Most Americans Don’t Want Churches Endorsing Political Candidates
By Alan Turner, New York Times
It sounded good at first, or, at least, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump thought it did. But his pledge to allow churches to endorse political candidates without losing their tax-exempt status fell flat with the faithful, a new LifeWay Research poll indicates.
Trump described his call for repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits such endorsements, "my greatest contribution to Christianity and other religions." Repealing the amendment also was included as a plank in the GOP's party platform.
Religion News Service reports that 79 percent of Americans participating in the new telephone poll thought such endorsements were inappropriate. The percentage of those not supporting endorsements was down 7 points from a similar survey in 2008.
"Americans already argue about politics enough outside the church. They don't want pastors bringing those arguments into worship," LifeWay executive director Scott McConnell said in a written statement.
Forty-three percent of poll participants said it was acceptable for pastors to endorse candidates outside their church roles; 52 percent said churches should not forfeit tax-exempt status for making endorsements.
The new poll found 27 percent of self-identified evangelicals, a group that includes Southern Baptists, considered church political endorsements appropriate.
Only 1 in 5 Protestants, 13 percent of Catholics, 18 percent of non-Christians and 21 percent of those without religious preference agreed.
To Learn More:
Skip the Endorsements in Church, Say Most Americans (by Bob Smietana, LifeWay)
Pastors Prepare to Taunt IRS by Endorsing Candidates Despite Tax-Exempt Status (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Tax-Exempt Churches Plan to Engage in Illegal Electioneering (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
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