I was at a church and after the sermon was done and things were winding down, a guy got up and said that there was a special guest speaker there to speak for three minutes about his (the speaker’s) faith; a sort of personal testimony. The guy doing the introduction noted that the guest was a U.S. Congressman, but of course he would not be making a political speech because the church doesn’t support a particular political view. (For those who aren’t in the know, I’ll note that it’s illegal for a nonprofit organization like a church to promote a particular political view.)
I knew right away this could be nothing but problematic. It seemed obvious to me that a politician asking to speak at a church he doesn’t normally attend, to speak about faith, as we near the time for candidates to throw their hats in the ring, could be nothing but political. It seemed obvious enough, in fact, that the immediate response in my head to the idea was something along the lines of, You gotta be kidding me…
And so, sure enough, the guy got up and talked for about ten minutes, speaking about how much we need God and prayer to inspire us to make the “right” decisions about laws, and about how he goes to room whatever-it-is to pray regularly with others in congress. He made sure he noted how we could search the internet for the names of those who join him in that room, and made sure he explicitly dropped the name of one of them: a person who happens to be a front-runner for the upcoming presidential primaries. He also made sure that he called that person “a good strong Christian,” as if this was the main point he’d make about that candidate no matter what venue he might be speaking in.
Just to cover the most obvious problems with this, for one thing this guy who stood up to talk about the all-importance of God couldn’t talk about God without making God subservient to a political end. He cheapened his view of God and faith, thereby undermining his own message. Number two, this guy talked about God and law and country as being of utmost importance, but apparently he doesn’t value the law enough to obey it for three minutes. Or, number three, this guy who talked about the all-importance of God wasn’t afraid to risk the loss of a hosting church’s legal standing; as long as he bought a couple of votes for himself or his party in the process. Is this a guy you want making laws? Is this the guy you want defending your church? Is this a guy who really cares about God and church above himself or a party or an ideology? I understand that I perceive and analyze things differently than your average conservative church attendee, but as far as I could tell the message of the speech was, What I care about is votes for me and my party, and if I can take advantage of God, a church, your personal faith or your own lack of sophistication in order to do so, then thanks for the opportunity to do that here today.
I’d like to say I was appalled, and I suppose I was, but mostly what I felt wasn’t even emotional. What I felt was more like a breaking of the last strand of thread within me that wanted to believe politicians could rise above themselves, for even just three minutes, in a house of worship. Apparently, they can’t.
I’ll guarantee you two things. Given a chance, I wouldn’t vote for this guy. And, given a chance, I won’t vote for the candidate whose name he inappropriately dropped in church the other day.
I’ve reached my limit for being insulted by people who make their living winning votes. And I’ll have a bit more on this in an upcoming post.