Should a church leader speak out for or against a political candidate from the pulpit?

In the USA, the Internal Revenue Service grants tax exempt status to churches and religious organizations. This allows the church to not have to pay income taxes and property taxes. But the cost to the church is the inability to speak specifically about political candidates. 

I have a question, and its not all THAT rhetorical….

If a man should come to a dramatic rise in power over a short period of time (perhaps thanks to what appears to be popular support) and begins to convince the governmental officials that a certain group of people were the cause of the nation’s problems and that if these people were removed from our society (regardless of the means) and placed into prisons (since they not so obviously are breaking laws)…. Should pastors speak up?

Now let me ask it more specifically:

Should pastors speak out against an individual political official who is influencing people and society to go against what God has said and commit atrocious crimes against humanity?

Even more specifically:

Should pastors speak out against leaders like Hitler and Stalin and Lenin and Mao Tse Tung? Should pastors speak out against things like the atrocities that occurred in Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s?

I happen to think they should. I do not think a pastor or a church should prostitute the truth for the price of thirty pieces of silver. Churches need to preach the Gospel, but they also need to teach other truth. They need to disciple their members on what the word of God teaches. Churches need to speak to the need to trust in Christ, the need to be filled by the Holy Spirit in daily life, the need for people to live holy lives free from sin (sex outside of marriage, homosexual sex, addiction, lying, stealing, gossiping, selfishness, covetness, etc), and to help and visit the widows, orphans, elderly, and prisoners.  Churches need to use real life examples and guide the flock.

If we truly believe Christ, that belief will permeate our lives at all levels. Our holiness should shine forth in all areas of life. I fail to understand how anyone can believe something like abortion is murder and then believe that its ok for people to murder and still be considered sane. Its like saying murder is bad, but its ok for you to murder if you choose to – just not me.

How can a pastor/elder/church speak to the truth when people are murdering babies and the church leaders do not feel free to speak out against it? How can church leaders endorse sin and sinners through silence? Pastors/elders need to speak out against both sin and call sinners on their sins. Pastors/elders need to endorse people who provide good examples of Godly behavior, and speak out about those who provide examples of worldly behavior.

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3 Responses

  1. I am well accustomed to the law that you are referring to that bars Pastors to speak out about political candidates, for I am a Church employee. I have a hard time believing that even in the liberal American mainstream today a church would be asked to revoke their status for a sermon about the heinous acts of Hitler and company. However, even if there was to be a lawsuit, the spirit of the law must be considered in any Supreme Court Case. Should it get that far, those who currently reside on the USSC would have to consider that the law was meant to stop churches from becoming stops on the campaign trail and free advertising for a political party. Since neither Hitler nor Stalin are running for office anytime soon I doubt that any case brought against a Church leader would have any proof to stand on that a political party was gaining anything from a sermon on the evils that took place Nazi Germany.

  2. I used an extreme example on purpose. Of course in hindsight, we can say the courts would not punish a church for speaking out against what took place in Nazi Germany in the 30’s and 40’s of the last century. Would we be right?

    The exact same thing is happening today – it is happening to precious unborn children. 40 million children have died in the USA since Roe vs. Wade. Yet, while we can speak about abortion, we are not supposed to speak out from the pulpit against any candidate who endorses abortion, or risk the loss of the church’s tax exempt status.

    Hate crime legislation is also leading us down a similar path. We will soon be unable to speak of the sin of homosexual sex from the pulpit. Its already happening in other countries and trial ballons have been let go here in the USA.

    The church needs to speak against sin and let people know who endorses or pushes sin and who does not. But many churches feel unable to do so – or at least feel the need to tred carefully so as not to risk loosing their tax exempt status.

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