I serve as Associate Pastor in a large, suburban congregation, and I live about 2 miles from the church. Parishioners that live in my neighborhood know which house is mine; the vast majority of the congregation never drives past my house, and would have no reason to. On the ballot this fall in our state is a referendum to retain our current "Domestic Partnership" law, which grants the rights of marriage to gay and lesbian couples, as well as to adults over 62 who don't wish to marry, largely for financial reasons. I'm in favor of this law and a few politically active members of my congregation have given me a sign to put in my yard advertising my support. Because my congregation is part of the "Reconciling in Christ" movement (meaning that we openly welcome GLBT folks), I doubt that too many people would be surprised by my support, even if most of them never see the sign, but this situation makes me wonder about the principle of the thing: Is it appropriate for a pastor to post political yard signs? What sorts of guidelines would you suggest?
Sunday's Coming writes:
I have never displayed a poster for any particular political party at my house as I don’t want people to pigeonhole me and stop listening to the gospel because they think I support the ‘wrong’ one. However, I have displayed posters for particular causes, if they are consistent not only with my personal views but also with what people hear from me in my preaching week-by-week.
In short, if you’d wear it on a T-shirt or preach it from the pulpit, why not put it on a poster at your house?
I think your question about raising one’s political voice largely depends upon what you know about your congregation. Have you displayed bumper stickers on your car? What was the response? Have you worn buttons that convey a message of some sort? What was the response? I think a yard sign on your own property is much the same. I’ve always served politically diverse congregations (and have been a manse dweller) so I’ve unilaterally refrained from signs, buttons and bumper stickers for that reason.
Your setting and situation may be different….
What about the rest of you? How have you handled this? As for me, I serve a University church in a medium-sized town, where we own our own home about two miles from the church. While I would never wear a political button to church or put one on my car which will be seen in the church parking lot, I feel like my home is different (no one has to come by my house, whereas if I displayed my political preferences on church grounds, every member would be subject to them) and I have felt free to put yard signs up supporting candidates for president. In my previous context - a very small rural town (population 1100), where I lived in a parsonage - I never did so. Because I lived in church-owned property, I would've been concerned that people would have thought I was speaking for the church.
Let's hear from the rest of you. What have you done, and why?
As usual, if you have questions for the Matriarchs, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.