When someone mentions the church and politics in the same sentence, the picture most people flash on is a pastor standing in the pulpit, waving a red or blue flag, and telling you why it would make Jesus happy if you voted for a particular candidate or a specific proposition. It is an off-putting image for many, and accusations of preachers exceeding their authority or manipulating congregations often follow. To avoid this, then, churches swing all the way in the other direction, to where we do not want to talk about politics at all in the church. Keep church and state separate, as they ought to be. There is, however, a middle ground between littering the church lawn with campaign signs and making politics a taboo subject.
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It seems we have forgotten that debate is a skill set. It is an art form that requires continuous refinement and strengthening, or it withers and dies. To be confronted by a dissenting opinion, to listen and understand an argument you don’t agree with, and to respond with a reasoned, factual rebuttal is a crucial part of any intellectual growth. Alas…the art of the rebuttal is slowly dying.