13. Doesn’t the SDA Church prohibit its members from voting, running for office, siting on a jury, singing the national anthem or having anything to do with government or politics?
No, Adventist regularly vote, sit on juries, work for governments and are even members of parliament in several countries including the
. The official SDA position on Church-State relations says: United States
is mindful of the long history of the involvement of the people of God in civil affairs. Joseph wielded civil power in Seventh-day Adventist Church . Similarly, Daniel rose to the heights of civil power in Egypt and the nation was benefited as a result. In our own church history, Adventists have joined with other religious and secular organizations to exert influence over civil authorities to cease slavery and to advance the cause of religious freedom… Indeed, Adventists may properly aspire to serve in positions of civil leadership… 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.” (emphasis added) Babylon
Again, perhaps one is getting confused with Jehovah’s Witnesses or some Adventist offshoots. Many of these groups do prohibit their members from voting, running for office, sitting on a jury, singing the national anthem or having anything to do with politics.
One may also be confused because the SDA Church is one of the world’s strongest supporters of the separation of Church and State, as enshrined in the First Amendment (USA) and other countries, and in accordance with both scripture (Rom 13:1-7) and Protestant tradition (see Martin Luther’s doctrine of the ‘Two Kingdoms’).
As noted in SDA publication Questions on Doctrine:
10. That church and state should operate in entirely separate spheres; we do not believe that in an attempt to control men's religion or religions activities the church should dominate the state, or that the state should govern the church. (emphasis added)
For example, many may be unaware that the
founded the International Religious Liberty Organisation, which promotes religious freedom around the world, including the right of non-Christians to worship freely. SDA Church
It is also a little known fact that the
played an essential role in enshrining the separation of Church and State in a number of countries, such as section 116 of the Australian Constitution: SDA Church
As such, as noted in the official
SDA Church position (cited above), the does have contact with political leaders for the purpose of promoting religious liberty: Corporate SDA Church
“Indeed, Adventists are called to be a voice for liberty of conscience to this world. Integral to this mission is the development of relationships with temporal rulers. In order to do this, the
appoints representatives to governments and international bodies that have influence over the protection of religious liberty. This work must be viewed as essential to our gospel mission and should be accorded the resources necessary to ensure our representation is of the highest order.” Seventh-day Adventist Church
However, outside of the cause of religious liberty, the SDA Church it is very cautious that it need be seen as interfering in partisan politics, by advocating any political theory from the pulpit:
“Adventists should not, however, become preoccupied with politics, or utilize the pulpit or our publications to advance political theories.”
Therefore, most Adventists would vote but find it an anathema for its clergy to instruct politicians or the electorate on how to vote, as is often a criticism of the Roman Catholic Church.
SDA Church is careful that it not follow the dangerous example of other groups, who have become official and unofficial adjuncts to certain political parties (as is the case with some Evangelical-Pentecostal Churches and the Republican Party in the US, or the Family First Party in ). Australia
Posted by Simon Falindan