Wisdom from Pat Robertson (try again)

October 5, 2011

Politics

Note: This is a re-write of a previous article, which was loaded with typographical errors.  The errors were removed (I hope), and I couldn’t help but throw in some new thoughts. 

The one-time presidential candidate and host of the 700 Club has glimpsed the light that Martin Luther King and Billy Graham once saw: Endorsing political candidates inflates a Church leader’s ego but diminishes his or her influence. We rob ourselves of objectivity. We fall prey to manipulation. We no longer play a prophetic role and we treat the symptom instead of the disease.  He told the Associated Press:  “I’ve personally backed off from direct political involvement.  I’ve been there, done that. The truth of the matter is politics is not going to change our world. It’s really not going to make that much of a difference.”

We can quibble, of course.  The likes of Lincoln, both Roosevelts, and Churchill reveal the value of politics and prods us toward a thoughtful public theology.  But don’t miss Robertson’s salience: Spiritual ills spur our political fevers. Changing the fever does not halt the disease.  Robertson has seen that — a bit late, but better late than never. Candidates need not apply for his anointing in 2012 because he’s anointing no one.

Thank you, Mr. Robertson.  Really.  No kidding.

Some writers have given us litanies of Robertson’s past controversial statements and wonder if he’ll add more in the future. That is not necessary here. I’m just thankful that he’s demonstrating a capacity to learn.  And I wonder: Will liberals actually be “liberal” (the term is synonymous with “generous”)?  Will they show magnanimity for an 81-year-old man who can turn a page?  Or will they keep growling their vicious growls in Huffington Post comments?  Will they assail his motives?  Will they, for the umpteenth time, display their uniquely illiberal liberalism and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

Time will tell.

Go here for more.

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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is an ordained clergyman specializing in healing and conflict transformation. He lives with his wife and son in Connecticut.

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4 Comments on “Wisdom from Pat Robertson (try again)”

  1. Andrew Gerns Says:

    An equally salient question (which you touch on) is whether the so-called “Religious Right” will get that the reduction of religion to interest-group politics is bad for both religion and for society. Maybe the candidates won’t troop to Pat Robertson for anointing, but they still troop to Liberty University and organize stadium sized political rallies at prayer. I think you are right, that it is good that Robertson has repented. The question is whether the movement he helped start will listen.

    Andrew Gerns

    Reply

  2. Charles Redfern Says:

    Andrew: Indeed, and what you call for is happening: The religious right is beginning to vanish — albeit with screams (which is predictable). Notice the signatures that are not on the various petitions from the Religious Right: Leith Anderson (head of the National Association of Evangelicals — and advocate of environmental stewardship and removal of the death penalty), Rick Warren, Bill Hybels — and many others. Notice also that Focus on the Family asked James Dobson to leave a few years ago, and its current president does not want anyone to know for whom he votes. The Religious Right is beginning to collapse and true evangelical Protestantism is beginning to emerge.

    Reply

  3. Dr. Mark G. McKim Says:

    I agree completely – clergy should never or almost never endorse candidates or parties. Almost without exception, a clergyperson who does so loses the freedom of the pulpit. A pastor can and should prophetically address specific, contemporary issues from a Christian perspective and urge congregants to consider their votes in light of those issues – but then trust that his/her people have been well enough taught and spiritually formed that they will act accordingly. Endorsing a particular candidate or party publically means that the next time the pastor speaks to an issue from the pulpit he or she will very likely be perceived more as a political partisan than a theologian.

    Reply

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