Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Pastor Out

From the New York Times:

A Baptist preacher who was accused of forcing nine members to leave his church because they refused to support President Bush said on Tuesday that he was stepping down.

“For me to remain now would only cause more hurt for me and my family,” the preacher, the Rev. Chan Chandler, said as he left a meeting at East Waynesville Baptist Church.

Congregants of the 100-member church have said that Mr. Chandler endorsed Mr. Bush from the pulpit during last year’s presidential campaign and said that anyone who planned to vote for the Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, needed to “repent or resign.”

The church members said that he continued to preach about politics after Mr. Bush won re-election, culminating in a church gathering last week in which the nine members said they were ousted.

Speaking from the pulpit on Tuesday night, Mr. Chandler, 33, said that the dispute was rooted in his strong feelings about abortion. He then left with his wife and drove away from the church escorted by the police. A few moments later, about 40 of his supporters, many in tears, came out while other church members remained inside.

I have no quarrel with his right to speak out on whatever he wants to speak out on. I don’t care what his stand is on abortion, either. But to browbeat your parishoners with your personal views disguised as the word of God is both psychological warfare and clearly not allowed under the rules of the IRS. If he feels so strongly about political issues, he should run for office.