Well I have learned several things about the First Amendment and my rights this week. I do (according to our current law) have a fine line to walk as a pastor. The current interpretation of law concerning separation of church and state is very anti-religious. This is poor interpretation by the Supreme Court of old laws that were originally focused on protecting the church from the state.
I have learned, however, that much of the actual debate is about non-profit status. I find myself in a fairly moderate position on this legal issue. Political parties and groups that support candidates are not supposed to be able to be non-profit. This means that those who donate do not get tax credits as charitable donations. This is really what a church puts at risk when it supports a candidate.
I have had to ask myself this question, “Is non-profit status a church right or a church privilege in America?” The truth is that Christians should not tithe because they get a tax break. That is not the call of Christ in obedience to giving to the church. Churches that feel they must endorse political candidates can. They just can’t give anyone a charitable donation letter for tax purposes. It is an interesting idea to me.
The problem is that the law is not equally enforced. Conservative churches and religious institutions are the only ones targeted for law suits. The conservatives do not target the liberal entities back because they believe that it should be their right to speak their opinion.
With all that said. I pastor a conservative church. We would probably get sued. If I feel at some point that our church must make a stand vocally for a candidate, we will. This election would have been the time to do it but I did not move early enough to make the risk worth the reward. In the future we will address whatever we feel the Lord leads us to. If that means we have to tithe for the sole purpose of obedience, we will. That would not be such an awful thing. It would probably cost in a lot of ways, but would be worth it.
What I did learn, is that I can speak. This blog saying Pastor Kirk does not mean I can not. This is not a church run website. Any blog I write concerning a candidate must not be done on a church computer or during my work hours, but that is fine with me. This is my voice anyway. The odd thing – is that it is always my voice. That is what being a pastor is about. The people I pastor have elected to trust my voice. It is odd that I am not supposed to use it when it comes to politics. Interesting times we live in.
So, keep your eyes open if you care what I think about this election. If not, well, hopefully you will not be able to vote for some minor reason that causes you no long term issues in your life. J