I have been an active member of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., since 1991. My three children attend Whitefield Academy at Highview Baptist Church. That being said, I am very disappointed in the way the Christian community is being divided.
Southeast does not speak for me politically, and it should not attempt to do so. Neither should Highview Baptist Church. I am a person of faith. My beliefs matter a great deal to me. The organizers of so called “Justice Sunday” have clearly declared that anyone opposing their point of view is “anti-Christian,” and I find that deeply offensive.
First and foremost, it should be the goal of every Christian to evangelize the lost. Yet we send people running from the truth of God’s Word by turning the church into a political rally for the Republican Party, thinly disguised as something it clearly is not. Rather than bringing people to Christ, we are chasing them away by attempting to marry religious beliefs with political views, thus offending many whom we need to reach, as well as some of us who do not agree with that political philosophy. C.S. Lewis said, “Satan will get people to reject Christianity because of something it has been fused to.” Jesus was silent politically, and only spoke of the Kingdom of God, never speaking against the injustice of his own trial.
James Dobson has also been a major detriment to the Christian movement by masquerading as someone who promotes family values. His ministry’s name should be changed to Focus on the Republicans, since that is clearly what his ministry is truly about. Kyle Idleman once said in a sermon to be careful what you attach Jesus to. Some believe we baptize in the name of the Father, Son and GOP.
Over 200 of President Bush’s judicial nominees have been confirmed, many of them religious people. To say that the religious vote is being suppressed because of the few who have not been confirmed is an outrage and gives the Christian community a black eye.
It is also misleading to simply say “give them an up or down vote.” Would you still be asking that if you knew the outcome would be different? Many of President Bill Clinton’s nominees were blocked before ever reaching the Senate floor, never given a confirmation hearing by Republicans. And none of the 10 questionable candidates has been blocked on religious grounds, contrary to what is being portrayed.
I have been informed that Southeast is 93 percent Republican. What kind of message are you sending to the other 2,000 members? Since we do not share your political views, are we second-class citizens of Christ?
Rev. Bob Russell once mentioned that the first time Dave Reagan was invited to Southeast, some of the elders had a problem with it, because we had differing views on certain issues. Russell said that maybe we should hear him out, that maybe we were the ones who needed to change. Maybe we could invite Jim Wallis to speak at our church and get a different point of view from a fellow believer in Christ. Or do we stay in our own little universe, reinforcing our own views? It requires a lot of courage to go beyond our comfort zone and engage other Christian views. Why are we not willing to do so?
I pray that we see the error of our ways, and realize that we are doing a great injustice by keeping people from Christ, as well as offending some of us who are your brothers in Christ. This fiasco is not about Democrats and Republicans speaking in a church. It is about a group of Republican Christians who are trying to convince everyone that their political views are the only right ones for Christians to follow. How sad and arrogant.
I would like to close by quoting Kevin Ezell, minister of Highview, in the April 23 Courier- Journal, speaking about Rev. Joe Phelps of Highland Baptist Church: He needs to spend more time reaching people rather than criticizing other churches.
Maybe we need to get the plank out of our own eye before we try to remove the splinter from others’.
Lynn E. Rowland lives in Louisville, Ky. This column, written just after the first Justice Sunday at Highview Baptist Church in April, appeared as an op-ed piece Aug. 12 in the Courier-Journal and is used here with the author’s permission.