Thursday, April 27, 2006

Politics and preachers a precarious mix

Mary Mitchell's latest column talks about minister and politics. She uses James Meeks and Bobby Rush as examples. Respectively one is a state Senator and the other is a US Congressman. Instead of rehashing the whole column I'm just going to link to another post where there is some discussion on the issue at hand over at Capitol Fax Blog.

Now my POV on this issue is that I'm not comfortable with it. Indeed should a minister decide to run for an elected office it should be an issue how he'll juggle his responsibilities to his constituents and his congregation. Nothing should preclude a minister from running for office. Indeed as the case could be they're doing this because no one else is willing or able to step up to the plate for their communities.


Thomas Westgard said...

I see the point that religious leaders face new challenges in retaining their principles when they make the jump to being an elected official. But I don't really see it as different from anyone else.

People making the crossover from being business operators to elected officials face essentially the same challenges, although it's less obvious in the current political climate. Recent political rhetoric has been that government should be run like a business. Yet government is not a business, and where it's different, it should be run like a good government.

Consider the company that Rep. Rush has essentially accepted bribes from, AT&T/SBC. They justify their desire to increase revenues as the just reward for their "private" investment installing the wires for networks. Yet they could only do that by using the governmental power of eminent domain to acquire the land to run them on. If government were run like a business, we would have gotten WAY more money out of AT&T over the years. Instead, they got their easements at bargain prices. Government rates, not the highest possible return. The airwaves belong to the people, and yet we have never charged any rent for the use of them. That's definitely not good business, but it might be good government. (Or not...)

Anyway, there are business people who continue to operate their businesses in an ethical manner, while holding public office in a responsible manner. I see no reason why pastor/politicians need be any different. The standards are different in each role, but it can be done. Pastor/Politician Bobby Rush isn't doing any worse balancing church and politics than CEO/Politician Dick Cheney is balancing Halliburton and America. Rush just isn't doing any better. For all their different backgrounds, the integrity of each is for sale to the highest bidder. Neither man had to stoop as low as they have.

It's the individual, not the circumstances. That's an observation a pastor should be able to wrap his mind and soul around pretty easily.

cynthia said...

Preachers need to stay out of politics.

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