Religion, Politics, and the Real Purpose of a Church

Let me begin this post by saying that I do not believe that there is anything new or unusual about churches being involved in politics. Since religion is so interwoven into our culture, there is no way that you can keep religion or religious belief out of politics. Religion was used to abolish slavery and religion was used to bring about the Civil Rights Movement. Many people use religion today to justify government spending and others use it justify laws that ban same sex marriage. I have written on this subject before.

I do not believe that churches who engage in politics should lose their tax exempt status, no more than I believe that non-profit organizations like the NAALCP, that are obviously political, should lose theirs. The reason is simple. While I am a Christian, I am also a libertarian and I am wise enough to know that the federal government uses the system of taxation to manipulate the behaviors of its citizens. Think about it. The government wants us to conserve energy, so they give us tax breaks for buying hybrids. There are many other examples, but imagine what freedom of religion or freedom of speech would be like in this country, if the federal government started manipulating the teachings of churches or non-profit organizations with the tax code.

Although I fully believe that churches have a right to get involved in politics, I question their judgment in doing so. That brings me to this article in the Tennessean concerning Justice Sunday and the involvement of Two Rivers Baptist Church and their pastor, Dr. Jerry Sutton. I was once a member of Two Rivers. It is an excellent church and Dr. Sutton is a wonderful human being. When I had a broken ankle and was unable to work for several weeks, someone in the church anonymously gave me an envelope full of money. They did the same thing for me when my brother died. I will always love that congregation and appreciate all that they did for me. But I am really bothered by Dr. Sutton'’s involvement in politics and his using the church for the purpose of this rally. I was also troubled by that episode of Hardball filmed at Two Rivers, not because I disagree with what Jerry Sutton is saying. In fact on most things I very much agree. I just do not like to see the pulpit used for anything other than leading people to Jesus. I love to discuss politics, but when churches engage in politics to this extreme, it bothers me. I just feel that a pastor’s job and a churches job is specifically to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and lead people to the Lord. The church was not created for those who are well, but for those who are sick. I really wish that churches would get out of partisan politics and get back to evangelism. That not only applies to conservatives like Dr. Sutton, but also to black pastors who are even more guilty of political grandstanding.

I believe that as a church we should stop focusing on others and begin focusing on ourselves. We talk about the sanctity of marriage, but instead of focusing on infidelity and divorce within traditional marriage, we are consumed with the idea of banning same sex marriage. We spend all of this time focusing on the things of this world, like the judicial branch, but we seem to have forgotten that the hope of this world does not rest in the Federal Judiciary, the Presidency, or the Congress. Since we know that the hope of this nation rests in Jesus Christ and his teachings, what are we so afraid of? Dr. Sutton is an extremely talented evangelist. I wonder though, how many people could have been led to God, if Dr. Sutton simply preached about the Lord Jesus Christ, as opposed to politics.

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