Americas

Tempted by Politics

Why many pastors want to, but shouldn't, endorse candidates.
Mark Galli

Every pastor in America is just dying to tell their congregations how to vote. It happens every election season, but particularly during the presidential quadrennial. This yearning to lobby one's flock doesn't surprise me — it tempted me when I was a pastor.

What did surprise me was a report that said 31 pastors in 22 states this past Sunday endorsed a candidate from their pulpits. The nationwide event was orchestrated by the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, (ADF), which thinks churches should be able to take partisan stands without losing their tax exemption. The legal group hopes the sermons will prompt IRS reaction. In turn, the ADF will take the IRS to court and argue for a ruling that will abolish restrictions on church political speech.

Frankly, I hope they lose. I'm no legal scholar, and I have no idea whether current IRS policies deny churches' constitutionally guaranteed free speech. Who knows, they may just win. But good Lord, deliver us if they do.

This ...

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