I may get in trouble with my conservative friends for this: I am in favor of developing voter guides from a Christian perspective but I’m not in favor of distributing them at church.
Perhaps you’ve seen these guides made available at church entryways or have found them under your windshield wipers after a Sunday service. No doubt, voter guides are effective.
I’m active in our local Republican Party, represent my precinct as Republican committeeman, and I’ve run for public office (lost by 0.9 percent) and helped the Christian Coalition in the early 1990s to organize at the county level. So why I am opposed to distributing voter guides at church? In short, the purpose of attending church is to worship God by the reading of Scripture, listening to the preached Word, singing, partaking in the sacraments, making offerings, and praying. When you have time, consider chapter 21 of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Politics, although important, do not belong alongside worship, other than to pray for our political leaders.
By mixing God’s Word with politics, we detract from its power. It also can cause the church to lose focus on its mission and cause others to turn away from the worshiping body.
Although voter guides are mostly associated with right-leaning Christians, it may be instructive to consider a left-leaning initiative. As I mentioned last week, the organization Faith for Health is representing some left-leaning denominations in its effort to promote big government healthcare reform. Among other things, Faith for Health is distributing Biblically questionable healthcare guides in churches and synagogues. Not only am I opposed to this primarily because of adding politics to the worship environment, I think such efforts can needlessly cause church division.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), for example, is a Faith for Health coalition member. According to the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, the political makeup of the PC(USA)’s (declining) membership is 53 percent Republican or Republican-leaning and 40 percent Democrat or Democrat-leaning. The possibility of a politicized healthcare reform initiative fomenting further division in an already deeply divided church is self-evident.
Now, let’s consider right-leaning churches. The Pew Forum reveals that “Nondenominational Evangelical Churches (Evangelical Tradition)” tip 70 percent for Republicans and 19 percent for Democrats. Distributing right-leaning voter guides in these churches may be politically expedient but what is the affect on worship and the worshiping body, which has 80,000 Democrats among its membership?
Voter guides, yes. Distributing them in church, no.