I just wanted to sit down, watch some football, read the last in the Hunger Games series and enjoy a Sunday evening.
But the “evangelical leaders” (whoever they are) went and almost ruined my day. Last night, just in time to make the announcement for Sunday morning, an anonymous group of “almost 170 conservative leaders” met in Houston, Texas and decided that Evangelicals are endorsing Rick Santorum as the Republican nominee for president.
I don’t know if I could have said it any better than Jim West at Zinglius Redivivus in a post entitled Endorsements by Clergy Are Meaningless (And Evil), but he was brief, and I want to expand on why this meeting and this action is so wrong.
The term “Evangelical” refers to a particular form of Christianity, ie, the Church. Churches are not political entities, nor should they be. Pastors should not “endorse” candidates, nor should they involve themselves in political activity. Pastors and “churches” should hold themselves apart from the political enterprise. Christians, as individuals, can and should involve themselves as free citizens in a free and democratic society. And they should be guided by their convictions. Their convictions are guided by the church. But the direct involvement of the church/pastor muddies the waters and weakens the church.
These 170 or so “leaders” may not all be “pastors” but I venture to say that many of them are, and their intention is to “influence” the votes of the “evangelicals” by endorsing Santorum. But they met anonymously, used the media power of organizations like Focus on the Family (James Dobson and Jim Daly) and the Family Research Council (Tony Perkins) presumed to “speak” for the church, albeit distancing that moniker in favor of the more general term “evangelical”. These guys want to speak for the church, but represent no particular church and are not empowered by the leadership of any particular church. It is no wonder, any church that would promote this sort of buffoonery has no business calling itself a church.
They met “in secret” and “anonymously.” I have looked for a listing of this group, it should be easy to find, but have been unsuccessful. Should I not have the ability to find out who this group of leaders who is speaking for us “evangelicals”? This sort of clandestine meeting is shameful.
Here is the most that should have happened. This group meets and hashes out their consensus and then Tony Perkins comes out and says, “Family Research Council endorses so and so”, “Focus on the Family” endorses so and so” or “Blank Church endorses so and so” or “Pastor Blank endorses so and so”. Why did they do it this way? Why not have one of the “organizations” endorse? The National Association of Evangelicals may have been represented, wouldn’t it have been more “official” if they presumed to speak for us? Why didn’t they? What they have done appears to be an end run around behavior that might threaten their tax exempt standing.
To sum it up in a word: Pathetic.