Seventh Day Adventist Church Head Tells Pastors Not to Preach Politics From Pulpit

File photo.
File photo. | (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons)

The president of the general conference for the Seventh Day Adventist Church has expressed his opposition to clergy preaching politics from the pulpit.

President Ted N.C. Wilson said in a sermon before a large gathering of Adventists in Kampala, Uganda that pastors should not engage in church politicking.

"It is against our code of ethics as SDA to stand on the pulpit and start to campaign for someone," said Wilson, as reported by the Ugandan news publication the Daily Monitor on Sunday.

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"Telling them to vote for this one or the other, support this policy or the other. Our work is to preach to the people and show them the right way to heaven and not involve ourselves in politics."

Members of the Seventh Day Adventist church.
Members of the Seventh Day Adventist church. | (Photo: Facebook/Seventh-day Adventist Church)

During his visit to the East African nation, Wilson also commended Uganda for not caving into western cultural norms regarding the family unit.

"Family is the cornerstone of society. Western culture has tarnished the whole meaning of family," added Wilson.

"But here in Africa God has given you a sacred belief in family. Do not accept the foreign culture to influence you on the idea of marriage. Do not be violent and continue to love each other."

Wilson is not the only Christian leader to be critical of church politicking. A 2017 National Association of Evangelicals survey claimed that about 90 percent of evangelical leaders oppose clergy endorsing politicians from the pulpit, though the survey was a non-representative sample. 

"Most pastors I know don't want to endorse politicians. They want to focus on teaching the Bible," stated NAE President Leith Anderson last year.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has also been critical of pulpit endorsements, both under former president Richard Land, who is The Christian Post's executive editor, and current president Russell Moore.

In a 2013 interview with The Baptist Press, Moore explained that while he personally opposed church politicking, he did not believe it should be illegal.

"While I don't think a church normally should endorse candidates for office from the pulpit, that's only because I believe the mission of the church ought to stand prophetically distant from political horsetrading," stated Moore at the time. 

"A congregation should decide when to speak and what to say. Such decisions shouldn't be dictated by bureaucrats at the IRS or anywhere else."

Wilson's comments come as debate continues in the United States over the Johnson Amendment, a provision in the tax code that prohibits churches from endorsing political candidates.

During the 2016 election cycle, then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to repeal the Johnson Amendment.

"I think maybe that will be my greatest contribution to Christianity — and other religions — is to allow you, when you talk religious liberty, to go and speak openly, and if you like somebody or want somebody to represent you, you should have the right to do it," stated Trump at a June 2016 gathering of about 900 evangelical leaders and pastors.

After becoming president, Trump signed an executive order in May on the National Day of Prayer that called for Congress to end the Johnson Amendment.

Last December, the Senate's parliamentarian struck language from the federal tax overhaul bill that would have overturned the Amendment, noting that the repeal provision did not have a budgetary effect and thus violated the rules put in place to prevent a filibuster.

Conservative groups like the Family Research Council denounced the removal of the language, but maintained that "the days of the Johnson Amendment are numbered."

"Thanks to President Trump, this will be an election issue from this day forward," stated FRC last year. "As for FRC, we'll continue the work we began with Pulpit Freedom initiatives until we've legislatively corrected this problem or found a remedy in court."

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