Should Religious Leaders be Able to Endorse Political Candidates?

On September 28th, 33 religious leaders violated federal tax law and endorsed a candidate for president. This protest, organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, sought to challenge the illegality of political endorsements by religious leaders. Meanwhile, critics like Americans United have insisted that politics should remain outside the church. Where should we draw a line between preaching and politicking?

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Speech is either free or not free. It should be free -- for everyone, at all times. If people don't like their pastor's or denomination's stand, they can find a church more in tune with their thinking. I think it's better to KNOW from the horse's own mouth whether the church one attends supports candidates and causes hostile to one's political beliefs. A first visit to a denomination's website newsletter can be a shocker.
There doesn't seem to be a problem with liberal progressive churches endorsing liberal progressive candidates, but I've read about threats from the IRS when Bill of Rights conservatives try to do the same. The major Christian denominations and others seem to favor government benefits for ILLEGAL immigrants on humanitarian grounds, but oppose American CITIZENS' gun RIGHTS and privacy because of crime and violence and the "burden gunshot victims place on our medical system," and call that "social justice."

Is just that, any church that wants to get involved in politics should not be tax exempt.

The power of the pulpit puts politicians under the control of the church that can provide the most votes. For those of you voting yes on this, consider that it might not be your church that provides the most votes. There is far too much religion in politics as it is.

Anybody should be able to endorse anybody they want. This anti Christian movement is going way too far. Today's anti Christian movement reminds me of racial discrimination .

PS, I belong to no religion .

Why shouldn't a religious leader be able to tell who their gonna vote for and why. I'm not saying let's turn the whole sermon into a political commercial but they should be able to inform the people about why their voting for said candidate.

The Constitution stops Government from taking over the churches thus removing freedom of religion . It doesn't say religious leaders cannot support a paticular candidate. That removes freedom of speech and religion . Everyone should be allowed an oppinion. Companies are allowed to support whoever they want. Thats a bigger conflict of interest to me.

Which are more important? Apparently, if you believe in such things, the laws of "God". Religious leaders should not be endorsing politics. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's..

It's the job (if you want to call it that) of the religious leaders to guide the spiritual life of the followers. Not to tell them how to vote.

There's not a way for religion to reconcile itself to politics. So much of what is done in the realm of politics is a direct affront to the beliefs of religion. So any religious leader promoting a candidate or party is guilty of paying more creedence to the laws of men above the laws of "God".

Jerry Falwell was a prime example of hypocrisy, and of using his religious influence to garner votes.

I see no problem with religious leaders endorsing candidates as long as they and their affiliated religious institutions start paying taxes.

Any one else think about this???

The goverment says to church's "you can be tax exempt, but cant speak about political issues"
The Govermetn says to Planned Parent hood "you can be tax exempt, but CAN speak about issues"
The Goverment says to churchs "you can not speak about politics, but ! WE can come to your church's and speak about them"

THIS is a hypacritical movment to silence opposition and should be against the law!!!
SPEAK AWAY PASTORS SPEAK A WAY. BY allowing other exempt institutions to speak on the issues and not pastors its a clear case of discrimination.

Specifically, the government does not tell churches they cannot speak about political issues; it only prevents them from endorsing or opposing candidates. Planned Parenthood is subject to exactly the same restriction.

I checked Yes, but read on for clarification. It is time that freedom be restored to courageous pastors who choose to expound on any public servant's stand on the issues. That, my friends, is not endorsing a particular candidate, nor is it being "partisan". It is simply preaching the truths of God's Word; and if a particular candidate is in opposition to God's truths, then it is a pastor's responsibility to bring it to light. If a political candidate is for abortion or same-sex marriage and the pastor believes it is a sin according to God's Word, then he should be allowed to address it with his congregation with the name of the candidate. Each person hearing such information can then decide for themselves who they should vote for after they have verified the facts. What is the problem with that? Sounds like freedom of speech and freedom of religion to me. As for mixing politics and religion; check out the historical documents from our founding fathers - it is full of religion!

This country was founded on freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
With specific separation of church and state.

I predict that if endorsements or condemnations are given from the "pulpit".

Then we will also be seeing campaign speeches given there also.

and the bank accounts of both will be "enlightened".

Praise be to whomever!

and the door swings the other way..

How about a politican "endorsing" one congregation/religion over another?

Would that ever raise a "stink", think the middle east is a hot bed of religious fanatics.

Politics is all about belief/trust/faith in a person/cause, something unknowable until it happens except by looking into the past to judge the future. Similar to most religions in that sense.

Speaking of which - If McCain openly associated with unrepentant abortion clinic bombers - would anyone vote for him? If not - why would anyone vote for Obama?

Should religious leaders actively 'endorse' political candidates? Not unless they are Muslim, in which case they'd be denied what they see as basic human rights. In a democracy religious leaders should be able to 'discuss' political topics since political decisions often cross the line into moral issues.

I admit that I am a conservative Christian white male. No hiding here. That being said, I thought that ALL MEN ARE ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN UN-INALIENABLE RIGHTS like LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. My take on that means we have the right to do, say, and think what we choose as long as I don't interfere with other people's rights, we're golden. Apparently not true, at least not for the traditions or beliefs in family, GOD, religion, possessions(drugs &/or guns), and HEAVEN FORBID someone believes in these CRAZY NOTIONS OF FREEDOM because the are CHRISTIANS. HOW CAN ANY LOGICAL REASONING PERSON NOT SEE THIS, I'll tell you how: Their either ignorant or lying!

Michael Byrd

If you don't discuss the issue at hand and simply attack who I am, then it reasons you know you're wrong or ignorant!

Yes, religious leaders ought to be free and are by right free to endorse whomever they choose. To interfere in that right is an injustice. Freedom of religion and of speech are derivative of the higher belief in individual rights and the liberty to exercise them. Are we not all supposed to hold that one belief above all others? Regardless of tax status, any organization - religious or otherwise - which is merely a collection of individuals with rights and liberties who share some common beliefs and goals, ought to be free also to endorse whomever it chooses. After all, if the individuals of an organization have liberty, then so too has the organization to which they belong and in equal measure. Endorsement is not the real issue.

The real question is whether or not a publicly-charged servant of all individuals within a community, a city, state or nation ought to be subordinate to some assumed authority or power of a religious institution and its leaders.

The answer, in any group of people who claim to respect individual rights and the liberty of all to live as they choose provided they allow such liberty in others is - no. Public servants serve all of us, not simply the aims of special interest groups. They must weigh their words and actions against their duty to consistently perform in a fashion in balance with the diverse community they serve.

The one principle below which all others are subordinate is that of the inalienable individual right to self-determination and the liberty to exercise that right with respect to others doing the same. Both politicians and religious leaders are required, at least in a truly free society, to hold to that principle.

I am an atheist and highly dislike the idea of mixing church and state, but I cannot, as a freedom-loving citizen, deny anyone the right to speak freely. This includes religious leaders, as well. They should be able to speak freely, as long a citizen is still free to do so in this country.

The whole tax-exempt argument is a flawed and weak argument. In an ideal country (the one the founders had imagined) every PERSON would be tax exempt. Thus putting every person on the same plane as to their monetary obligation to the state. Then everyone could speak freely and endorse or denounce any candidate they so wish.

It seems to be a trend in America, lately, which is to take away freedom from some people because of "unfair" advantages they may or may not have.

As I said before, I hold great disdain for the mixing of politics and religion, but I cannot take away someone's freedom of speech to keep them separate.

..just as long as they don't use their religion as a reason for supporting the candidate of their choice.

There is no way to enforce such a subjective rule. What would constitute endorsement, how would you police the pulpit, Who would decide what language constituted free speech and free religious practice or not.
I agree it is unethical but I support the pastors and churches in using there pulpits anyway there congregations want to, barring violation of individual rights of parishioners of course.

There is only one reason that Religious leaders should not be able to endorse political candidates, and it is their special tax exempt concessions. So put simply if you remove my implicit subsidy through my paying of taxes versus their not paying of taxes then they would and should be free to say and do whatever they wish. This is the only just path, even if they promise not to endorse candidates, is to remove their exemption. As it still an implicit, and forced, subsidy of the spread of their other ideas. If they play as valuable a role in the spreading of ideas as movie theaters, book stores and private schools they will have no problem raising the necessary capital even without a head start.

Definitely not! Religion and politics should never mix

Religious leaders should not endorse candidates. To endorse a candidate is to support everything that candidate stands for, which I highly doubt it possible. It is also stepping into the political arena in a way in which is inappropriate.

Should religious leaders talk about issues? Absolutly.

An example: It is pre-1960's. I am a pastor and I believe that all people are created equal (Book of Genesis). Am I to keep my mouth shut about unequal treatment and legislated racism? What about women and the right to vote? What about slavery? Do I have to keep my mouth shut about these things because they are a part of my faith?

Of course not. That is ridiculous. Laws are all about morality, what is just and fair. Often times, our faith lives form our moral code. There is also natural law, which goes beyond mere faith - it is inherent in the natural order.

We should change the question. It doesn't make any sense. The question is "Should Religious Leaders be Able to Endorse Political Candidates?" Of course they should! We all have freedom of speech. But can they keep their tax-exempt status? No. They should not.

I hate to see religion and politics mix. I hate it. It is so stupid. But their are lots of stupid things that we have to permit. I also think Britney Spears is stupid, but she is free to sell her music. The government should not ban her.

Religions should not be able to keep their tax exempt status. But we need freedom of speech. It sounds good to say that: "religion and politics should never mix". I agree. They should never mix. But that is your value, and you should not force your values on others.

We need freedom of speech. Or else what is the government going to do? Should the government fine preachers who talk good about one candidate? Should they be put in jail?

With that Jeremiah Wright incident in mind, there really isn't anything we can do to prevent such a thing from occurring.