Michael Westmoreland-White recently asked "Should Christians join political parties?" I would like to modify that question and then pose it to my readers: should pastors be members of political parties?
I am a registered Libertarian and until recently, a dues-paying member of the Libertarian Party. But I had already planned, upon my first appointment to a church, to resign from the Party.
Why? Well, when a pastor takes strong and detailed public policy positions, identifying himself in a particular way that others my disagree with, he can become a stumbling block to acceptance of Christian teachings. Faithful Christians in my flock who might identify with the Democratic, Republican, or other parties, might hear of my party affiliation and be offended by it. That sentiment might cause them stop hearing the Gospel message. I was reminded of this possibility when my own blogfather, an atheist and Leftist, delinked me more than a year ago because he found my political views repulsive. I had permitted my politics to stand in the path of Christ. Thereafter I have tried to reduce the political content on my blog. So even though I read Instapundit, Ace of Spades, and LGF more than any other blogs, I rarely write on their same subject matter.
The difficulty in doing so is that one of the roles of the minister is that of prophetic witness. Many pastors have rightly taken strong and loud political positions, as seen during the Abolitionist and Civil Rights movements. By doing so, were they stumbling blocks to people who disagreed with them politically? Did they divide their churches into squabbling over political affairs instead of uniting to serve the Kingdom of God? Maybe so, but sometimes a pastor must stand up for truth.
The hard part is deciding what political battles are critical enough to fight for and worth (1) dividing the church and (2) erecting stumbling blocks for the Gospel. This is a huge gray area, but in my judgment, officially affiliating with a political party is a bridge too far.
What do you think? Should pastors be members of political parties?
I apologize in advance for any offense that I may give to various readers who are political party members, such as Beth Quick, who is a member of the SuperHappy Women's Party, her brother JockeyStreet who is a member of the Scorched Earth Party, Mark Winter, who is a member of the Pansexual Peace Party, Jeff the Baptist, who is a member of the Thermodynamic Law Party, and Gavin Richardson, who is just plain weird.