Saturday, March 11, 2006

Shame, shame on those "31 Ohio pastors"

That's all you'll need to type into Google to get the story noted in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Just "31 Ohio pastors." They don't care a whit about politics from the pulpit when they are preaching their viewpoint. I've been a member of a liberal church, and you better believe you hear politics. I didn't hear a squawk from them when Kerry and Edwards were making the rounds of the black churches and speaking from their pulpits.

This is pure pew envy. The largest churches in Columbus, like Upper Arlington Lutheran, First Community, Vineyard and Grace Brethren didn't sign on. These liberal pastors probably can't even raise a quorum in their own congregation, let alone attract new members. All their congregations added together could probably fit into our sanctuary. You'll determine their politics almost immediately by the tone of the news coverage. Usually, the media ignores churches, unless they can spot a juicy fight on the horizon.

Not that the non-signers have been pillers in the public square. Two years ago the pastor of First Community (and they don't get much more liberal) said, "If we work to take away the tax exempt status of All Saints Church in Pasadena and World Harvest Church in Columbus, that means we must do the same with First Community Church." [First News, Feb. 19-Mar. 4, 2006] OK, so that's sort of self-serving. Rich Nathan, pastor of Vineyard published a wimp-out article in the Dispatch saying in effect Can't we all just get along and stick to the Bible from our pulpits so we don't turn unbelievers off. I wonder if he means preach non-political things like sanctity of marriage, evils of abortion, evolution, parental choice, etc. UALC pastors haven't commented to my knowledge. The last time we did anything even remotely political was to sing "God Bless America" the evening of 9/11 at a church service filled with terrified people.

Cleveland Channel 5: "Another group comprised of 31 Ohio pastors believes Restoration Ohio is breaking the law, and has asked the IRS to investigate.

"They crossed the line and they're not acting as a church, in my mind. They're acting more like a political organization to elect a single candidate," said the Rev. Eric Williams.

Everson delivered a strong warning about illegal campaigning.

"Are we going to let this cancer spread to our charities and churches? Now is the time to act before it is too late," said Everson."

PewForum: "Churches and religious organizations agree to abide by the regulations of the Internal Revenue Code when they accept tax-exempt status as 501(c)(3) organizations. The 31 Ohio pastors who recently asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate possible violations by two pastors and their religious organizations had reason for concern.

The Revs. Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson have been upfront about their political objectives. They have created separate affiliates (Reformation Ohio by Parsley and Johnson's Ohio Restoration Project) to build a network of conservative pastors to promote political candidates sympathetic to their conservative religious agenda.

According to the complaint to the IRS, Parsley, the pastor of World Harvest Church, and Johnson of Fairfield Christian Church, have practically adopted J. Kenneth Blackwell, the secretary of state, as their favored candidate for Ohio governor, showcasing him on road trips and events to the exclusion of other candidates for the same office. The complaint accuses the evangelical coalition of launching a voter registration campaign and voter-education materials intended to garner Blackwell maximum support.

It is common enough for candidates to make the rounds of religious establishments, especially in African-American churches, to be introduced to the congregation. It is a different story when churches align themselves so plainly behind specific candidates. The involvement alleged in the complaint goes far beyond a mere visit. It suggests church-activated machinery to promote one candidacy."

Columbus Dispatch: HARTVILLE, Ohio — Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell told conservative religious leaders yesterday not to be deterred from political participation by a federal complaint filed by 31 Columbus-area pastors.

"You tell those 31 bullies that you aren’t about to be whupped," said Blackwell, the secretary of state, who said that "political and social and cultural forces are trying to run God out of the public square."

1 comment:

Dancing Boys Mom said...

Comment on the Vineyard fellow...I think he only wants "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for you" preached.