Politics in the Pulpit

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?

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