Pulpit Freedom Sunday Wrap-up

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Pulpit Freedom Sunday has come and gone.  If you follow my twitter account (@PastorHShrader) or my Facebook page, you have seen that I have been very critical of the event, both in purpose and tone.

The reason it was misguided was not because Christians should not have a political opinion. They should.  Christians should engage in the debate, make their voices heard, but do so with respect and humility.  

I have a problem, however, with a pastor, from the pulpit, with a captive audience, telling his flock that there is one and only one candidate or party that represents the purposes of God for the country.  

There is a diversity of opinion between Christians of good faith.  We should encourage  discussion and discernment between people as we listen to each other with respect. That's what we try and model at Trinity Mennonite Church with a lot of issues beyond the election.  We are not a homogeneous group, but one that represents many voices. We are committed to discerning together, listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit inside each of us.  And in the same spirit of humility, agree to disagree in love.

But for churches who do not share that value, and want to speak with one voice and want their pastor to tell them who to vote for, the problem is crying "persecution" when they accept the benefits of a tax exempt status but don't accept the rules that go with them.

If they feel like the restrictions are too great, they should surrender the tax exemption out of conviction, not dishonor the courage and commitment of thousands of Christians around the world who have been imprisoned tortured and killed for their faith.  Equating the two situations as persecution is shameful.

In my teaching on Chistendom on Sunday, I encouraged everyone, that when they vote, they do so from their deepest identity as a disciple of Jesus, not a Republican, not a Democrat, not even as an American. We do so as followers of Jesus, who recognize that our ultimate allegiance is to a Kingdom which is present and future and to which we bear witness.