Equal Opportunity Idolatry?

I’m interrupting my normal “Top Five Tuesday” routine — and I love my routines — because an article in Monday’s Charlotte Observer revealed that this past Sunday (October 28) was one of the saddest days for the church in this area in a long, long time.

I don’t know if Jesus wept reading it, but I did.

The piece told of two different worship services in two different churches located just minutes from each other in center city Charlotte.

In the first, held at predominantly African-American St. Paul Baptist Church, pastor Greg Moss initially invited his congregation to join him for a caravan that would commence immediately after the service ended.  The destination?  An uptown polling place. 

After that, Rev. Moss let the people know who would be getting his vote that day, as he unbuttoned his jacket to reveal a T-shirt underneath with the initials OMGObama’s My Guy.

Two miles away, mostly white First Baptist Church also offered Sunday afternoon transportation to area polling places. 

And while its pastor, Mark Harris, did not wear a T-shirt indicating who has his vote, the church’s lobby was full of voter guides encouraging believers to make their electoral choices based on a candidate’s values on a slew of issues ranging from abortion to federal debt to same-sex marriage.  All the recommended values & positions on the voter guide are those held by Mitt Romney.

In other words, what First Baptist thinly veils, St. Paul Baptist fully reveals: God is on the side of our candidate.

You can read the article here.

What to make of Sunday’s happenings in Charlotte?  Some thoughts:

  • Having a church support a political or governmental authority would have been a completely alien concept to our New Testament ancestors.  The Caesars in charge wanted to kill them, not solicit their endorsement, and in turn their message of Jesus’ kingdom was fully subversive to the powers-that-be.
  • Church history since that time shows us that whenever the church enters into an alliance with a politician or governmental power, the power advances and the church retreats.  Ask the Russian Orthodox hierarchy how their complicity with the Czars turned out.
  • The Religious Right has long been justifiably criticized for being too closely aligned with the Republican Party.  In fact, many people who are otherwise evangelical in their theology — like me — have often lamented the national perception that bible believing Christians vote Straight Party “R.”  Well, turnabout must be fair play.  The Religious Left in general and many African-American churches in particular are just as guilty of an unholy alliance with the Democrats.  It’s time they receive the same amount of criticism.
  • In our setting at Good Shepherd — blessedly made up of Anglos, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians,  and continental Africans — we’re doing our best to live by the words of Philippians 3:21:  our citizenship is in heaven.  Which around here means the government may have your cooperation but it can never have your citizenshipWe keep politicians and governments at arm’s length because our identity comes from our Savior, not our State; from the Cross and not from our candidate; from the resurrection and not from our race.

Because what really happened with all the T-shirt wearing, caravan organizing and flyer distributing in Charlotte on Sunday was this: 

Two different churches got wrapped up in two different candidates and one common Savior got forgotten.