In the Adventist Review, and on social media, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists issued a statement regarding the candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson, who announced Monday that he is running for President of the United States of America.
The statement follows in its entirety:
As the 2016 United States election cycle begins, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is aware of the increased interest in the presidential candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson.
Dr. Carson’s story is well known to most Adventists, and he is a well-respected physician.
The Adventist Church has a longstanding position of not supporting or opposing any candidate for elected office. This position is based both on our historical position of separation of church and state and the applicable federal law relating to the church’s tax-exempt status.
While individual church members are free to support or oppose any candidate for office as they see fit, it is crucial that the church as an institution remain neutral on all candidates for office. Care should be taken that the pulpit and all church property remain a neutral space when it comes to elections. Church employees must also exercise extreme care not to express views in their denominational capacity about any candidate for office, including Dr. Carson.
We also want to remind our church members, pastors, and administrators of the church’s official position on the separation of church and state. The church has worked diligently to protect the religious rights of all people of faith, no matter what their denominational affiliation.
“We should therefore work to establish robust religious liberty for all and should not use our influence with political and civil leaders to either advance our faith or inhibit the faith of others. Adventists should take civic responsibilities seriously. We should participate in the voting process available to us when it is possible to do so in good conscience and should share the responsibility of building our communities. Adventists should not, however, become preoccupied with politics, or utilize the pulpit or our publications to advance political theories.” (From an official Seventh-day Adventist Church statement, adopted by the Council of Interchurch/Interfaith Relations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in March 2002.)
As church leaders, you may be approached by your local or national media outlets to make comments on Dr. Carson’s candidacy, in particular as it relates to his membership in the church. Given the national implications of this issue, questions from the media are best handled at the level of the North American Division. Thus, please direct all reporters or inquiries regarding Dr. Carson or the 2016 presidential election to the division’scommunications director, Dan Weber, or associate director Julio Munoz.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church values Dr. Carson as we do all members. However, it is important for the church to maintain its long-standing historical support for the separation of church and state by not endorsing or opposing any candidate.
It is notable that in America a grand percentage of potential voters are aligned with the various parties. However, in other nations this is not so!! For example in Australia the number of party members is probably less than 5% of the total population.This is great! In the political sphere, the great majority of people are unshakled by party platforms.
Yes, the institutional church must remain apolitical!! Let freedom of speech reign!!
The paradox is that if Carson should be elected, the church would seek favors from him, even though they did nor lend him any support.
I believe it is possible for the church to stand behind Carson in support of his candidacy, as a respected member of the church while not advancing issues or viewpoints associated with a political platform. The church is missing an opportunity to expand its worldwide influence, which may not come again for many years.
Does the church believe that President Carson would not protect religious rights of all faiths? If not, why should the church distance herself from embracing elements of his platform that will make the world a better place for peoples of faith? If the church were wise, it would issue a statement of support for Carlson as a person of faith, integrity and charity. This would not jeopardize their non-profit status. Why should the church leave Carlson to fight the political machine all alone?
Why does the church have to control members public opinions? Must members be silenced or defer to upper level church managers as if they are not wise enough to share their own convictions without church approval? Is there no trust in the Priesthood of all members? Is administration endowed with special wisdom above all other members?
Because he already did!
And now, of course, his defenders will say, "Oh, but when he made that speech on Sabbath at that GOP convention he had not yet declared to be a candidate, so that violation of the Sabbath doesn’t count…"
Well…, we ALL violate the Sabbath in some way every 7 days anyway, so let’s not point fingers. Let him do his thing as we do ours…
I really thought it was well stated. I worry about how the church is going to deal with his running as it will fall under scrutiny as did Mitt Romney’s denomination. Our church has had many months to work on this and I hope they are ready now that Dr. Carson has joined the “big time.”
He’s been doing book signings on Sabbath for some time at Barnes and Noble, etc. Joe Lieberman gave a good example of how one could serve in the Senate and campaign for national office while observing Sabbath.
Because in media it becomes a disaster if there isn’t one voice speaking and responding. It would be wise for us to follow the counsel if we want our church to get through the scrutiny it is about to have due to his running. Having been involved in a public situation involving our church and having a pastor say one thing through local public media, and the situation requiring much better nuance, it nearly became a disaster. Media is sound bite oriented and if you don’t frame the comments carefully and consistently that sound bite comes back to bite you big time. This is wise counsel.
In reading his books there is enough there to allow some concern in his views of church and state. The Church would be ill-advised to show support as it always will be associated with his views, of which the Church doesn’t have a unified view on partially due to the fact its members don’t have a unified view of politics. If the church lent support, any support, it would in effect be seen as speaking for all SDA’s and it would associate itself in a political alignment, at least the perception of such, with Carson.
In his books American and One Nation it is clear his support is behind a Judeo-Christian nation, outlook, and purpose. Makes one wonder if he would defend the religious rights of others. Of course, we have no way of really knowing as you stated. No guarantees.