Many on the secular left have for quite a while been complaining, with not inconsiderable justification, of the deepening partnership here in America between fundamentalist Christians and the political right. While I would stop (far) short of characterizing the U.S.A. under the current administration as a “theocracy” as many of my blue-state neighbors might, there is no question that church and state have got awfully cozy lately, a trend that I imagine will be good, in the long run, for neither. From my old friend Jess Kaplan comes an AOL news item about the pastor of an evangelical megachurch who feels the same way, if perhaps for different reasons, and who has quite publicly staked out a contrarian position.
His name is Rev. Gregory Boyd, of the Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood, Minnesota, and his announcement that his church would not offer the explicit support of its pulpit to conservative political causes and candidates cost him, in a single stroke, a fifth of his 5000-member congregation. From the article:
Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.
The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?
After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.
“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”
This is a most welcome, and truly Christian, point of view. Read the story here.