The Republicans’ bill would make it legal for ministers and other religious leaders to endorse candidates from the pulpit but stops short of allowing other political participation such as financial contributions from churches to campaigns.
The bill stipulates that a religious institution wouldn’t be found to have violated the law “solely because of the content of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious services or gatherings.”
That’s the protection that some religious leaders, mainly conservative Christians, have requested for years in the name of “pulpit freedom,” even though the Internal Revenue Service has almost never penalized clergy for the content of a sermon.
I’d expect that Baptist Press would report this in today’s news and ERLC would weigh in very soon.
Baptist News Global has an article on it with the Baptist Joint Committee’s response. The BJC is against it.
I’ve never endorsed candidates from the pulpit but I’ve come close on some local offices where one of our members was a candidate. I’ve provided a personal recommendation for one or two candidates but not from the pulpit.
Here’s something to explore: While the IRS hasn’t been even mildly aggressive in pursuing this, if it is made perfectly legal would large churches or pastors that are perceived as being able to pull support for a candidate be offered “walking around money” to do so? Oh, that’s already being done.
So far, our Sacred Clergy Tax Break, the cash housing allowance is untouched by tax reform.