Posted tagged ‘Political’

Political Cynicism

November 5, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        November 4, 2012

 

Election Day is day after tomorrow. Don’t answer the phone! My caller ID tells me that in the last two weeks I’ve gotten calls from Virginia, Washington, California, Florida, Maine, and Pennsylvania. Unless I have long lost relatives that live there, only Virginia is recognizable as a “Wolfe possibility; and that only because the Wolfe Family Reunion is held each year the first Sunday in August at Twin Valley High School in Nickelsville, Virginia.

Out of state callers this time of year are about as welcome as my cholesterol count.

In today’s newspaper in our city there was a front page article that shared the opinions of local voters about the election. What stood out was the cynicism of most of the ten people who were asked about their voting preferences. A couple of them said that they are voting for a certain candidate because “he is the lesser of two evils.” Another man called one of the candidates “…a kook. Just look at his eyes. He’s a liar.” Another man said that he wouldn’t vote for a certain candidate “if you put a gun to my head!”One person who is enrolled at a local Bible college said he doesn’t plan on vote, and is not even registered. He made the comment “God is going to take care of what he’ll take care of.”

Another man was more concerned about getting Amendment 64 (legalizing marijuana) passed than about who the next president will be.

What are we to do with this? It seems that a diminishing number of voters are voting according to their convictions. Cynicism may very well elect the next president, not what their campaign platform entails.

Please understand that I am not endorsing a certain candidate. What I am saying is that our political preferences should point us towards the betterment of the present and progress in the future. How each person understands that is different and just as diverse as our population.

Voting for someone because he is the lesser of two evils takes us backwards and results in more dysfunction.

It is evident that our country has become more and more polarized in our thinking. Even the newspaper article could have had a few words changed and ended up resembling the banter before a prize fight.

But cynicism about politics is just a smaller picture of a growing cynicism about life. Say the word “optimism” to a child and he very well think you have mispronounced the name of a Transformer.

People are cynical. The next stop after that is the station for bitterness.

Endorsing Candidates and the Baptist Church

September 29, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     September 28, 2012

I ran for political office about twenty years ago.

Well…it was the local school board…but it was an election, there was tension (since a certain faction the community didn’t like the Superintendent and didn’t want to approve a bond millage), I was elected, and served for five years (One year appointed to fill an unexpired term, and then elected to a four year term).

What I never did, however, was bring my school board candidacy into the pulpit, or into my pastoral ministry. That was a dividing line that I was not willing to cross. I didn’t pass out campaign signs to my congregation to stick into their front yard grass. I was their pastor. I was one of the community’s elected officials.

Somewhere along the line Baptists got mixed up, and started endorsing candidates for political office. But, you see, the separation of church and state is a basic principle, a foundational benchmark, of Baptists. Roger Williams established the “Providence Plantation” in 1636 because of religious persecution in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In essence, the state and the church and linked together, and Williams settled a place where people could come and worship freely, according to their tradition and beliefs. He established the “First Baptist Church” in America, located in Providence.

When we come to election time…especially a presidential election…both conservatives and liberals of the church seem to blur the line on endorsing candidates. Many will focus on the religious convictions, or lack of, in the candidates, framing it in issues such as justice, or health care, or the use of the Bible, or prayer to help it look more spiritual.

Once in a while I’ll come to our church about this time of year and find a sign planted in the public strip of land between the city sidewalk and the street. It’s public property so we get signs there all the time for roofing companies, cleaning services, and aerating lawns. The problem is that people think we’re endorsing the candidate. I’ve thought about putting this on our marquee sign just a few feet from the political signs: “If there are political signs here, we didn’t put them there!” Or “Don’t vote for any candidate who put a sign along our property!”

As long as I pastor, the only candidate our church will endorse is Jesus. The church should always trumpet the causes of justice, fairness, compassion, mercy, peace, and reconciliation.

What we fail to realize is that there is a different Kingdom that the church is endorsing. It’s the Kingdom of God. Our investment is ultimately not in a certain political plan or presidential proposal, bur rather in the Kingdom that transcends time, and election districts.

When I hear of Baptists churches having voter registration tables I can envision Roger Williams rolling over in his grave.

Oh, and going back to when I ran for school board! I received one campaign donation…from the local plumber’s union. The man who fixed the urinals at church when they broke thought I’d make a good addition to the school board. That’s it! I guess you could say it was the Baptist version of Watergate…except it was precipitated by a flushing problem!