ word comments?

    Now let me clarify a few things:

    1) I am not a Republican. I have never claimed to be and I never will.

    2) I am surely not a Democrat. I have never claimed to be and I never will.

    3) I am a son of God. I am that before I am black, female, or even conservative. I'll write from that perspective from now until I leave this earth.

    Commenter "Michael Covington" hit my nail on the head when he said, "I don't think Ambra is saying religion and politics don't mix, but just that no human political party has God's direct endorsement."

    Someone here is paying attention. There are lots of really good comments here, with the exception of the other Michael.

    Michael: Get a grip please. You're caught up in your emotion and have clearly failed to read anything I spent valued time writing.

    You wrote: "Ambra: you talk about how it's wrong to be part of a political party, but then you talk about how you grew up in a "Christian Democrat" home and act like there's nothing wrong with that, while just coming short of demonizing Republicans. I think this sort of double standard is disgusting, and something I'd expect from a liberal, not from you."

    When did I say being a part of a political party was wrong? When did I demonize Republicans? When did I act like there was nothing wrong with being a Christian Democrat? Check the text sonny...

    Ambra wrote:

    While I personally don't understand how a born-again Christian can call themselves a Republican or a Democrat, I'm certainly not about to try to dictate what does and doesn't fit correctly with another person's convictions.

    I have spent a considerable amount of time denouncing the Democratic platform and discussing my angst about the conflicting values of the Democrat-Christian home.

    If you're not going to take the time to read what I've written here, I'm certainly not going to take the time read your off-base ranting without the facts.

    Would I support a candidate who's in favor of abortion? Not even if you paid me. Do I think the Democrats are socialists in sheep's clothing. Yes siree bobby. Have I spent a considerable amount of time discussing these matters on my weblog? Why yes. Yes I have.

    Come back when you want to have a civil conversation please. Otherwise, you're wasting my time.

    Interesting insecurities revealed...

    Now, onto more productive matters...As for the discussion on politics and the church, I think it important to note that:

    #1 The church is not a building. Henceforth, please acknowledge that.

    #2 The people of God are called to engage the culture and apply Biblical principles in the marketplace and in Government.

    That said, I think that the church needs to be fully involved in governmental afairs. Not only should we; we must. Historically, pastors/the community/and politics were closely linked. Today we have tax-exempt status rules and immature leaders and self-serving politicians. Those realities change things a bit. This doesn't stop us from being able to discuss matters of political policy that will affect our daily lives. If the church doesn't have the answers then we are in some serious trouble...in fact, we are.

    Nevertheless, being the good Bereans that we are, even without pastoral leadership, we should be wise and discerning enough to see what God is doing even in government. After all, God is always at work.

    for a lack of eloquence....what an idiot:(

    at least he doesn't represent 99.9% of southern baptists that i know...

    guess he missed that little book called the Bible *sigh*

    I hate situations like this, because there's no clear-cut, obvious answer (I hate uncertainty and indecision).

    On the one hand:

    It is the pastor's job to lead his flock on their journey through life and (hopefully) toward the Pearly Gates. Pastor's oughtn't refrain from providing guidance on something as important as politics just because it's, well, politics. Mike Perry's example was eloquent and spot-on. I believe that the church has the duty to recognize evil and attempt to lead its members to oppose it. The pastor who isn't vocal in reminding his flock to eschew sinful behavior - without as a cosequence falling into the sin of pride - simply isn't doing his job. I believe that this is one reason that many denominations are seeing decline in membership: people need guidance, not wishy-washy, politically-correct slogans from the pulpit.

    One the other hand...

    The church is a place for sinners. I don't think we as Christians are supposed to exclude and ostracize our fellow sinners, but rather we are to humbly encourage and help each other to stay on the straight and narrow path. Not only does booting members out of the church guarantee that you'll never be able to help them again, it also puts a bad face on the church at large. And, let's face it, if the church booted people for being sinners, the buildings would be empty 24 / 7.

    I agree that no political party has a lock on being "godly" (though I honestly think the Republicans are closer to it than the dems), and certainly neither can claim to have God's imprimatur.

    As to the wall between pulpit and politics, I'm afraid that this simply isn't possible. ALL laws are based on some kind of morality, and as the United States is a predominately Christian country, it's natural that our laws are influenced by Christian teachings. Hence, there are laws against murder (Exodus 20:13), perjury (Exodus 20:16), etc. Natch, I believe that the Founding Fathers were right that the government ought not to establish a church, but it seems silly to demand that the church not have some say in the political process. After all, its members are also citizens.

    Perhaps it sounds trite, but I think that the best thing we can do it pray, not only for that church, its pastor and congregation, but for the wisdom to know how we ought to conduct ourselves as citizens and how we ought to use the power of the ballot to do what is right in the eye of God.

    ambra, nice response.

    A pastor who denounces abortion and says that it is the duty of Christians to vote with their faith in mind, says all that needs to be said.

    To go further, to me, is overkill and puts the tax exempt status in question. If they don't care, so be it.

    yeah i've grown more than tired of people, including a lot of black conservatives (but not ambra, she's smarter than that), attempting to say that only the left does religious pandering in the pulpit. I'm a black from North Carolina but I've attended many white churches in NC, especially in Pender and New Hanover Counties and on MULTIPLE occasions there was open political dialogue being carried forth by the preacher or other members supporting Repubs, be it Bush, Elizabeth Dole or whoever else. Thanks Ambra for keeping it real up in this piece.

    I am amazed and flabberghasted how one's stance on a political issue determines whether one is walking right (pun? me? never) with the Lord.

    If you vote Dem, you are automatically voting to support 'baby murder', even if 'baby murder' isn't a political action item at this time.

    My question is thus, will God still be angry with me if I vote for a pro-choice republican, like Mccain or Guliani?

    Is this the only issue on the entire planet that God cares about?

    Even better yet, since Jesus died at the hands of capital punishment, and the Bible proscribes an eye 4 eye justice, why isn't the death penalty one of the Lords issues?

    Or gun control? why is it that the Lord WANTS us to have weapons?

    I realize that I am over simplifying things that many people sincerely believe. I just want to point out that the work of a Pastor, particularly a Baptist Pastor, is to bring people to Jeasus, not send them out.

    Disgraceful.

    See, this is why separation between Church and State is so important. Do you think, in 1782, that the farmers in Virginia really wanted to hear about some laws made by the Quakers or the Puritans up north?

    Stephen Johnson wrote:

    "I am amazed and flabberghasted how one's stance on a political issue determines whether one is walking right (pun? me? never) with the Lord."

    I don't see why this amazes you. God is involved in and cares deeply about all our affairs. This includes the policies and and issues being debated on the House & Senate floors. This includes what goes on under the desk in the Oval Office. This includes what takes place in the school board meetings. Your stance on a political issue is directly related to what you think about that issue, and indirectly, what you think about that issue in light of what you know to be true about God. As a Christian, I must examine everything against the backdrop of truth. Child-killing rights is a prime example of this.

    From one Christian to the next, people walk in varying levels of revelation. This is why two people can love God, walk upright before him, and look differently upon a political issue. This isn't an excuse for people to stay in their ignorance about God, but it is why we see so much disparity. It's also why I think political parties need to go.....They hinder Christians from rightly dividing the word of truth. Or rather, Christians allow themselves to be hindered.

    Personally, I think the pastor shouldn't have done what he did. And the fact that his congregation even voted for someone he deemed immoral is just a testament to his lack of teaching ability.

    As for you, Ambra, you say that you don't know how a person can join any political party, Democrat or Republican, if they claim to be a Christian. Well, all I can say is that the Republican Party's current platform synchs up just fine with my moral and religious views, and NOT the other way around. Our religion should affect our politics, so if we claim to believe in the same things religiously, we should be able to come up with some concensus on what our politics should be.

    Some people say religion and politics don't mix, and I agree that there should be a line somewhere. However, if all we do is wait for everyone to "get saved" in order for society to change, with the church the way it is now, we'll be stuck waiting for a long time. We tried it in the 90's and we got 8 years of Clinton! Don't make me elaborate. If we had been more politically active then, things might've been better. Also, with powers higher up that oppose our views, trying to restrict our free speech rights and trying to remove God from the public square, sometimes we have to get into the political arena in order to keep the country spiritually open.

    As for individual issues, I believe abortion is a WAAAAY more important issue than gun control, and has more of a bearing on how I'd actually vote. Also, Jesus did say that whoever lives by the sword shall die by it, but in one of the Gospels, right before Jesus was crucified, he told his disciples to go buy a sword. I believe this means that Jesus opposes active aggression, but not necessarily self-defense. I personally don't want a gun, but if someone else wants one to protect themselves or their family, I don't see what's wrong with that. In fact, areas with higher rates of civilian gun ownership tend to have lower violent crime rates than areas with less gun owners. This is because violent criminals are often deterred by armed "victims".

    As one more aside to abortion, the Declaration of Independence guarantees Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. But before we can guarantee Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, don't we have to guarantee life? Just a thought.

    Stephen wrote: Well, all I can say is that the Republican Party's current platform synchs up just fine with my moral and religious views, and NOT the other way around.

    Great, then that's your own conviction...be comfortable with it. I already stated that I don't try to dictate another person's convictions. Was this back and forth necessary for arrival at the same point I originally made? No. I wish people would just read....

    Stephen wrote: Our religion should affect our politics, so if we claim to believe in the same things religiously, we should be able to come up with some concensus on what our politics should be.

    I'm not sure what "our" you're referring to. I'm not a member of a religion...I'm a member of living organism called the Church of Jesus Christ. And no, I don't think religion and politics should mix. Instead, I think politics should mix relationship to God and His authority should. There is a difference. Everyone walking around calling themselves a Christian isn't and for that reason among many others, the Republican/Christian consensus will never be. We can't even come to a consensus on how we baptize people and we really think it's going to happen in Government?

    Please. The Church needs to get it together.

    Ambra, I think that your stance that preachers should be able to talk about politics from the pulpit is exactly right. Freedom of speech and religion guarantee it. Preachers should also remember what kingdom they are building. It ain't located in Washington.

    I know you'll disagree, but the Republican party is simply a group of people trying to get a worldview legislated. Membership is simply that and no more. It has no more revalance than any other club. Your refusal to join the club is just fine - it is what you feel GOD wants you to do.

    Since denominations are kinda like political parties, are you against them as well?

    Actually, Steven, I agree with everything you've stated expect, "Membership is simply that and no more." Yes, but to varying degrees. For some this is the case, but for others, the Republican Party has taken the place of what the body of Christ should be. I'm always weary of anything that does that.

    Per your question of denominations...I used to be really into studying church history, so for the sake of not getting off topic, I'll give you the short answer:

    1) I am a member of a non-denominational church. I have been since the womb. Unfortunately, now it seems "nondenominational" has become its own denomination. People are funny that way.

    2) While I don't think denominations are a bad thing (although denominationalism is), I find the concept unnecessary and unBiblical. The New Testament Churches (at Laodecia, Philadelphia, Epheses, etc.) were based on regional locations, not belief in certain sacraments or the laying on of hands.

    Thankfully, God still moves in spite of us and our doctrinal hang-ups. Working in ministry, I've traveled to many churches of varying denominations, and God is still moving in their midst. Do I think we waste a lot of time on denominational games? Yes, but I understand historically how many of these things came about and quite frankly, I don't blame our ancestors for establishing denominations. Too much bogus doctrine flying around.

    I also believe that many of the denominations out there right now are not the church that Jesus Christ is building.

    I imagine God has a sense of humor about much of this. We've overcomplicated things in our quest to qualify ourselves for God's love. It's a worthless endeavor.

    Heck, I could start my own denomination right now if I wanted.

    It must be great to be able to judge someone without getting all the facts first. So far all we've heard from are those who claim they've been kicked out of the church. Yet those same people attended (with their attorney's) just this past Sunday. The pastor has said that no one has been kicked out of the church because of any political candidate they do or don't support.

    But, hey, it saves so much time jumping to conclusion without bother about getting the oter side.

    WOW Ambra, I agree with almost everything you said. Except - of course - the Republican "club" part. If some people take the party too seriously that's their fault - not the party's.

    Each person must try to find the road their way (as long as they find the right road!)

    Soft spot for you Danny? Minus the sarcasm, bring the facts please...links, anything to support what you just wrote. Do I believe the media puts their slant on anything that has to do with Christians? Yes. I'm certainly willing to entertain that this story has two sides. Every story does. Praise God I'm not a journalist eh? Then we'd all be in trouble.

    Now, to the main point of discussion: does any of the above change the fact that the Republican/Christian line is too blurry? Nope. The topic at hand is a valid one, regardless of whether the story is.

    I've had a question in the back of my mind for some time now, and a comment left earlier reminded me to ask it. Isn't it a bit hypocritical to oppose abortion but support capital punishment? Am I missing something here? Isn't it wrong to play God, regardless of the circumstance? Maybe I'm being a bit obtuse, but the understanding of the logic behind that always escaped me.

    Homey's first responsibility if he really is a pastor, is to shepherd and feed God's flock. On the other hand, if those church folk can't think for themselves and get up out of there, to use a favorite phrase of mine, "suffer got 'cha".

    She said, "homey".... Gina, I love your comments.

    Dyoung wrote:"Isn't it a bit hypocritical to oppose abortion but support capital punishment?"

    Million dollar question. The average Christian has had this conversation at least 10 times....Any takers?

    Dyoung wrote:"Isn't it a bit hypocritical to oppose abortion but support capital punishment?"

    Ambra wrote: Million dollar question. The average Christian has had this conversation at least 10 times....Any takers?

    It's only hypocritical if a person doesn't see a difference between the willful criminal acts of an adult and a child that's done nothing wrong but exist.

    Still... many Christians are against the death penalty because they don't believe in killing at all.

    Luther, on the other hand, argued that the executioner ought to be a Christian rather than an unbeliver. I'm a bit unclear about why.

    In any case, speaking of hypocrisy, isn't it hypocritical to support abortion but oppose capital punishment? (Or support abortion but refuse to use any animal product that requires the animal's death, for that matter.)

    Soft spot for you Danny? Minus the sarcasm, bring the facts please...links, anything to support what you just wrote.

    There's a trackback to my blog (JackLewis.net) that then links to the source for the quotes. There's even more info today.

    Now, to the main point of discussion: does any of the above change the fact that the Republican/Christian line is too blurry? Nope. The topic at hand is a valid one, regardless of whether the story is.

    Christians have certain things they see as important. Currently the GOP is the best source of implimenting those things. I know of few Christians who try to blur the lines. I know of lots of Liberals who claim the lines are blurred, usually in speeches they (the Liberals) give from the pulpits of Liberal churches while complaining about the so-called Religious Right not separating church and state.

    Question #1: Which candidate in the last presidential election gave speeches from the pulpits of churches?

    Question #2: The same question, but for the Presidential campaign before that.

    Question #3: ...the campaign before that.

    The answer to all three are the Democrat candidate. Yet who is constantly accused of using religion to further politics?

    I don't think it's right for any human to try and play God, regardless of the circumstance. Considering the inherent falliability of anything human, including our justice system, a person who doesn't oppose capitial punishment and abortion with the same ferventness loses a bit of credibility in my eyes. I still have yet to hear any argument that would make me reconsider my position.

    Trust me, dyoung, if someone near and dear to you gets murdered in a particularly heinous way you will change your views on the death penalty.

    I really hate the whole abortion debate, because it is much like talking to someone who thinks Tupac is still alive. Nothing you say really matters. People feel how they feel.

    The argument made by many who support capital punishment, yet oppose abortion seems to lie in the innocence of the party, i.e. unborn children are innocent per se, vis a vis a convicted murderer.

    However, my biggest problem with capital punishment lies in our legal system, which like all things is based on, "let's make a deal." (I like it this way, so I'm not complaining).

    Let's say Arnold is suspected of killing Charley. Now Arnold KNOWS he didn't kill Charley, but Arnold just left Charley's house and his fingerprints and hair is all over the place. Arnold is offered a deal by prosecutors- "Hey Arnold, plead guilty and we'll only ask for life. Take it to trial and we will seek the death penalty."

    Arnold is faced with a lifetime of incarceration for a crime he didn't commit. But the circumstantial case against him is strong, and Arnold "looks like a serial killer", which doesn't help.

    But, knowing himself to be innocent, he takes it to trial, loses, and gets the death penalty.

    See, I don't like the fact that Cap. pun is used as a stick. That is not justice.

    I suppose the real difference between those who support the death penalty and those who (reasonably, there are some nuts out there) oppose it is the axiom, "I'd rather set 100 guilty men free than kill 1 innocent man."

    It is hard, in today's society to truly believe this precept and yet believe in capital punishment as it exists today.

    Yet those who oppose abortion cite the innocence of the baby. That's fine. Why don't you see the innocence of the man.

    Am I a hipocrite for believing that the DP is wrong, yet not wanting the government to prohibit a woman from aborting her child? Possibly. I'll admit it. I reconcile the two by believing that it is not the choice for me.

    Can those who also hold such diametrically opposed views say the same?

    (Apologizing in advance for any typos. I'm writing this on my phone.)
    To glen:

    That's exactly why we have things like laws and stuff, to take the personal emotional attachment away from making decisions like that. Of course I'd want revenge, as would anybody else, but that doesn't make it right.

    I haven't even mentioned the disproportionate amount of African-Americans sentenced to death row, or the number of reversed capital decisions in the past ten years. No, I don't expect our justice system to be perfect. Like anything man-made, its has definite flaws. My point is that the only flawless entity we know of should be the only one allowed to make those (life or death) choices.

    I'm sorry if I'm getting off topic, but the abortion and capital punishment issue has always been parallel in my eyes.

    Danny...you're preaching to the choir. I voted for Bush and raked Kerry across the coals nearly every week for his use of pulpits during the campaign.

    Not sure what you're trying to prove here....

    "I'm sorry if I'm getting off topic, but the abortion and capital punishment issue has always been parallel in my eyes."


    Parallel? How many murders have been committed by unborn children? Punishment should fit the crime. If one believes that life is the most precious commodity, then to take it away should carry the stiffest penalty, and there are a number of things that can get you life in prison. It's logical for the Christian to support capital punishment.

    Yes, there are problems with the justice system and capital punishment must always be reserved for when there is no remaining doubt as to guilt. However, when guilt is certain, the price must be paid.

    First degree murder = a trip to your final reward.

    The point is...this "blurring of the lines" is what Liberals are screaming, not what Republicans nor Christians are doing. When the DNC calls for laws that make immorality legal, and morality illegal, what are Christians to do? To separate one's religion from politics is folly. Our political involvement is how we shape laws. We should never establish laws outside of a good sense of morality, and Christians base their morality on their religon, so therefore on an individual level politics and religion cannot be separated. When it comes to a church, they cannot escape brushing up against politics whenever Liberals are so willing to legislate immorality.

    To mark:

    Again, who are we to play God, under any circumstance? Who gives a man, any man, the right to decide whether or not another man lives or dies? No one on this planet possesses that wisdom, or has earned that power.

    As far as the murderers themselves, you could send them to Antarctica or Appalachia and lock em up underneath the jail for all I care. Seeing the hypocrisy in human beings who choose when they think its okay to play God doesn't = "soft on crime".

    God gave the right to lawmakers and people to execute judgement on the lawless. Laws are made for the lawless so if a lawless person kills another innocent person and the law of that state declares there is a death penalty, then they should recieve it! Ideas and actions have consequences people! It is foolishness to act as if an unborn murdered child is even to be mentioned in the same breath as some grown adult that is paying the consequence for their actions!
    Stop fooling yourselves you know the truth yet still want to act oblivious to it!

    I think it needs to be noted that capital punishment is not proscribed or prescribed in the NT.

    However, in the OT it is prescribed and acts as a deterrent to societal ills. Who is deterred by capital punishment today?!

    I'm much more for the solution of taking barren, infertile ground and causing it to grow fruit, just as Christ did for us.

    ... When the Son of God was on the cross between two criminals, we did not see him saying
    "Free these two men! This is WRONG! We have no right to judge whether or not these men should live or die!" No because Christ was submitted to the "law of the land" even having the power at his disposal to conact his Father at Headquarters and dispatch "12legions of angels" he did not do so because that is not how God operates.
    Humans are to be managers of how legal affairs on the Earth are ran. One of the things instituted by God is "the death penalty" for those that do not want to function as productive citizens in certain parts of the U.S. I do believe in mercy and I also believe in justice and when there is evidence that is beyond a resonable doubt and a person is caught "red handed" then they should be punished accordingly (whatever the law in that particular region states)

    ~Nuff said

    Alex and Advocate...ya'll better preach.

    Ambra, "religion" simply refers to someone's spiritual beliefs. Not everyone is a member of "the Body of Christ".Also, my name is not Stephen.

    "Michael," pardon the name mistake.

    We'll agree to disagree on the religion thing. I'm not with that. The subject was the body of Christ, not all religions. I think I've made that clear.

    First, let me say that no one has addressed the innocent man on death row. Does he not exist? do you need evidence?

    Further, both Alex and Advocate have mentioned God's tacit endorsement of Capital Punishment. Let's take that one step further. Jesus was tortured prior to his death, yet he did not cry out. Does God condone torture of our prisoners?

    What about giving theives the death penalty. Or religious dissenters?

    "God gave the right to lawmakers and people to execute judgement on the lawless." Do you really believe this? Is every law that is on the books today His will? I know for a fact you do not believe that because you oppose abortion.

    Of all books to use to defend Capital punishment, the holiest book ever written is not one of them.

    If society kills its criminals, then MAN, not God, has seen fit to do it.

    "One of the things instituted by God is "the death penalty" for those that do not want to function as productive citizens in certain parts of the U.S."
    God instituted the death penalty in only certain states? Oh, I guess Satan and his minions fought to overturn it in those states that don't have a death penalty.

    Just to illustrate the logic that is being employed... The death penalty exisits, thus it is God's will. Abortion exisits, so it too must be God's will.

    Or am I missing something?

    Stephen, if you study scripture you will see the answer to your questions. In Acts 5 God struck a couple dead for stealing from the Church. It's a miracle that more people aren't struck dead today, and only an act of His grace.

    The difficulty for most comes in discerning between God's "permissive" will and His "active" will. God has given us persmission to be pretty downright horrible by allowing us choice. He gave us choice because He wants our love relationship with Him to be because we want it. How would you feel if your wife or girlfriend or parent said "I only love you because I have to."? It wouldn't be very fulfilling, no?

    Many say that bad things wouldn't happen if there was a God, but this just shows His love in giving us the option of doing right and of doing wrong.

    God's active will is revealed in His direct causation of an event. Salvation is accomplished when He opens our hearts to truth and to His love. It is active. When God performs miraculous physical healings, that is His active will. When God arranges the circumstances in His servant's life to allow some event or change to happen, that is active. (By that I mean when so many circumstances "happen" to "fall into place" after a person has "felt" led by God to something, which is often accompanied by someone "out of the Blue" saying to them that confirms their prayerful impressions.)

    Imagine your children about to do something that you know will hurt, but you've taught them not to do and you want them to finally mature past the point of immature disobedience. You let them do it, and yes, it mayhurt, but they learn. God allows people to make choices because first, those who aren't saved aren't His children anyway, and for His children the body isn't as important as the soul so He'll often allow that which can damage or even destroy the body because that isn't eh most important part anyway.

    I believe that the teachings of Apostle Paul show that God will actually call one of His children home before allowing them to go over to Satan. (1 Corinthians 5:5) (On a side note, this is why I believe "once saved-always saved")

    However, in the same chapter, Paul exclaims "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?" They are on their own. I thought that would make unbelievers and atheists happy to hear! However, all men are created with a sense of the existence of God. That is why even those most base reviler of God will always ask, "If God exists...?" because he knows that He does, but tries to deny it.

    Free will, like freedom, carries responsiility and a price.

    With every right comes a responsibility. Since this is not even the topic of the post I will make this brief.
    Plese Deal with the text at hand mentioned (Christ with the criminals not arguing on their release much yet commenting on it)! Christ did not even comment on the execution of his cousin JOhn for standing for truth!

    Christ came and brought fulfillment literally fulness(spirit insight motive) to the law, that was written not do away with it!

    So this foolish assumption that so many seem to run with of "Oh That was the Old Testament God this is the New Testament God!"

    God is not "schizo" as some may believe he is the same as a matter of fact Scripture lets us know that he is "immutable" not subject to change!

    So we can go round and round with the "strawman argument" of abortion must be the will of God too since it is in the law books yet we see that scripture does make mention of the death penalty for law breakers! And makes a clearly defined case for the protection of the unborn and powerless.

    God does not look favorably upon rebellion and lawlessness this same God whom you speak of that is "not in favor of the death penalty" yet promises and ETERNAL DEATH IN THE LAKE OF FIRE for people that reject his grace!

    Add that one up.... Oh I see he wants their physical bodies saved and not their souls because their eternal dwelling place is not as important as their temporal. Sorry not buying it! The Holiest book ever written (Scripture) is my guage for these measurements and not human sympathy. Since God did entrust us to judges and a system of Law and Order they have to give an account for how they govern their areas. With all those laws and ideas there are consequences.

    Simply put
    We agree to disagree

    If you want to further dialogue Email Me and we can discuss this otherwise Ambra on with the show sorry for taking up space not even talking about the GOP like we should be...

    I believe we are not far apart, Mark. I too believe that God tolorates human folly, though he wants better for us.

    All of man's actions are not condoned by God. We know that. This includes things like the death penalty. In Acts 3, Peter asks a man and his wife if they indeed held back from the church. Once the man and his wife answered, God struck them dead. Had Peter, after the couple's admission, simply stabbed the couple to death, this would be a completely different story, no? God did that which it would have been inappropriate for man to do.

    Advocate,


    I agree, and I shall. However I cannot resist.
    "Plese Deal with the text at hand mentioned (Christ with the criminals not arguing on their release much yet commenting on it)!"

    Uh. Ad, Buddy. Seems to me, Jesus had bigger fish to fry at the moment.

    Off topic:

    You guys type too much.

    Aw man, you missed your chance!
    { Comments are now closed for this entry. }




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    Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
    Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
    The ROI of a Kid
    The Double-Minded Haters
    Hindsight
    Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
    Oh parent Where Art Thou?
    Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
    College Curriculum Gone Wild
    Walmart Chronicles
    An Open Letter to American Idol
    Gonorrhea and the City