Commentary: Conflicting Advice on Politics From the Pulpit

October 3, 2004

Source: The First Amendment Press Release

On October 3, 2004 the The First Amendment Press Release reported, "for anyone who cares about the First Amendment, the question of church involvement in partisan politics should be a principled discussion of tax exemption for religious groups, church-state relations, and the meaning of free exercise of religion in America. But for partisans on both sides of the political divide, 'pulpit politics' is less about the tax code or free speech and more about winning elections... Most Americans currently oppose churches endorsing political candidates (65% in a recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life). At the same time, however, few of us want the IRS to be the 'speech police' in order to keep that from happening. And the specter of citizen spies — liberal or conservative — taking notes in pews is an offense to religious freedom. Is it possible to have a civil, thoughtful dialogue about political activity in houses of worship? Not before Nov. 2. Then we should try."