The Race for Pastor-in-Chief

It is Pulpit Freedom Sunday — a day for pastors to break the law and endorse a candidate.

They’re welcome to do so, of course. I’ll be thrilled to see them paying taxes.

If they want to remain tax-exempt, though, they should refrain from doing so. And other Christian pastors ought to condemn their colleagues who are trying to unite their religion with the government.

This video from the Interfaith Alliance documents the shaky wall of separation between church and state:

It won’t be long before we see the fallout from today’s events…

(Thanks to Eric for the link!)

  • BK

    Somehow, I suspect they will find a way to continue to avoid paying taxes. Maybe I’m overly cynical, but it seems they always find a loophole.

  • http://theimperfectchurch.blogspot.com Josh

    Hemant,

    I completely agree with your assessment regarding the unity of church and state. Pastors should not publicly endorse a candidate. If anything, pastors should encourage their congregants to think critically about the issues (and not just the issues of homosexuality or abortion) and make informed decisions when voting.

  • SarahH

    What they want is attention. Of course they won’t face consequences – they were hoping the IRS would bite so they could get this issue into the news. I guess the giant economic meltdown had at least one silver lining – these guys are getting very little press coverage.

  • mikespeir

    Maybe I’m overly cynical…

    I call it being realistic, BK. My money’s on no action at all being taken.

  • http://laffingboi.blogspot.com Laughing Boy

    I agree that inviting politicians to stand in the pulpit is an offense…to the Church.

    Pulpits are for the proclamation of the Gospel, not politics. (Proclaiming the Gospel happens rarely enough!) At my current church no politician has ever been allowed to stand in for the pastor, nor has the pastor ever endorsed any candidate for any public office. The day either of those events happen I will go find another church that takes seriously it’s high calling. To be honest though, I have yet to be subjected to a politician in or a political endorsement from the pulpit in any service I have ever attended—and that’s well over a thousand. I know it happens, but only in a very small percentage of churches across America.

  • Aj

    Churches should have to pay taxes, any charitable work should be operating under a secular, non-profit registered organisation.Religion might be a motivation for some people, but it has nothing to do with operating a public service. It’s up to the individual churches who they endorse if anyone. It seems natural that some religions would be involved in lobbying politicians, endorsing candidates, working for parties.

    Of course this isn’t going to happen. The reason churches are involved in charity is to spread their influence and indoctrinate children. I don’t know any American churches so I have no idea what happens in general. On youtube I saw Obama’s church endorsing him, Palin’s endorsing her, and a preacher in church saying if you don’t vote for W. Bush again (4 years ago) the terrorists will get you all. I’d like to know how widespread this already is.

  • BZ

    If they had willingly given up their tax-exempt status in exchange for the right to speak their mind, I would have a lot of respect for them. However, they’re just asking for exemptions from the laws that apply to everyone.

  • Robin

    CNN actually covered this story today. It is in their video stories. I am sorry but I am not sure how to link it properly and computer whiz #1 isn’t back from the AAI convention yet and computer whiz #2 is sound asleep.

  • Pseudonym

    What Josh said.

    Clergy and churches do have an interest in specific policies, such as church/state issues, social justice issues and so on. They should be allowed to talk about those issues and encourage their congregations to think about them when voting.

    Endorsing a specific candidate is crossing the line.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Another echo for Josh’s comment. No endorsements. I’d like to see some of these churches get investigated for their mix of church and state. At least to let them know they can’t keep abusing the law in this respect.

  • Erp

    Actually it is perfectly legal for pastors as individuals to endorse candidates. What they can’t do is use their tax-exempt organization to publicize that endorsement or support the candidate in anyway or claim that it is the church that is endorsing. So not from the pulpit or in the church magazine but ok in a letter to the local newspaper (with the disclaimer if his position is mentioned that he is speaking as an individual not for the church).

  • Autumnal Harvest

    I guess the giant economic meltdown had at least one silver lining – these guys are getting very little press coverage.

    I am quite impressed with your ability to find the silver lining! Now, if only a giant comet would hit the earth. . .


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