Why I Named Names

A good friend and Emergent Village board member emailed me, commending me on my “I’m No Lefty” post, but expressing some concern that maybe I shouldn’t be naming the candidates for whom I’m voting. The question whether it’s okay for someone in a relatively public position (national coordinator of a non-profit organization) to endorse candidates. I am open to this question, and to possibly removing the candidates names. But, I’ll leave them for now. Here’s why:

1) I have one candidate’s lawn sign in my yard, so my vote in that case is already public (plus the fact that I named these candidates in front of a slew of reporters (and cameras from CNN, ABC, and CBS) at the National Press Club a couple of weeks ago).

2) This is clearly my personal blog, not the organization’s blog. My front lawn is also my personal property. Neither are owned by Emergent Village.

3) It is clear that as “national coordinator,” I don’t really speak for Emergent Village in the way that a traditional executive director speaks for a traditional non-profit.

4) As I noted in the original post, my votes are subject to change in the days between now and the election.

When I was a pastor in this community, I was very careful to never have a lawn sign or publicly endorse any candidates (although a couple asked me to). I did not want people around Edina to think that Colonial Church stood behind one candidate or another.

But now that I am not in a pastoral role (in that sense), I feel more freedom to publish my political views.

Thoughts on this, anyone? (I will be checking with EV’s attorney, a non-profit specialist, to get her opinion, too.)

[UPDATE: EV's attorney says that, while not as clear-cut as my front lawn, my political views can be expressed on my blog. She also reminded me how important it is that I never, in my role at EV's national coordinator, endorse a candidate.]

  • Mike Morrell

    This makes sense to me, Tony. We all need to tread carefully and humbly, but when we make choices, we shouldn’t shrink away from them.

  • josh

    doesn’t bother me. i just never pictured you as a lawn sign kind of guy.

  • suburbanjesus

    check with the atty, but i’m pretty sure that there are no legal ramifications for EV. i think that, if you personally stand behind those candidates, you should be able to express your support in your personal blog or anywhere you choose. that whole free speech thing.

  • Jamie Arpin-Ricci

    I don’t think there are any legal, moral or ethical issues in you doing it. As you have alreay seen and mentioned, there is the inevitable practical challenges of perception, etc. However, I think you have more than clarified the situation. I say leave it stand.Peace,Jamie

  • Anonymous

    If Emergent Village supports and cultivates political freedom and choice as part of its identity, then as a representative and leader, you should be able to exercise that. But if EV teaches and expects its leadership to push its political views or “non-political” views, than that’s how you should conduct as a representative. Of course, I would hope any organization, especially EV, cultivates political freedom in its partnership and identity.

  • jay voorhees

    There shouldn’t be any problem legally as you are speaking as an individual and not proclaiming an official statement of the organization. That is true for pastors as well, although I think pastors have to bend over backwards to ensure that folks recognize that their personal endorsement is just that . . . a personal endorsement. As an aside, Emergent Village CAN take positions on issues being voted on without putting their non-profit status at risk. What our attorneys in the UMC tell us is that an agency can be an advocate on an isuse as long as they spend less than 5% of the total budget on advocacy. Hmmmm… Well, I guess that in EV’s case, that wouldn’t add up to a whole lot of money would it. :)

  • James

    Tony,Can we get some links or something to the Red Letter Christians…I have been thinking this for a while and just wondered if I was crazy – I’d love to find out more…

  • aBhantiarna Solas

    If you’re going to be acting as a “Red Letter Christian” … here are some questions for you. Would Jesus have even voted? Would he have participated in the political machinery of his day? Or did he ignore it? I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t have or express opinions, just that perhaps as Christians we are putting too much faith in the political machinery of our day. Perhaps we might think about effecting change using other means.

  • Wes Brooks

    i don’t know much about red letter christians. do they disregard the teachings of paul too? just curious.

  • thinking_it_through

    for me, you are an individual, do as you wish.saying who you are voting for to me is a non-issue.

  • carla

    Pawlenty? Seriously?

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that this topic came up, regarding the religious voicing their opinion about candidates. There was an interesting article in the LA Times recently about Pastors promoting candidates.If this link doesn’t work, sorry. You might have to be a member of the LA Times website. (But I did send you, Tony, an email with the link to the article, that should work)http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-churchvote1oct01,1,1566373.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

  • Existential Punk

    You are not a pastor, so WHO GIVES A FLYING F*@#!!!! Let’s REALLY be different and express ourselves. Nothing morally wrong imho!

  • Barry Falke

    I see no problem with it. I think that most people who follow what EV is about realize the beauty of EV is that nobody, including you Tony speaks for everyone. I love the idea about the Red Letter movement. Like you , I am not fond of the name but we have to be letting others know that there really are more issues in the work to care about if you are a follower of Jesus than abortion and homosexuality.Keep up the good work friend.


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