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Growing number of U.S. Christian leaders preach about politics at church on Sunday

2016-10-08

According to a June Pew Research Center study, close to two-thirds of all American churchgoers claim that their parish clergy have spoken about political or social issues during a religious service, and some even say a particular candidate has been endorsed or condemned from the pulpit. 

IRENE CARATELLI
Director Global Politics, American 
"In theory, the clergy should not talk about politics, should not skew people. But of course, they talk about issues that affect people and talk about issues that are in the end, political. So even indirectly, they do talk about issues.

Thus, the issues mentioned during church services often are perceived to be on the religion and political line, including: religious liberty, homosexuality, abortion, immigration, environmental issues and economic inequality

Half of all who attended church services since the spring heard specifically about religious liberty. At Catholic Churches, almost 40 percent have heard homilies on this matter, compared to 31 percent of white Protestants and 32 percent of black Protestants. Also, Catholics were most likely to have heard about abortion from the pulpit.

IRENE CARATELLI
Director Global Politics, American 
"In the United States, it has been said that religion has a very strong hold on private values, things that affect the individual, so abortion and so on. But for instance, on the environment, they're more liberal. So on public issues or on issues related to poverty and social justice, they're more liberal and on private issues they're more conservative.

Still, 14 percent of all churchgoers heard their preachers speaking out about a particular candidate: six percent in support for Hillary and one percent in support for Trump. Whereas the largest group were black Protestants, with 28 percent having heard support for Hillary and two percent heard voiced support for Trump.

IRENE CARATELLI
Director Global Politics, American 
"I think that when you vote, you should think that the person, maybe he could even have 
a different religion, if that person is honest, if the objective of this person, the program of this candidate or president is in line with your beliefs. Not necessarily religious beliefs, but moral beliefs, more generally.

As such, priests and pastors of other religions would arguably have a right to preach about moral and ethical matters from the pulpit, and even encourage their parishioners to utilize their right to vote. 

In fact Pope Francis openly speaks about human issues and rights involving moral decision-making, because he is looked to as a voice for the Church, like many pastors are in their own parishes. 


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