Among the numerous social and political challenges addressed by U.S. churches, a few issues have been particularly prominent in recent years. In all issues, IRD advocates a social witness by churches that is thoughtful, non-partisan, well-informed by diverse sources, and grounded in the values of Scripture and historic Christian teaching. It is especially important for church leaders to have the humility to recognize their limited expertise in the minutiae of complex public policy matters and not to claim God’s endorsement for specific government policies or programs on which He has not clearly spoken. A hallmark of healthy democratic societies is widespread acceptance of the fact that intelligent, well-informed, and well-meaning citizens will not always agree on the best specific public policy means for advancing commonly sought ends. We at IRD believe that Christian churches as institutions make their best contribution to the political discussions in the United States and other nations when they promote their values without simply paralleling the efforts of secular lobby groups and political action committees. The churches themselves and society as a whole also benefit greatly when our denominational leaders model civility and integrity in how they make their social witness.
While IRD promotes certain principles for the social witness of our churches and denominations, offers critiques of how such witnesses have been made, and at times shares its concerns with government leaders, we very rarely, if ever, take positions on specific treaties or pieces of legislation. In doing so, we hope to model for our denominations an alternative means of social witness from the tendency too often seen of denominational political lobbies being driven more by secular political ideologies and partisan loyalties than by timeless Christian values, and functioning with little discernible difference from secular political lobbies beyond than glib suggestions of God’s endorsement of or opposition to a seemingly limitless variety of specific legislation. At the same time we expect and encourage individual Christians to be knowledgeable participants in the democratic process.