Between now and November voters will be subjected to all the wizardry that political strategists can muster to bring about a favorable vote. Millions of dollars will be spent on the various methods employed.

In a democratic society we have come to expect this sort of thing. But political parties and candidates are not alone in trying to affect elections or influence public opinion on political issues.

Churches, as well, are involved in politics. Churches not only speak out on politics in the form of official pronouncements; they also engage directly in political action, some even maintain lobbies to exert pressure on legislation.

Moreover, “liberal” and “conservative” churches do not differ on this. “Liberal” churches are likely to take stands on such matters as American policy in Viet Nam, anti-poverty programs and civil rights legislation, whereas “conservative” churches show more interest in how or whether the theory of evolution should be taught in the public schools, the maintenance of “law and order,” and the preservation of laws against abortion. Nevertheless, both religious groups take stands on political issues and try to affect public policy.

This raises a serious question. Should churches be doing this sort of thing? Ought churches to advocate political programs—of the left or of the right—or to engage in political action? More generally, is it justifiable to act politically in the name of religion or under the auspices of a church? I think it is not.

Having been the chairman of a church social action committee, my view on this was that the church should be active politically. For, so I reasoned at the time, shouldn’t religion be relevant to every part of human life? Isn’t God as much concerned with politics as with ...

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