In his On the Square column this morning, Russel Saltzman recounts his experience as south ward alderman in a small town as he questions the role of clerics in public life:
But it might have pitted pastor against parishioners on an issue of some civic consequence, and that raises larger questions of a cleric’s role in public life. I am reminded of a time when the former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Herbert Chilstrom, defended church lobbying and verdicts on political choices as the church’s “reverent best guess” on any given issue. These “best guesses,” reverent or not, always seemed to lean, and still do, toward a certain point on the political spectrum. Such a “guess” once included encouraging a boycott of a major oil company because it did some business with South Africa in the Apartheid years. I had parishioners who owned one of the stations being targeted. They read about it in the denominational magazine. They were not pleased.