In September 2014, the Pew Foundation released a report, "Growing Appetite for Religion in Politics." In it, the Foundation reports that a growing number of Americans want their clergy members to weigh in on political issues, even to the point of endorsing candidates from the pulpit.
The political tradition of separation of Church and State seems to mean different things to different communities. Many expect their spiritual leaders to provide moral guidance; others argue moral guidance and ballot issues should remain discrete topics.
Contentious cultural issues often push back on religious input, or seek to garner religion's support. Should faith traditions publically weigh in on ballot issues or the positions of candidates for public office? How can religious congregations guide members in moral and social issues without specifically directing voting choices? Does a tradition have the right to mandate adherence to prescribed moral behavior?
Politics in the Pulpit
Preston Sprinkle, Evangelical, VP Eternity Bible College
Instead of ignoring the state or investing in the state with messianic passion, Christians can offer a more compelling vision of an alternative kingdom.
Erin Wathen, Progressive Christian, Pastor, Blogger
We want to be the people who live so deeply rooted in the gospel, that the way we vote is just one more expression of our deep love for God and neighbor.
Tim Suttle, Evangelical, Pastor, Author
American political leadership today is—point blank—about leveraging chronic anxiety for the sake of gaining power.
Greg Forster, Evangelical, Program Director, Kern Family Foundation
We don't need pastors to pick candidates or debate the tax rate. We do need pastors to remind us that the purpose of politics is justice, and to remind us of what justice requires.
David Mason, Mormon, professor, author, blogger
Religion does not poison everything, but it can be the enemy of democracy's egalitarian ideal.
Jim Burklo, UCC pastor, Associate Dean of Religious Life, USC
We have to reach deep, below our frustration with the functioning or non-functioning of our government. We have to re-awaken to the raw, real reason we vote at all.
James Ford, Soto Zen Buddhist priest, UU minister
I'm perfectly happy to advise people on how to vote their faith. First, we need to pay attention to our radical call to notice the preciousness of each and every one of us.
Neil Carter, Atheist, educator, blogger
The only way you can ensure that you will be free to live and believe as you see fit is if your neighbor is equally free to do the same.
Ryan Bell, Atheist, researcher, writer, speaker
What is clear to me is that our democracy still needs to wrestle with the notion of the "common good."
Samuel James, Evangelical, columnist
But why do religious people assemble, preach, evangelize and engage the culture? Because religious dialogue, even between two people of completely incompatible religious systems, presupposes the exceptional importance of life's ultimate questions.
Arlene Sanchez Walsh, Progressive Christian, professor, blogger
There is precious little to vote for, and so all the predictions of Latino/a voting may be little more than wishful thinking in a time of entrenched diminished expectations where we expect so little of politicians and often get exactly that result.
Brian Lee, Evangelical, Pastor, Author, Columnist
The Good News of Jesus Christ is the sole focus of our Gospel ministry, because we have neither the authority nor the expertise to weigh in on civil matters.