Sunday, August 14, 2016
Are Religious Leaders Preaching Politics From The Pulpit ?
It is against U.S. election laws for religious leaders to preach politics from the pulpit during religious services, and the religious entity could lose its tax exempt status if found guilty of doing it. This specifically refers to a religious leader urging support (or opposition) to any particular candidate or political party. How many religious organizations are breaking the law?
The chart above was made from a recent Pew Research Center survey -- done between June 7th and July 5th of this year. They questioned 2,258 adults who have attended religious services in the past few months, and the survey has a margin of error of about 3.3 points.
The bad news is that a significant portion of Americans hear some politics being preached from the pulpit (between 9% and 40% depending on the issue). The good news is that most of that preaching doesn't break the law. Between 18% and 40% are on political issues, and don't single out a particular party or candidate.
It turns out that only 9% have heard their religious leader endorse a candidate from the pulpit, and only 11% have heard their religious leader urge them to vote against a candidate while preaching. I was pleasantly surprised that the numbers were that low. But even 9% and 11% are too high, and they do represent a violation of election law.
The Internal Revenue Service needs to fully investigate those religious institutions that are violating the law, and take steps to take their tax exemption away from them.