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« FCC Broadcast Flag Struck Down The RantsLaws Against "Living in Sin" are Still Really Stupid »

Jesus, Republicans, Dubya: What's the Difference?
2005.05.08 (Sun) 14:42

Okay, stop us if you've heard this one. A North Carolina Baptist Pastor, a bunch of Republicans, and a handful of Democrats walk into a church. At the end of the meeting, the Democrats are escorted out by the Pastor for the egregious crime of, well, being Democrats. From an AP News story:

Some in Pastor Chan Chandler's flock wish he had a little less zeal for the GOP. Members of the small East Waynesville Baptist Church say Chandler led an effort to kick out congregants who didn't support President Bush. Nine members were voted out at a Monday church meeting in this mountain town, about 120 miles west of Charlotte.

Why is this news shocking to anyone? What the hell do you expect when you hold a national propaganda meeting that includes the Senate Majority Leader saying that Democrats are against God? To us, this is just the logical extension of that kind of ludicrous preaching, and we'll likely see more of it.

Does this church have a right to pick and choose its members based on personal beliefs? Sure, that's pretty much the definition of a church. If they had to let in everyone, then what are they there for? Should their tax exempt status be taken away? Well, according to the silly laws we have in the United States, religious organizations are tax exempt as long as they stay within certain bounds. One of those bounds is that they cannot endorse a political candidate. Let's check the record to see how the good Reverend Chandler measures up.

According to an AP story on ABC News:

During the presidential election last year, Chandler told the congregation that anyone who planned to vote for Democratic Sen. John Kerry should either leave the church or repent, said former member Lorene Sutton.

From another AP story on WWAY:

Members of the congregation say Chandler told them during last year's presidential campaign that anyone who planned to vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry needed to leave the church.

From the Asheville Citizen-Times and reprinted in the Common Dreams Newscenter:

Chan Chandler, pastor of East Waynesville Baptist, had been exhorting his congregation since October to support his political views or leave, said Selma Morris, a 30-year member of the church.

"He preached a sermon on abortion and homosexuality, then said if anyone there was planning on voting for John Kerry, they should leave," she said.

And from WBIR in Knoxville:

The church's treasurer says, "It's all over politics."

She says pastor Chan Chandler told the congregation in October and again last Sunday that people who didn't support President Bush should leave the church.

But, according to this same WBIR story, this is the pastor's position:

The pastor has told the TV station his actions were not politically motivated.

Wait...what? That's about as blatant a lie as we can imagine. Of course his actions were politically motivated. What the hell else could have been motivating him?

Now, if this guy had asked those who believe in abortion or gay marriage to leave the church, that would have been fine. We disagree with his stances, but that's one reason (of many) that we aren't members of a church such as his. However, that's not what he did. He said that those who were voting for John Kerry had to either repent, or leave. That's clearly political. We will guarantee that there are people in this country that voted for John Kerry who do not support abortion or gay marriage, but the reverend chose to ignore that logic and make his statement a political one.

So yes, this church's tax exempt status should be stripped away. But will it? We seriously doubt it. The question of "should" this church lose its tax exempt status will likely have a very different answer from the question of "will" they lose it, if other recent and widespread accounts mean anything. As the Asheville Citizen-Times article notes:

Pastor Robert Prince III of First Baptist Church of Waynesville said he was appalled to hear about the claims but noticed a lot of Southern Baptist ministers endorsing President Bush in November’s election.

"One rule has been to speak to issues but not to endorse particular candidates," he said. "It’s a disturbing development that Baptist pastors are crossing this line and are endorsing specific candidates."

To us, this whole event is just one more example of a curious phenomenon in which being a "Good Christian" is directly equated with voting Republican and supporting Bush. Somehow, somewhere along the line, all of these things were rolled into one in the minds of many evangelical voters.

Want another example? When John Bolton's United Nations nomination was challenged by Republican Senator Voinovich, the Traditional Values Coalition asked its followers to support Bolton. Why the hell would a group that is supposedly founded on "traditional values" bother to give such attention to a U.N. appointment that has nothing to do with any issues of faith? Answer: because to them, it's all the same. Oppose Bush and you are opposing God. It's that simple. Pretty fucked up, huh?

Perhaps something positive will come of the Reverend Chandler's clearly political moves. Perhaps the more rational people in these evangelical churches will start to take notice that some of their leaders have taken leave of their senses. Perhaps they will start to fight this problem from within. Perhaps. We can only hope.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Government & Politics  % Religion  ]

Comments (2)

jay denari, 2006.10.15 (Sun) 17:59 [Link] »

maybe they can be given a choice: throw out their minister or lose their tax exempt status.

can someone tell me how these people are any different from hezbollah, other than wielding a cross?

The Two Percent Company, 2006.10.17 (Tue) 13:00 [Link] »

Setting aside the fact that churches shouldn't hold any tax exempt status in the first place, this church should certainly lose its preferential status in the wake of these blatant abuses. Of course, the real answer is to strip churches of their undeserving tax exempt status, and then they can say whatever the hell they want to say.

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