Over 1,000 pastors across the U.S. agreed to participate in yesterday’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The event, part of a strategic litigation plan sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), is an annual attempt to provoke the IRS into revoking the non-profit status of churches. Pastors signed a pledge agreeing to “evaluate candidate(s) running for political office during a regular worship service in light of biblical Truth and church doctrine.”
While the IRS has reportedly issued threats to pastors who use the pulpit of political speeches, the agency has never actually taken the issue to court. “[The IRS prefers] to put out these vague statements and regulations and enforce it through a system of intimidation, says Erik Stanley, ADF’s senior legal counsel. “Pastors are afraid to address anything political from the pulpit.”
Although I have a number of friends at ADF and highly value the work they do, I’ve never been comfortable with their encouraging pastors to make political endorsements And I’m not the only one. According to a recent survey by LifeWay Research, nearly 90 percent of Protestant pastors believe they should not endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit.
My own view is that preachers are called to preach, not provide punditry. As Daniel Darling, a Chicago-area pastor and author, recently wrote,