Separation of Church & State : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Recently while campainging in NY, Vice-President Al Gore was endorsed as President from the pulpit by Rev. Floyd Flake, Sr. Pastor of Allen Temple AME of Jamaica Plains. I am personally deeply disturbed by this development and hope it is not a precendent action. The combustible combination of religion and politics results in many "casualties" but I would like to read other opinions on this topic. Should AME pastors use their pulpit to openly endorse candidates?

-- Anonymous, February 18, 2000


I think it depends on the situation. I am not in favor of an open pulpit for all political candidates to come in and speak to our congregations. What I believe is best is to have an open forum at another time other than Sunday and allow for some honest dialogue and interaction between our members and the persons seeking their vote and allow our people to make up their own minds. I don't have a problem with Floyd Flake endorsing Al Gore because I believe Flake is very close to what's going on in Washington and is very much in tune with the pulse of the people in his congregation. I don't think this should be something that all pastors should do. I believe discernment has to be the mode of operations in these special cases.

-- Anonymous, February 18, 2000

Absolutely not! If we engage in political action by endorsing candidates for office, we endanger our tax-exempt status and the charitable deductions of our contributers.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2000

Historically, the pulpit has been used as a political podium.

And it was with good reason in years gone past. The pastor, in general, in the formative days of the denomination, was the most educated person in the congregation. Sometimes, one of the few people in the church who could read.

If he did not share his learning and knowledge, often times members of the congregation would not even be aware of some of the political issues that surrounded them. In those days the pastor was both the spiritual and secular sheperd of his flock.

Fast forward to the present, many members of the congregation have more letter behind their names than their pastor. They are as, if not more, politically astute than the preacher. Therefore, there is little need for the pastor to push political platforms, in terms of his congregation needing his educated insights.

Now days, it seems pastors and Prelates who push politics do more as a polarizing force for change. They see a candidate that they feel will be good for the people they lead and there fore go out as a lightning rod to draw votes to that candidate.

I have no problem with a preacher or Presiding Elder or Bishop having a political stance but I would prefer that in this day in age, it not be issue from the pulpit as an edict, but shared in a more secular situation, with the emphasis on this being a course of action that through our voting unity will fare us well as a people or as a denomination.

There are times that we all need to rally together so our collective strength will far out weigh our inherent individualized weaknesses but those people in a leadership position do not need a pulpit for a soapbox. There voice already is made loud, and largely respected, through the Godly administration of their place of leadership.

Rev. John

-- Anonymous, February 29, 2000

I would like to suggest that persons who are concerned about separation of church and state and other issues such as tax exempt status should contact the american center for law and justice and get their booklet. It is very informative and provides clear cut guidelines on what the law actually states. Unfortunately there are too many asumptions made when it comes to these types of issues.

-- Anonymous, March 01, 2000

Rev. Young,

I do believe that the gospel according to the IRS does prohibit political endorsements by the church. There is little evidence of enforcement, but I seem to recall a church in Texas that had their exempt status challenged for supporting Bill Clinton. I don't recall the result. Did'nt the Buddhists get into trouble for raising money for Clinton/Gore in '96?

-- Anonymous, March 02, 2000

Again I think its important ti get all the facts and information pertaining to what the laws state. The American Center for Law and Justice is a great place for everyone to start.

-- Anonymous, March 02, 2000

Pastor Young,

Great idea!  The ACLJ's website (not to be confused with the horridly liberal ACLU) has some excellent info, including details on churches and free speech.

-- Anonymous, March 03, 2000

Rev. Young, You're right! ACLJ is very informative.

Mr. Kinsler, Thanks for their site link.

-- Anonymous, March 03, 2000

A Church that endorses Bill Clinton needs to have its spirit examined.

-- Anonymous, March 06, 2000

The ACLJ website is extremely informative. Many thanks for the referral by Rev. Young.

-- Anonymous, March 07, 2000

Everybody wants to point you to this website or to this book or that book, but what about the bible. Does the bible have anything to teach us on this matter, I think so, although its highly debative. Let me start out by saying that religion coupled with politics equals persecution. The founding fathers of this nation fled political/religious persecution when they left Europe. That's why they included separation of church and state in the constitution.If we have a clear biblical vision that the governments of this world are not working on the behave of building up the kingdom of Yah, but quite the opposite. Then the body of messiyah ought not to be beguiled into thinking that we sould have any influence or allegence to governmental kingdoms except Yahweh. If you were driving through a neighboring state would you stop to vote in their senate race. When we truly become buried with savior and allow him to live in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure, I believe politricks won't be of any concern to us. However I do believe we as black people play a vidal role in holding back the winds of strife. Don't get me wrong I don't believe in being so heavenly bound that I'm no earthly good. I think that we as a people(black) and as a group(professed believers in the 2nd coming of the meesiyah) have a tremendous responsiblity not to become insnared in the devices of satan. I'll reply more later.

-- Anonymous, April 07, 2000

Gregory, Your use of the term "politricks" is both amusing and informative. Keep up the well-developed posts. Glad you are on board!!!

-- Anonymous, April 12, 2000

I first must say that I agree with Rev. John about the history of why the pulpit was used to promote politics and agree that times have changed. We as a people can now hold meetings to interact with politicians in places other than the church, and have access to more info to learn more about politicians. I know that most politicians want to come in on a Sunday in order to reach more people which causes several issues with me. 1) Who do you think that you are or is so important that you want to interrupt God's service. In the OT we know about the holy of holy's and how only certain ones of good report and holy could enter or were struck dead. We read about how Jesus cleaned the temple of those selling in the church. We read of the care and pride that the saints of God had in keeping their holy place sacred. Why are we so quick to just let anyone come and speak and market in ours? I believe that we need to keep in mind that the sanctuary is supposed to be for the furthering of God's kingdom. 2) Where were you the rest of the year? I'm tired of people trying to pimp the church. Whenever they need or want something, here they come but afterwards we don't see them.

-- Anonymous, May 12, 2000

Thank you for your summary. I, Too, did hear them announce in the news about no prayers being said at sporting events, and other public places. I would like someone to specifically point out where in the CONSTITUTION OF THE U.S. Does it point out that there is a separation of Church and State? In studying thje Constitution in school , we were told that this was a GENTLEMEN'S AGREEMENT , and is not stated in the Constitution. I have a copy of the constitution before me now. and ARTICLE I of the First Ten Amendments passed by Congress Sept. 25, l789, RATIFIED BY Three -fourths of the States December 15, 179l states that " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemblfe, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Since the Constitution is clearly written, why do we continue to believe that there is a separation of church and state when it is NOT written thus in the CONSTITUTION?

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2000

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