August 8-31, 2004
Sunday-Tuesday
vol 15, no. 165

Pastors, Priests, and Politics

Will we choose to follow Christ or the Beasts?

Ten reasons why spiritual leaders do not lead when push comes to shove because they're intimidated by the politically correct canard.

    "Given that this is a presidential election year and that the culturally dividing issues are more obvious than Courtney Love’s last lip implants, it is mind-boggling that many clergy are mute or side with parties, policies and principles that are antithetical to what scripture clearly states is holy, just and good."
By Doug Giles
      Editor's Note: The following is from Doug Giles, author of 'Ruling in Babylon' and syndicated columnist whose columns appear in Townhall.com and on his site Clashradio.com. This host of two award-winning radio programs has graciously permitted us to reprint his column below. This originally appeared in three parts. We have combined it into one and ask all to apply it to not just pastors, priests and ministers but those who are most responsible: the prelates - bishops who are entrusted with the spiritual welfare of souls.

    As I see it, The God job has two fronts: to reach out to and lock in lost souls and to righteously leaven our current cruddy culture for Him.

    First, Pastors and Priests are to study and teach the word of God carefully and apply it to our lives practically, so we don’t end up knocking on the pearly gates castrated, in a Star Trek uniform wearing Nikes and asking where the hell the Hale-Bop comet went. Additionally, they are called to help their congregants graciously implement God’s way and will, to build the good society in their nation.

    Hear me, man of God: your job does not end when the sinner secures his soul and is guaranteed that he’ll go to heaven, walk around in a peignoir playing the harp, aglow in the promise that he’ll never be in jeopardy of eternally roasting on Dante’s Viking Grill. Yes, your vocation also entails taking the saved ex-sinner and equipping him to change this planet into something approaching God’s taste.

    Ministers have massive influence woven into their job. Instead of using it to fleece their sheep, to molest altar boys, or simply to dole out clichés like an over-medicated Oprah Winfrey, why not re-align with the scripture and focus on fixing this mucked up culture? What about using your powerful impact to establish this nation in righteousness, according to biblical standards?

    This means you must divide your attention from evangelism and weigh in on all things which effect our culture, i.e., Business, Entertainment, Education and yes, Politics. All the aforementioned directly affect the health and wealth of the people you are trying to reach and require that you have a biblically based opinion on each category, in order to influence them in ways which honor God.

    Given that this is a presidential election year and that the culturally dividing issues are more obvious than Courtney Love’s last lip implants, it is mind-boggling that many clergy are mute or side with parties, policies and principles that are antithetical to what scripture clearly states is holy, just and good.

    With the clear “secular versus sacred” issues, how can a minister stay silent when he should be at the forefront, challenging evil policies and the politicians and judges who are trying to enforce them, the way Elijah challenged Ahab and Hillary … I mean, Jezebel.

    In some kind of ascending order, it seems to me there are 10 reasons why pastors and priests avoid political issues, and why they remain silent.

1. Fear of man. If you purport to be a man of “the cloth”, then your regard for God and his opinion must trump the trepidation of the creature he created from spit and mud. Come on, man of God … don’t fear us. We’re ants with cell phones who’ll shoot Botox into our foreheads. We’re friggin’ weird and fickle weather vanes of the modern media. Lead us … don’t just follow us!

    Man of God, fear God! Declare his will and his way and let the chips fall where they may. Within both the Old and New Testaments there are very unmuddled, eternal opinions on current political issues. These opinions should be embraced and shouldn’t be publicly curbed and bridled because some deranged deacon, some quacky congregant or a preening politician doesn’t agree with the scripture and might get their panties in a wad over a particular political issue.

    Never live for a nod from the congregation or some political twerp or a particular party, especially when said group is way off biblical base.

2. Ignorance. Most people are not bold in areas where they are ignorant ... always excepting Michael Moore, of course. I know keeping up with all the pressing political issues is maddening but that’s life, Dinky, and if you want to be a voice in society and not an echo, you have got to be in the know. Staying briefed, running each political issue through the gauntlet of the scripture and determining God’s mind on a certain subject is par for the course, for the hardy world changer. It’s the information age. Get informed and watch your boldness increase.

3. Division. I hate the current non-essential divisions in the church as much as the next acerbic Christian columnist. Squabblin’ over the color of the carpet, who’ll play the organ next Sunday or who the Beast of Revelation is? Puhleese!

    Dial down on the inconsequential seditiousness, okay, Jedediah? Relax. Go into the desert and get focused. The church is currently so divided and defeated with such minutiae … that we can’t agree on which shade of white to use for our surrender flag.

    That said, however, there’s a time and place for a biblical throw-down and an ecclesiastical split from political policies and parties:

  • when the taking of an unborn life is the issue, or
  • when marriage is being redefined, or
  • when runaway judges are attempting to expunge God and his law from our country’s national life.

    For a minister to seek unity when secularists are trashing and rewriting scripture with impunity, is to side with evil and allow darkness to succeed. On these kinds of issues, the minister cannot group hug the secular or quasi-Christian thugs who profess them.

    Why do ministers run from political issues like Bill Clinton scrams from Hillary when she’s in one of her… “moods”? We've already covered three reasons for the current clerical cultural aversion: 1. Fear of Man; 2. Ignorance regarding the pressing problems; 3. Division and not wanting to be divisive when, in fact, it is vital.

    Here are three more motives why, according to my experience, ministers do not step up to the political plate and take a serious swing at righting our societal wrongs.

4. Last Days Madness. Many ministers do not get involved in political issues because they believe that, “it simply doesn’t matter” since “the end has come”, and Jehovah is about to run the credits on this failed earth flick. These defeatists believe that any change in the jet stream, war, earthquakes, success of a corrupt politician -- even a new Britney Spears video -- is “proof” that God is getting really – really -- ticked off and His only recourse is to have Christ physically return and kick some major butt.

    Their only hope is in “The Rapture”. They see the church and themselves as impotent and having no real ability to change things culturally with any long range ramifications. Thus, any stab at a better tomorrow is simply an exercise in futility for this crew. Attempting to right culture is, in their eyes, equivalent to polishing brass on a sinking ship. They are, therefore, content to simply pass out tracts, tramp from Christian rock concert to Christian rock concert, eat fatty foods, and stare at Christian TV.

5. Sloth. Classically defined, sloth is lethargy stemming from a sense of hopelessness. Viewing our nation and the world as an irreparable disaster, where our exhortations, prayers, votes and labors will not produce any temporal fruit, leaves one with all the fervor of a guy who’s forced to French kiss his sister.

    If you wonder why your flock is so apathetic, ask yourself, Pastor Grim Carnage, if you have stolen their earthly hope that their valiant efforts can actually prevail in time, and not just in eternity? If you constantly pump the doom and gloom message, if you teach them that evil will ultimately triumph on our terra firma, if you spew messages that consciously or unconsciously convey “big anti-Christ and little Jesus Christ” … then you have effectively zapped what’s left of your parishioners’ passion.

    You see, Pastor Carnage, most congregants can do math. If there is no hope, then they’ll figure …

  • Why vote?
  • Why go to grad school?
  • Why build a multi-million dollar church?
  • Why go to church?
  • Why give the church a dime?
  • Why care about anything?
  • Why not just self-preserve?

With Last Days Madness comes, Sloth, and its attendant ecclesiastical and societal paralysis. Christians tanked up on way too many tawdry “end of the world” movies have become socially slothful, non-zealous, totally unwilling to get into the political and cultural fray and fight for the good society.

    Hopelessness and its spawn, sloth, are main reasons why Christians manifest all the energy of a manatee munchin’ Quaaludes trying to swim upstream in warm goo. The church’s current malaise is a manifestation of what Solomon stated a few thousand years ago: “Hope deferred [will] make the heart sick”.

6. Tax Exemption Pre-emption. Many pastors, priests and parishioners have been cowed into inactivity by the supposed loss of their tax exempt status if they say anything remotely political. This can make folks who don’t or won’t get good legal advice as politically active as Howard Hughes during the flu season ... but it needn’t.

    First of all, there’s no need to have an IRS 501[c][3] tax exempt charitable status to assemble and be a proper church. The church has been around a little bit longer than the 501[c][3] statute, right? We are afforded the right to assemble, by God and by the Constitution. Not having the tax exempt status simply means you’ll have to pay taxes at Costco when you buy hot dogs for the church picnic.

    Secondly, 501[c][3] or not, we are called to obey God rather than men, and God has called his leaders to be involved in civic affairs, and to represent Christ and his word in all areas of society. And that entails expounding the biblical worldview all the time, including election time. Sometimes you have to rebel against unrighteous, limiting laws. There’s nothing wrong with proper civil disobedience when the need arises, especially if the government tries to stifle your scriptural rights and obligations.

    Now, remember pastor, you don’t have to don your James Dean rebel duds to discuss political subjects from the pulpit. Why? Because ministers are not forbidden to do so under the 501[c][3] statute, or any other. The statute is actually supportive of pastors and churches in extending their mission to making productive citizens. The only things that a 501[c][3] organization may not do are [1] endorse or oppose a particular candidate or piece of legislation, and [2] contribute to or raise money to support a candidate or legislation [including free use of the church mailing list].

    The church may, among other things, register their members to vote, pass out voter guides, invite all candidates in a race to speak [and it’s okay if not all of them -- even if only one -- show up] and speak directly about specific issues.

    Off the clock, in his personal capacity, the pastor or priest can endorse and support – or oppose -- whoever or whatever he wishes, like any other citizen. There are no limitations to the individual; the ones which do exist under the 501[c][3] statute are only for the church entity and/or the pastor in his official capacity, not for the pastor or the members who make up the church.

    If we believe in the importance – yes, the primacy – of God in our personal and national lives, clergy and congregants must become involved in the issues of the day, political and otherwise.

    7. Paltry pietism and the separation from the world mentality. Pastors and priests avoid politics because such concerns are “unspiritual,” and their focus is on the “spirit world.” Yes, to such imbalanced ministers, political affairs are seen as “temporal and carnal,” and because pastors and priests trade in the “eternal and spiritual,” such “transient” issues get the same attention from them as Rosie’s AbBlaster does from her.

    What drives this type of clergy and Christian? Well … this brand of believer desires a “personal relationship with Jesus only” type of religion. This bunch is primarily into heavenly emotions and personal Bible study, tucked away from society and its complicated issues. Being preoccupied with looking inward and upward, such solipsistic saints inadvertently chain themselves to the never ending treadmill of spiritual introspection. They forget that they are commanded to be seriously engaged with our culture. The effects of this type of “Christian” separatism/pietism proved disastrous in pre-Nazi Germany, and aided and abetted Hitler in mounting his hellish war horse.

    The German Church of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s decided not to be politically involved, and they did so to the destruction of everything they held dear, not to mention the lives of millions of people. These Teutonic Christians opted for a separated life and private Bible study. As a result, they were squeezed out of the centers of political and cultural power. They became, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “salvation egoists and an escapist’s church and no longer the salt of the earth.” The German Church’s abnegation of its political role afforded Hitler a primrose path to tool down. Think about that, pastor, the next time you prattle off “the politics don’t matter” blather.

8. The Thought Police have Tali-banned us. Pastors and priests have muffled their political voice because they fear being lumped in with the radical Muslim extremists by the politically correct thought police. The correlation made between Christians’ non-violent attempts at policy persuasion and Taliban’s kill-you-in-your-sleep campaigns is nothing more than pure uncut crapola. Here’s what I’m talking about. A minister who wants to protect the unborn, preserve the Biblical and traditional view of marriage, maintain our nation’s basis in some semblance of Biblical righteousness all of the sudden gets grouped up with Osama and his nuclear-suitcase-carrying cabal.

    Look, for all you scared secularists who believe Christians are no different than the Taliban, let me allay some of your fears. Christians, unlike the Taliban:

    Do not seek to prohibit every form of pleasure.

    Do not want women dressed in burqas and reduced to the role of breeders and slaves.

    Do not force all men to grow ZZ Top-like beards and pray, at gun point if necessary, five times a day.

    Do not reprimand, by whipping or death, people who have had sex out of wedlock.

    Do not kill homosexuals by toppling brick walls upon their naked bodies.

    Do not cut the hands and feet off petty thieves in soccer stadiums every Friday afternoon at 3:30.

    Do not fund our evangelistic expansion by being the biggest smack dealers on the planet.

    Do not hijack airliners and stick them into skyscrapers filled with innocent civilians.

    Ministers, please blow off the tongue wagging blowhards who try to intimidate you into silence by making quantum ludicrous scat laden analogous leaps in equating the implementation of a Biblical worldview with the Taliban’s cross-eyed perspective.

9. Mothering the Minute. Ministers can’t get involved in studying or speaking out regarding political issues simply because of the ten tons of minutiae they are forced to field. Spending time wet nursing 30-year-olds without a life and being bogged down in committee meetings over which shade of pink paint should be used for the Woman’s Aglow ministerial wing of their church, ministers are lucky if they get to study the scripture nowadays, much less anything else.

    In the unending, need-driven narcissistic American church, pastors work overtime for spiritually overweight parishioners regarding issues that ultimately are inconsequential. This is both the fault of the ministers (messiah complex) and fault of the congregants (me-monkey syndrome), and both have got to have an exorcism or something … if the church is going to tackle pressing cultural issues.

    Here are a few tips for the congregation to help avoid the frying of their pastors’ brains and actually assist him in laboring for a better tomorrow within our nation.

    Do not call him every day to discuss your dorky problems. We all have problems. Suck it up.

    Be self-motivated. You shouldn’t need a cheerleader to rouse you in the morning. If you do, then get some Tony Robbins tapes.

    Lose you codependency upon your pastor and other church leaders. Grow up, Dinky.

    Staff or volunteer to your pastor’s weaknesses.

    Don’t force him to do or be at everything that goes on in the church.

    Send him, once a year, on the church’s dime, to D.C., a serious worldview conference, and on a month’s paid vacation.

    Stock his library with the history of the Jews, of Rome, of Greece, and of Western Civilization.

    Make sure he is able to study four hours a day and exercise one hour a day.

    Do not call him after 9 pm unless one of your relatives or friends happens to have passed away.

    If you do the above for your pastor, and if he’s worth his salt, you will watch him move from babysitting grown ups to slaying giant secular monsters which intend to strip our nation from Biblical influence.

10. It’ll cost them Money. The creepy thing about a lot of ministers is their unwillingness to give political offense when offense is needed, simply because taking a biblical stand on a political issue might cost them their time share in Aspen and their Chrysler Mini-Van. Oh well, what do you expect? Christ had his Judas and evangelicalism has it cheap prostitutes.

    Anytime a pastor takes a sturdy stand on a substantial issue, it usually ends up offending some people. If a congregant gets angry because you have just barbequed his favorite ideological golden calf, his cash will leave weeks before his physical body departs to find a church that’ll tickle his ears.

    Never fear, pastor. Even though nailing your colors to the mast during putrid political times might cost you a parishioner or two … don’t sweat it. There are also tens of thousands of serious parishioners who are looking for leaders with the ‘nads to lead the church to make its proper stance during days of declension. So … my advice to you, Mr. Minister, would be to stay the Biblical course against the secular corrupters. I guarantee you four things:

    God will send you better soldiers of the cross,

    He will supernaturally increase your revenue to labor for His cause,

    You won’t have to look the other way when you approach a mirror, and …

    You will sleep better at night knowing that cash couldn’t buy your convictions.

    My ClashPoint is this: If pastors and priests and Christian ministers would crucify their fear of man, get solidly briefed regarding the chief political issues, not sweat necessary division, not get caught up in last days madness, maintain their hope for tomorrow, understand their liberties under God and our Constitution, not become so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good, focus on the majors and blow off bowing to cash instead of convictions, then maybe ... just maybe … we will see their influence cause our nation to take a righteous turn away from the secularists’ putrid path.

Doug Giles



For past articles in Hope on the Horizon, see Hope on the Horizon ARCHIVES


    August 8-31, 2004
    vol 15, no. 165
    HOPE ON THE HORIZON