Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Pulpit Initiative and Matthew 25 Network: what's the difference?

FotF's response (see post below) included this little zinger at the end:

"On a final note, organizational endorsements of political candidates wed groups to their candidate in a way that may not lend itself to an honest critique of that individual’s weaknesses. As you’re likely aware, the group behind the Matthew 25 Web site endorsed Senator Obama for president."

Ah, the partisan charge. I've used my brain to make my best judgment about needful action (and come out differently than you) and so clearly my prejudices have precluded the possibility of "honest critique." I suppose the FotF endorsement of McCain is different.

But the issue raised--despite the obvious though amazingly unacknowledged hypocrisy--actually bears scrutiny, if you're talking about the religion and politics question, and when/how/how much a religious organization can get involved in the political process. Can a religious organization endorse a candidate, or is that going too far? Can a church--congregation or denomination--endorse a candidate? Can a preacher endorse a candidate with a yard sign? Can a preacher endorse a candidate from the pulpit?

Specifically, what's the difference between "The Pulpit Initiative" and the Matthew 25 Network? (I mean, apart from the obvious ideological one.) Does it make a significant difference that one is an organized effort to mobilize through congregations, using the pulpit on Sunday morning to endorse a candidate for political office, while the other is organized as a PAC (political action group), with an explicit appeal to religious, even biblical, reasoning for its endorsement of a candidate?

There is too much on my plate today, the day before I fly out for Chicago to present my AAR paper, to follow through on this as I'd like to. Beyond trying desperately to identify some professional-ish clothing that I can stuff my oversized butt into (a problem), planning for my weekend absence to make things as easy as possible for Brent and Clare, there's looking over that paper I'm presenting that I haven't thought about for the last 3 weeks. So I'll just have to leave it at the questions. You tell me: what's the difference?


Darren K. said...

That looks a lot like the letter they sent me. And I thought I was special.

JTB said...

I know...but hey: at least there are enough of us complaining that they crafted a long, polite response to send to all of us automatically so they could then ignore us.