If Nominated, I Will Not Run…
From The State newspaper, June 8, 2015: “Disappointed at the lack of progress on their political agenda, a group of evangelical Christians think they might have found the best candidates for office – their pastors.” The article provides details of a meeting in Charleston this week that will train pastors to run for political office. The organizers hope to have 100 or more pastors run for office in South Carolina.
According to the article, evangelical Christians are tired of backing politicians who promise one thing and then fail to deliver on their promises (I know a number of women who would say the thing about their husbands). The idea is a pastor would keep his promises if elected.
I have nothing against pastors running for political office. Several pastors have served in office and have done well. Others, like Sydney Catts of Florida, conveniently forgot parts of the gospel like “Love your neighbor.” He was anti-black, anti-Catholic, anti-German, and anti-anyone who disagreed with him. As the old country philosopher said, “A politician seldom lets his faith get between him and a vote.”
No one has approached me about running, but I thought I would forestall any speculation by issuing a statement like William Sherman, the Union General during the Civil war who was pushed to run for president. Sherman famously said, “If nominated, I will not run; If elected I will not serve.” To be honest, I have too many other ways of getting in trouble to think about running for office.
I am compelled, however, to tell you what really bothers me about this movement. I think it is fine for pastors to run for office. I think followers of Jesus need to participate in politics. But I think it is dangerous to believe political power will solve spiritual problems. Throughout history, when the church tries to gain political power, it leaves her first love, Jesus.
This is the part of the article that bothers me the most: “Evangelical leaders think pastor-politicians have a good chance of winning, adding they have some built in advantages. Church leaders have a constituency to begin with – hundreds of parishioners who listen to their Sunday sermons and attend their Bible study classes. Some of those churchgoers will become campaign volunteers. ‘All of a sudden, we have this team that could have a ripple effect,” (David) Lane said, “and then we’re heading somewhere.’”
This bothers me because the church is the body of Jesus. We are for his work. We are to spread His word, share His love, love the least of these, and bear witness to a Kingdom that is not of this world. Jesus’ church is not here to win elections. Jesus’ church is here to be His hands and feet in the world. Our mission is more important than any office, election, or government. It’s the mission He gave us. It’s the only one we need.