Religious leaders not at fault for expressing political beliefs


I don’t agree with every single thing my pastor says. That certainly makes for an awkward sermon, of course, but it happens. Every now and then, something will pass my ears that I have a different opinion about.

It’s not enough to make me uproot and go to another church, mainly because I know that I’ll never find a pastor who agrees with everything that I believe, but also because I can very easily listen and get along with people that differ from me. Still, this example is relatively minor, and probably happens to everyone who attends any sort of church.

If this situation happens to you, in order to remain comfortable, there are some things you have to realize.

First — and not many people even have to think about this — you must understand that believing something slightly different than your religious leader does is not the end of the world. Your views probably won’t conflict that often, and if they do, it will be related to something other than your faith.

Second, disagreeing with religious leaders doesn’t make you or them a bad person.

It’s OK to think differently, no matter how much esteem you give to the person with whom you disagree. At best, you just have to let it roll off your back.

I said all of that in order to say this: presidents, senators, pastors, religious leaders — they are all people first, and people have opinions. When some of those people express it, however, they are met with scrutiny and criticism for their message.

The issue here is politics, and how justified, if at all, religious leaders are in spreading their belief in a religious message. While a political sermon certainly seems questionable and out of place, the practice is not necessarily “wrong.”

Asking anybody to be temporarily objective is difficult, and religious leaders can only spread their political beliefs if their audience is willing to listen.

If I had a YouTube channel, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, I could technically use that social mass media to explain and share my political beliefs. Yet, for whatever reason, this seems less morally wrong than using a church for the same thing.

What’s the difference between the two? The obvious answer to that is that a church is not an institution that gathers to discuss, debate or really have anything to do with political affairs. That does not mean, however, that politics don’t show up there.

Many governors, mayors and even presidents, stop by churches to collect votes and express their views. Church leaders themselves will even slip in, or resort to using, a political message or metaphor when preaching or teaching.

The similarity between church and YouTube is that you can decide what is good and what is bad.

I do not mean to say that religious leaders should be allowed to say anything they want under the guise of their religion and force us to tune in and out. Losing professionalism is not an option.

Belief systems are not something to play with, and if a church pastor or leader strays away from their message too much and too often, some may consider going to a different place. What I am saying is that people are people, and people tend to let their personal feelings slide into their jobs. How high or low that person is on the social or notable scale shouldn’t change how that is seen.

In every situation there exists exceptions, extreme circumstances or coincidences that lean toward one side of an argument or the other. Those certainly exist in this situation. When it comes down to it, though, religious leaders aren’t at a fault for expressing their political beliefs.

We can’t blame a person for expressing their beliefs. We can just choose to believe them, or not.

Darrington Clark is a freshman in journalism and mass communications. Please send all comments to