Evangelicals: We Don’t Want Pastors Endorsing Candidates, But We Don’t Want Them Punished If They Do

pastor-mark-burns-donald-trump

Pastor Mark Burns has endorsed Donald Trump

That pretty much sums up the result of a recently released report from an organization called LifeWay Research.

Here is a taste of Bob Smietana’s piece at Christianity Today:

Since the 1950s, the IRS has banned preachers from endorsing candidates during church services. Donald Trump has pledged to eliminate the ban, calling it his “greatest contribution to Christianity” if he is elected president.

However, most Americans—including evangelicals—seem to like the status quo.

Four out of five Americans say it is inappropriate for pastors to endorse a candidate in church, according to a newly released report from LifeWay Research. Three-quarters say churches should steer clear of endorsements.

For the most part, Americans with evangelical beliefs agree that pastors and churches should abstain from using their resources—including the pulpit—to campaign for a particular candidate. Seventy-three percent say pastors should abstain, while about 65 percent say churches should abstain.

“Americans already argue about politics enough outside the church,” said LifeWay executive director Scott McConnell. “They don’t want pastors bringing those arguments into worship.”

Yet fewer than half of Americans—and just 33 percent of evangelicals—want churches to be punished if they do endorse candidates.

The ban on endorsements, known as the Johnson Amendment, dates back to aconflict between then–US Senator Lyndon Johnson and a Texas nonprofit, which opposed his re-election bid. Approved in 1954, the IRS rule bans all 501(c)(3) nonprofits, including churches, from active involvement in political campaigns.

Since 2008, a group of mostly Protestant pastors has challenged the ban each year by endorsing candidates in an event called Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Recent pollingshows few churchgoers have heard their pastor endorse a candidate.

Read the entire argument here.