Currie recently endorsed Barak Obama himself and was questioned about it on Welton Gaddy's radio program. Here's a quote from Currie's blog:
Welton invited me to come on his show right after I made my endorsement and asked me to explain why I was supporting Obama and what I thought the role of churches should be in politics. He told listeners that my answer was one of the best he had ever heard (you can listen to the show here).Currie is needlessly obfuscating Gaddy's point by insinuating that "he is suggesting that religious leaders cannot as individuals engage in the political process." That is not what he or any other leader among church/state separationists is suggesting.
Few people in America have earned my respect the way Welton Gaddy has. He is a tremendous champion of the separation of church and state and a strong voice for the progressive religious community. But if he is suggesting that religious leaders cannot as individuals engage in the political process he is simply wrong.
Religious leaders should be (and are under the law) free as individuals to become involved in all aspects of public life but must do so without bringing our churches along for the ride. I understand and appreciate Welton's concerns but disagree with his conclusions.
What we are suggesting is that no person of faith should undermine the integrity of their faith by subjecting it to the compromising influences of secular politics.
There's no point in denying that endorsing candidates is about exercising influence in electoral politics. Currie and Robinson are free to line up as private citizens beside actors, musicians, union bosses, CEO's and others whose celebrity politicians hope to use to boost their standing among voters. No one, however, would take notice of them if they were merely standing there as private citizens. Their ability to exert influence comes from their identification with and position in the church.
I've been engaged in political activities as a private citizen for decades but I don't do endorsements. I've attended campaign meetings. I've written checks to candidates. I've passed out flyers, mailed brochures, and made phone calls for candidates. When I engage in partisan political activities I never volunteer information about myself or my vocation. If someone knows my vocation and mentions it in that setting, I always make it clear that I am acting outside my responsibilities as a minister. The focus should be on the candidate and the positions he/she holds on issues pertinent to the campaign -- not on myself or my ability to lend credibility to his/her campaign. Endorsements call attention to the endorser as much as to the politician.
If Robinson and Currie were engaged with Obama's campaign merely as private citizens, they would not be making headlines and doing radio interviews. By making endorsements both of them are making statements about themselves as much as about Obama. In the end, what they are saying is that it is alright for preachers to peddle their influence on behalf of politicians.