The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


July 29, 2008

Thoughts on preaching and politics

Herbert Chilstrom, former ELCA presiding bishop, wrote an opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune titled “Sermons on the stump.” He wrote on his “strong convictions about the pulpit and politics.”

Chilstrom: “Many of us persons of the cloth have learned over the years that it’s important to stick to issues and avoid advocating for specific candidates. There’s a long and solid history of prophecy in every major religion. We look to our clergy to dig deeply into sacred writings and make applications to our contemporary world. In those prophetic writings there runs a strong bias in favor of helping the poor, defending the innocent, resisting war, advocating for peace and justice, denouncing greed and immorality, and much more. Having said that, we also recognize that it’s not only unlawful but also unwise to back a specific candidate from the pulpit.”

And: “We need to trust that devout lay people, who say their prayers, who study their sacred writings, who are steeped in their own commitment to God, and who are sensitive to their own conscience, will make good judgments on important questions, including the candidates they vote for in an election. ...”

I urge you to read the entire article, which one reader called a “thoughtful and thought-provoking piece.” In this election year, what do you think about Chilstrom’s "convictions"?

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