When Church Services Become Political Rallies

President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett spoke at Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta during Sunday services this week. And she used the occasion to campaign for President Obama and bash the Republican Party. I’m always sad to see Christians confuse the eternal truths with lowly politics, but I don’t think it should be illegal or a violation of IRS regulations. So I don’t oppose Ebenezer’s …

  1. The King Prawn

    Takes “preaching to the choir” into a whole new dimension.

  2. flownover

    The black community uses the church for a lot of different things. None of them warrant any intervention by the IRS. First of all, you would have to find the money and then tax it. The find would be hard. Turning these things into corporations would be an error costing more in enforcement than revenue.

    You might as well outlaw fried chicken and potato casserole in the basement hall after services on Sunday.

    As for the lies that someone like Valerie Jarrett might be telling, there is a God and he’ll deal with that.

  3. Jim Chase

    This is a topic that bugs me.  While perhaps it is a faulty perception (given I have few “facts”), it seems certain churches get a pass on going political, while others are brought under scrutiny and the specter of the loss of tax-exemption status.  In my experience, conservatives don’t like bringing politics to the pulpit, but when they do, the liberal hounds immediately cry foul. 

    Ah well, fighting a double standard is just a chasing after the wind.

  4. I’m always sad to see Christians confuse the eternal truths with lowly politics…

    Abolition, abortion.. I know what you mean, but sometimes you just need to get things done and it’s our system. A good part of this is just bringing the information to the public.

  5. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    PracticalMary: I’m always sad to see Christians confuse the eternal truths with lowly politics…

    Abolition, abortion.. I know what you mean, but sometimes you just need to get things done and it’s our system. A good part of this is just bringing the information to the public. · Jan 18 at 7:10am

    Sure, and my church — the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod — has been on the right side of fighting both those things.

    In fact, my own congregation is hosting the national Lutherans for Life service prior to Monday’s March for Life.

    And yet still — even during services such as those — we keep focused on Christ and not, say, H.R. 2351. You’ll hear about forgiveness for your sins and not that Democrats are messing up the country, etc.

  6. DrewInWisconsin
    Jim Chase: This is a topic that bugs me.  While perhaps it is a faulty perception (given I have few “facts”), it seems certain churches get a pass on going political, while others are brought under scrutiny and the specter of the loss of tax-exemption status.  In my experience, conservatives don’t like bringing politics to the pulpit, but when they do, the liberal hounds immediately cry foul. 

    Perhaps it’s just my church, but I don’t ever recall hearing anything political from the pulpit, and like Obama with Reverend Wright, I’ve been here over 20 years. And the times when a topic might be close to the line, our pastors have tread very carefully, unlike the aforementioned Reverend Wright.

    But it also seems that Democrats have no compunctions about giving political speeches from the pulpit. I recall that Bill Clinton did it quite frequently. The only surprising thing here is that Valerie Jarrett gave the speech instead of O himself.

    But I don’t think he goes to church, does he?

  7. Mel Foil

    The only bad thing you can trust a Marxist in power to avoid is theocracy. That’s probably why nobody cares about Jarrett.

  8. Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    PracticalMary: I’m always sad to see Christians confuse the eternal truths with lowly politics…

    Abolition, abortion.. I know what you mean, but sometimes you just need to get things done and it’s our system. A good part of this is just bringing the information to the public. · Jan 18 at 7:10am

    Sure, and my church — the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod — has been on the right side of fighting both those things.

    In fact, my own congregation is hosting the national Lutherans for Life service prior to Monday’s March for Life.

    And yet still — even during services such as those — we keep focused on Christ and not, say, H.R. 2351. You’ll hear about forgiveness for your sins and not that Democrats are messing up the country, etc. · Jan 18 at 7:25am

    agree- my church just teaches through the Bible and this takes care of ALL the rest.

  9. DrewInWisconsin
    etoiledunord: The only bad thing you can trust a Marxist in power to avoid is theocracy. That’s probably why nobody cares about Jarrett. · Jan 18 at 7:37am

    We probably should. By all accounts, she’s the real power in the White House.

  10. Jim Chase
    DrewInWisconsin

    Perhaps it’s just my church, but I don’t ever recall hearing anything political from the pulpit, and like Obama with Reverend Wright, I’ve been here over 20 years. And the times when a topic might be close to the line, our pastors have tread very carefully, unlike the aforementioned Reverend Wright.

    But it also seems that Democrats have no compunctions about giving political speeches from the pulpit. I recall that Bill Clinton did it quite frequently. The only surprising thing here is that Valerie Jarrett gave the speech instead of O himself.

    But I don’t think he goes to church, does he? · Jan 18 at 7:36am

    In the 90′s, I seem to remember an “outcry” when value voter checklists and brochures were made available to church-goers.  We ended up deciding not to put them out, not because of fear of controversy, but because the controversy was distracting from our mission and purpose as a body.

    I wonder if politics in the pulpit is okay as long as you are pursuing social justice matters, but not if you are pursuing a more evangelical message.

  11. Western Chauvinist

    Why are conservatives so inept at pushing back? There’s a lot of bluster and bluffing on our side. Sure, we’re armed to the teeth, but I’m beginning to believe we’ll never fire a single shot — I’m speaking metaphorically, of course.

    We have loads of ammunition on video. Loads and loads of it. There’s this Jarrett thing, and before her there was Hillary Clinton campaigning at the pulpit for herself. There’s Obama saying (roughly) “fuel prices will necessarily have to skyrocket,” and speaking about unilateral disarmament. In the 2008 primary, Charlie Gibson has Obama saying raising taxes on the rich isn’t about increasing government revenues, it’s about “fairness.” Joe the Plumber. Rev Wright. And on and on. Why don’t we use it?

    Why can’t one courageous bishop stand up this year and say, “You 54% of Catholics who voted for President Obama, the most radical anti-life politician in American history, have alienated yourselves from the most fundamental tenets of the faith. Examine your consciences. Repent.” And then let the government try to take away the Church’s tax exempt status. Let the government do it! 

  12. Randy Weivoda

    Politicians will use whatever tactics they think will work.  Various Catholic Democrats in the senate (Ted Kennedy and John Kerry come to mind) have said that they are personally pro-life but could never support any sort of pro-life legislation because it would practically be a violation of the 1st Amendment to let their religious views influence their votes.  But when it comes to legislation taxing the rich or handing out money to the poor, out would come the bible quotes.

  13. tabula rasa

    One of the things I really like about the Mormon Church (my church) is that its leadership has banned overt politicking from its pulpits.  

    If Mitt Romney speaks in a Mormon Church it must be on an issue other than politics.

    It’s no secret that a majority of American Mormons are conservative (Harry Reid being a painful exception), but you’ll never hear Reid or Hatch or Romney giving a political speech in a Mormon church on behalf of a candidate or themselves.  

    Even issues like the gay marriage issue (California Proposition 8), where church leadership encouraged its members to get involved, are rarely discussed from the pulpit.  

    The Mormon church has tried very hard to create its own separation of the spiritual and the political.

  14. Crow

    But isn’t it funny how during the George W. Bush administration, the media were obsessed with the idea that we were headed straight for a theocracy?

    Mollie, Mollie, Mollie. *sigh* Now, come on: only conservatives and those who believe there is some effectual truth in religion are dangerous.

    Those who just know its the opiate of the masses are free to go the the pulpit thinking “Here’s a platform where I can get people to vote in their own material interests–and me into power–if I appeal to their silly superstitions. Small price to pay, after all….” and preaching whatever message follows. What could we possibly have to fear from them?

  15. C. U. Douglas

    We needn’t even go back to compare to Pres. Bush.  Just look at the hand-wringing there was when Gov. Perry dared pray in public.

    It is not the act that bothers liberals, it’s the philosophies behind the acts that are important.  For many Conservatives of religious bent, we believe that we are expected to look to God and conform to Him.  For many Liberals of same, it is believed that God is expected to conform to us.

    This is in mostly general terms, mind you.  I have Liberal friends who believe the Welfare state is exactly what God wants.  But a Liberal in power will look at that as religion conforming to their needs and give a nod of approval.

  16. Mel Foil

    C.U.

    Are you saying that God didn’t want us to hire agnostic Washington bureaucrats with sticky fingers to shake down the “rich” so that we can help that poor jobless man right in front of us?  I find that hard to believe. :)

  17. C. U. Douglas
    etoiledunord: C.U.

    Are you saying that God didn’t want us to hire agnostic Washington bureaucrats with sticky fingers to shake down the “rich” so that we can help that poor jobless man right in front of us?  I find that hard to believe. :) · Jan 18 at 10:40am

    I know, right?

    Seriously, it’s one of the common debates I have with my liberal christian friends.  We all agree that God encourages us to aid those in need; our difference remains in the methods used to do so.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In