Mark Galli responds in Christianity Today to the effort by some pastors to challenge the IRS rules that bar the use of the church for political purposes:
This yearning to tell congregations how to vote arises out of a godly desire to teach how to live daily the Christian life, in political season and out. Politics is nothing if it is not about daily life. Whether it's the place of creationism in the local high-school curriculum, or how many immigrants to welcome into the country, or how much to spend on defense versus welfare — all political decisions affect our Day-Timers or our Form 1040. They influence things like how much our investments earn or what values our children imbibe in the public square.
Pastors are driven by a righteous desire to shape not just church members but also their communities according to biblical standards of justice and mercy.
But these same pastors often hanker to be relevant — and this is nothing but the Devil's third temptation of Jesus. When chatter about candidates and platforms fills the airwaves, when everyone pontificates about the last debate or recent TV appearance, you can seem out of touch with reality or too timid if you don't join in the national conversation and take a public stand. Who wants to go to a church led by an irrelevant coward?
These pastors — and congregations that are egging them on — don't realize that in endorsing political candidates or platforms, they are selling their inheritance for a mess of pottage. Two examples should suffice: the late Jerry Falwell, and the current Jim Wallis — both Christian ministers. When all is said and done, what are they both known for? Falwell was considered a champion of political what most call "the Religious Right", and Wallis is usually identified as a "[politically] liberal evangelical."
Both have said — sincerely, I believe — that their highest priority is serving and proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ. But given the insidious nature of politics (it aims to co-opt everything and everyone into its service), ministers' Christian identity gets swallowed up by their political views. They were ordained to be heralds of the Great King. Instead they end up, like it or not, being seen as marketers for a partisan agenda. What a waste of an ordination.
. . .
Pastors are right about this much: The election season is a unique moment in a church's life, but not because the pastor has the chance to lobby for his candidate. No, the Christian preacher has the unparalleled opportunity to act as the only sane person in a nation mad for power, the only voice in an ephemeral season filled with lies and half-lies to speak abiding truths — that elections (even "the most important in a generation") come and go, that princes (even "the most gifted in a lifetime") appear and pass away, that nations (even "the greatest in history") rise and fall.
And that something greater remains after the first Tuesday in November.
Read it all here.