Saturday, November 18, 2006

A silent Protest
by David Krueger

On Wednesday (November 1) of the MBC annual meeting at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Senator Jim Talent spoke to messengers. When Senator Talent walked to the podium, I silently slipped out of my seat and went to the vendor display area. It was my way of protesting the Senator's presence at the annual meeting.

The Senator spoke for about four minutes and then quickly left. When he left, I came back into the meeting. News accounts report that the Senator thanked the convention for its stand against Amendment 2, and for supporting the ‘Marriage Amendment’ that appeared on the 2004 state ballot. He also called on the messengers to resist "activist" judges who are openly trying to change the Constitution through the courts. The Senator received several standing ovations and numerous "Amen's" from messengers.

At the time of his address to the convention, Senator Talent was in an extremely close race with Clair McCaskill.

What was I protesting? It was not Senator Talent per-say. I had every intention of voting him, and on November 7th proudly cast my ballot for the Senator. What I was protesting was the increasing tendency of our convention to be ‘Republican friendly.’ I simply can not recall the last time a Democrat was invited to address the messengers at an MBC annual meeting -- and I've been attending the MBC annual meeting for nearly thirty years. There are approximately 600,000 Southern Baptists in Missouri. My guess is a significant number of them are Democrats. My protest – as silent and unobtrusive as it was – was on their behalf. If I were a dyed-in-the-wool Missouri Democrat, I would feel increasingly disenfranchised by my own state convention. It’s hard to believe that the invitation by convention leadership to Senator Talent to appear ever-so-briefly before the messengers was not intended to be a wink-and-a-nod toward his candidacy. Considering the closeness of the annual meeting to the election, it would have been appropriate to also invite Clair McCaskill to address the messengers as well.

Annual meetings must not become Republican Rallies – even if for only four minutes. The mere appearance of supporting one candidate over another ought to be avoided, if the convention is to maintain its prophetic voice at the state capitol.

While I believe that resurgent Evangelical interest in politics is to be welcomed and commended, I also fear that our involvement may eventually become as politically misguided as was the activism of liberal Christianity in the early 20th century. As I stated in my last article, "
The price a nation pays when Godly people don’t vote," Christians need to exercise their civil stewardship by being involved in the political process. When Christian men and women do not vote, they allow history to be shaped by silence. The result is that wickedness flourishes. But conventions, like churches, ought to avoid the appearance of partisanship. History also demonstrates that the marriage of Christianity to partisan politics almost always produces discord and disillusionment among believers and frequently dishonors the name of God. Christ commanded His followers to be ‘salt and light’ in this world. In other words, Christians are to have a positive affect upon the culture in which they reside. I believe this command gives us a mandate for using every moral and ethical means available – including the political process – for influencing the culture for good. However, we should never be so naive as to think that the ballot box alone is the answer to the real problem – sin that is deeply rooted in the lives of citizens. The real answer, as all Baptists should know, is a life changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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