I Love My Pastor

My church provides the option of signing up for a weekly email from our pastor.  Those emails are about various thoughts that runs across his mind and can be quite random; however, they are usually insightful, fruit bearing, and entertaining.  Truth be told, I don’t read a lot of them, but today I was skimming over some old ones.  I found one that he sent out in late February that addressed the presidential race. 

Normally I cringe at the thought of discussing church and politics, and I guess that’s because as a Democrat that use to attend Southern Baptist Convention churches for over a decade, I’ve seen some questionable and uncomfortable Religious Right propaganda (in my opinion) over the years from church leadership and have been told on numerous occasions that one cannot be a Democrat and a Christian.  Some of you may agree with that last statement, but I differ in opinion, and that’s one of several reasons I label myself a recovering Baptist.  I mention this only to give you a little perspective regarding my background and why I was concerned about reading my pastor’s email, and don’t worry, I still have much love and affection for my Baptist friends.   My first thought on my pastor’s email was that it was going to be a message on why one must vote Republican as a Christian.  As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about and was once again left feeling proud of my pastor and thankful my church has such a leader of integrity.  I’m sharing his thoughts because I think this is the best way to decide who should get your vote.

My Dear Friends,

I was eating today with some IBC staff members and someone piped up, “So what does everybody think about Obama, Hillary, and McCain?” Ah yes, primary season in a presidential election year in Texas! I imagine we’re not the only ones discussing politics over hummus and gyro’s (we were at a Greek place for lunch) these days, and if you’re like us, there’s no shortage of opinions or passion in the conversation.

All of this brings up a great question which many, especially first time voters (like my college freshman son), are asking: how do I figure out who gets my vote?

For what it’s worth, let me give you my personal method. I vote for whomever has the best celebrity endorsement.

Like Hillary, my goodness, she has Barbara Streisand in her corner. It was Babs that sang “The Way We Were” when Alice and I were falling in love in high school. If she’s for Hillary, how can I not be?

And yet, Obama has Oprah Winfrey singing his praises. Oprah, she of the free car giveaway’s, The Color Purple, and discoverer of Dr. Phil. If Oprah says Obama, I reply “You’re momma!” and back Barak.

But then, Mike Huckaby has Chuck Norris stumping with him. Chuck Norris is a good guy. I’ve met him. But he’s also a martial arts expert who might just kick my kiester if I don’t throw in with the former Ark Gov. So AMEN brother and let’s be like Mike!

Trouble is, John McCain has Sylvester Stallone endorsing him. I’ve also met Sly and, like Chuck, he’s a good guy but I’m afraid he might go Rambo on me if I don’t back the Straight Talk Express.

So many good reasons to vote for so many different candidates! What is a body to do?!
NO, I’m JUST KIDDING! (I hope you read far enough to read that; the half of you that didn’t will no doubt be leaving IBC, sadly shaking your heads).

Here’s a better way to decide your vote (Jonny are ya listening?). . .

1. Understand the major issues at stake in the race. Stuff like the War in Iraq, health care, immigration, taxes and the economy, Supreme Court appointments is all big. . .

2. Come to grips on where you stand with regard to these issues according to your political philosophy. Skip step 3 if you have one (way to go!). . .

3. If you haven’t developed your political philosophy based on fundamental convictions about the nature and workings of people, society, government, etc., then stop now and do that. Please don’t vote ignorantly according to liver quivers or beauty contests! You’ll need to settle questions for yourself like: what should government’s role be in our lives? What is my view of capitalism, socialism, fascism, and communism? Where do I stand on the perfectibility or fallenness of mankind, personal responsibility versus government largesse, the redistribution of wealth, individual liberty, the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights? By all means, let your faith in God and your understanding of the truths of Scripture inform your thinking. There’s more, but that’s a start.

4. Become informed about the candidate’s positions on the issues from #2 above. (I’d suggest you check out www.ivoteinformed.com. It has the websites of all the major candidates where you can read their positions on everything from boxers vs. briefs to Al Qaeda, except Hillary on that first one…)

5. Match your informed view of the issues to the candidate who most closely tracks with what you believe. That’s your horse. Place your bet! (But if you’re still undecided, see next…)

6. No one candidate will perfectly reflect your opinions on all issues (unless you’re the candidate, in which case, I hope he/she does or else you’re possibly schizophrenic) and you may be torn between a couple of them. Now you must prioritize and make your final choice based on who best reflects your views on the issues you deem most important. The harsh reality is that sometimes you may feel like you’re choosing the better of two evils. But go ahead and do it. The better of two evils may still seem evil, but it could have been worse if you didn’t vote, right?

7. Be sure you’re registered to vote (see above website if not), show up at the polling place on election day (this is one of the GREATEST RIGHTS you enjoy as a citizen of these United States of America–shame on you if you neglect to exercise it), and VOTE (leave no hanging chads, please).

All the best to Babs, Oprah, Chuck and Sly–and thanks for helping us vote!

Neither an elephant or a donkey,
Pastor Andy

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