In Handling Political Issues, Baptist Pastors Say They Strive to Proclaim Scripture Instead of Promote Controversy

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas (center) participates in the panel "Pastors and the Church in American Politics Today" during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis on Wednesday, June 15. Photo by Bill Bangham
Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas (center) participates in the panel “Pastors and the Church in American Politics Today” during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis on Wednesday, June 15.
Photo by Bill Bangham

Proclaiming Scripture instead of promoting controversy is their approach when addressing political issues, pastors said during a June 15 panel discussion at the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention.


Five Southern Baptist pastors explained to Ronnie Floyd, now former SBC president, during the afternoon session how they handle political issues in their churches. The panel discussion — titled “Pastors and the Church in American Politics Today” and moderated by Floyd — came during a tumultuous election season that has found many Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians dismayed at their presidential options from the major parties.

“I do not try to be controversial; I want to be biblical,” said A.B. Vines, senior pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif., and a past president of the National African American Fellowship (NAAF) of the SBC.

“I want to give them the Word of God,” Vines said, adding he teaches the people of New Seasons Church “to trust God in these moments.”

David McKinley, pastor/teacher of Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga., echoed Vines, saying, “I don’t want to add to the controversy. I want to help people to think biblically.”

He seeks to teach “that every one of us — Republican, Democrat, whoever we are — are to come under the authority of Scripture. And I think if we preach that and teach that, we will be an equal opportunity offender in what we do.”

Hance Dilbeck, senior pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, said he hears “a lot of disappointment” from church members with their choices for president.

“It’s almost like an expression of grief,” he said. “I can see all the five stages, you know, anger and denial and bargaining and depression and acceptance.

“[W]hat they’re grieving is at least the loss of perceived cultural dominance, where Bible-believing people were a majority that could exercise political power and always win the day,” Dilbeck told Floyd.

While Americans have “tremendous political tools,” Christians “have so focused on those tools that some of our spiritual muscles have atrophied, and we’ve gotten weak when it comes to prayer and to purity and to proclamation of the Gospel,” he said. “[Pastors] have this great opportunity to call our people back to the kind of biblical, spiritual influence that is always going to be our primary influence.”

The presumptive presidential nominees — Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump — have prompted some Southern Baptists and evangelicals to declare they can vote for neither major candidate. They find Clinton unacceptable because of her support of abortion rights and government funding of abortion, as well as other liberal policies. They reject Trump based on his inconsistent positions on such issues as abortion, religious liberty and immigration; autocratic inclinations; insult-laden rhetoric; and a lifestyle marked by adultery.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press – Tom Strode