Bobby Schuller is praying about a decision

He’s trying to decide if he should invite all the Presidential candidates to come to his televised morning worship service to give their testimony and pray. [MORE]


JohnLDrury said...

I agree: probably a bad idea but a good entertainment. Too bad both church and elections are about entertainment now. A great season to pull a stunt like this, given the religious wobbliness of many republican frontrunners.

Thinking in Ohio said...

I think with CA moving their primary up, this could possibly have an impact in the primaries too.

If I took Schuller's program seriously as a "worship" experience I might have real issues, but I'm afraid God is seldom the focus here. There already exists a strong human focus, why not merge politics in a service?

David Drury said...

I think I'm actually okay with this on a general level with a few guiding principles:

1) There should be a broad invitation, as seems to be the intent here, instead of just inviting the pastor's favorite politician, or party, to the club.

2) The pastor should view themselves a bit like a "reporter for the church." FOr this reason I would actually prefer doing pre-recorded video interviews, where the canidate is interviewed and asked questions by the pastor about their faith and such.

3) The issue of faith and politics should be broached. Asking: "What role has your faith played in governing in the past" is a good one people often use. Asking them to pray out loud is less of a core issue for me than this.

4) The goal should be to educate and equip the church to be more broadly interested in the issue of faith and politics than to simply advance one political canidate over another (becuase they happened to pray better, for instance). If that were to happen, I think it could actually aid the church in raising the level of debate to more long-term issues, and it could raise up the canidates to the level of statesmenship. The media, the washington elite, and the parties have destroyed statesemanship--and the Religious Right haven't helped (they've only been pandered to.) But perhaps the church on TV could actually offer a moment of statesmanship on this issue to the canidates.

I'm not holding my breath, however.


Ken Schenck said...

Delightful as always...

But faith is not the main thing I look for in a candidate. In fact, when a Sunday School faith guides the President of the United States, really bad things can happen...

Pete Vecchi said...

Basically, I'm not familiar with the idea of using something purported to be a Christian worship service as a place to have some non-Christians come to share their "testimonies." Not all of the candidates profess to be Christians, do they?

At the same time, I am totally unfamiliar with the current Schuller's format and television program, so I don't know how that would fit in. My preference would be to absolutely have the church involved and invite the candidates, but not under the umbrella of it being part of a worship service. That's how I'd vote.

Now, on a tangent, Keith said this:

"Or (if they know the facts) evangelicals will shudder when conservative Newt Gingrich testifies about his moral stance so recently after admitting he was having an adulterous affair himself while trying to get Bill Clinton impeached for his."

I absolutely agree that Newt was wrong in having an affair. He's admitted to more than one during his life, and has been married (I think) three times. However, I must contend one point, then ask about another.

The point I contend is that Newt did not lead impeachment against Bill Clinton because Bill Clinton had an affair. The charges were that Clinton lied under oath, and that is why he was disbarred and why he is prohibited from arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Most certainly there was some political motivation behind the impeachment, but Clinton was not impeached for having an affair.

Again, affairs are wrong. Newt Gingrich was wrong for having affairs. But the spiritual question is this -- did he repent, and does he now stand forgiven by God?

I confess that I do not know all that much about Newt Gingrich's christianity, except that from what I've heard, he professes to be a christian. So does Bill Clinton.

And from everything I understand about christianity, no Christian is immune to falling into sin. The question then becomes, "What does the person who has fallen do about it." If confession and repentance occurs, what more can a person be asked to do?

Has this happened with Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton? I don't know. Only they know personally about themselves, and God knows.

Denniston said...

With the nation wide Nielsen Sweeps coming up in a little over a month could this just be a ploy for ratings???

According to the H.o.P. website "the Hour of Power continues to be the most watched one-hour religious church service in America. Its worldwide audience is estimated to be 20 million persons each week."

Just a thought

Kevin K. Wright said...

I don't think we need a different evangelical power broker because I think such an idea is contrary to the Christian faith. It isn't the Church's job to try to sway people to vote for a certain candidate or to offer mediation in America's political process. Good grief! The problem we have already is that most Christians in this country make better Americans than they do Christians. However, if this forum were a chance to see how most of the candidates have sold out their faith in one way or another (through votes, accepting money, fundraising, etc), then perhaps some good would come of this. We should worry more about Warren, Hybels, Robertson and whoever making alliances with Caesar than we should about who should be the next power broker.

Coach B said...

There is little doubt about the entertainment value of Bobby's most recent venture. I harken back to the day when then Governor Bill Clinton was the invited guest at our fellowship's 75th anniversary in 1989. Our backs were scratched by the raspy voice of the future president telling of his wonderful christian heritage. (with Paula Jones somewhere in attendance I'm sure). Maybe we were just one cog of the wheel which propelled him into becoming one of the greatest presidents in American history. ;)

Larry said...

Like 48.79% of eligible voters in a presidential election, I wouldn't vote in Schuller's poll.

Along with them, I know when I'm being offered a false choice.

But I'd watch. You're right, it'd be great television!

randydewing said...

I voted in his poll--voted NO. As usual, John has already said what I was thinking (blast you!)...but Dave has almost made me change my mind--except I can't imagine it coming off that well.

I'm not willing to say that the world should wield the sword while the church washes her hands of all concerns of goverment--BUT I can't come to the point where mixing ministry and politics seems like a good idea.

Dan said...

As I was reading this post (great post btw) I thought, "Would anyone except for evangelicals (and perhaps the media if they needed some filler stuff) even care?"

Then I thought, I wouldn't really care to hear it. Then - I don't know that most evangelicals I know would even care much to hear the personal testimony/prayer of candidates.

Even the most politically right Christians I know are frustrated about the war. I think the sentiment many of them have is, "look where a president with a personal testimony and strong devotional time each day (between naps) got us."

So should he do it? Honestly, I think the answer is quite emphatically "who cares?"

Sadly, regardless of ones position, it seems as though the current presidency has been one of the final nails in the coffin of evangelical (or all?) Christianity mattering in America to much of anyone, especially on a political level.

Stan said...

It doesn't really matter. What you would get is a speechwriter's prayer offered up by the candidate. One that was drafted by polling those who most likely would be tuned in to the "Hour of Power" braodcast and that would play well in a 30-second piece on the national news.

Jay said...

hmmmm. I didn't know we had perfected the Christianity test. You know the E.P.T. (evangelical proficiency test?) pee-on-a-stick, pray and "now we know what kind of Christian you are" test. my goodness. how trite.

per-formulated prayer is hardly a window into the souls of the candidates, but boy howdy would it be interesting to see who the best actor is! because my guess is, no self-respecting thinking Christian would prance around Schuller's (or anyone's) stage for votes. prayer should be a lot more sacred than that - not necessarily meaning private, as coach D wrote about some of his applicants - prayer is not intended to be a performance for man.

all that soapboxing done, I think this would be painfully awkward, like the first time you saw "Meet the Parents" or "The Office." I think I could hardly stand to watch, but certainly couldn't stop :)