On Monday, I read an article on MPR’s website about your endorsement of Michele Bachmann. I have to admit that in learning such I was quite disappointed. My disappointment does not lay in the fact that I do not agree with many of Ms. Bachmann’s positions or politics yet it lies in the fact that you support those positions, and as a pastor of a mega-church influencing thousands of people, I take great issue with that.
As a man of God, I believe that you not only have great authority to influence and persuade, but you also have a greater responsibility – adhering to and upholding the Word of God. It is your first and foremost duty to preach this Word, to democrat and republican alike, and to make sure that in doing so you do not lead any one astray.
In reading this Word, the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, I find an underlying theme of God’s love for humanity. We severely messed up and broke his commandments, (which you know, I am sure) all which separated us eternally from His presence. Yet in His infinite, unconditional love and mercy, He won us back to himself through the shedding of His blood. The only thing He asks us to do in response, is to love Him, to trust Him, to pledge our lives to Him, in exchange for everlasting life.
Yet, that love is not only unto ourselves, but for others as well. In this individualistic culture that we live in, we often forget that the Gospel is not just for us alone but for an entire world lost and dying all around us. How do we bring this world in? It is clear to me that we bring them in by our love, our love for one another yes, but also our love for our neighbor near and far.
With his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus illustrated that our neighbor is often unlike us. They may be from a different culture or ethnicity, a different sex, a different race, a different class, even a different orientation. No matter to God, he calls us to love each and every one the same. We love not with our words, but with our deeds – clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, visiting those who are in prison, showing mercy to the immigrants among us, caring for the fatherless. So serious is Jesus about this that He goes as far to say in Matthew 25 that those who do not do these things – acts of mercy and acts of justice – have nothing to do with him. So serious is Jesus about this that He actually tells those who perpetrate, either by participation or consent, to depart from Him.
To be honest, I have often had a hard time with this passage and even this teaching. It challenged my comforts and my desire to protect me and mine, and mind my own business. But one day, God shook my world (I am glad) and I could longer dismiss this teaching so central to Jesus’ teaching. Some years ago, I took a trip to Rwanda that tipped my whole world upside down as I saw acts of genocide that had been perpetrated by Christians in Rwanda. They failed to see the connection between the faith that God called them to live, and their actions, horrible actions against their own brothers and sisters. I believe that such was not only a problem with Christians in Rwanda, but it is a problem with Christians in America too. We fail to see the connection between our faith in Jesus Christ, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. And it is not only costing us lives, the lives of mothers and their children who go to bed hungry every night because unemployment has stricken their community so high or because of the disparities they face as a result of their race, but on a spiritual level it is costing us souls, souls that Jesus will hold us accountable for. Remember it was He who said that the only way people would believe is through our love?
So what does all this mean and have to do with your support for Ms. Bachmann? Throughout her campaigning, not once have I heard her address some of these issues so paramount to the faith that she expresses. In fact, I have heard her suggest that many programs and agencies that help and protect those that are most vulnerable in our country need to be abolished, like the Environmental Protection Agency. Ms. Bachmann has said times without number that the EPA is the job-killing agency of America and that she would close its doors if elected to office. But this poses a problem for not only me, but more specifically to many poor and disenfranchised communities around this nation. Many of these communities have histories of arsenic, lead, and other pollutants that adversely affect their health as a result of power plants and other things placed into their communities. Without the EPA, who would be responsible for moving these toxins, making sure that families have a safe, viable environment for their children? On another report for MPR some months ago, I heard a book review on Tomatoland about the tomato harvesting culture in Florida. In hearing I learned that many of the fields in Florida spray their fields with one of the most deadliest pesticides according to the EPA. Yet people are forced to work these fields against their will, fearing that they have no other option. And do you know who those people are? The poor, the vulnerable, the immigrant. So while Ms. Bachmann would rather save jobs, she is willing to lose a few people, the lowliest, the disenfranchised, the people who cannot take to have any other forms of injustice thrown their way.
There are many, many more examples, all of which I cannot name here because this letter is already getting quite long. However, I implore you, based on the faith in Christ that we share, to recant your endorsement. The kingdom of God cannot afford this, the souls who are perishing as a result of injustice cannot afford this. Granted, I believe that politics is not something that should be preached from the pulpit, but that is a different argument for a different day.
Author of Dancing on Hot Coals. Available on Amazon for $2.99 and Barnesandnoble.com
3 thoughts on “Dear Pastor Hammond”
While I find the theological preamble to your blog post interesting, the connection you draw to Michelle Bachman’s policies are flimsy at best. In addition you say “My disappointment does not lay in the fact that I do not agree with many of Ms. Bachmann’s positions or politics,” however the rest of post makes one think otherwise.
You argue that eliminating the EPA would hurt the vulnerable and discuss how the poor and illegal would be subject to unsafe conditions including “toxic tomato fields.”
You forget however that since most regulatory bodies have a negative impact on the economy (any legitimate economist would agree) that eliminating the EPA could potentially allow companies to hire more people, providing them income to provide a better life for their family. Not to say eliminating the EPA is right or wrong, but you only consider one very leftist argument and assume that everyone would agree with you and if they do want to eliminate the EPA it’s because they don’t care about the poor. One could more logically argue that anyone who doesn’t want to to eliminate the EPA doens’t care about the unemployed.
If you’re going to say eliminating the EPA shows not caring about the poor and Pastor Hammond was wrong to endorse Bachman for that (and as you say, among other) reason, surely you would rebuke any pastor who endorses Obama since he is pro-choice (who’s more vulnerable than the unborn?). Exodus 21: 22-23 discusses penalty for killing an unborn child. God also tells us he knew us before we were born.
As a pastor with great influence, I might say you have a responsibility to convey to your following who would be best to follow the words of Christ. If Hammonds thinks Bachman is that candidate, I say fair enough.
To me, Rick Santorum is the obvious choice for Christian conservatives.
I wrote out an even more in depth comment, but then it didn’t work when I clicked post, so this one is admittedly weaker. Also, I just followed your blog, hope you’ll reciprocate… http://www.RyanKantor.com
Thank you for your feedback regarding this post! Where do I begin to respond without writing another book…
I read this article today that debunked the myth of regulatory spending hurting the economy – http://www.epi.org/publication/regulatory-uncertainty-phony-explanation/. While you may claim that my point of view is leftist, your rebuttal is considered rightist (if that’s a word, if not, I think you know what I mean). Regardless, in my opinion, regulatory bodies such as the EPA are needed to put rules and regulations in place to create order, because let’s be honest, without it, we would do whatever, to whomever, without considering the repercussions, repercussions which typically impact the poor and vulnerable in our society which this country has a history of ignoring and throwing away.
Although I do not believe that regulatory bodies are stealing jobs from the economy, if by chance they are, I consider the lives that are being protected as a result of those bodies more important and more valuable. You refer to my mention of the toxic tomato fields in Florida, fields which have killed many, including the unborn. The author of the book, his name escapes me, reported that three women were pregnant at the same time, and all three of their babies were born with serious deformities, at least one of which who died as a result of it. You have to understand that if it was not for agencies like the EPA, more of this would take place which causes me to ask what good is a job if myself or my family wont be around or capable to enjoy it.
Re: your comment – you have a responsibility to convey to your following who would be best to follow the words of Christ. The thing is, I do not think that any president past or present, or current presidential candidate fits this description. Each one has their own vested political interests which have nothing to do with who Christ is. Each one plays to the large Evangelical/ Christian base for the votes because they represent a large segment of the population, and to be honest, in my opinion that is the only reason that they do. For this reason, for me, it is not about the Christian choice for conservatives or democrats, because they all fall short.
This is why I struggle with Pastor Hammond’s endorsement of Ms. Bachmann. He endorses her (something which I do not think is right in the first place) on the basis of her Christian faith, even though she neglects huge portions of the Word which are central to that faith. If he endorsed her because he agreed with her politics or foreign diplomacy agenda, that would be a different story, but he does not. He expressly says that it is because she is a Christian sister, and needs the support.
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