Some 4,000 religious leaders, operating under the name “Faith Voices,” have sent a letter asking United States Senate to refuse to repeal the so-called “Johnson Amendment.” This is the law that keeps 501(c)(3) organizations from endorsing political candidates. You can download the letter and the list of signatories here.
A quick glance at the signatures reveals that most signers are left of center theologically, politically, or both. They represent the communities that have been most inclined to speak directly to political issues and office-holders through the years. There is no reason to suppose that they intend to end that practice.
Churches on the Right have, for the most part, been scrupulous about not endorsing specific candidates. As they have watched the Left, however, some on the Right have become impatient with the imbalance in the system. A very few have event flouted the Johnson Amendment. Most, however, remain careful in this matter.
The only sense I can make of this is that the religious and political Left wants to keep the Johnson Amendment as a club to beat the Right. On my view, there is more than a little hypocrisy here.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think pastors or churches ought to be endorsing political candidates. But I also don’t think that should be a matter of law. If we’re going to legislate against churches endorsing candidates, then we ought to prevent any individual or institution that receives any government funding or support from endorsing candidates.