Citizen Pastor - response to Iowa caucus?

A good friend of mine who is a pastor in Iowa recently blogged about the tension she feels as a person and a pastor in regards to her attendance at a caucus.  I appreciate what she wrote, so I want to share a link to this post: "Confession of Repentant - Iowa Caucus"

Here is my response to what she wrote:

"I'm glad you wrote about this.  I was wondering the same question this morning.  I know how Iowans feel about pastors expressing themselves politically - more than one pastor has lost his/her job as a result.  I understand and respect the boundaries of the pastoral role, but I too wondered how this works itself out in a caucus situation.  If you attend the Republican caucus, no one may know how you voted, but they know that you attended the Republican caucus.  If you attend the Democrat caucus, everyone who also attends knows exactly how you vote.  I thought about the importance of attending to show the value of participating in this US American privilege, but then how I might have to refrain from vocalizing my opinion because of the weighted influence it may have. That would be difficult, because in those type of settings I like to express myself. But, I think that may be the responsible way to at first balance out the tension of citizen pastor. To attend and vote, but to not vocally applause a candidate. 

I understand why you stayed home and your silence spoke its own message. Thanks."

Yesterday's caucus was of particular interest to me because I feel personally connected to one of the candidates. I'm sure if I wanted to I could have emailed all of my family and friends in Iowa and encouraged them to vote for this candidate.  Based upon the results yesterday, my emails may have actually changed the result!  But that wouldn't have been an appropriate use of the influence I have among those I care for in Iowa.  I am a pastor, not a politician.  And I know from the way I was scrutinized during my ordination candidacy interviews about my work doing ministry among congressional staff that pastor and politics don't mix well in this Midwestern state. 

But then I realize that I am part of a denomination that is very political in how it interacts with itself.  We love controversy and we love diversity of thought!  Academic debate is our natural language.  In some parts of the country we are known for being very politically engaged!  Our General Minister and President is an adviser to our nation's President. (Do you know what denomination I am talking about now?)  And so I live in a place of even greater tension.  I am an Iowa native with Iowa political values, yet I have lived and done ministry in our nation's capital and have been impacted by the relationships formed there.  I first attended a denominational seminary where a lot of political discussion was taking place and "public church" is a core subject matter to be discussed and studied.  And then I transferred to a seminary that is known for its political stances.  I am an Independent politically which oddly gives me some release from the tension, because it gives me permission to create my own smorgasbord of values & beliefs.  I get frustrated with the way that candidates flaunt Jesus' name in order to gain votes, and yet I want them to make decisions which reflect an awareness of the Kingdom of God.  And as a youth I dreamed of following Billy Graham's footsteps, the fruitful evangelist who had a quiet influence on politics as the President's pastor. 

Yes a citizen pastor I am!


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