Priest says not to let political disagreements divide believers

Priest says not to let political disagreements divide believers

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The jabs exchanged between Pope Francis and Donald Trump are another example of the the often tumultuous relationship between religion and politics.

"The relationship between faith and politics has always been a thorny one," said the Reverend Stephen Kidd of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Gulfport.

Whether or not the pulpit should be a place for sermons, as well as political speeches, is a controversial debate that Rev. Kidd says goes back to the earliest days of Christianity.

"There has always been a push/pull about how people of faith interact with somewhat secular government," Rev. Kidd said. "However, the gospel is inherently political. It makes claims on us about what we think, and how we live together, because that's what politics is for. It's how we decide to live together. So faith always has something to say."

Church leaders in the United States have to be careful what they say in order to maintain tax exempt status. But while clergymen can't endorse or campaign for candidates, that doesn't mean completely biting their tongues.

"I think faith communities play a critical role because we're one of the last places in our culture where people who disagree regularly gather. In our congregation, we have people of all political stripes and all political opinions," said Rev. Kidd.

The reverend notes that speaking out on issues that matter most is the duty of every church leader, and all other believers.

"I think we always have to be able to answer to our consciences. We can't be silent about what we think." Rev. Kidd said. "But at the same time, we also have to make room for people who disagree with us and we disagree with. We can't ever let our disagreements or our opinions change the fact that above all we are demanded and commanded to love each other."

Rev. Kidd says because Christianity calls on followers to look after the hungry, the poor and the less fortunate, it is especially important that believers speak up when it comes to those discussions.

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