Politics and the pulpit

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Evangelical Christians, those who identify themselves as being born again represent a large voting bloc. According to the Pew Research Center, the group represents as high as one-third of registered voters. How do pastors of evangelical Christians view their role in the election process, since their opinion could certainly influence the way their congregation votes?

“My role is to get people to vote, to try to set the issues up for them on the table, and remind them especially in this election that we’re not voting for a pastor, we’re voting for a leader, ” said David Jeremiah.

David Jeremiah pastors a large church in San Diego, California. He’s also heard worldwide on radio and television through his Turning Point Ministry. He was recently in Columbus speaking at the RiverCenter during an event to honor Israel. News 3 spoke to Dr. Jeremiah in an exclusive interview about the upcoming election. He said Christians can’t stay home.

“I’m just trying to get people to realize that one of the ways we stand up as Christians is simply by voting. And I cite this statistic that the last election cycle 35 million evangelicals who were registered did not vote,” said Jeremiah.

Jay Bailey pastors Solid Rock Assembly of God Church in Columbus. He, too, is concerned about Christian complacency.

“I think part of America’s problem is that Christian people have disengaged. We have pulled back and we have left a vacuum in morality. We’ve left a vacuum in leadership,” said Jay Bailey.

How does Columbus Pastor Vince Allen view his role when it comes to politics and the pulpit?

“With us being a democracy and our votes count, first of all is to encourage voter registration and to let people know that it’s important for them to be a part of the process,” said Allen.

Allen says there’s only one person who should tell his church members how to vote.

“We want people to really seek God as to who they vote for because it’s a personal decision. If I tell them and their candidate loses, then they’ll look at me and say, well, I thought you were a
man of God,” said Allen.

News 3 asked David Jeremiah if he planned to endorse a candidate in this presidential election.

“My job is not to endorse a candidate. Basically I think I have talked to or prayed with all the candidates on the Republican side of the ledger. I’ve prayed with them in their offices. I’ve talked to them.  I’ve heard their heart. But I do not wish to get involved with an endorsement,” said Dr. Jeremiah.

Last August Senator Ted Cruz spoke at a rally at Solid Rock Church on a Saturday.

“I was asked if we’d be willing to host him here, and I was very pleased to do that. To be quite candid, I do believe that he has a biblical world view and a world view that more closely aligns with my personal world view,” said Bailey.

Bailey adds that he wants his church members to view the candidates and issues through the prism of scripture.

“I want to challenge our people to think  through the issues. And I tell them all the time that God wants us to be more biblically correct than politically correct.”

When we visited Vince Allen’s church, a candidate for local office was in attendance. Allen says it’s his church’s policy not to let candidates speak from the pulpit, but rather acknowledge their candidacy and thank them for coming.

“And that’s the process we’ve adopted so that we’re not playing favoritism or we’re not endorsing candidates, which we begin to deal with the separation of church and state and with us being a 501c3 organization, it could jeopardize our non-profit status,” said Allen.

David Jeremiah offers some guidance to pastors who find themselves conflicted over sermons that go against the cultural norm.

How do you fight city hall or even the Supreme Court for that matter, when rulings go against what you believe?

Dr. Jeremiah: Well, you find yourself in a situation that they were in in the book of Acts. You need to be obedient to those who are over you, but when it comes to the principles of your faith,  it’s better to obey God than man. You might have to make some decisions.”

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