As a Christian, I've always been leery of people in ministerial positions of authority who use the pulpit or their "role model" profession as a means for political influence. My skin crawls and my shoulders cringe inward when I hear pastors endorse a candidate or a specific political party in a sermon, during a time of ministry staff prayer, or during an interview.
While I loved my pastor at the ministry for which I used to work in Tulsa, OK, he would speak boldly in support of the Republican party just prior to our staff time for prayer. One would have thought that if they were to admit to being a Democrat they would immediately be fired, if not sent directly to hell. I remember feeling sick to my stomach at times when this pastor would personally rail against President Clinton and then in the next breath ask God for His blessings on this particular church. Feeling alone and small in my chair, I would pray for understanding -- how could this be right in God's eyes?
Republicans = white hats and Democrats = black hats was common place preaching during those morning staff meetings. Working in the church -- a 10,000 member church, by the way -- and also working as an independent contractor for a very popular Christian singer at the time, I saw first hand just how much influence these "mega" pastors and Christian entertainers had over the people in their congregations and/or audiences.
Living in Tulsa, OK gave me the opportunity to see many of the Christian "elite" in person and even get to know a number of them. And while I have many, many good things to say and have enormous respect for those that really, truly are the real deal when it comes to walking the walk and talking the talk, I also have a deep, deep sadness over those that use their positions of influence as a means of manipulation or spreading hatred or fear.
Watching the video of Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright vehemently preaching from the pulpit against rich white people and Hillary Clinton to a congregation of people on their feet, some clapping, some with their hands raised, and some proclaiming "amens" made my heart sink deeper than I thought possible.
Not being a fan of John Hagee, whom I believe to be one of the most divisive preachers around, I didn't think much more could shock me after hearing a number of his sermons, but Pastor Jeremiah Wright has. As I watched the videos of his sermons airing on YouTube and the news, my first thought was these words came easily to him -- this is not the first time he has preached this type of message.
Pastor Jeremiah Wright may very well have a significant legacy of Christian leadership and perhaps the messages airing in the news are the exception to his long career, but sadly, since his church records and sells his sermons, they are now part of history.
Christianity is not about perfecting humans, but about a perfect God. I understand, all too well, that pastors, evangelists, teachers of the Gospel, etc., are human and make mistakes and errors in judgment just like the rest of us; HOWEVER, I strongly believe that the pulpit of a Christian church is for teaching the Word of God -- not the pastor's personal prejudices, political agendas, a separation out of certain sins the pastor dislikes more than others (i.e., homosexuality vs. gluttony -- when was the last time you heard an overweight pastor rail against himself/herself or others who are overweight as sinners going to hell?), or anything else that takes away from the message that Jesus came for ALL people.
Jesus is not a white, Republican, American male; nor is He a black, Democratic, American female. I am a Christian and I've reached my tolerance level with the leaders of the Christian church who feel it is their "responsibility" to endorse political candidates -- Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Green, whatever.
IT IS NOT!
So, to James Dobson, John Hagee, Jeremiah Wright and all the other pastors/ministers of the Gospel out their using their pulpit or ministerial leadership for political purposes: SHAME ON YOU! Your job is to teach about a perfect God, the saving grace of Christ and the truths contained in the Word of God (the Bible). If focusing on Jesus and the Word of God in your sermons is not enough for you, then you need to leave the profession.
Sermons of hate, discrimination, political influence, etc., have no place within a Christian message -- much less one in which you've taken up tithes and offerings.
Strong words, but I believe those ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who use their ministerial positions to influence believers toward their own political party or candidate of choice are ones that will justify their actions all the way to the Kool-Aid stand.
Turn and run. Turn and run as fast as you can if your pastor starts down the political endorsing road.
If you are a Christian, find a church leader who correctly teaches/preaches the love of Christ. Find a church leader who builds you up with the Word of God rather than molds you into a follower of their own.
Find a church leader who puts the focus of influence on Jesus rather than himself/herself.
Find a church leader who knows he/she is a servant of God, not servant of a political candidate or party.
Find a church leader who knows God is no respecter of persons and he/she does not have a unique or special channel into God's thoughts on who should be King, Queen, or President.
Find a church leader who avoids idolatry at all costs.
Most importantly, be strong in the Word of God yourself. Be strong in the love of Jesus yourself.
Form your own opinions based upon your own time of prayer and study.
Make up your own mind based upon your own walk with God.
(PS...I am consciously not posting the videos of Jeremiah Wright's sermons.)