News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2005


Don't fault preacher for church politics

What happened in a small North Carolina church recently is no great surprise. Given the religious/political climate of the day, the Rev. Chan Chandler, pastor of East Waynesville Baptist Church, just sees himself as one foot soldier in a justified movement to stamp out liberalism.

Some church members said the 33-year-old minister was behind the vote last week to take away their membership because they don't support President Bush.

"A week or two before the election he gets up and says we should resign or come to the altar and repent," said Lorene Sutton, who along with her husband, lost her membership.

There are denials, backtracking and lawyer hiring since the congregation asked nine members to leave and 40 others quit in protest. Hopefully, the brouhaha may end quickly and peacefully, and friends and family members will put aside politics and go back to using the church building for worship.

The Rev. Chandler, who called it a misunderstanding, wasn't smooth enough to emulate the silver-tongued preachers in the mega-churches who find fortune in spewing their intolerance across the nation's airwaves daily.

He's a sad victim of their trickle-down theology.

One airwaves minister recently bragged about an in-your-face prayer involving former Vice President Walter Mondale when he was a senator from Minnesota.

The minister said he was asked to pray at a political gathering where Sen. Mondale was to speak at breakfast. He recalled using the name of Jesus in his prayer, which upset a table of Jews at the gathering.

He said he got great satisfaction in offering a Christian prayer while he shared a table with the liberal senator, the son of a Methodist minister.

The congregation gave its laugh of approval.

The message was that Jews are wrong. Liberals are wrong. Everybody is wrong who isn't a right-wing Christian.

The polished minister was careful for his congregation to understand that he was a Republican and that he simply responded to an invitation. He wasn't hobnobbing with the other side, the evil side.

Politics have no place in America's churches. Politics will destroy the holiness of civilization's greatest institution if Americans don't stop this dangerous movement.

Church congregations are allowing their leaders to grow calluses on Christ's greatest commandments. It's difficult to love God with all of one's heart, soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself when ministers persecute non-conforming Christians.

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