At the risk of wandering blindly into two highly charged areas, I have to ask this question: Why is a Barack Obama’s now-former congregation laughing and cheering about Hillary Clinton being a cry-baby during a Sunday worship service?
In this lull day as Obama takes the Democratic nomination but before the full-scale war of words begins for the fall campaign, it’s as good a time as any to think about the involvement of church in state. You’re probably heard the latest flap concerning Trinity United Church of Christ, which caused Obama to resign his membership: A visiting Catholic priest went off on Hillary during his Sunday sermon, adding a couple of racist-tinged comments and then wiping fake tears from his eyes in a reference to Hillary’s occasionally weepy campaign actions. You can see some of what was said on YouTube and read about what happened here in the Chicago Sun-Times, the home paper to Obama’s church.
What I don’t understand about all of this is why, on a Sunday morning when people are presumably attending church to further their religious education and faith, the minister at this church — or any church, for that matter — feels a need to proselytize not about faith but about politics, and why worshippers would put up with (and even encourage) that direction anyway?
The editor for our Lakewood and Lake Highlands magazines, Christina Hughes Babb, forwarded this link to a story about young people, evangelicals and otherwise, trying to determine whether politics needs to be as front-and-center in worship as it has been in some churches and denominations. The story bounces back and forth in terms of reaching a conclusion, but I’m glad to see the discussion occurring. You can be a person of faith and help make the world a better place — in fact, that’s pretty much the directive of most religions — and at the same time you can be a politically active person and work for a better tomorrow.
But where in any of the holy books does it say it’s OK to make fun of your political enemies from the pulpit or it’s OK to require that you support a certain politician? That’s what you do on the steps outside the house of worship, not at the altar inside.