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Politics in the Church

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It is just a few more weeks before our general elections and it is an ideal time to pause and analyze how our Churches have been dealing with these exciting times. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a Christian society and there can be no dispute as to that reality. What is also true however is that our society is becoming more secular, since the church has lost its influence over various spheres of our social life. Nevertheless, there is no question as to whether the “foundation of the Lord stands sure” for the name of the Lord will forever remain a strong tower in our island.{{more}}

We cannot move on without first locating our thoughts in history. To consider that the historical break between the Church and the State has resulted in a further weakening of the Church’s general influence on various spheres of our social life is not a thought which is too farfetched. Nonetheless, despite the fact that Church no longer plays an active role as it relates to formal political governance as existed in Europe in the pre-1700 period, the Church remains a potential instrument of social change. While this thought remains merely theoretical for the moment, there can be little doubt that if all Christian denominations should come together under one umbrella adopting an ecumenical approach that the Church would be able to provide an alternative government in our democratic type society. With an acknowledgement of the potential power of the Church, where does the Church stand in today’s Politics?

Whenever election is in the air the keen interest of our people is heightened Christians being no exception, and they readily welcome a taste of the season. This show of interest is quite commendable, and is a definite expression of democracy and concern about the governance of one’s country. How then does a Saturday or Sunday morning Church service fit into this mix?

One question that readily surfaces in Church interaction at election time is to what extent if at all, should a Church leader allow party politics to enter into his message to the members? Around election time our senses are awakened at all times to quell any form of opposition leveled against the party which we support. Therefore, an innocent sister who wears a red, yellow or green dress is branded as a part of the “band wagon”. Testimonies which contain lines as “Jesus holds the “key” for heaven’s door”, or “Only wise men follow the Star” or even “the grass is not always “greener” on the other side” are taken out of context because of those few trigger words associated with politics. This is done in the same way as many have attempted to stretch a mere innocent statement of recognition down into the gutters of race for which it was not intended. Is all this really necessary?

I entertain full discussions and lengthy debates passionately or otherwise on politics and on the issues be it on the important value of the education revolution, or the great urgency with which an International airport is needed, but I ensure that such is done outside my working or worshipping hours.

It appears rather difficult for a pastor who intends to touch on core issues of politics in his message to be able to reflect no form of bias. Such biases may have a divisive and disruptive effect and may result in a pastor becoming extremely unpopular during this period. However, this may be a calculated risk which a Minister of the Gospel is willing to run.

Instead of getting into “raw politics” it appears more reasonable for the Church to address issues such as the need for members to exercise their right to vote. The Church can encourage all its members to get registered in preparation for the election day. Most importantly Churches must not fail to solicit the prayers of the saints to ensure that the election is violence- free. I see no problem with a Minister of the Gospel welcoming the presence of the Lord at a Political meeting, or a warm welcome being extended to a candidate who attends a Church service and may even be invited to share a testimony, not campaign of course. It must be done in decency and in order.

There appears to be nothing wrong if a debate for the general Church body is entertained to discuss the issues, but we must guard against one pastor or minister who openly attempts to sway an entire congregation towards a particular slant. To do otherwise would be to abuse a God- given office and to invite the spread of the “splitting syndrome” which can prove detrimental to the overall embodiment of the Christian community if allowed to continue in such a fashion.

It would be interesting though to see how a Pastor or Minister who maintains that as a Shepherd he must direct his sheep and venture beyond the safe zone, would factor into his message acts such as the “Stoning of a Church”. I stand corrected but no- where in Biblical History recorded has there ever been such an action to actually stone a place of worship.

May Peace reign throughout this election season.

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