This time of the year, a number of pastors (and their churches) get in trouble for endorsing candidates for local, state and national offices. Even when withholding an endorsement, many churches allow the candidates to speak to their congregations.
But not Joel Osteen.
Jeremy Leaming of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says this:
… it is refreshing to hear of Pastor Joel Osteen’s policy of keeping partisan politics out of his pulpit. Osteen leads Lakewood Church in Houston, a megachurch that according to Newsweek, is the nation’s largest congregation with 47,000 weekly visitors.
Osteen told Newsweek that he understands the allure of his church for politicians, saying “who wouldn’t want to come to speak to 40,000 people here?” But he says he doesn’t want his church’s enormous platform to be used for partisan politics. He acknowledged to Newsweek that while he may recognize office holders who attend his services, he won’t allow them to address the congregation.“The way our services are structured here at the church, we have to keep it, if we can, 100 percent worship,” Osteen said.
“My father … kept it out of the pulpit,” he told the periodical. “I think that part of our goal is to reach as many people as we can. Our reach is very broad. Even in the church we are diverse. There are Republicans, Democrats, independents – everything … I don’t want somebody saying, ‘He’s for this party or that party, and that turns me off.’”
Regardless of what one thinks of Osteen’s style, his policy of keeping his pulpit free of politics is praiseworthy.
There are plenty of opportunities to pander to the people. Church doesn’t need to be one of them.
That goes for you, too, Barack…
[tags]atheist, atheism, politics, religion[/tags]