Political issues meet the Bible in local churches

Sunday, October 5th 2008, 11:15 pm
By: News 9

By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY - Last week, pastors across the county participated in an event that promoted candidates from the pulpit.

The endorsement of candidates by church officials is against the law and could put church's tax exempt status at risk. Two Oklahoma pastors, Pastor Paul Blair from Fairview Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and Pastor Dan Fisher from Yukon's Trinity Baptist Church said they were exercising their rights accord to the First Amendment.

Two other local pastors said they don't agree with the decision to break the law and endorse a candidate from the pulpit.

Not only are the pastors speaking out against endorsing a candidate, one pastor said it's dangerous because he said when a pastor endorses a candidate, he's putting his reputation and the church's reputation on the line.

"I've never seen a time in my 38 years of life, never have I seen a time, where there is more emotion around an election," Journey Church Pastor Clark Mitchell said.

At Journey Church in Norman, Pastor Mitchell preaching about issues facing America, not about politics. It is part of his series called Ballot Box ‘08.

"Throughout this series, we're not going to talk about whether to vote republican or vote democrat or independent or anything else," Pastor Mitchell said.

Steering away from a political debate is something Pastor Mitchell said he's careful to do, not just because it's the law, but because he said it isn't his job.

"My role as a pastor is to help people understand the scriptural truths, and our response to the issues, and not necessarily a way to vote," Pastor Mitchell said.

That's one reason he said he was disappointed to hear pastors like Pastor Paul Blair give sermons endorsing one candidate over another.

"I would never endorse a candidate from the pulpit at all," Pastor Mitchell said.

Pastor Ben Brammer from North Baptist Church wasn't just disappointed to hear Pastor Blair's sermon, he was stunned. Brammer believes endorsing a candidate is risky given that no candidate is perfect.

"Thus, because a church or pastor closely aligns themselves with a particular party or candidate, when they fail, sometimes the church or pastor's credibility fails as well," Pastor Brammer said.

Credibility is something Pastor Brammer said isn't worth loosing.

"If I'm going to get in trouble, I want to get in trouble preaching Jesus. It's the is the only way I want to get in trouble, preaching from the Bible," Pastor Brammer said. "Those are the hills on which I will die. I'm not going to die on politics."

Although both pastors disagree with endorsing candidates on the pulpit, they believe fines from the Internal Revenue Service would be too much. Pastor Mitchell and Pastor Brammer said they hope other pastors will realize what they did and choose not to preach politics again.

For more information about Ballot Box '08, visit MyBallotBox.tv.