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Friday, February 3, 2017

Pastors Preaching Politics?

Free speech in Church?

One sunny morning a few years ago I was working in our newly formed neighborhood garden (Love Community Garden) in downtown Muskegon. As far as Muskegon goes this was the “hood”. 
Forgive my taking the liberty of putting up the following pics as I'm really proud of what we did.

The garden was at the base of a hill upon whose top sat a small clapboard church who’s minister graciously let my friend and I start a community garden in the low area. 

This picture below is not of the church, but is it's "spitting image" other than ours was a lot more run down.  This must be a model the Baptist's used around the country.  Even the sign out front is the same.

We had canvassed our neighbors and found lots of people willing to set up and take care of our 30 some little 4’x8’ raised beds. Each neighbor got one, we didn’t ask what Party they were in. We found suppliers and friends willing to do the work to build the plots and fill them with dirt and the rest was history. It is running to this day.

As I sat there that Sunday in 2008 while tending my own little plot, moving church music wafted down to me. I started listening and as the windows were open this warm summer day I could hear the sermon fairly clear. The minister was extolling the virtues of a Candidate whom could be the first “black President” and how his congregation needed to get out and vote – to do their civic duty and be part of this historic event.

I was reminded that day of the importance sermons from the pulpit had played in helping to form our nation. I had seen old movies of pastors and ministers preaching in favor of freeing ourselves from the yoke of British rule.  Then later about freeing our Society of Slavery.  Years later I took part in a daily re-enactment of the original Boston Tea Party at the Boston the Tea Party Museum. It was in a church and the minister was really a rable-rouser.

Back to the garden in 2008, as I listened to the minister in that little Baptist Church rouse his flock I also remembered that I had little luck in my efforts trying to get local churches of a “Conservative” bent to do anything at all to help with the starting of our Tea Party, and later even with “Right to Life” or anything else related to politics let alone give a sermon in direct support of a candidate.

They told me they were afraid of losing their tax exempt status. The Pastor above Love Community Garden didn’t feel so constrained.

As things turned full circle I read on 2/3/2017 that President Trump went to his first “Prayer Breakfast” in Washington – an annual “must do” for Presidents. While most of the news was all about the President saying he was going to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger the new host for “the Apprentice” who’s rating have fallen: I could not help jumping on the following quote of Trump. “I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,”.

I see now others have noticed and talk of it is picking up steam. Here is an article from the federalist.

Again to remind myself of the historical importance of the freedom of speech by our religious leaders I did some more digging and came up with somethings I had over looked.

I know of “Patriots Day” I had forgot it was named after the events which happened April 9th, 1775 in Lexington. I had also heard of the “Minutemen” and their “shots fired heard around the world” and through history. What I didn’t know was the specifics I found in the following article.

One pastor Jonas Clark, was hiding two patriots in his home, Samuel Adams and John Hancock under guard of 12 of Clark’s men. During the confrontation on Lexington Green from which came the “shots heard around the world” another 65 or so of the Pastors congregation formed the Minutemen who stood up to 800 heavily armed British soldiers. Well the rest is history. Though the role religion played in it may have been downplayed.  The importance of Pastors never can.

Here is a quote from the following link.  " One of Clark’s house guests asked him on that night if the Lexington people would fight if necessary. Clark, who had laid a solid foundation concerning the duty of self-defense of inalienable rights for years through his sermons, responded confidently: “I have trained them for this very hour!”

So the shot I heard at Wednesday Prayer Breakfast when President Trump said the following was no surprise.  {…allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,”} By getting rid of the Johnson Amendment which threatens any 501C-3 tax exempt organization with the pulling of their exemption if endorsing a political Party or Candidate.

One thing to note all 501C-3s are affected by this Johnson Amendment of the tax code. That would include Universities, Tea Parties and all sorts of enterprises which are titled non-profit. We will have to wait and see if the secret executive order pertains to all 501C-3s or just the religious ones. The article bellows talks of the “executive order” on religious freedom.

It seems from my experience in 2008 and later in life seeing the political left centered teachings in most universities, who they let come and speak etc. at their University, and the labor unions; the law does what the Framers knew laws did, especially lots of laws.

Selective enforcement of those laws soon becomes the norm and the government bodies trying to enforce those laws soon became politicized. Picking and choosing what laws to enforce and upon which groups.

I am of the general opinion that without the Johnson Amendment religious organizations can talk politics as they see fit. Some will talk one way and others will talk the other, some will be in the middle and some may decide to stick to the Scripture and leave it up the individual their political views. Either way the individual still has the right to go to whatever church they see fit - right left or middle or “no-church”.

We picked freedom back then, we should be able to exercise that freedom again.
Which is as it should be.

Regards, Bob Carr
Live Dangerously, Tell the Truth

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