Monday, June 2, 2008

Pastor – Candidate Endorsements

My name is Mike Watkins, and I endorse everything that I say…most of the time. However, there may come a later time when I run for public office, and I will have to disassociate myself from me so that I will not be impugned by my past words. “I had no idea that I held those views!”

Such is the drama and dark comedy of this election season. Candidates have always gotten election-year religion, and this year is no different. However, the spectacle of this year’s US presidential election is unique because the candidates in question are not particularly careful with whom they rub shoulders in the religious community. They are also not that spiritual themselves, and the two-way relationship of endorsements is shaky at best.

Much can be said about the candidates, but less has been said about the pastors who court them. Yes, I said “court”. I do believe that a Christian has the right to voice his or her support for a particular candidate, but when a pastor or major Christian leader makes official endorsements they are stepping outside of their biblical authority. There are many pitfalls:


  • By courting favor we lose the ability to speak objective truth as the prophets of old.
  • A pastoral endorsement actually says, “As a Christian leader I am saying that this is the man/woman who is best suited for the job based on biblical standards.” This is slippery even when the pastor and the leader are friends.
  • One would be a fool to think that there is no temptation for a Christian leader to want to be in the inner circle of the president.
  • Pastors are usually not experts as to who would be best at foreign, domestic and economic policy.
Even though there are dangers, this does not mean that Christians and Christian leaders do not have a voice in the democratic process:
  • A Christian leader can vouch for the integrity of someone – a personal friend - running for office as well as their stand on specific issues that are important to Christians. Again, the leader needs to know what he is talking about and whom he is talking about.
  • A Christian leader can use his God-given authority to speak objective biblical truth into every issue.
  • A Christian leader can advise a candidate on matters where the leader is an expert: moral truths, family issues, societal problems, human rights, etc.
  • A Christian leader can be called upon by a sitting president for advice. A leader’s stature in the Christian community will make way for him before rulers. This is post-election, and the leader still needs to make it clear Whom he is really representing.
  • A Christian leader can call on a public official to simply repent.
Ultimately the best thing that leaders can do is what they were actually called to do, to make disciples who will go into all the world and make more disciples. This is the best way to change society and assure a future for the next generation. We will then have a better crop of candidates and citizens who have good foundations for making daily decisions.

When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for it is deceptive food. Pr 23:1-2

Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin. 1 Tim 5:22

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Eph 4:11-13

6 comments:

Forrest Berry said...

“I had no idea that I held those views!”
- I love it. Good commentary.

Svitlana said...

Mike, what would you say about Ron Paul?

Mike Watkins said...

Hi Sveta! Is the same Sveta who has a twin sister? You can get my email under "view complete profile" It is a few lines under my photo.

I do not know much about Ron Paul. Sorry.

Svitlana said...

Hey, Mike! Wow, what a small world! I just posted in Myra's blog a short letter (will copy it here, below, so I wouldn't have to repeat myself).

Yes, this is me. :-) Wow, it was such a surprise to find your and Myra's blogs today! I've already read A LOT. :-) Great to know you're back to Ukraine. I was just telling my husband a few minutes ago how much your preaching inspired me and that I've never had a better pastor before or after. Remember, once you said to look at that Exit sign above the door so that when we leave the church, we'd remember what you've just talked about during the service? I still remember that! And many other things, too. You and Myre were such a blessing for me, really!

Anyway, here's the copy of that message I posted in Myra's blog.
And my email address, just in case:
marmalade33@gmail.com

In Him,
Lana

*******************

Hey, Myra!

I wasn't sure if this would be a good place to post, but I'll try it anyway. I was so excited to find your blog (what a surprise!) and I read half of it already. Your thoughts are really encouraging for me. Thanks for taking time to share them.

I hope you remember me - I was attending the Christ's Fellowship Church back in Lviv in the mid-90's. Mike was a pastor there, and Gena was there, too. We used to go evangelize on Saturdays, which I miss a lot. And our home fellowships - boy, do I miss those days!

I've been living in Connecticut since 1999 but recently my husband Jeff and I moved to Texas, temporarily (to work at Frito Lay's headquarters here), and we now live near Dallas. We'll be moving (probably to CA) in the near future though.

Boy, so many things happened since I last saw you before you went back to the States in the 90's. I've got my degree in Literature from Smith College in MA (yeah, a "worldly" women's college), declined an offer to go to Yale (post grad), got a job, wrote screenplays, etc.

It's great to hear you're back in Ukraine. I'll pray for your church and for you, guys, too. I miss you terribly!

God bless,

Svitlana

Svitlana said...

P.S. Mike, Ron Paul is a Christian congressman from Texas with more than 20 years experience fighting for the Constitution. His stand on constitutional values parallels his standing on biblical principles such as being the most pro-life member of congress, pro-family, etc. He ran with the other republicans in the primaries. What I like a lot about him is that he doesnt wear his religion on his "sleeve" like many politicians do around election time, nor does he change his postiions on issues according to public opinion.

Mike Watkins said...

Sveta, you can contact me at mikemyrawatkins@gmail.com