Norwegian Pastor And Politician: Church Must Not Stay Away From Politics


Arnfinn Clementsen has been a pastor of Charisma church in Stavanger, Norway for 37 years, 32 of which he was a senior pastor. In those days he was not directly involved in politics, but he always encouraged the worshippers to be politically active. The KRYNICA.INFO reporter met the pastor.

– Do you think that politics and Christianity can be combined

– The church must not stay away from politics. I think that the church has three main pillars: a prayer for society, evangelization, social responsibility.

There are many politically active people in our congregation, but the Church itself is not involved in poitics. Five years ago I commissioned my position of a senior pastor to another person because I realized that I want and I will to do politics and work at Christian Democratic Party (KrF). I think that one must stolidly protect Biblical values. I never preached the party values at church but encouraged the parishioners to be politically active, myself not being afraid of expressing my own political views.

As a church we prayed during the elections for the honest and responsible people to be elected.

During the four weeks of elections Christians of all confessions prayed for society, nation, country. This forms a civic awareness of importance of elections.

– What would you recommend to the Belarusian believers, including  pastors, who are afraid of discussing politics not only at church, but outside of it?

I am very careful about recommending anything concerning behaviour in Belarus. But we can and must pray for the problems in society that concern us.

We can pray for the leader of our country even if we are not agree with his politics. We are not supposed to agree with him/her if we want him/her to leave.

I think everybody must being open to the directions of the God and bravely and persistently follow his goal.

– What is your personal reaction to parishioners doing politics in church?

– In 1997 the prime minister was Christian. He was a member of KrF party. On the eve of elections we prayed a lot for the new government, for Christian candidates being part of it. But we did not pray for specific people, we were giving the names. We asked God to give us Christian representatives in the givernment. Not speaking about it publicly, I was very proud of this achievement because it allowed us to do charity and popularize Christian values more actively outside the church.

A balance must be kept at church because there are representatives of different parties among our parishioners.

– What is your commentary on the words “No government would exist if it hadn’t been established by God”?

– It can not be explained in two words because in Bible any passage must be correlated with others. We see that Peter does not listen to the authorities and says that one must obey God and not the authorities if they contradict God and oppose His Word. The authorities must be treated with respect but at the same time Christians must have courage to express their point of view.

As a Church we must pray and preach the Word of God, as a political party – to stand on positions we believe in. I , being a pastor, always attend to the pstoral congress. This year it will be held in August. Thus we try to convey that our church must have its own standpoint and that Christians must be socially responsible people.

– Starting from which age one should be involved in politics?

 – It is an individual question and it depends on the character of a person, the country he/she lives in and other factors. I (as a pastor) try to encourage curisoity and responsibility for their own lives and for society even in teenagers.