Faith, religion and politics in East Texas
POSTED: Friday, October 24, 2008 - 6:38pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 11:59am
TYLER - Each Sunday morning - Pastor Demarcus Pierson leads a high-energy worship service at Omega Ministries International Church.
Across town at a synagogue - things are more traditional with Tyler Rabbi Neal Katz.
At Dayspring United Methodist Church in Tyler, Pastor Jeff Olive has church each Sunday at Carmike Cinema.
Although each these religious leaders say they won't endorse candidates from the pulpit, they do deliver messages about key issues relating to faith and the upcoming election.
"I think it's important faith plays a role in politics because we make our decisions based on faith," said Katz.
Each man says members of their congregation comes to them for spiritual guidance.
Some actually have political questions.
But the question is: should religion and politics even mix?
Specifically - should religious leaders endorse a presidential candidate from the pulpit?
"For me, I'm not willing to risk my credibility," said Oliver, "and endorse any candidate or even openingly talk about who I'm going to vote for come November."
"We must be careful that we do not make endorsements," he said. "You should not speak on behalf of parishioners and just give them Biblical principals that would apply to their lives."
Katz says his congregation steers clear of politics.
"I don't talk about it from the pulpit," he said. " I don't endorse candidates (at the pulpit). It's against the law."
Although Brother Pierson and Rabbi Katz say they don't politicize formally from the pulpit, they do, however, show their support for Senator Obama during information settings.
"I personally do not speak for the congregation," said Katz, "But I personally support Barak Obama. In fact, I'm apart of a group of about 600 rabbi across the country called "rabbis for Obama!"
"I can say being personally," Pierson admits, "As an African American minister, I do have a sense of pride for the candidate we have."
Pastor Oliver says he does not discuss which candidate he likes, in any setting.
His advice to members of Dayspring? Pray...then vote.
"We don't know who the best candidate is ultimately," he said. "Only God does."
All three leaders say regardless of their opinions on the upcoming election - they all agree this election is like no other in American history.
They say our nation, our state and city, is divided by race, religion - and now with Governor Sarah Palin in the mix - gender.
For those reasons - these East Texas religious leaders say - we all need to come together and pray.