PASTORS URGED TO ADDRESS “THE ISSUES OF OUR DAY …”
We’ve written previously on the big push to turn out evangelical voters in 2016 … and obviously there was some major movement on that front late last week when evangelical favorite Ted Cruz decided to endorse the presidential candidacy of GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Hardcore evangelicals sat on their hands in staggering numbers in both 2008 and 2012 – contributing to decisive electoral defeats for the “Republican” party.
If the GOP is to have any hope of reclaiming the White House this go-round, evangelicals must show up at the polls.
Here in South Carolina – where recent surveys suggest the presidential race could be closer than it seems – evangelical leaders are looking to Palmetto pastors for support.
According to the Palmetto Family Council, South Carolina’s preachers have five Sundays in October to “embrace their God-given responsibility to boldly preach God’s truth on the issues of our day.”
“That’s five Sundays that represent five opportunities to stand for this historic, Constitutional right and to explain the dangers of what has become known as the Johnson Amendment,” an email from Palmetto Family Council’s Oran Smith noted.
Proposed by then-U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson, this amendment changed the U.S. tax code so as to prohibit tax-exempt organizations from supporting or opposing political candidates.
Churches obviously fall into that category, although the pulpit freedom movement – a project of the Alliance Defending Freedom – urges pastors to violate the statue.
Or as Smith says, the effort is intended to “educate pastors about their rights and mobilize them in removing restrictions to preaching the whole Gospel to every area of life.”
A little religiously-inspired civil disobedience, if you will …
Our views on the matter are two-fold …
First, as libertarians we support the right of pastors (and other religious leaders) to say whatever they want from their pulpits. The government has no right to step in and censor such commentary … nor does it have the right to revoke a congregation’s tax-exempt status simply because its spiritual leader expressed political leanings.
Churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship should remain forever free to hear whatever messages their leaders wish to deliver – with no interference or censorship from the state.
Having said that, we’ve never believed it was appropriate for pastors, rabbis or imams to avail themselves of this right by advocating for or against the election of particular candidates.
Their job is simple: To teach their flock and minister to it. Period.
“Churches really shouldn’t be injecting themselves into presidential politics,” we noted in an unrelated post last month, although again – it’s not our position to tell them they can’t do so if they choose.
After all, freedom of religion means that some religions will choose to exercise their freedom via political action. Just because we don’t agree with that decision doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to do it.
(Banner image via iStock)