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Pastors reject pulpit endorsements for political candidates comment (0)

October 11, 2012

Nearly 90 percent of pastors believe they should not endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit, according to a recent survey by LifeWay Research. The survey also revealed that 44 percent of pastors personally endorsed candidates, but did so outside of their church role.

The survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors found that only 10 percent believe pastors should endorse candidates from the pulpit. Eighty-seven percent believe (71 percent strongly and 16 percent somewhat) pastors should not endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit. Three percent of pastors are not sure.

Differences emerged between pastors who consider themselves “evangelical” and those who self-identify as “mainline.” Eighty-six percent of evangelical pastors believe pastors should not endorse a candidate from the pulpit, compared to 91 percent of mainline pastors.

An amendment to the IRS tax code in 1954 prohibits tax-exempt organizations such as churches from endorsing political candidates for public office. 

The LifeWay Research survey also found that less than half of Protestant pastors (44 percent) personally endorsed candidates this year outside of their church role. 

Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, noted that only one-third of pastors strongly disagree that they have endorsed candidates outside of their church role.

Pastors of churches with less than 50 members were the most likely (56 percent) to say they had personally endorsed candidates for public office outside of their church role.

While there were no differences between evangelicals and mainline pastors endorsing candidates outside of the pulpit, differences emerged among party affiliation. 

Self-described Independents (34 percent) were least likely to say they endorsed candidates outside their church role, compared to Republicans (51 percent) and Democrats (54 percent).

The survey also revealed only 17 percent of pastors believe the election cycle has been too religious, compared to 77 percent who said it has not been too religious and 5 percent who are not sure.

Party affiliations again reveal differences in opinion on this issue. Among pastors who call themselves Republican, only 9 percent believe the election cycle has been too religious, as compared to 20 percent of Independents and 39 percent of Democrats.  


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