Politics and the Pulpit: Kansas Pastor Runs for Office
By Carl Stagner
Some say politics and the pulpit don’t mix. Some say Christians should leave politics to the politicians. Others say whatever they want from the pulpit, even alienating individuals who may not share their perspective. But with Christians, posture and practice concerning politics should be guided from above. That’s the perspective of Clint McBroom, pastor of First Church of God in Newton, Kansas. Believing that Christians should be involved in every arena of life, Clint’s running for city commissioner. As a Christian and pastor first, he’s set out to represent Jesus through his campaign and eager to discover even more ways to serve his community.
“I have never run for political office before,” Pastor Clint explains. “What inspired me to do it was more at a local level than anything else, seeing the need for integrity and leadership in our community to help build our community. I’m wanting to engage in our city in another way for the betterment of everyone.”
Five commissioners represent the residents of Newton, and three positions are up this year. The candidates with the top three highest votes will be elected, with the top two taking four-year positions and the third taking a two-year role. The job consists of handling the governing aspects of city management, including the overall direction of the city, the finances of the city, and working with development. Unlike other races this year, the city commissioner races are non-partisan. This suits Pastor Clint just fine, who’s far more interested in advancing a Jesus agenda than a political one, anyway.
Such an approach has broad implications for how he approaches divisive issues. For example, the school district in Newton is seeking to pass a bond this year, and the issue has reportedly brought out the best and worst in people. Though not definitively a Republican or Democrat topic, the controversy has nevertheless led to less-than-kind discourse in the public square, on social media, and through other forms of mass media. “I believe we can all get along,” Clint reflects, “though there are still people out there bent on doing wrong and creating controversy more than building up. It’s given me a platform to live out the Great Commandment, especially loving our neighbor. Applying the Scripture in a way that even the non-Christian can understand has helped bring unity in the midst of division. I’m looking forward to being the hands and feet of Jesus regardless of what role I’m in!”
Running for political office expands his reach and influence, though Clint’s not out to make a name for himself. Instead, he’s out to get to know his community better and, through local governance, he’s found an avenue to do just that. “I’ve often said there are two groups that are very aware of local needs—first responders, like fire fighters and police offers; and the other group is pastors. We’re there in times of chaos to minister to people, as well as moments of joy. We’ve dealt with drug abuse, suicide, financial concerns, lack of parental supervision, and so on. Being able to recognize those needs from a commissioner’s perspective, combined with the heart of Jesus, is a way we can do even more to address these needs.”
Many in the community have already come to know Pastor Clint through his weekly religious column in the local newspaper. Now they’re able to put a face with the name, and relationships have been built that otherwise may never have formed. Additionally, he’s had conversations with people of very different political backgrounds that may never have happened except for his candidacy. “A lot of times, people automatically shut you out because they assume your political background,” Clint reflects. “But when you run for office, it forces you to have conversation with people. I’ve been able to, for example, talk with some of our board of education members who feel very beat up over the bond issue. Regardless of where we end up, I’ve been able to encourage them publicly and privately in the midst of all the negativity.”
Not everyone has welcomed the idea of a pastor running for political office. Some cite “separation of church and state” as rationale. This has given Pastor Clint the opportunity to explain the intended purpose of the concept, especially the way it’s meant to protect religious entities from the government. While Christians have too often retreated from Hollywood, from sports, from pop culture, and from politics, Clint insists we need Christians in every arena.
“Why would we not want Christians serving in our communities to help lead and guide?” Clint asks. “Man-made laws can be wrong, but when loving God and neighbor is first, everything good will flow from that. That’s where I come from on it. So, win or lose, elected or not, if nothing else, people will know who I am and whose I am.”
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