Study: Most Pastors Disapprove of Endorsing Politicians from the Pulpit
Sunday, October 7, 2012, has been designated as “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian ministry. Under current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules, tax-exempt organizations are prohibited from campaigning for or against political candidates. Tax-exempt organizations that violate this restriction can have their tax-exempt status revoked, according to the IRS.
The Alliance Defending Freedom argues that the current tax rule violates the First Amendment. It believes churches and their pastors should be able to determine what pastors preach from the pulpit and to not have the IRS dictate that. Reportedly, approximately 1400 pastors will defy IRS by endorsing political candidates on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” The goal is to have IRS take action against a church because of its defiance of the current prohibition so as to occasion a lawsuit and a subsequent court ruling that the restriction is unconstitutional.
Ironically, based on a recent study conducted by LifeWay Research, most pastors disapprove of endorsing politicians from the pulpit. Nearly 90 percent of pastors believe they should not endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit, according to the findings. The survey also revealed that 44 percent of pastors personally endorsed candidates, but did so outside of their church role.
The findings of the study were based on a telephone survey conducted in May 2012, among 1000 Protestant pastors. The list was randomly drawn from a list of all Protestant churches.
In the Christian community, I believe that our primary responsibility as preachers and pastors is to continuously campaign for Christ. The message we proclaim from the pulpit, the songs we sing, and our teaching ministries should all be geared toward our members growing in the knowledge of Christ and in their relationship with Him. Just as politicians must be careful not to get off message, we also must be careful not to do the same.Continued on the next page