This week a Phoenix-area pastor referred to President Obama's stance on abortion and expressed his hope that God would strike the President dead. He titled his message, "Why I hate Barack Obama." While it is true that the pastor's sentiments do not reflect the clergy or faith community as a whole, it is important that there be a clear message that such hatred should not be tolerated.
As a pastor myself, I believe whole heartedly that human life is sacred. It is my conviction that the tragic loss of unborn children is a blight on our nation. This belief is not incongruous with the truth that women who face unwanted pregnancies need respectful, loving counsel and support. Political expediency must not define life's value, nor should women be a political or religious punching bag.
Clergy everywhere must decry hatred in all of its forms. To encourage hate in others is to abdicate the moral authority of the pulpit. When a guard came to seize Jesus and take him to the cross, one of his followers drew a sword, cutting off the man's ear. Jesus' response was to rebuke his follower and to heal the guard's wounds. Not only is it possible to take a strong stand without misrepresenting God, it is a sacred responsibility of all people of faith.
The scriptures give a clear mandate to pray for our leaders. If a person of faith refuses to pray for one with whom he does not agree, that person reveals the limitations of his heart and character. I call upon all people of faith to pray for President Obama that he will be granted God's wisdom, reflect God's heart, and walk in God's grace.
Bill Shuler is pastor at Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia. Find out more at CapitalLife.org.