Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Should a pastor be a politician?

With little more than a week to go until polling day, the United Kingdom is in full election mode. In Northern Ireland elections are an almost annual occurrence and politics is more ingrained in the public psyche here than in most other parts of the country. The two fields of religion and politics have often been interlinked, and many questions asked about what relationship they should have with each other. One question which is sometimes raised is whether gospel ministers should also hold political office. This is particularly relevant in Northern Ireland since there has been a long history of ministers also working as politicians. Rev Ian Paisley was an MP, MEP and MLA for many years whilst also moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church. Rev Martin Smyth was also involved in Northern Ireland political life whilst serving as a minister in the Presbyterian Church. Methodist minister Rev Robert Bradford likewise served as MP for South Belfast from 1974 until his tragic murder in 1981. Many others have also entered the field of politics over the years and continued their role as a church pastor. Even today ministers can be found actively involved in Northern Ireland politics. DUP Westminster candidate for South Antrim Rev William McCrea is a Free Presbyterian minister and Non-Subscribing Presbyterian minister Rev Paul Reid is a councillor in Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Beyond the shores of Northern Ireland other examples could also be cited of gospel ministers who are also elected politicians. The question to be then asked is whether this should be so; should a gospel minister also take up political office?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A note on anonymous comments

In recent weeks a significant number of anonymous comments have been made on this blog, more so than normal. Whilst the very nature of commenting anonymously means that the author cannot be identified, it has been obvious that a lot of these comments have been posted by the same person. Up until now I have always allowed anonymous comments for a short time, only asking for a name when a longer dialogue is to be entered into.

I feel however that many of the recent anonymous comments have displayed a cowardly and hypocritical attitude by the person involved, challenging others for their view of particular issues, whilst not being prepared to put a name to their own comments and views. Indeed the repetitive theme of the anonymous comments which have been posted across a number of posts raises questions about their motivation and aim, particularly as they choose to remain anonymous. In light of this I will no longer be permitting anonymous comments on the page. Those wishing to make comments should be prepared to leave their name - if we have genuinely held beliefs then we should not have any concern about being publicly associated with those beliefs. If this results in fewer comments being placed on the blog that will reflect more on those who comment, rather than on this policy. Those who cannot identify themselves are in no position to criticise what others may or may not say in a public blog.

I am willing to answer any question placed on the blog and certainly will not prohibit questions which are awkward, inconvenient or critical of my own church. Any of the questions which have been recently submitted anonymously can be re-posted with genuine name attached (not a pseudonym) and they will most certainly be answered.

Needless to say, anonymous comments will not be permitted on this post.