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Dos and Dont’s for churches during the upcoming election

(Provided by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee to provide “Political Dos and Don’ts For Churches.” Information adapted from resources provided by Jay Sekulow and Faith and Family.)

Our churches are filled with people who have a variety of views and opinions on numerous issues. One of the things that makes our country so great is our right to agree or disagree, to vote for who we want without fear of impunity and to champion or fight against causes. This is the freedom and privilege we have as citizens. While we need to proceed with caution, and avoid promoting any one candidate or political party, churches do have a place in the political process, and there are things that can be done to present both sides and bring to light the moral position of all candidates to help Christians become informed voters. Here are a few things churches CAN do!

• Preach sermons on moral and social issues and civic movements. We can give instruction regarding moral, social and legislative issues.

• Educate on the political process and political, social and legislative issues. Answer questions for congregation members on how to vote, where to vote; relieve some anxiety about the process.

• Distribute candidate surveys and incumbent voting records. Give suggestions regarding questions for them to ask candidates, communicate information regarding town hall meetings.

• Encourage members to voice their opinions in favor or opposition to legislation. It is our duty to ensure our elected officials know where we stand on the issues.

• Discuss biblical instruction regarding particular moral, social and legislative issues.  Teach Scripture.  Reference Scripture regarding the issues that matter.

• Support or oppose judicial, department or cabinet appointments.

• Support or oppose other political appointments for non-elected offices.

• Provide use of facilities to candidates. It is fine if you want to invite candidates to speak at church services, as long as you invite all candidates. This is a great opportunity for the congregation members to discern for themselves.

• Support or oppose positions unrelated to the church.

• Support or oppose legislation and positions that directly relate to the church.

• Engage in voter registration activities that avoid promoting any one candidate or political party. Distribute voter registration forms.

We have much more liberty than most members realize to express our opinions concerning legislation and encourage members to voice their views in favor or opposition.

One of the most important elections in our state’s history is upon us. It will be a heated battle. Emotions will run high. People will have a desire to have their opinions heard and to sway others to their side. There is much we can do as churches to engage in the political process. Although we are Oklahomans and American citizens and members of political parties, we are citizens of the Kingdom first and must make our voices heard.

Read more about “Political Dos and Don’ts” by visiting www.BGCO.org/ERLC.

Author: Staff

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  • Gary Capshaw

    Did Jesus involve Himself in the political questions of the day?

    No. So where is the Biblical authority for us to bring secular politics into the Church? We are tasked by Christ to take the Gospel to a lost and dying world. That should keep us busy enough, and anything which detracts from that mission is wrong.

  • Ralph Casteel

    With the exception(s) of points #1 and # 5 the adherence to these ” dos and don’ts ” will produce two results which will only damage the Body of Christ.

    1. It will produce division among the membership.

    2. It will erect an barrier between the Local Church and the unsaved and unchurched community.

    To even think of inviting political candidates to speak from the pulpit is to depart from the main purpose of the Church, that is, to worship God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, teach and preach the Bible and reach out to a lost and dying world which the Political Process has never been able to save ( and never will be able) with His Love, in the Power of the Holy Spirit .

  • http://www.jfokc.com Ryan Abernathy

    Gary and Ralph-

    Thanks for voicing my opinion as well.

    If we spent more time discipling Christians in our churches and less time quoting Glenn Beck and others of his ilk, we would not need to worry so much about “educating” our people about politics. They would vote for individuals who most closely exemplified the persona and work of Christ. Unfortunately, that would rob a certain political party of all of its clout and financial backing in our churches, so it’s not going to happen.

    Sad, that many believers in Oklahoma take their political cues from those who do not even follow Jesus but have a certain party affiliation behind their name. My prayer is that we would stop trusting politicians and start trusting our God who is in charge.

    “There’s never been a Savior on Capitol Hill…”- Derek Webb

  • Steve Schmidt

    Gotta say, this scared me quite a bit. Since when is it the mission of the Church to entangle itself in the political affairs of the secular world? As Americans, yes, we should do our duty as citizens by being informed and voting our consciences. But turning the pulpet into a bully pulpet is, in my opinion, an abdication of the sacred duty commissioned by God to feed the flock. That pastor has gone spiritually AWOL.

    Have we so thoroughly lost our focus, our purpose, and our way?

    “My kingdom is not of this world …”

  • Chad Kaminski

    I believe you guys are right. If we want God back in government and back in schools, we’ve got to introduce God to the hearts of individuals.

  • Jim Paslay

    As a member of the ERLC and a pastor I wholeheartedly endorse the “Do’s and Don’ts” article put out by our committee. Last time I checked the Scriptures, Jesus told us to be salt and light to a dark and decaying world. A problem in our churches today is a lack of spiritual backbone by Christians who can’t reconcile their political views with the truth of God’s Word. We have bought into the lie that Christianity and politics don’t mix. We need pastors who will unapologetically preach the Word and not be silent when our Christian values and this corrupt culture clash.

    For instance, should the church be silent on the issue of homosexual marriage? Is same-sex marriage just a political issue or is it a moral issue? I say it is both and the church and pastors across this nation should not be silent! We are to speak, teach and preach the truth, even if it offends people outside the church walls or inside! And we should let the congregation know who supports homosexual marriage and who opposes it!

  • http://www.jfokc.com Ryan Abernathy

    Jim-
    If your argument is followed to its logical conclusion, then Jesus, Paul, Peter et al should have spent their lives and ministries working to change the politics of the corrupt Roman government. I am thankful they did not. What has been said in this comment thread is NOT that Christians should not be involved in politics, but that we do not need political speech and rhetoric in our pulpits. It is not a matter of offending people, but of offending God. The role of the pastor is to preach the Gospel, not the political agenda. IF we teach our people the Bible, THEN they will have no trouble determining who to vote for and what to support and oppose.

    The problem that exists in our country is that one political party has co-opted the church and has used us to advance their agenda by playing fear based political games. The church is losing her prophetic voice precisely because she is seen as the mouthpiece of a political agenda by many people in our country.

    Thankfully, there is a generation of pastors who are rising up to say no to politics and yes to the Gospel. We do not believe that cultural decay in our country can be legislated out of people. That is the job of the Gospel, not the Government.

    “There will never be a Savior on Capitol Hill”- Derek Webb

    Ryan

    BTW- Jim, I would commend to you the book Blinded by Might by Cal Thomas. Cal gives an excellent insider’s look at what happens when the church is co-opted by politicians. It is not a pretty picture.

    • Jim Paslay

      Ryan,

      I have the book by Thomas in my library and have read it. He has some views in the book I agree with and he also has some that I disagree with. My argument is simple, Our primary purpose as pastors is to preach the Gospel. We need to lead people to Christ. And we need to disciple our converts to the knowledge of the truth of God’s Word.

      You say the problem is that one party (GOP) has “co-opted” the church. I would submit to you the other party has dumbed down our members into going into the voting booth and leaving their brains at home and stamping the rooster every time. All the while we have abortion on demand, the expansion of secular humanism in our public schools, and homosexuality taught as a normal lifestyle. I personally believe as Christians we will be held accountable the way we have participated in our culture which includes the ballot box.

      Your quote about the Savior on capitol hill is good, but I offer Edmund Burke’s thoughts, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do NOTHING.”

  • Gary Capshaw

    Ryan:

    You said it all. There’s nothing more for me to add.

    God Bless you.

  • Ralph Casteel

    I live in the Tulsa area (Broken Arrow). There are several large Churches in B.A.,both SBC and Non-Denominational that appear to be Republican Political Machines disguised as Churches.

    I Pastor in Northwest Tulsa in a high crime area wherein there are several Churches who appear to have adopted an agenda of promoting the Democrat party.

    We have an unwritten, but strictly followed , rule that Political Issues and Candidates will not be discussed from the Pulpit or in the Classrooms.

    In fact, We do not allow MEMBERS to display Partisan Political Bumper Stickers on their vehicles while on Church Property. This is by agreement and is part of our requirements for Membership.

    There is a plethora of places at which one may engage in the ” political process “. We believe that “Church” is to be excluded from this list of places.

    I apologize, but, I simply cannot imagine allowing a Political Candidate in the Pulpit while He or She is running for Office. The Pulpit is for Preaching the Bible – Nothing more and nothing less.

    The “issues” are to be settled by the New Birth in Christ Jesus and the resultant training in CHRISTIAN Discipleship on a one- on -one basis.

  • http://exaltingproclaiming.blogspot.com/ Chad Kaminski

    Jim Paslay,

    I appreciate what you wrote and believe I agree with it, for the most part. I think part of the problem I have with the church being too politically active is that there is much anger on the right as we tend to believe the left is stealing our Christian heritage through jurisprudence, secularizing schools, and cultural freefalling. And all too often when the church tries to spend energy seeking political solutions to reclaiming its heritage, the anger of many spills out and tragically that is what the lost world sees, and as a result they begin to villify the church. It makes it hard to convince them that the gospel message we proclaim is not only one of coming judgment, but also of Christ’s love.

    Don Carson said that one of the devil’s tactics with the church on the right today is to make them hate everyone else so that they can’t be believed anywhere, especially in the proclamation of the gospel. Not to mention that its hard to view them as sheep without a shepherd when we believe they are stealing our heritiage.

  • Ralph Casteel

    Jim Palsey

    RE:”Ballot Box

    “I personally believe as Christians we will be held accountable the way we have participated in our culture which includes the ballot box.”

    You could be right with the emphasis being on the word “could “.

    The only problem is – there is no New Testment Scripture to reinforce your belief.

    I am patriotic . I am a Veteran. I’m not a “liberal”.

    Now, Let me state that the New Testament does not address Nationalism either positively or negatively.

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