Topic: Church & Politics
(What are "political devotions"? Click here.)
Mark Twain (of all people!) in the September 2, 1904 edition of Colliers magazine, offered this fine assessment of the Christian's obligation of civic involvement:
It will be conceded that a Christian's first duty is to God. It then follows, as a matter of course, that it is his duty to carry his Christian code of morals to the polls and vote them. Whenever he shall do that, he will not find himself voting for an unclean man, a dishonest man. If Christians would vote their duty to God at the polls, they would carry every election, and do it with ease. Their prodigious power would be quickly realized and recognized, and afterward there would be no unclean candidates upon any ticket, and graft would cease. If the Christians of America could be persuaded to vote God and a clean ticket, it would bring about a moral revolution that would be incalculably beneficent. It would save the country.The Christian duty is clear, yet an October 2002 CitizenLink article reported there has been a 40 percent drop in Christian voter turnout over the last four elections. If you would like to help reverse this trend, this entry offers a few resources.
First, The Family Research Council's Washington Update features an important new book by its former president:
Ken Connor's New Book: 'Sinful Silence'And Washington Update also offers this warning, with a link to a helpful page:
Christians must be engaged in the public debate and former FRC President Ken Connor's new book, "Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty" is an excellent read on the subject. By looking at God's Word and His dealings with nations such as Judah, the book sets forth biblical principles that remove any doubt as to God's heart on the issue of civil involvement. It points out that just as God held the people of Judah accountable for their leaders' sins because he gave them significant responsibility in selecting their leaders, he holds us accountable as well. And, from addressing the Bible's call for us to be "salt and light" in our world to suggesting that our failure as God's people to address blatant violations of God's civil standards may hinder our prayer and worship, this is a book well worth reading. It would also make an excellent gift for your pastor.
Spies in Church Pews: The New Strategy of the LeftThe American Center for Law and Justice also has a nice, very comprehensive page on Churches and Political Speech.
Liberal groups are seeking to intimidate churches and pastors that take stands on public policy issues. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed 50 complaints in the past decade urging the IRS to deny tax-exempt status to particular churches and ministries. Additionally, a local group in the Kansas City area is actually sending spies to church services in an attempt to catch pastors engaging in prohibited political activities.
The spy campaign is targeted specifically at churches supporting traditional marriage. Churches where Democratic politicians campaign in person - such as the one in Ohio whose pastor introduced John Kerry yesterday as "a hero among us" - are seldom the target of such attacks. IRS rules forbid churches from endorsing candidates, but voter registration, voter education (such as non-partisan candidate scorecards), and issue-oriented advocacy are all permitted. Pro-family churches, pastors, and voters should not be intimidated into remaining silent on issues like marriage and the defense of unborn life by such scare tactics. For guidelines on political involvement by churches, written by the Alliance Defense Fund, go to the link below.
Alliance Defense Fund: Legal Analysis Regarding "Battle for Marriage"
And finally, if you would you like your pastor to speak on the importance of civic involvement, or if you are a pastor who wants some help in developing a sermon on the subject, Focus on the Family's Parsonage.org site has a sermon outline developed by its Pastoral Ministries team:
Citizenship: Christians in the Public Square
Many Christian people want nothing to do with public life because it seems corrupt and dirty. Yet, is it possible that political life has degenerated because people with strong moral standards have shunned it? The Bible has some surprising messages for us about duty to our government. . . .
The Outline includes scripture references, quotations from prominent thinkers and a collection of interesting, relevant facts.