Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Church & State (The Great Divide)

In the Circuit Rider, a clergy magazine from Cokesbury and the UMPH, had an interesting article in it about politics. On page 9, there is a section that explains, Pastors may be more politically active than congregants realize, survey shows. The survey had some interesting numbers to it. If I read the fine print correctly it states that they interviewed 1478 people with a margin of error of 2.6% (what ever that means) .

Here are some stats that stood out to me.
Do you more often vote for Democratic or Republican candidates? Clergy: 44% - Democratic, 31% Republican, 25% Prefer not to say. Laity: 32% Democratic, 44% Republican, 24% prefer not to say.

This shows me that already there is a divide between the pulpit and pew. There is only 1% difference between clergy and laity being a mirror image of themselves. I wonder if this is what makes it hard for clergy and laity to come to agreement about how to handle certain social issues. If they are on opposite sides of the isle it may be hard to get them to agree to support certain issues. How does a divided church handle the issue of welfare or homelessness? These figures do not shock me but it does provide an interesting perspective.

The other shocking or maybe not so shocking stat is that the majority of laity (60% of Dec. and 59% Rep.) say they do not want their pastor to preach on issues related to the presidential election or politics in general.

Which brings up a sore spot for me. I guess I don't understand how people think there is a thick line you can draw between church and state. Religion will always, ALWAYS, influence politics for the good or bad. Politics will always influence church life because they control the world around us. We aren't tax exempt because of a biblical mandate, that comes from government.

Faith and Politics, Church and State, are like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You spread one side with peanut butter and one side with jelly, but once you put those two slices together, you have a little of both on each slice. We live in a country that allows us to have religious freedom and that means a person's religion will be reflected in their politics.

If my laity think that I can 'do church' without my political views being expressed they are wrong. They will eek out here and there. They might hear it from the pulpit or in a Bible study. It will happen because my faith and my political views all center around one person, Jesus Christ. A person who was very political himself when he was here on earth. If Jesus couldn't dodge the topic, why do I think I can or should?

1 comment:

Clix said...

Well - politics isn't the same thing as The State. Likewise, personal faith isn't the same thing as Religion. I think it's important to distinguish the institutions (which should remain separate) from the people who live in a society that allows them to frequent both.

Intriguing post! :D