(Photo: Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship)
As nearly 1,500 pastors nationwide participated in Alliance Defending Freedom's annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday by preaching biblical truth on the positions of electoral candidates, Texas megachurch Pastor Tony Evans says in an interview that politics is a central issue in the Bible.
"The Bible is pregnant with politics," Evans, the African-American pastor of megachurch Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, says in an interview published in World Magazine. "You cannot read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation and go through too many chapters that are not involving politics. So it is not a minor issue or a marginal issue. It is a central issue."
The 63-year-old author of How Should Christians Vote?, published this year, distinguishes between telling the congregation how to vote, versus who to vote for. He suggests making a decision on how to vote is not too complicated.
"Make a sheet of paper with four columns on it. First column, whatever the issue is, second column, what the Democrats say about the issue, third column, what the Republicans say about the issue, fourth column, what God says about the issue. Then you prioritize the issues because everyone's not going to prioritize the same. Then you have a good feel for how you should vote," said Evans, who serves as chaplain to the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.
Voting decision is not so simple either, Evans indicated. "I don't have a problem with people using the Bible, the difference is in how the Bible is being used." This requires understanding of how God operates the world, he underlined. "God operates the world by covenants. Those covenants have specific jurisdictions and responsibilities, not to be infringed upon by another covenant. That's where the redefinition of marriage comes in – God has a family covenant and He has a family definition. So if you don't understand how God operates the world then you make up your rules as you go along and find pretext verses to make you feel good about it."
Evans, who was credited by former President George W. Bush with helping to launch his office of faith-based initiatives, said the most important issue is the right to life. Secondly, it is the family. And then the church, "because as many historians have concluded, a democratic republic can only works in a moral atmosphere. And if people cannot self-govern, you have to engorge civil governance to do the governance for them."
He said he disagreed with President Barack Obama's explanation that his Christian faith supported his new endorsement of same-sex marriage. "It is an illegitimate issue to accept or promote from a Christian standpoint," he said.
The pastor said one could criticize the first African-American president without undermining his historic accomplishment. "Now you're bringing God into the equation while still honoring the uniqueness of [Obama's] accomplishment. I think you can do both, and ought to do both, honorably. "
The pastors involved in the ADF's Pulpit Freedom movement believe they have the right to talk about politics in their sermons. The event on Sunday went against the 1954 "Johnson Amendment" to the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations like churches from endorsing any candidate by name.
"Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS," ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in a statement last week. "It's outrageous for pastors and churches to be threatened or punished by the government for applying biblical teachings to all areas of life, including candidates and elections. The question is, 'Who should decide the content of sermons: pastors or the IRS?'"