Campaign Confidential

Pastors Endorsements to Test IRS Politics at the Pulpit Prohibition

By Brett Lieberman

  • Print
  • Share Share

If the Northminster Church that the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy leads in Monroe, La. were to endorse a presidential candidate, the decision would cause a deep and irreparable rift within the Baptist congregation.

Instead of being known for their religious denomination or community works, churches, synagogues and mosques like Northminster would become Red, Blue and divided just like many other institutions where politics has been allowed to invade.

“If we allow partisan politics in houses of worship, you would see a reconfiguration of religion in the landscape of America,” said Gaddy, the president of the Interfaith Alliance. “We would see houses of worship identified not based on denomination but based on the candidates they endorsed over the years.”

“It hurts the nature of religion and the nation in that way, plus it robs individuals and families of the basic resource for understanding helpfulness, therapy, encouragement, nurture unaffected by partisan political divisions,” Gaddy told the Forward.

It’s too soon to tell what the impact will be of Sunday’s “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” organized by the Alliance Defense Fund to challenge the Internal Revenue Service’s rules prohibiting political endorsements from the pulpit. The effort drew the participation of 33 pastors in more than 20 states.

The conservative group based in Arizona promised to release the names of churches and pastors participating before Sunday, but changed its tune late last week. A spokesman, citing concerns about potential protests and interruptions, said names of participants would not be released ahead of time after some names leaked. ADF still hadn’t released a list as of Monday afternoon.

Some clergy offered explicit endorsements, while others were more subtle, according to reports.

Here’s the Wall Street Journal wrap up after visiting several churches. A pastor in Minnesota endorsed John McCain. Meanwhile, the L.A. Times reports that The Rev. Wiley S. Drake urged parishioners to vote for him and Independent candidate Alan Keyes.

Not everyone who supports ADF’s goal participated in Sunday’s “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”

David Crisp, pastor at the Hanover Evangelical Friends Church in Mechanicsville, Va., says it’s the job of every “Bible believing pastor” to speak out on what the Bible says about issues including abortion rights or gay marriage. And he believes that the government has no business telling him what he can say from the pulpit.

Yet Crisp, who says he plans to vote for McCain, says politics has no place at the pulpit.

“I don’t think its the place on Sunday morning to do political endorsements per se,” he told the Forward.

“We’re trying to win people to Jesus,” said Crisp, an Evangelical minister, who said clergy have a higher calling and endorsing from the pulpit diminishes that responsibility.

“The pulpit for me is somewhat sacrosanct,” he said.

Crisp, who planned to give each of his congregants a dollar bill out of his own pocket (and later ask them to add it into the collection tray), said he would talk about the message of “In God We Trust” on the dollar bill.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Alliance Defense Fund, John McCain, C. Welton Gaddy, Interfaith Alliance, Internal Revenue Service

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Yeshiva University's lawyer wanted to know why the dozens of former schoolboys now suing over a sexual abuse cover-up didn't sue decades ago. Read the judge's striking response here.
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.