When I found Mr. Connelly on Kevin Folger’s twitter page, I knew I’d done a post on him but couldn’t find it. However I discovered it yesterday when I checked articles that I haven’t posted. I intended for this article to go up in March. At the time, SFL.net was two weeks old. I guess that I flubbed the ‘schedule for publication’ function. So I’m publishing it now.
Meet Chad Connelly
Chad Connelly is known in Republican Party circles. He has chaired the South Carolina Republican Party. When RNC Chairperson Reince Priebus wanted someone to head up the RNC’s Faith Engagement program, Mr. Connelly was his choice. Mr. Connelly served at least two terms as the RNC National Director of Faith Engagement.
Mr. Connelly works the RNC ‘web-based effort to rally conservative believers behind the party.’ He is active on the web; the page linked to his blurb names various operations and talking points. He had this interview with the Faith and Liberty Talk Show.
But Mr. Connelly’s efforts are not limited to the internet. Kevin Folger apparently felt that it would be a good idea for Mr. Connelly to address the supposedly ‘conservative believers’ at Cleveland Baptist Church.
The Cleveland Baptist Church Voter
The Cleveland Baptist Church Facebook page says this:
This Wednesday (January 27) Chad Connelly will be our special guest. Mr. Connelly will take about 10 minutes in the meeting to encourage God’s people regarding the importance of getting registered to vote and then voting in this November’s presidential election. Mr. Connelly is the Republican National Committee’s first-ever National Director of Faith Engagement.
There is nothing untoward about encouraging people to register to vote. Churches across the spectrum do it. And many churches open their facilities as polling stations as a public service.
Wherever they ‘register’ on the spectrum, one may hope that when they address churches, speakers would be non-partisan, encouraging people to register and vote, and nothing more. With Mr. Connelly’s record, one may wonder about the wisdom of this event. Still, Rev. Folger may have made clear that Mr. Connelly was to speak be non-partisan and non-ideological. I’m not privy to those matters, so I can’t attest what did or didn’t happen.
Church, Voter Registration and Wisdom
But Mr. Folger or some other staff member might just as easily have given the same pep-talk. Or, could not a former state Democratic Party or [God forbid!] Socialist Party representative to fulfill that same function?
Or would the involvement of those persons somehow occur worldly entanglement? But if so, how does Mr. Connelly’s address at Cleveland Baptist Church manage to escape censure for just such worldly engagement?
This is not to argue against the intersection of secular affairs and church life. But it begs to be asked what that intersection means. Moreover, the nature and meaning of that intersection must be clear to all.
Beyond Voter Registration
Presuming you don’t have a roster of lunatic candidates, voter registration may be a worthwhile project. And many other worthy concerns might also be raised at Wednesday night church meetings.
The epidemic of assassinations by police [euphemistically dismissed as “justifiable homicides”] is one. Virtual immunity from prosecution is another. And it isn’t as if Cleveland has had no ‘justifiable homicides.’ The whole country knows otherwise. So Cleveland Baptist knows it.
Again, the state of public education in Cleveland is known far and wide. Cleveland has seen education budgets slashed, mass teacher dismissals and school closures. Might this merit a public service announcement on an upcoming community discussion on education?
Maybe Cleveland Baptist is more interest in the school it maintains than in the public school system. As for police affairs, the church website periodically features ‘police devotionals.’ So someone at Cleveland Baptist is ‘up’ on police issues. But Tamir Rice doesn’t isn’t among those issues.
Where Our Interests Lie
At Cleveland Baptist Church, can a public service announcement for Cleveland’s homeless make the cut? What about an announcement on a public discussion of an initiative for peace? What about class issues? What about food insecurity? What about poverty?
Lastly, what about this?
‘My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives’ [Jms 2:1-4]?
Whatever else, Chad Connelly got his ten minutes. Perhaps others will have some thoughts on what all this plus the James text actually mean.
Since writing this post, Mr. Folger and his Cleveland Baptist Church have had further involvement in civic functions which can be the basis for a future post.