Trump campaign ad played in churches played Nov. 6

Trump campaign ad played in churches played Nov. 6 November 7, 2016

Late Friday, reports emerged that an ad featuring Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence was being sent to thousands of churches nationwide. The five minute video contained the campaign’s closing argument to evangelicals who may, for a large number of reasons, be wary of voting for the lapsed Presbyterian billionaire.

Alyssa Wilkinson has a piece up at Vox about the video, along with some thoughts about what it says about the present and future of the Religious Right. She also talks at some length about the Johnson Amendment, a 1950s tax code provision that bars churches and certain other nonprofit entities from engaging in electioneering. Hardly anyone is clamoring for a repleal of the rule. Mike Pence knows this, and he looks pretty silly talking about it as thought it would be a good thing for either religion or politics in this country, which he knows it would not.

One particularly striking feature of Wilkinson’s article is the inclusion of photos taken in various churches showing the campaign ad during their Sunday services Nov. 6. The ad is probably not illegal, and it remains true that Democrats campaign in black churches all the time. But it is pretty jarring to see images and videos of a campaign commercial playing in churches.

While many houses of worship do not have the computers and projectors necessary to show the ad, such technology is ubiquitous in evangelical churches.

I have to believe that most pastors had enough integrity to decline to show the campaign commercial. Clergy are ordained in part to preside over the ordered worship of God, and it seems like most would think they are violating a sacred trust and an established norm by not engaging in blatantly partisan politicking in their churches the week before the election.

But as you can see from the link, a number of Christian worshippers began their Sunday with an exhortation to vote for Donald Trump. In their church.

It’s doubtful that any churches will have their tax-exempt status challenged because of this video. This points to the fact that the ban on church electioneering is basically unenforced and depends on a kind of universal consensus that such activity is unethical.

Click the image to view the Trump ad created for church services Nov. 6.


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