Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Mainstream Voices of Faith: Statement on Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline's "Memo"

We, the undersigned clergy persons and religious leaders, are incensed by the recent memorandum that was leaked from Attorney General Phill Kline's office, the authenticity of which has been confirmed by his staff. It is evident that in his quest to garner contributions and votes from conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist congregations, Kline has asked churches to walk dangerously close to the line drawn by the Internal Revenue Service that prohibits nonprofit organizations from supporting political candidates. In fact, Kline has asked them to cross that line.

Yes, Kline certainly has the right to speak at select houses of worship, but, as his memo indicates, he has another agenda. Does not asking pastors to identify the five members of their congregations with the deepest pockets and assembling groups of lay people to be campaign workers constitute a blatant violation of IRS Code Section 501(c)3? The Attorney General of the State of Kansas, of all people, should know better.

In certain religious circles in this nation, there is a burgeoning tendency to eradicate the demarcation that separates church and state. The assumption, for many Christians, is that our faith will somehow become more legitimate if it is legislated. Ignoring the first ten words of the First Amendment, candidates on the far right are exploiting this mindset for political means. This is not only unconstitutional, but it is an utter offense to those of us who are being asked to give to Caesar that which belongs to God.

Shame on Phill Kline for exploiting communities of faith for political gains. His modus operandi is apparent when one compares the image of the incumbent who altruistically seeks to convey his faith story (albeit with congregations comprised of parishioners more likely to agree with his political stances) with the image of the candidate who cautions his staff that, once he shares the Good News, to "Get me out . . .I am spending too long at these events."

Regardless of which side of the aisle one worships God from, dressing a political campaign in the wool of Christian witness makes a mockery of our churches and a charade of our political system. It may mask the identity of the wolf beneath, but its howl is quite distinguishable.

An earnest plea to all of us, to all our sisters and brothers of faith, many of whom subscribe to more conservative forms of Christianity: we may disagree on social, political, and doctrinal issues. That's fine. The Christian Church is by no means a monolith. However, when the Gospel is co-opted for political means, it subverts the grace it bequeaths. Do not be deceived by those who seek your endorsement under the guise of spiritual righteousness, but lull you into idolatry. Their hands may be on The Bible when they stand in your pulpits, but their eyes are focused solely on the polls.

The separation of church and state, or religion and government, not only protects democracy; it protects the sacred worship spaces that are so integral to our lives.

Rev. John Tamilio, III, Co-Chair, Mainstream Voices of Faith

Rev. Don Anderson, Rev. Vern Barnett, Rev. Thom Belote, Rev. Dr. William R. Clark, Rev. JoAnn DeFrain, Rev. Frank L. Dorsey, Rev. Arthur L. Foster, Rev. Kenneth K. Grenz, Rev. Larry Keller, Rev. Dr. Peter A. Luckey, Dr. George A. McCall, Rev. Dr. Robert Meneilly, Rev. Holly McKissick, Rev. Jennifer Parker Cantor, Paul C. Silbersher, Rev. Phyllis C. Southard, Rev. Susanna W. Southard, Rev. George Tormohlen

Visit the Mainstream Voices of Faith website. Read Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline's memo.


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