A pastor in Georgia chastised state lawmakers and politicians on Tuesday during a speech at the House of Representatives.
Founder and senior pastor of North Point Ministries Andy Stanley stood before Georgia legislators on Tuesday at the House of Representatives to give an impassioned speech on how leaders and modern politics today are stoking division across America. The speech given by the 63 year old Georgia pastor has gained nationwide attention because of its blunt, matter-of-fact tone.
"Those of you who pander to and foster division, you are terrible leaders," Stanley addressed legislators on his Tuesday appearance at the Georgia House of Representatives, as reported by the Christian Headlines. The pastor was invited to speak as the chaplain of the day and joked that he may never be invited back by the lawmakers.
In his 10 minute speech, Stanley focused on the tendency of political leaders to raise money and support by intentionally dividing people. The pastor argued that organizations "are never better than their leadership."
"Disagreement is unavoidable. But division is always a choice," Stanley argued. "unfortunately, in your world, there are advantages to division. You can raise more money when things are divided."
Stanley pointed out that "if you need an enemy in order to lead, you're a poor leader." He underscored how in the political arena, "the goal is to always appear as if you're losing but not to actually lose." The pastor remarked, "What a terrible way to lead."
Instead, Stanley gave a better alternative: to follow Jesus's example. He cited how Jesus once said that just because one considers the other an enemy, the other does not have to "return the favor." The pastor argued that a person does not have to "take cues" from the enemy and "call or treat them like an enemy."
Stanley also highlighted how modern day politicians and pundits "often make broad accusations against entire groups of people." Such examples include calling a certain group "corrupt Democrats" or "racist Republicans." The pastor reminded the House, "You know that's not true."
"So what if in the state of Georgia, we just stopped using that language?" Stanley suggested. The pastor said that instead of disputing each other's beliefs, legislators must make an effort to understand why people believe in their beliefs, because these things are shaped by "circumstances and experiences." These circumstances are influenced by where and how one person grew up and how they were raised, along with their experiences along the way.
Stanley urged lawmakers to meet in the "messy middle," which he said was "where the problems are solved." The pastor highlighted how Jesus was a leader from the "middle" as well, as both the temple and the empire "conspired" against Jesus. Stanley argued that the "middle" is the "way forward" and the "way you change the world."
Leading from the "middle" would also require lawmakers' "personal maturity and personal security." Stanley said, "It will require you to love our state more than you love your party."
Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled Georgia House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation that would provide ballot security measures to help restore trust in elections, Report Newspapers reported. Democratic leaders criticized the move as voter suppression, a prime example of the division between parties that Stanley talked about. House Bill 1464 after a 98 to 63 vote just before 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Crossover Day, which is the deadline for bills to pass at least one legislative chamber to stay alive for the year.