So on Thursday President Trump signed an Executive Order effectively dismantling the “Johnson Amendment.” Below are my thoughts on this act of toothless political theatre 1.
First, if this means I’m going to get another mildly-threatening warning letter from a local atheist group I’ll be mildly annoyed. I don’t violate the Johnson Amendment every Sunday, folks, please stop living with your unhelpful assumptions about how ignorant religious folk must be 2.
Second, if you’re using worship to promote a political candidate, you’re worshiping the state. That goes for any political ideology. I’ve got no time for Franklin Graham using his non-profit database for campaign purposes, even unofficially 3. I am equally frustrated with African-American churches inviting candidates to come and preach at worship during a campaign 4. Exchanging the worship of Christ for political influence is an act of idolatry.
Third, no matter what President Trump signs I am prohibited from endorsing candidates by covenant. That is true whether I am acting as a representative of Central or a private citizen. I know there are a good number of pastors all over the country who feel such a requirement is a violation of their civil rights and so they ignore it. I’m not wired that way.
There is a practical reason for the covenantal prohibition. My denominational family is about as close to a 50/50 split between the two major parties as you can get 5, so any endorsement for a candidate is going to cause problems. For myself, however, the more important prohibition is theological. Endorsing any candidate would amount to resigning my ambassadorship for Christ and His Kingdom. We cannot, after all, serve two masters.
- Though that might give something away, I’m not certain. ↩
- And if you ever want to have a cup of coffee and discuss my actual political theology, just send me an invitation. Really, I live down the block. ↩
- I lost all respect for him as a public figure years before it was cool to lose all respect for him. ↩
- Be honest. No matter what they speak about, it’s a campaign stop. And I’ve had local candidates from the Republican party try to pull similar maneuvors here at Central. ↩
- As a registered independent, I’m an outlier. ↩