Proverbs 29:2 says: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” When the Israelites were sent into exile in Babylon, God told them, through the prophet Jeremiah, to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7. Elections have consequences. Scripture supports this principle, and so does history.
Examples abound of despotic rulers who have persecuted the Church and forced it underground, thereby restricting the proclamation of the Gospel and the ability of Christians to live out their faith. Even in our own lifetime we see persecution in countries like North Korea, India, and many other places around the world. The rulers in charge in those countries who set and enforce policy impose sometimes severe consequences on Christians who simply want to exercise their faith and worship God.
Here in the United States, “elections have consequences” may seem more abstract, but in reality the democratic process means it is truer here than many other countries. Americans enjoy the ability to select their national, state, and local leaders. This is a privilege not enjoyed by many of our brothers and sisters around the world.
So why then are our churches generally silent when it comes to elections and the selection of those who will lead our country, states, and our cities? Every election cycle, we select leaders who set policies that can either be benevolent or hostile to the proclamation of the Gospel and to the ability of believers to live out their faith in the public square.
For example, we have seen a recent rise in cases attempting to apply so-called “non-discrimination” laws to people to faith such as photographers, florists, cake-makers, and t-shirt printers. These “non-discrimination” laws were passed by elected representatives and their application is having a severe negative effect on Christians who only want to peacefully exercise their religion in the public square.
Or consider the Wisconsin federal district court’s recent ruling striking down the minister’s housing allowance in the Tax Code. That case was brought before a federal judge who was appointed by a President, who was elected by the people and confirmed by United States Senators, who also were elected by the people. Yet this one ruling has the potential to remove the minister’s housing allowance for thousands of ministers. As pastors well know, this would have a devastating impact on the ability of pastors to stay in ministry and to focus exclusively on the spiritual need of their churches, as well as conduct outreach ministries to the local community.
America’s pastors must speak out and offer biblical guidance and instruction on the selection of those men and women who lead the people. To neglect giving such Biblical guidance sends the false message that elections do not have consequences that matter to the Church or its people.
On October 5, 2014, pastors have an opportunity to stand together and preach an election sermon, as part of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a movement of pastors to engage once again in the election process. The only requirement for participation is to preach an election sermon.
It can be as specific or as general as each pastor decides. A sermon that discusses the election generally would be consistent with IRS regulations. A sermon that specifically addresses the stated positions of the candidates and supports or opposes those candidates may run afoul of the Johnson Amendment in the tax code. But Alliance Defending Freedom believes that the Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional. That’s why we launched Pulpit Freedom Sunday in 2008 – to remove the unconstitutional restriction on a pastor speaking freely from the pulpit on the issue of candidates in an election. So if you’re challenged by the government, rest assured that we will support and defend you.
Sign up to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday at www.PulpitFreedom.org. Elections have consequences, and our congregations need to hear and apply Biblical truth to the selection of the leaders who will impose those consequences on the Church.