Happy Presidential Election Year!*

[*In the USA. Though this post is largely USA-specific, my hope is that there are things here that will be more broadly helpful in being politically active pastors.]

If ever there was a time for the pastoral and the political to meet and work toward a dynamic relationship, this is the year. How will you engage, pastor, in this year’s political process? First,

Know the laws about political involvement by pastors and churches:
My favorite source of accurate information on laws regulating the relationship between religion and the public square is Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. To learn more about “separation of church and state,” I recommend their overview on Church-State History.  

AU’s resources on church politicking:

These debunk the “anything goes” falsehoods as well as the “you can’t talk about that” fears about politics in church. That said,

Preach Boldly!
When your church’s teachings, personal experience and/or exegetical work lead you to proclaim Good News as being for or against an election year issue, preach it! Church-goers are potential voters who are inundated with information — and mis-information — from TV, social media and water-cooler conversations. Our gospel proclamation may be their only opportunity to consider the God story as an alternative to the popular culture story.

Pastors’ sermons are protected free speech. Taking a particular stand may be (falsely) labeled “partisan” because it seems closely identified with a particular political party or specific candidate. Confidently take a stand when you are grounded biblically and theologically. One thing to remember:

What Not to Do:

“The only thing houses of worship may not do is endorse or oppose candidates for public office or use their resources in partisan campaigns.”

Witness Publicly:
With your congregation:
March for peace.
Rally for justice.
Write letters.
Support legislation.
Stage protests.
Engage in civil disobedience.
Accompany the marginalized.

As a pastor:
Lead &/or participate in all of the above.
As Pastor Activist, you can do any of these openly as clergy. So, wear clergy garb and use clergy titles freely here.

For lots of inspiration and ideas:
Browse through some previous
The Pastor is Political blog posts. You will be inspired and uplifted and challenged by some actively politically-involved women pastors.

 

 

About Social Media:
The law against endorsing candidates by churches apply to church’s websites, Facebook accounts, and other social media venues that carry the church’s name.

What about the Pastor as Citizen Activist?
As citizens, we are free to engage in partisan political activity. When engaging in any partisan action as Citizen Sharon — say, at a rally for Chris Candidate or when volunteering at their Political Party Headquarters — I would not wear a collar, use the “Rev.” title or use other identifiers of the pastoral role. 

We pastors lead congregations to embrace a biblical mandate to co-create with God a world of justice and joy, while also living into our (USA) citizen pledge of “liberty and justice for all.”  

The pastoral is political!
Is 2016 the year you and your congregation will step out in a new initiative to publicly proclaim Good News?

How will you be a politically-engaged pastor this election year?

Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “The Pastoral is Political: Election Year Pastoring

  1. Pastors’ sermons are protected free speech. Taking a particular stand may be (falsely) labeled “partisan” because it seems closely identified with a particular political party or specific candidate. Confidently take a stand when you are grounded biblically and theologically.

    I SO appreciate your above quote. Our parishioners also need to know this. I’ve often, in election years, been accused of “supporting a candidate” when I have clearly preached about an issue, and grounded it theologically. I forget who said this, but: “preach with the Bible in one hand in the newspaper in the other.” I’ve retired now, but I can witness to the reality that prophetic preaching can be really hard. However, I can also attest to how it was easier if I had done my pastoral work. (visiting the sick, and the elderly – as well as getting to know folks in their homes)

    Thank you for your pose, Sharon. I am mostly silent on this forum because I not actively pastoring.

    Like

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