We all know the familiar warning….do not get into Religion or Politics when you are talking to someone you know or don’t know—either way, it is likely to end up in a hostile "discussion" (i.e. shouting match) I think most of us have been in that situation. I remember a long-ago "discussion" between 2 family members and a family friend that got so heated that another family member felt he had to leave the house to get away from it before he got even more upset over what was going on. This was wa-a-a-a-a-y back in the mid-1960′s about the time Barry Goldwater was the candidate for president in the Republican party. Some things never change. It is still happening but it is REALLY happening in the current presidential campaign.
The names, Jeremiah Wright, Father Pfleger, and John Hagge all raise specters of the warning about mixing religions WITH politics. The most recent political/religious brou-ha-ha involves the "sermon" given last Sunday in the Trinity Church in Chicago, formerly pastored by Rev Jeremiah Wright who had his own melt-down over politics and religion and took a "retirement" to extract himself from the highly unfavorable publicity his rhetoric, captured on tape, was doing to candidate Barack Obama. Now, just when Obama needs it least—on the weekend the Democratic mucky-mucks are going to decide who the candidate will be for certain——Father Pfleger appears as a guest speaker at Obama’s church in Chicago and sets off and even bigger firestorm with his rant on White Entitlement and his personal attack on Senator Clinton. I, like millions and millions of other American voters trying to make up their minds about voting in November, have seen those You-Tube tapes played, replayed, ad infinitum for the past 2-3 days. Campaigning in the late 2000′s guarantees that anything you say or anything your supporters say, will be forever in an audio tape/video tape vault for future use. Pretty different from the old days when candidates spoke mostly to audiences in cities and towns and were not recorded. There was no TV camera to record every last thing you said and the gestures and facial expressions when you said it.
I think what bothered me most about the rant of Fr. Pfleger was the reaction of his listeners, some of whom were visible in the background. As he spewed out his vile racism, listeners were seen slapping their knees, laughing uproariously, high-fiving in the choir pews and other shows of unseemly behavior, at least in most churches across the country. Maybe it is a natural reaction of black people to the years of knee slapping humor inflicted on them by white comedians or movies made in the earlier eras of filmdom when they were portrayed as tap dancers or frightened ignoramuses, or other negative roles. I CAN understand such a reaction to that kind of "humor". But it still is unseemly behavior in a church of any persuasion (my opinion).
I have been bothered for many years by Politicians using church pulpits for campaigning. We have seen it for many,many campaigns…..the Candidate takeing the pulpit and using it to "preach" but the preaching is certainly not what preaching and teaching is described as in the Holy Books of religions. These messages are pure politics and it is always surprising to see certain candidates—those who normally trumpet and promote "the separation of church and state" doing exactly what they rail against.
I have this fond hope ( and I know it will not be fulfilled) that the only speaking that comes from pulpits in Christian churches would be the teaching from the Bible’s words….no social issues, no political speeches…..even in this day after so many years of opportunity, there are many in this land who NEED to hear to Gospel taught and then need to appropriate true spiritual change within their hearts. The mission field is just as large in the United States as it is in other nations who are considered to be non-Christian. My views are that of a Christian…not of any other religion. But if any other religious groups….Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu…any world faith….allows its religion to be hijacked for political messages, that is wrong and I wish it could be put to rest once and for all.
I doubt that it will happen,given the polically and religiously charged present campaign for the presidency.