For Pastors & Church Leaders

Pastors, Churches and Political Activity

Test of Fire: Election 2012

Many pastors and church leaders do not have a clear understanding of what political activity is permissible and what is not permissible, and so they often err on the side of caution with the result being self imposed constrained speech. Liberty Counsel has recently produced a fantastic DVD on this subject.  If you are not familiar with Liberty Counsel, they are an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. With offices in Florida, Virginia, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem, Israel, Liberty Counsel has hundreds of advocates around the world. 
They say, "History does not support the baseless threats hurled against pastors and churches. Pastors in fact can preach on biblical and moral issues, such as traditional marriage and abortion, can urge the congregation to register and vote, can overview the positions of the candidates, and may personally endorse candidates. Churches may distribute nonpartisan voter guides, register voters, provide transportation to the polls, hold candidate forums, and introduce visiting candidates.  And churches may promote and endorse pending legislation or marriage amendments or initiatives. The only limitation is that the churches not devote more than a substantial part of their overall activity to lobbying. No church has every lost its tax exemption for engaging in too much lobbying."   This is all explained in detail in two 15 minute videos below.  Every pastor needs to have this information.
(Copyright Liberty Counsel used by permission)
These videos are part of ther recently released a DVD entitled "Pastors, Churches and Political Activity." addressing what pastors and church leaders can and cannot do regarding supporting candidates, legislation and otherwise being involved in important issues facing this Nation. Liberty Counsel wants to educate and encourage pastors regarding how they can take a stand for the future of America. We believe this information is crucial, especially during this election year, when some people and groups want churches to be silent. 
Pastors and church leaders can get a free copy of the full DVD by calling Liberty Counsel at 800-671-1776.

This DVD also contains written materials, including an updated version of their one-page summary chart on political and legislative activity. This is a chart that pastors have found very useful over the many years since it was first designed by Liberty Counsel. The DVD also has information about Mathew Staver and Liberty Counsel so that the pastors will be assured of the reliability of the materials.  These can be viewed below.
A DVD can be obtained by those who are not pastors or church leaders via the Liberty Counsel web store
for a small donation of $5 to cover shipping and handling.

Why Vote When You Can Pray?
Click here for a PDF version formatted for inserting into your church bulletins.

Stay away & pray. That’s seemingly the attitude of too many professing Christians – while anti-American forces radically transform our nation.

Why is this? Why in 2008 did only 56.8% of eligible voters actually vote? About 98.5 million others stayed home. In just one group – Evangelical Christians -- an estimated 30 million of the 60 million in America did not vote.

Have Bible-believers ever given you reasons for not getting involved in politics? Below are some responses to common "excuses." Hopefully they will prove helpful in convincing at least a few other citizens to do something in this crucial (perhaps fatal) year – for God and country.

Answering "Spiritual" Reasons to Avoid Politics

The Bible never commands believers to be involved in politics.

True, but believers in New Testament times lived under the Roman Empire. There were no candidates or campaigns – no politics or voting.

Seen another way, the Bible likewise never forbids political involvement. Americans have privilege and opportunity billions of others would die for.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died – and still die – to protect our freedom. Have we no obligation as well to try to preserve it – to do good for all (Gal. 6:10)? Does not Scripture allow doing this via politics?

Also, recall what Paul did. Even under the autocratic rule of the Roman Empire he asserted his rights as a Roman citizen (Acts 22:25; 25:10-11).

Think of how God used Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Nehemiah, and Esther to influence foreign, unbelieving rulers. Were they wrong in what they did?

Politics is dirty, so getting involved would hurt me spiritually.

Not all candidates or campaigns are dirty. Some politicians are believers.

Remember, contact with unbelievers is not sinful. It was believers who behaved improperly that Paul said should be shunned (1 Cor. 5:7,9,11).

In fact, as is true of all humans, politicians are in desperate need of salvation. Believers must contact them to tell them of God’s grace. So, instead of contact hurting a believer, it may eternally help the unsaved!

Does not our heavenly citizenship (Php. 3:20) rule out earthly politics?

No. Why would it? Scripture never denies earthly citizenship and its responsibilities. It just emphasizes that our primary residence is heavenly, and – if there’s a conflict – our first allegiance is to God, not government.

God hasn’t told me to be politically active.

A statement like this implies believers should expect a personal, individual message from heaven. However, direct revelation from heaven ceased when the last book of the Bible was written. God chose apostles and prophets to receive and record it. He has no such "direct pipeline" today.

God has election results planned, and He changes those in power.

Very true (e.g., Ps 75:7; Dan 2:20-21; 4:17,25,32). Yet that fact neither prohibits, prevents, nor excuses us from political involvement. Our actions are part of His plan – not exceptions to it or alterations of it.

The Bible says things will keep getting worse – no matter what we do.

We still, however, are morally bound to fight evil programs, practices, and people with all our ability. God has not revealed how quickly things will irreversibly decay. God may  use our efforts to delay the decay.

It’s too late to try to save America.

No, not quite yet. There is still freedom to act and vote. A majority has not yet chosen promised security – and, with it, slavery to government – over liberty and morality. So, we’re still free enough to do something!

God will deliver believers before the Tribulation.

That may be true, but would it not be selfish to use that as an excuse for not trying to combat evil and promote good? Also, persecution may come before then, so even a selfish motivation should prompt one to oppose evil, lawless leaders from getting into or staying in office. Besides other areas of life under attack, at stake this year are our 1st, 2nd, and 10th Amendment rights (freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and petition, the right to bear arms, and states’ rights), our families, and our future.

Answering "Practical" Reasons to Avoid Politics

Isn’t there a "wall of separation" between church and state?

Yes. However, in 1947 the Supreme Court reversed the correct, original meaning of that concept. Anti-Bible politicians and media have followed suit.

The phrase occurs once in colonial America. To calm Connecticut Baptists’ fears that Congregationalism would be made the national religion, President Thomas Jefferson wrote them that there was "a wall of separation between Church and State" (Jan. 1, 1802). To clarify, he quoted the 1st Amendment to the Constitution – that Congress would "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This insures no government interference with religion – i.e., imposition of a religion or infringement on any religion – NOT that religion cannot influence government.

 I don’t know whom to support.

 First, find out where the candidates differ on various issues, then compare that with your and your church’s principles and values – e.g., deficit spending of future generations’ money, taxes that "redistribute" wealth from "the rich" to "the rest," weak border protection, abortion, homosexuality, government corruption, and more power to – and more regulation by – the federal government.

 The candidate I really like isn’t in the running.

 We have a moral obligation to choose the best candidates each step of the way – from before the primaries to Election Day. At times one must choose "the lesser of two evils." Inaction, though, is NOT an option!

 I don’t know what – if anything – I can do.

 Obviously, if everyone felt that way, no one would do anything.

 Some things one can do are register, get informed, vote (and get others to do the same), contact elected officials and candidates, call, email, fax, distribute literature, hold signs, attend rallies for legality and morality, be a precinct committeeman or poll watcher, and get voters to the polls.

 Very important also is preventing voter fraud – you know, illegal and dead people voting and live people voting more than once. Remember, in 2008 "Mickey Mouse" was registered to vote in Orange County, Florida.

 I’m too busy with other things.

 In this economy you can’t afford to jeopardize your job(s). Most of us, though, have a bit of "spare time" each week – especially those who are retired. This is the time to check our priorities – faith, family, friends, freedom, and future.

 I give up. I’ve done my best in the past – but to no avail.

 That’s the experience of us all. Now, though, we MUST win. In sports, as in life, "you can’t win them all." Not winning all, though, is no excuse for not trying to win all! As Winston Churchill put it in 1941 during World War II – "Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small...."

 I have done more than my share. Let others start to do something.

What determines our share? Conscience? History? Signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged (& many gave) their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.

If everyone did little or did nothing till others "got with it," we’d certainly lose. Let’s thank God for freedom, ability, and motivation to act – and then act!

We will not have to answer for others’ lack of political involvement. They will. All believers can do – is do their best.

My state is totally "blue" or "red," so my vote makes no difference.

"Your side" may always win or lose – but that may change. Don’t trust polls; the poll that counts is on Election Day. God notes your vote. If your state is that one-sided, take a week or weekend helping candidates in a "swing" state.

I’m just one person. What difference can one person make?

Recall the 38 bystanders who watched Kitty Genovese stabbed to death in New York City. For 30 minutes, NO ONE helped – nor even called 911!

Recall the 2008 Minnesota election for U.S. Senator? Al Franken won by a mere 312 votes out of about 2.5 million – one vote for every 9,600 cast, about 1/100 of 1%. This gave a filibuster-proof vote for Obamacare. Oh, had just a few more Minnesota pastors been able to get ALL of their members to vote!

My church or pastor frowns on political involvement.

We are to honor and respect church leaders. Still, they make mistakes and need to learn and grow. You could be the catalyst with timely questions about how to stem the tide of evil in the nation. Your ideas may not have occurred to them.

America exists because colonial pastors and other believers got involved in politics. They stood up and spoke out – and died – for liberty.

One thing all believers can still do is spread the gospel of God’s grace and see what He does to transform individual lives. God could thus slow the pace of evil -- even "turn back the clock" to the nation our Founders envisioned.

The words of Sir Edmund Burke are as true today as ever: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

So, "Soldiers of Christ, Arise!"

Randy Tucker –