08 August 2016

Preaching for Progressivism

Over at the Atlantic, a surprising short piece about  religion and this year's presidential campaign.

It is surprising, because the piece questions a long standing but largely ignored tradition of the Religious Left: black churches overtly supporting the Democrats--especially Hillary Clinton-- in spite of IRS regulations that forbid it.

Author Emma Green gave her post the somewhat inflammatory title: Black Pastors are Breaking the Law to Get Hillary Clinton Elected. She bases most of her article on a Pew Survey found here.

Ministers preach about all kinds of issues from their pulpits. They cannot, however, endorse candidates and keep their tax exempt status. This provision of the IRS code was put into place at the behest of then Senator Lyndon Johnson. (Before that time, election sermons and militia sermons were a regular practice going back to the colonial period. Ministers even could legally endorse candidates from the pulpit.) Johnson had won election to the Senate by 87 votes over popular Governor Coke Stevenson, largely with the help of illegal votes. For this he earned the nickname "Landslide Lyndon." When facing re-election, he noted the opposition of some non-profit organizations called Facts Forum and the Committee for Constitutional Government. In order to prevent any impact from them on the election, he inserted a revision of the revenue code that bars non-profits from endorsing specific candidates. Because churches, too, fell under the designation of non-profits, the revision included them. Apparently little or no debate took place on this revision.

Perhaps it was another one of those bills that had to be read in order to find out what was in it.

Ministers have skirted around the issue for years. Typically ministers will provide a their congregations with a handout, comparing  and contrasting each candidate's views on issues with the Bible. Members of the congregations then decide for themselves.

Specifically endorsing candidates, however,  is certainly a more blatant disregard of federal law.

Every election cycle the mainstream media demonstrates its vigilance about transgressions from the "Religious Right" over the sacred boundary separating church and state. They have long ignored the very active "Religious Left."

It appears that the concern of the media is really over which policy or candidates that religious groups endorse rather than the principle of church-state separation.

                                                   Remember this anointing? Of course not!

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