Alice YoungFrontPage, News, Pastor

Keep the pulpit and politics separate! That could be a mantra of a baptist church. The principle of separation of church and state was originally a Baptist idea. The early Baptists experienced persecution from state churches. They believed freedom to practice faith helped ensure its authenticity. Political power used for religious purposes distorted faith. Religion used for political purposes, oppressed people. Marrying religion and politics can be problematic. 

But firewalling off faith from politics is a different kind of vicious problem. ‘Separation of church and state’ can be used by the State, to silence people of faith. Broadly, politics relates to matters of public or community concern. In our democracy citizens can have a voice or vote on issues that impact our lives, communities, and nation. To require faith or religion to have no input into these matters, limits the breadth of consideration required for stronger decisions. Keeping faith private, is convenient for political power, especially when ethics or morality is involved. 

How separate should the pulpit be from politics? The bible informs Christians on how to live in the ‘public space’ and contribute to the common good. If we are to do this well, preaching at times will inform our ‘politics’. An example is the coming Voice referendum. I will encourage our congregation to consider this prayerfully, carefully. I will not tell people how to vote. When I have taken similar efforts in the past, some felt I was too political as a preacher or Pastor. In contrast, I believed was appropriately political. Especially given my role as Pastor and preacher. In a public role, I see a responsibility to attend to matters in the public space. As I do this, my guide for preaching ‘politically’ is to be: 

  • Biblical – the Scriptures speaks to the politics. 
  • Prophetic – call people to faithfulness to God and His ways, especially where we might be ‘blind’ to our faults. 
  • Nonpartisan – neutral on party politics. 
  • Noncoercive – encourage people to exercise their freedom of conscience and responsibility. 

In Him, 

Jason  Photo: