Sunday, September 28, 2008

Religious Recommendations?

building a churchImage by ratterrell via FlickrPerhaps many of us have forgotten or were not aware of this, but the election has stirred up controversy about a rule enforcing the separation between "church and state". A 1954 tax code provision (law), called the "Johnson Amendment" prohibits religious leaders from explicitly endorsing a political candidate from the pulpit.

They can talk about political issues, but they can't tell their flock to vote for either McCain or Obama. If they do break the law, it's possible that the entire religious organization (church, mosque, temple, etc.) could lose its tax-exempt status under the law. This is important since these organizations are not-for-profit and therefore might not be viable if taxed.

Today, a group called the Alliance Defense Fund is sponsoring "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" in order to challenge the above law that they consider unjust.
  • Is this truly a case of civil disobedience?
  • Are preachers' 1st amendment rights (speech, etc.) being violated by the government?
  • Assuming you are religious, what would you think if your religious leader endorsed one of the presidential candidates during a service?
Listen to both sides of the issue in this 13-minute excerpt from the radio show, On The Media:

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andrea said...

i think this is a very interesting topic. I do believe that everyone has their right to free speech and that includes preachers, however their job is not to include the religious community in political matters. I was at church earlier this morning where the election was brought up, however nothing was stated about who one should be voting for. I think it is anyone's right to express their opinions. I do also believe that politics should not be preached at church/temple/mosques instead of religion.

Maddie M said...

Listening to a few minutes of the radio show, I see that Mr. Eric Stanley does have a good point. I understand were he gets his ideas but I do not agree with him. He says the in the end what he wants to do is seperate Church and State, and the government is not allowing that by having restrictions. If he truly wanted the Church and State to be seperate he would not urge pastors to talk about the election during their sermons. I feel as though these people should be able to voice their opinions freely, but I do not believe that that should happen while they are giving a sermon. Political ideas should not be preached but shared with the people following them.

Matt L. said...

I do go to church every Sunday, and although the priest at the mass might not come right out and endorse a certain candidate, it is pretty obvious who they are backing. I agree with maddie's comment because the sermon should be about interpreting what was just read.

Kimber said...

I was surprised to learn that there was a law that prohibits clergy from endorsing a political candidate. It makes sense that this law was created in order to keep church and state separate. When I think back, I have never heard any clergy ever endorse a candidate. As said in the interview on the radio show, this law is not prohibiting freedom of speech because if the clergy wanted to support a specific candidate they could walk across the street and speak. If different religions supported specific candidates, they would be like a branch of a specific political party. This has the potential to increase conflict between religious groups.

Danny M said...

I do not agree with this law that prohibits religous figures from expressing their opinions. It is a fact that everyone has a bias in one way. I think that their is a fine line between expressing your opinion and preaching in favor of one side of an issue. People and especially religous figures should understand this line and not cross it. But more importantly, I do not believe that the government should take away anybody's right to express their opinions.

Alex said...

I agree with the 1954 Johnson Amendment stating that religious leaders cannot endorse a political candidate. Everyone has a right to freedom of speech but I do not believe that there should be political endorsement in the church. The Johnson Amendment was created with hopes to separate the church and state. I think that this law was a good idea because members of the church see their religious leaders as an authority figure. If the religious leader was endorsing one specific candidate I think that members of the church would change whom they were going to vote for. This is the same as in the classroom. Teachers are not supposed to talk about their political views with students. Students view their teachers as authority figures and they will be easily persuaded to see the candidates the way their teacher does. This means that students will not be able to form their own opinions and likes and dislikes about the candidates. I believe that religious leaders and teachers have the right to discuss politics, but not endorse certain candidates.

Gordie C said...

I have to agree with Danny. Everyone has the right to support who they believe is the best candidate for president. The government shouldn't have the right to shut down a church or temple just because a religious figure decides it is important to say who they think should be in the oval office. Also if a priest or rabbi do bring up politics you don't have to agree with them you can simply ignore them. I've personally heard many adults have political arguments but their opinions never change. As long as you have your opinion it shouldn't matter who your priest or rabbi is voting for.

maddie hilbrant said...

I definitely think that freedom of speech is a great thing-however i dont think that grants permission to shoot other people down for their beliefs. I've heard many adults argue about this issue too, and i think it gets people no where. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and i think everyone is also entitled to respectfully state what they believe but by no means should somebody shoot down someone elses beliefs.