In light of my post yesterday entitled “An Evangelical Papacy?” I thought it would be appropriate to comment on this letter – not so much on its content and whether or not I would sign or agree with it, but rather the relationship between this sort of action and the action of the anonymous group in Houston who endorsed Republican Rick Santorum this last weekend.
The issue raised in these two activities is how the church, pastor, religious leader impacts the culture. The letter and the weekend endorsement meeting represent two different approaches to how to impact culture. Today is Martin Luther King Day, and maybe the most famous open letter of our era was written by King from a Birmingham Jail. I would submit that the “open letter” approach is a good and healthy approach for “Religious Leaders.”
BUT, the actions of ministers and religious leaders in endorsing candidates is not. In fact, not only is it not a good and healthy approach, I would submit that it is wrong and destructive to the inherent power of the clergy/church resident in their holy and righteous voice. When we write an open letter, or challenge a system to which we have demonstrated partisan allegiance, the effort is eviscerated of holy power.
Here is how pastors and churches can impact their culture. Go back to your church and your community and reach out to the people in the neighborhoods surrounding your church geographically. Stop trying to be “national” or “significant” in the eyes of the media. Stop trying to manipulate the political structures by getting into bed with politicians.