At least once a week I get a comment on a Facebook or Twitter post saying that as clergy I should not comment on political things as there is a separation of church and state. I have also been told by church members that I should remain neutral when it comes to hot-button topics like poverty, white supremacy, gun control, etc. so as not to upset people. My usual response is thank you for your comment, but no, I will not remain silent. My faith compels me to speak and my question is why doesn’t it also compel you?
To the first type of comment about separation of church and state, these comments usually come from people who a. disagree with my comments and b. do not understand what separation of church and state mean. I also remind them that I did not surrender my citizenship when I was ordained.
To the church member, I remind them that Jesus was not neutral on much of anything and as a follower of Jesus Christ I am imitating what he did.
Historically, the pulpit has been the place where revolutions have begun. The American Revolution was preached from pulpits all over New England, and I would argue, was the catalyst. Abolitionism and the end of slavery were preached from many New England pulpits including the one I preach from now! At most high and low points of American history, the pulpit was used to rally the troops if you will.
Now with all of that said, when preaching, I stick to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I never have, as far as I can remember, ever mentioned the name of a politician from the pulpit and I do not have too. Jesus preached love of everyone but also did not hesitate in calling out people who were not living up to what they were preaching, and that is what I do. Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ political, it sure is.
I have often said that my job as a preacher is to make you uncomfortable. I am not here to preach what you want to hear, some milk toast sermon about how wonderful we all are, nope, my job is to move you, compel you to take action in your own lives as well as in the world. We are the hands and feet and voice of those who have no voice, the marginalized in our society that is our job and we need to get better at it.