Did you know that last Sunday was “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”?
I heard stirrings a couple of weeks ago about a protest from evangelical leaders over the “Johnson Amendment”. Today, I read this little article by David Sessions in “The Daily Beast” that I pretty much completely agreed with. In short, the Johnson Amendment is what keeps non-profit organizations from officially endorsing candidates without endangering their tax-free status. It’s been on the books since 1954, and I would be surprised if the IRS has used the law to prosecute more than a dozen churches.
Honestly, this amendment isn’t anywhere on my radar. I have been a pastor for almost ten years, and I have never once felt compelled to endorse anyone from the pulpit. It isn’t my job. I know about the gospel. I know about justification. I know about sanctification. I know about Greek and Hebrew. I know about pastoral care and counseling. It’s a pretty broad profession, really. I even know a little bit about politics, because if you don’t, you haven’t been a pastor for very long. Every organization has to have some sort of structure and a way to place leaders. So as far as the church is concerned, I know about church affairs.
Politics, however, are difficult. They require an expertise that most pastors do not have and likely do not have the time to acquire those skills. It’s no shame to be out of your field. I admit that I am and I am contented at that. This doesn’t mean that I do not practice my due diligence as a citizen to cast an informed vote, it means that I confess that I about as informed as the average citizen who tries to study up on the issues.
But here’s the real point of the matter. Only adults are allowed to vote, and I treat them like adults. I don’t tell them to watch their fatty foods like I am a doctor, though I will tell them gluttony is a sin. I do not tell them how many hours a week to put in at the office, but I do tell them to love and care for their families as the greater priority. My friends, my brothers and sisters, they have to work out all kinds of complicated things on their own from the general principles of Scripture. They don’t need me to hold their hand in the voting booth by endorsing a candidate.