Should churches and other houses of worship refrain from expressing opinions about political matters?
A majority of Americans (54%) say yes, they should refrain, according to a new poll by Pew. Only 40% say churches should express opinions about politics and controversial social issues.
Republicans and Democrats disagree on the question of the separation of church and politics, highlighting one of the main themes in Greg Garrett’s latest book, Faithful Citizenship: Politics trumps faith in today’s world. In the past, Republicans and Democrats didn’t disagree that much about the issue. Back in 1996, when Pew first asked Americans about it, 42% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats said churches should stay out of politics. Today, however, there’s a big divide. Sixty percent of Democrats now say churches should stay out of politics, while only 44% of Republicans agree.
What, then, should a person of faith do?
Greg offers the model of faithful citizenship, which he describes as … “The making of choices through the lens of faith, not through the lens of our own disordered desires, or out of the rights and freedoms language of our secular society. Faithful consideration of [political and social] issues may, in fact, change our minds. It may confirm an old opinion with new evidence. It may open us up to holding opposing things in tension, which is where I now stand on abortion. But in any case, the hard work of faithful citizenship will make us into thoughtful advocates of love, compassion, and justice—and not simply flunkies who believe what others have told us to believe for reasons we’re never personally examined.”
Of course, it’s much easier to simply take sides in the culture wars than to work at faithful citizenship. But the easy way out just isn’t working.
Do you agree that congregations should stay out of political matters?
Do your religious leaders express political opinions?
Does Greg’s model of faithful citizenship appeal to you?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.