The Pew Research Center has conducted a study finding that 64% of church goers heard political issues being preached from the pulpit. Those “political issues” included abortion, homosexuality, religious liberty, the environment, and economic inequality.
Now those are mostly moral–not political–issues. Churches have always taught about sexual morality and respect for human life. They have also addressed issues of social morality. That is not being political. The Pew study found that only 14% heard political candidates being promoted or criticized.
What’s interesting here is that the researchers consider moral beliefs to be nothing more than political positions. To be sure, government dictates about morality gives them a political dimension they normally would not have. This is especially true when the government requirements run counter to the church’s traditional moral teachings. Of course the church must push back against that.
But the problem isn’t churches meddling into politics. It is the government meddling into morality.
As the calendar turned from spring to summer and the political season transitioned from the primaries to the general election campaign, many American churchgoers were hearing at least some discussion of social and political issues from the pulpits at their houses of worship, a new Pew Research Center survey finds. Religious liberty and homosexuality were chief among the issues they were hearing about, with four-in-ten saying they heard from clergy on each of these topics during the spring and early summer. Roughly three-in-ten say their clergy talked about abortion, similar to the share who heard about immigration. And one-in-five churchgoers reported hearing about the environment and economic inequality.
In the new survey, conducted online and by mail June 5-July 7 among a nationally representative sample of 4,602 adults, 40% of Americans reported attending religious services at least once or twice in the few months before the poll was conducted. Within this group, about two-thirds (64%) say they heard clergy at their church or other place of worship speak about at least one of the six social and political issues mentioned in the survey, with nearly half (46%) indicating that religious leaders had spoken out on multiple issues.
Fewer recent churchgoers (14%) say they heard their clergy speak directly in support of or against a specific presidential candidate in the months leading up to the survey.
HT: Bobby Ross–read what he says about this.
But let me add this: Churches teach morality as part of their province. But they should not only preach morality. Morality is not politics, but it is not religion either. That is to say, Christian churches should not just preach the Law; they must also preach the Gospel, the good news of forgiveness through Christ for those who have broken that Law (which includes everyone). And, as C. F. W. Walther has said, the Gospel must predominate.