Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Pastors and the Politicians

Thirty-three pastors thumbed their noses at the government and the IRS to use their pulpits to endorse a candidate today, September 28. This is not the first time this separation of church and state has been breached, but the meditated willfulness and intricate organization of this number of ministers exercising what they call their “rights” can only be viewed as stepping over the boundaries of their ministry and cannot be ignored. The government must take steps to revoke their tax-free status if these churches are going to use their premises to politicize their ministries. This further erosion of the rights of many to be dictated by the will of the religious right must cease.

John McCain has not only been endorsed by these pastors but he has been an active party to this assault on our Constitution by declaring that the United States is a “Christian” nation.

Indeed, the Puritans first came to the new world from Holland after having been kicked out of England. They were in search of religious freedom. They found it and proceeded to set up religious states where one had to be Puritan in order to live there. These same people in search of their religious freedom proceeded to deny it to others.

Each group of people who has come to these shores has had hopes, dreams and a faith that may or may not have already been represented in this new land. All were absorbed, and all were allowed to practice their faith without coercion to renounce their faith.

The far right has been attempting to overturn this American tradition by imposing its own cultural and social values on the rest of us. We’ve seen inroads in this direction during the Bush years and some of us have been appalled. Now I am aghast at how bold and arrogant these people have become in proclaiming that their values are the only values for our country.

The strength and appeal of this country for hundreds of years culminated with the wonder of a Constitution crafted by a group of brilliant men battling it out in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776, carefully considering what was necessary to be written into our Constitution in order to have a true democracy. In that spirit, it was clearly recognized that a separation of church and state had to be maintained.

Let these pastors understand that if they politicize their churches and endorse a candidate, they can no longer enjoy a tax-free status and must pay the price of those opinions. It is more than enough to misuse thier "spiritual" authority to sway votes. I believe they may even have difficulty claiming to be true Christians who practice tolerance, brotherhood and Christian charity toward others. The spirit of America that will keep this country strong cannot deny the diversity of this country through a claim of dubious moral superiority.

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