The Pathway’s coverage of politics and God
A loyal subscriber recently suggested that The Pathway may be getting too political in its coverage and that he felt Missouri Democrats get the short shrift compared to Republicans. I realize there may be a “perception” that Republicans get more coverage because they are the majority at the State Capitol and a Republican (who is a Missouri Southern Baptist) inhabits the governor’s mansion. They are, in general, more socially conservative in their views, making them more palatable to most Missouri Southern Baptists. All the more reason I take such observations by our subscribers seriously.
Every six months The Pathway staff conducts a “content analysis” of The Pathway. We examine every article to determine its focus. As Missouri Southern Baptists should expect, articles about our churches, missions, evangelism and church planting easily comprise the largest percentage of stories (averaging about 53 percent of all stories published the past two years). The remaining 47 percent deal with a variety of subjects like features on people, the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) legal battle with its five entities, articles about MBC agencies like Southwest Baptist University and Hannibal-LaGrange College, the Woman’s Missionary Union, Southern Baptist Convention news, sports and moral issues.
I make a distinction between moral issues-related articles and politics, although they are obviously inseparable. I make a distinction because politics demands compromise. Conversely, Christianity (and The Pathway’s mission) is not about compromise. It is about the Truth: Man’s sinful standing before God and its only remedy – the exclusive saving power that comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is not to say Christians should not be involved in politics as public servants and voting citizens entrusted with the task of accountability. However, a word of caution is in order. Christians must never let the allure of politics deceive us into thinking that it can solve the greatest problem facing mankind – its sinfulness and the only answer to that problem: Jesus. Christian columnist Cal Thomas recently noted, “the issues Christians care most about – abortion, same-sex marriage and cultural rot – are not caused by bad politics, but are matters of the heart and soul.”
A robust Christian worldview demands that the truth of Scripture is brought to bear on every facet of God’s creation, including the various disciplines that comprise reality, whether it is philosophy, biology, theology, history, art, law and yes, even politics. This is our calling as God’s earthly representatives. There is not one aspect of creation that does not fall under the authority and control of God.
The Pathway attempts to be a source of accountability to politicians and to alert Missouri Southern Baptists how they are performing with regard to the moral issues of the day. The Pathway has never – and will never – be aligned to one political party. Influence comes through independence and conservative Christians are finally learning this lesson. It was this very message that I conveyed to a high-ranking lawmaker of one political party in January. Missouri Southern Baptists are not interested in the Republican or Democratic parties. We are interested in holy behavior and just laws that do not contradict God’s law.
The Pathway covers issues for reasons other than accountability and to have a Scriptural-based influence: To alert Missouri Southern Baptists about how their elected officials are performing with regard to the moral issues of the day. Why? Because Missouri Southern Baptists care. In fact, they care so much that since 1973, Missouri Southern Baptists have passed more than 80 resolutions on a variety of moral issues, ranging from abortion and homosexual marriage to gambling and alcohol abuse. It is important for Pathway readers to know that this newspaper will never take a position on – or even address – an issue unless it has first been addressed by the Convention through resolutions.
I am convinced demons roam the hallways of our government buildings, hounding our public servants. Jesus told us to be the “salt of the earth.” Salt is a preservative that can be used to keep things from rotting. But in order for salt to do its job, it must come into contact with whatever is in need of being preserved. How can we be “salt” if we do not engage in our political system? To do otherwise would guarantee pagan rule. In addition, our Lord has commissioned us to “go.” We must “go” with the truth of Jesus Christ to the State Capitol as much as we need to go with the Gospel to the jungles of Africa or to the slums of Southeast Asia.
Ultimately, The Pathway’s coverage of moral issues boils down to obedience to God. That is our called task. The results are left in His hands.
Has our coverage favored Republicans over Democrats? Absolutely not. There are some Democrats who agree with Missouri Southern Baptists on some moral issues – and we have covered them. Missouri Baptist Democrats like Trent Skaggs and Belinda Harris have been noted for their contributions just like those of Missouri Baptist Republicans like State Sen. Matt Bartle and Reps. Brian Baker and Doug Ervin.
No one has been more critical of Republican Gov. Matt Blunt’s stance on embryonic stem cell research than me. I have also lavished him with praise for his all-out assault to run abortion-provider Planned Parenthood out of the state. I promise that should Democrat Jay Nixon win next year’s gubernatorial election, he will receive the same scrutiny. It is not about parties or people. It’s about accountability and being obedient.