CAN WE TALK?

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September Pub Theology Discussion

September’s discussion was lively on what are acceptable topics in an ELCA church. Here are some guidelines that have been established. It was interesting to hear the differing opinions on how each of us see the guiding principals.

Church and Politics[1]
Things Churches and Pastors Are Legally ALLOWED to Do

  1. Speak About Political Issues in the Church
    1. It is a misconception that church leaders cannot address political issues—even “hot button” issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and gun control—from the pulpit. Any person or entity that attempts to silence a church leader for addressing these issues is violating that leader’s constitutional rights under the First Amendment. America’s Founders saw religion as a necessary component to a healthy, moral society—not a taboo topic to bar completely from the political realm; neither was political talk to be barred from churches. Sermons on politics, government and controversial issues were common at our nation’s founding, and popular among pastors and churches on varying sides of the political spectrum.
  2. Religious Leaders Can Educate Their Congregation About Politics
    1. Religious leaders are tasked with equipping their congregants in works of service, and that includes representing their faith and morality in the voting booth.
  3. Inviting Political Candidates to Speak at Church is Allowed
    1. Contrary to popular belief, pastors and churches can invite political candidates to address their congregation from the pulpit, as long as all the candidates in a race are included in the invitation. What if only one candidate accepts the invitation and shows up? No problem!

Things Churches are NOT Legally Allowed to do

  1. A Church Entity May Not Endorse One Candidate Over Another
  2. A Church May Not Give its Money to One Candidate Over Another

What does the ELCA State about church and politics?[2]

  1. God’s restless church is called to serve and advocate (speak on behalf of and with those in need) in responding to particular social situations. Such situations are diverse. They include disasters, poverty, various forms of discrimination, social policies, economic arrangements, and more.
  2. Scripture is the normative source in this church’s deliberation. Through the study of Scripture, Christians seek to know what God requires in the Church and the world. Because of the diversity in Scripture, and because of the contemporary world’s distance from the biblical world, it is necessary to scrutinize the texts carefully in their own setting and to interpret them faithfully in the context of today. In their witness to God’s Word, the ecumenical creeds and the Lutheran confessions guide this church’s approach to Scripture, and the Church’s history and traditions instruct it in its deliberation.

The ELCA Constitution (Which is equivalent to our own church constitution)[3]

Chapter 4. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE (The church)

  1. Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless and committing itself to their needs.
  2. Encourage and equip all members to worship, learn, serve, and witness; to fulfill their calling to serve God in the world; and to be stewards of the earth, their lives, and the Gospel.
  3. Seek unity in faith and life with all Lutherans within its boundaries and be ready to enter union negotiations whenever such unity is manifest.
  4. Lift its voice in concord and work in concert with forces for good, to serve humanity, cooperating with church and other groups participating in activities that promote justice, relieve misery, and reconcile the estranged.

[1] https://firstliberty.org/news/pastors-churches-during-election-season/

[2] https://elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Church-in-Society

[3] https://search.elca.org/Pages/Results.aspx?k=ELCA+consitution

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Betsy Linn

Volunteer Steward

Service to others is one of the best ways we can serve our God. By giving of our time, we can participate in helping with many of the tasks needed to create a ministry for our community. I feel blessed to be part of that community.

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