I totally agree: the church that can’t speak into politics, is not the church of the Jesus who preached the kingdom; the gospel that is not inherently political — Jesus is King after all – isn’t the apostolic gospel. And the distinction between “political” and “partisan” is crucial here, and so is the church as a politic vs. the church being used politically a crucial distinction.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright claims that church wasn’t Barack and Michelle Obama’s “thing,” but in a speech the First Lady delivered to African Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday, she sang a very different tune. From the pulpit, Mrs. Obama told parishioners that there’s “no place better” to talk about political issues than the church.
Legally, churches are restricted from delving too deeply into the political schema. While they can address the issues of the day, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations forbid pastors and faith leaders from endorsing candidates from the pulpit. Many conservative and liberal leaders, alike, rail against these regulations, claiming that they are unfair and that they hamper free speech.
So, does Obama agree with these critics? Well, we can’t be entirely sure. While she stopped short of telling pastors to endorse people, she endorsed issues as being a centerpiece for viable discussion….CNS News has more about the speech that Obama delivered about faith issues and electoral politics. In her talk, she made it clear that houses of worship, in her view, are the prime location at which to discuss these “moral issues”:
There is no better place than church to talk about political issues because they are ultimately moral issues, First Lady Michelle Obama told a church gathering on Thursday.
“To anyone who says that church is no place to talk about these issues, you tell them there is no place better – no place better,” Obama told the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s 49th general conference, held in in Nashville, Tenn.
“Because ultimately, these are not just political issues – they are moral issues,” she said. “They’re issues that have to do with human dignity and human potential, and the future we want for our kids and our grandkids.”
This is particularly noteworthy, because liberals have traditionally lamented the Christian right’s hand in electoral politics. While the president has faltered many times with people of faith, it seems his wife, at least, is helping to ramp up support for his re-election among the faithful. The speech comes as some Democrats fear that Obama may be struggling among religious voters.