Graham & Romney

Rev. Billy Graham has come out and essentially endorsed Mitt Romney for President. Not long afterwards, statements calling Mormonism a cult were removed from Graham’s organizational website.

Next thing you know breaking headlines are going to announce that we are all God’s children, Mormons and Muslims, alike. Who would have thunk it?

I have the utmost respect for Billy Graham.

Except when it comes to politics.

That is where he and I part ways.

Come to think of it, politics is where I part ways a lot.

I can tell you exactly when I first started thinking for myself in these matters.

It was during the presidential election of 1984. It wasn’t like the incumbent wasn’t going to get re-elected. Mondale didn’t stand a cockroach chance in daylight of beating the effervescent president. Even so, the pastor at the rural Baptist Church I attended stood in the pulpit and told the congregation the only godly choice for president was Ronald Reagan.

I remember that day because I turned to my husband and said, “I can’t tolerate anymore of this.”

I rose up and walked out of that church.

I did not believe then and I do not believe now that pastors ought to be proclaiming politics from the pulpit.

That is not to say that I don’t think pastors ought to address the ills that face our nation. If you want to preach about our nation’s soaring debt crisis. Preach it. If you want to preach about our climbing homeless problem. Preach it. If you want to preach about the breakdown in family in this nation. Preach it. If you want to preach about the societal ills of social media. Preach it.

It is your job as a pastor to help educate and inform your people.

It is your job to encourage your congregants to read, to think, to study, to vote.

It is not your job, however, to tell your congregants what to think or how to vote.

There is a humongous difference between those two.

One is a shepherd.

The other is a tyrant.

One leads gently.

The other through fear.

One encourages.

The other berates.

One leads thoughtfully.

The other only wants to tell you what to think.

When did you first realize that you could think for yourself?

 

 

About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • loretta

    I first realized that I could think for myself when I heard my grandmother say that her’s was the only faith that could go to heaven….now this was a good, godly woman, but so was my other grandmother, who was as near to being a saint as I’ve ever stood next to. I knew that if she wasn’t going to heaven, I certainly wasn’t….so I started visiting other churches and I realized that they didn’t all preach that they were the only ones going through those pearly gates. Now, my dilemma was this… if I knew wonderful godly people on both sides of the equation, did I want to worship with the ones who believed that we were all God’s chillen’, or did I want to worship with the ones who left all others out? It was a no brainer for me….
    Later, after I was a grown up, I heard my favorite preacher say, “I often get asked if there will be Baptists in Heaven, and I always say ‘There will be Christian’s in Heaven’ ” and that’s good enough for me!

  • rob

    This is the topic of Adam Hamilton’s sermon tomorrow. I am looking forward to hearing the podcast of it. I anticipate he will echo and more thoroughly discuss many of your thoughts. He often puts these thoughts into words much better than I myself can say.. http://www.cor.org/worship/current-sermon-series/

  • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

    i agree with you that preachers shouldn’t endorse candidates. It is my view that many people who assert that they think for themselves really don’t. See my Burnside piece which appears Monday.

  • http://twitter.com/TimThurman timthurman

    Absolutely, positively, exactly right! Amen!

  • Rose

    Karin I’m so with you .I’m so fed up with the political adds were they proclaim to be good christians.I think we all no better.

  • Rob

    The problem I have with Christians being too vocal about their political views, is that we run the danger of blurring what the Gospel is to a world desperately in need of it. While I am on the conservative side of issues on homosexuality, national debt, abortion, etc., etc., I do not believe that any those things has anything to do with God’s saving grace through faith in Christ. No one needs to “convert” to the belief that homosexual marriage is wrong to receive Christ (unless the Spirit puts that person under conviction at the time). I’m NOT saying we should not be politically active. I am saying whatever we do, we should not blur what the Gospel is in the minds of others. A difficult line to walk.

  • AFRoger

    Pastors and religious leaders who specifically endorse candidates are increasingly playing with fire as things are now. With SO MUCH money flowing in the campaign system, how could one after even the most intimate and private fireside chat feel like anything but a shill for the driving forces behind that flood of dollars? Not only can the third party not be sure they know the candidate and what he or she thinks, I honestly don’t believe the candidates themselves can know what they think or can allow themselves to think what they know. I don’t know a way to more hermetically seal a human being from reality than to put them through the three-, four- or six-year-long pipeline of fundraising and political handling that our system has made the norm. Are any pastors and prophets calling to account there? Silence, mostly.
    Our monstrous campaign system damages even the most basic of neighborhood resources: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57505045/food-bank-veteran-politics-takes-away-donations/ On October 28, my church will begin a new program called Million Meals to help this charity in our neighborhood. Every household gets a jar or a tub to put on the table. We toss in change for every meal we eat. Each month, we gather these offerings out of pocket change, coffee money, and give it to a food pantry or food bank. A smaller church in Vancouver, WA has been doing this for a number of years. Each month, they gather between $1000 and $1200. At the Food Bank, that translates to between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds of food, or about 20K-40K meals.
    It looks to me like the election is shaping up to be a 49.7%-50.3% popular vote split, regardless of what the elctoral college totals are. I don’t expect much change at all in a polarized, calcified Congress that is afraid to make a decision because they have swallowed ideological Kool-Aid–and are afraid of losing campaign dollars 2-4 years from now. We have a fiscal cliff approaching that we are in denial of. The negative campaign has not prepared us for reality at all. Religious leaders have mostly fallen on silenced faces, and we can be sure that the already poor will pay the highest price. Billions have been spent over decades now to convince us that these terminal illnesses in our society have painless and cheap or cost-free solutions–if only this group or that group, “those people” would vanish and get out of the way.
    So we fall into sideshows and focus on things like abortion and gay marraige that we can conveniently nail down to specific individuals. THEY are guilty. WE are innocent. Goody for us! God is on OUR side. Heck, we don’t even have to name ‘em, just toss them all into a nice 47% package deal.
    But ten days ago another 47% number popped out at me. The food that goes out the door of that food pantry featured in the CBS news video? The Snow Cap brochure says 47% of the recipients are children. They haven’t started any businesses, don’t pay taxes, have any offshore accounts, haven’t written any books and don’t talk to $50K per plate dinners. Can we do something besides our damned level best to see that they never will?
    The prophets of God have never been popular and well-liked. Their job did not catapult them into high office or a seat on the Supreme Court. But the enormity, the impossibility of their task did not cow them into silence.

  • Nathan

    I don’t believe Billy Graham really issued any of the culture war statements of late.

  • jerry lynch

    Think for myself? Is that godly?
    I am ill about this election cycle and deeply saddened. Many Christians are behaving rather badly, such as this flip-flop over Mormonism. It is not that I insist believing Mormonism is a cult is necessary to faith but that a political agenda changes previous held beliefs. And few Christians seem able to hide a seething hatred or dislike for the president. I am an old-timer and in all my years I have never witnessed anything approaching this, even the election of Kennedy (where the reverse agenda was true).
    Abortion has been decided as being constitutional in this country and gay marriage is following the American ideal of equality. These two issues have made blind any concern for “the least of these,” which, if one listens carefully and with an open mind, is something the other guy seems not to care about but would take measures to insure aid to the unfortunate is drastically reduced and in some cases abolished. Where are our priorities?
    If the Church or individual states had even remotely provided adequate care prior to the central government doing so, we would not have these laws. Why think we may pick up the slack if such help to “the least of these” is reduced or rescinded? Do we have any idea how grievously a few hundred thousand children suffer and even die because of a lack of insurance? But we have been strategically convinced that any social programs are inherently evil.
    The Early Church was communistic, not according to Marx but according to Scripture. Redistribution of wealth was the understood way of Christ. Socialism was the rule. It appears we have gotten so caught up in earthly affairs we are of no heavenly good.

  • Shenita

    Good Jerry, Your very mindful of truth and hold the scriptures as guide. I broke free from the mind games and suggestions when I learned to different truth from error. When I identified the attempts of what I knew to be true or held to be truth (from which I noted in scripture) being opposed. Those things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God (scripture, Christ, Apostles, Prophets, disciples) I don’t let allow those things to be exalted in my mind. If I judge it to be a lie or a spirit of error I don’t except it. I look for truth and the spirit of truth. I look for righteousness. We are only seeing the reality of what we learn of in scripture. The is a spirit of error. We shouldn’t get mad about what lies and error that men speak; take them back to scripture. We see the same thing in the scriptures of the new testament. The other issue is men trust in men to teach them the scripture, truth, or about God. Some learn by what they hear. If they hear a lie and they agree with it. They except it never searching out truth for themselves. I don’t hold the knowledge of Mormonism, I think, I think, they speak of Christ.What frustrated me about Romney stating, ” I believe we are all God’s Children”. He had a platform, a world stage to share a lie and influence the ears of those who have not learned for themselves and/ or trying to reach out to those who believe the same words. If that was the intent of the spirit of error. I feel for him because he has been missed lead. Does his statement really mean that he believes that God created all people. I agree. If he believe that all people are God’s children that statement contends with truth and what I see in scripture. So I disagree. What I see is that the spirit of error has been largely at work this campaign. All the tension is one being vexed by the opposite spirit. Look at the spirit at work it has a whole nation upset and contending. And maybe at the words of error it will cause men to contend for truth and others to get a firm foundation of what they believe. TV, radio, stage, pulpit;all avenues of influence.

    Karen you had a strong mind to get up and walk out. I wish I could have done that early on when I heard things that didn’t agree on Sunday. I finally got it and because of the experience I hate error, deceit, cunningness, manipulation, and craftiness. I don’t care to be apart of it. Guile is spoken of in scripture and some men have it in there mouth. Religion and politics. I don’t think anyone should endorse anyone unless they now their faith, their truth. You can cause the weaker to stumble and cause men to be lead astray.


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