According to the available evidence this is the first set of guidelines approved by an Adventist world division regarding participation in politics. Looking beyond the old debates over whether Adventists should even vote, this document provides parameters for the active Adventist politician, the relationship between church leaders and political leaders, and partisan activities by church members in Africa.
Although perhaps unconnected, this arises in the context of repeated international embarrassment by Adventist leaders making overt political statements.
- Ugandan Union President Supports Anti-Gay Bill (2010).
- Adventist Vice President: "President Mugabe preaches the same gospel we preach" (2011).
- Second Report Regarding Ruguri Raises Questions About Church Statement (2012).
The following is reprinted from the General Conference's Biblical Research Institute newsletter.
The Biblical Research Committee of the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division met last October in connection with the Division’s year-end meetings and finalized a statement entitled: “Guidelines on Adventists’ Involvement in Politics in Africa.” After a careful examination of the biblical and theological foundations for political involvement and the challenges of political engagement for Adventists in Africa, the document adopted by the division’s year-end meeting issued the following guidelines:
The Adventist in Active Politics
Members who desire to seek public office should ensure by the grace of God that spiritually they stay in tune with God.
The politician should endeavor to maintain such regular spiritual disciplines as prayer, Bible study, and especially maintain fellowship with fellow believers by attending services on Sabbath.
Parties and Political Campaigns
The political campaigns of the Adventist politician must be marked by dignity, civility, and Adventist Christian values.
The Adventist’s Christian experience should be a positive influence on others.
Adventists should not engage in actions or processes that may impinge on the observance of God’s law including Sabbath observance.
Churches should not be used for the promotion of political agendas.
Politicians who are involved in political associations should not enter into alliances that will require them to sacrifice biblical values and principles.
Agenda and Actions
Adventists should give recognition to the promotion and/or defense of human rights as long as these do not interfere with biblical principles and the teachings of the church.
Adventists involved in politics should seek to exemplify and demonstrate the values and principles of God’s government. (3MR 37–38).
Adventists who are involved in politics should not use their clout unduly in church affairs.
The Church and Politics
• Political leaders should not be permitted to use their power or privilege to influence the church or its leaders in ways that are illegal and immoral or create some form of dependence.
• The Adventist Church should eschew all forms and appearances of corruption.
• Church leaders should be extremely careful to receive any benefits from political leaders, even if it can be legally or morally justified.
• Church workers should abstain from active participation in politics and political activity.
• Our churches should not be used as platforms for the furtherance of political agendas both by our members and non-members.
Church Members and Politics
• Adventists shall not use their political connections to advance personal interests at the expense of their faith and the name of the church.
• Members shall not engage in political activism in the church or the use of party political attire, symbols, and language in the church. Nothing that may engender division and schisms in the church should be permitted.
• Certain political terms, party attire and insignia shall not be displayed within the precincts of the church.
• Members of the church should avoid strife and divisions in the church by not bringing political questions into the church.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5019