The IRS vs. the Pulpit - Mary Sulerud

The news has been full of the president’s desire to amend the tax code and make it possible for the first time in 50 some years for those preaching in churches to now take positions of political advocacy in the pulpit. While that is a reason to rejoice for some pastors, I am one that will take a pass on that new freedom, if it ever happens.

 

One of the gifts of being unable to endorse political parties, candidates, or positions more than to encourage people to vote is simply that every Sunday I have preached I am reminded that I took a vow as a priest to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. While we could argue that the political realm enacts laws or policies that may support the rule of God as we may understand it, the two should never be confused. Our faith holds us accountable to a greater righteousness than being good citizens of an earthly kingdom. Thank God! At its best our free exercise of religion has given us a chance to hold ourselves and our neighbors accountable for this greater righteousness in matters of racial justice, upholding peace and treasuring our neighbors of different nationalities and faiths as God’s children. We also know all the times that as people of faith we sin and stray like lost sheep and make a mockery of the relationship with God and our neighbor that God desires. Mix in a little political endorsement of any type and there is new meaning to the phrase “hell to pay.”

 

I have come to see this challenging political time for me and others as call to renew my own and our own understanding of what it is to be truly faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed. That faithfulness means that regardless of my own political inclinations, I must prayerfully let the gospel have the first, middle and last word in the pulpit and in our ministry and mission.

 

Thanks for the offer to speak, but there’s plenty for us to see, say and do with Scripture alone.

 

Mary Sulerud