Sunday, May 15, 2005

Petty partisanship has no place in the pulpit

Petty partisanship has no place in the pulpit
By Leonard Pitts Jr.
Originally published May 15, 2005

WASHINGTON - Consider Christianity.

It is a faith broad enough to encompass everything from a pope in Rome to a missionary in South America to a snake handler in Appalachia. Apparently, however, it is not broad enough to encompass a Democrat in North Carolina.

That, at least, is the inference to be gleaned from the experience of nine people who say they were kicked out of their church recently because they voted for John Kerry in the 2004 election. The nine former members of East Waynesville Baptist say the Rev. Chan Chandler led the drive to oust them. The resulting uproar has made headlines nationwide and drawn harsh criticism, even from other clergy. Pastor Chandler initially denied the accusations and characterized the flap as a "misunderstanding."

The claim is undercut by his own words. Last week, ABC News played an audiotape of an October sermon in which the preacher said, "If you vote for John Kerry this year, you need to repent or resign. You have been holding back God's church way too long."

Pastor Chandler stepped down a few days ago....