Yesterday in Tampa, conservative preachers had their own souls to the polls, kinda. During the WTBN Ninth Annual Pastors Appreciation Lunch yesterday, keynote speaker Robert Jeffress, in a quasi-endorsement of Mitt Romney, told a crowd of 600 Christian activists that if they didn't get political that it would be the same as allowing the Jewish Holocaust to happen. As reported by Michelle Bearden in The Tampa Tribune:
"I believe the preservation of America depends on pastors," said Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the 10,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas. "This is no time for God's men to be passive. It's time to stand up and push back against all the evil in our country.
"Tell your people that they have a choice: to cast a vote for righteousness or vote for unrighteousness."
Jeffress urged the capacity crowd at the A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa to use their pulpit time this Sunday to stress the importance of voting for the candidate who supports the "biblical values" of the sanctity of marriage, sanctity of life and religious freedom.
Stay silent, he warned them, and you're no different than German Lutheran pastors who didn't speak out against Hitler's growing influence in the late 1930s. That lack of action led to the Holocaust, he said.
Jeffress is no stranger to incendiary, extremist, if not partisan views, particularly as they pertain to President Barack Obama. Jeffress said last month that Obama was "openly involved in high-handed sins" that are like "a clenched fist in the face of God," in reference to the President's positions on marriage equality and pro-choice policies. Jeffress has called same-sex love a "miserable lifestyle" that leads to pedophilia.
Asked by the Bearden if Jeffress was making an endorsement of Romney, he said, "people can connect the dots. It's clear which candidate shares our views." Church leaders can not endorse political candidates as it would be a violation of their 501(c)3 status.
Black preachers involved in the Souls to the Polls campaign this past weekend have toed the line of presidential endorsements. The campaign itself was a GOTV effort, built to get people to the polls without telling them who to vote for. At the St. John Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, African American pastor Rev. Dr. Bartholomew Banks spoke Sunday from his pulpit about the importance of voting, especially given those who fought and died for that right during the Civil Rights Movement.
Said Banks, "If we do nothing we will suffer. If we go back to the Bush years, we will suffer. We can't lose hope. We are standing at a crossroads in our country but we can't lose hope, we are too close to stop now."