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Should Houses of Worship Keep Out of Political Matters?

Americans have reconsidered their faith in the mixing religion and politics. A majority of Americans now say churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics and not express their views on day-to-day social and political matters. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed by Pew Research Center said that Churches should butt out, the highest level since the poll began in 1996.

The shift is most apparent among conservatives. In 2004, 30 percent of conservatives said that churches should stay away from politics, compared to 50 percent today. And among white evangelicals, 36 percent want religious groups to stay out of politics, up from 16 percent in 2004.

Considering both candidates sat down to chat with Reverend Warren during last weekend's forum at the Saddleback Church, I would guess that Barack Obama and John McCain do not oppose religious groups getting involved in politics. What about you: should churches keep quiet about politics?


Join The Conversation
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I'm glad that religion is only marginally involved with politics. I'd hate to have my religion sullied by all these sex scandals. (JK) Keeping religion as a mandate out of politics (Like, you have to be Catholic, or Lutheran to be considered) is a good thing. I like to hear that my candidates have a belief in a higher being, that there is something more important than themselves, and that their decisions are guided by the same principles I believe in. I also like the idea of having debates and discussions in churches that are large enough to handle such gatherings. It's time the community was reminded that the church isn't just a place to worship God, but is also a gathering place to talk about current events.
stephley stephley 9 years
At least with a gay president we'd get more tourists and that would boost the economy. What would an atheist do for us?
True-Song True-Song 9 years
It weirds me out that religion is so tied up in politics and the government. It's scary that you basically have to be a Christian to be elected to the Presidency, and it helps whole lot getting elected to Congress and even in state and municipal elections. I read a poll that showed Americans would be more comfortable electing a gay president than an atheist president. Stupid dumb voters.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
I agree with jillness and hypno. Personally, I don't want to hear what a priest, pastor or any other holy man has to say about politics because I always assume they are using that as a way to push their own not so hidden agenda (their own religion and the ideology there of). And even though candidates feel like they have to pimp out their Christianity, I really don't care if they are Jewish, Hindu, Catholic or if the practice Wicca at a candle covered alter in their bedrooms. I want to know what are their takes on things like abortion, war, taxes ect.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
Thanks, Hypno! I found a copy at the library, it's on hold for me and I am picking it up this weekend! :-)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I agree with that Jillness
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I do believe there should be a seperation between church and state, because IMO, laws are not created based on the Bible, they are based around where freedoms conflict. Murder is against the law not because of the 10 commandments, but because it interferes with anothers freedoms. I think that using very effective church outreach programs is so beneficial to communities, so I agree with Obama's views on that. However, I do worry about the line being blurred. I have great concerns about the manipulation of people's politics from the pulpit. As Jude said, "What I'm sick of is this idiotic conflation of Christian piety and patriotism. Every election it seems all the candidates have to tout their faith as an expression of their American-ness and suitability for office, and I find that silly." I agree. I worry about non-believers being disriminated against, and I also feel that faith is a very private thing, and it seems exploitative and sacreligious in a way to disect a person's faith on a national stage. No one should have to be quizzed on their relationship with God.
myladybloom myladybloom 9 years
Correction: they COULDN'T get to the irony. Jeez, where is my mind today?
myladybloom myladybloom 9 years
Jacrabbit, can I just say something? In reference to that Bible quote, it only seems to settle the question (in this case, tax payments) in favor of Caesar. However, when you start thinking about it, what ISN'T God's? That wouldn't leave very much for Caesar, would it? :P Jesus liked to make statements like that. It's just that His disciples were so narrow minded that they get to the irony. Anyway, I'm very much in favor of separation of church and state-- to a certain extent. After all, we don't want to have a theocracy on our hands, now do we?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Hey Martini if you're interested in the book the author is Robin Morgan. Yeah I guess my only problem is Christian Evangelicals taking ownership of the principles. I think the only problem with the Warren forum I had was not with any question but a statement by Sen. McCain belittling the expenditure of 3million dollars to research Bear DNA. I'm sorry but is he not aware of the benefits of DNA research to humans? Is his realm of knowledge so that it only orbits issues of security and defense? This man needs to get a clue if want's to get my vote.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I agree w/ lilkimbo's assessment. I also had no problem w/ the recent "debate" forum.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I think a big part of the problem is that some of the founders were probably strongly for the separation of church and state while others were strongly against it or had no strong opinions. I do agree with what you are saying as far as the principles being far-reaching, though. I think we can all agree on some basic moral constructs.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I'll agree lilkimbo that Fighting Words does not close the debate. It is a popular held belief though that Jackson was strongly pressured to appease Judea-Christian theology in the declaration. Even so though I turn back to my earlier point "do the principles have a multiplicity of disciples out side of and including Judeo-Christian theology or were they only and solely Judeo-Christian principles." If they are pluralistic principles than in my opinion Judeo-Christian theologians had better make room at the steering wheel because this is not a theocracy.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Oh, and just to say, I agree with Hypno that people should read Fighting Words. I also think people should examine evidence with the opposing viewpoint.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
That wasn't so long in my mind. :oops:
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I have read Fighting Words, Hypno, but I think that game gets very tricky because there are about twice as many writings from the Founding Fathers against the separation of Church and State. I also think it's difficult because we don't know their intentions when giving speeches/writing letters/etc. I had a professor in college who swore that the items contained in Fighting Words were all letters written to appease people and another who swore that the evidence against separation was written/spoken to appease people. Either way, I think the SCOTUS has established for many years now that separation of Church and State is something that is important in this country; it's just that they tend to flip-flop on the details. There are a multitude of cases involving religious holiday displays and, quite frankly, they get a little ridiculous, getting in to detail about the size of religious decorations vs. the size of non-religious decorations. They also seem to keep flipping back and forth on whether government-sponsored workers (speech therapists, counselors, etc. should be permitted to practice on the grounds of religious schools. Anyone who attended religious schools as a child might remember that some years there was a trailer outside the school that students had to go to for things like speech therapy and some years the the students went to a classroom inside the school. I hardly think the founders could have envisioned that the issue would become so complicated!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
hypno, who is the author/publishing house? I get so many results when I try to find it at (ok, so I am lazy and don't want to sift through it all!) :P
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I've been promoting this book like a shameless marketing exec. and no I'm not getting any of the proceeds. The book (once again) is called Fighting Words. It's around 100 pages and is simply a collection of writings and quotes of the founding fathers which argue for a strong separation of Church & State. It's paper back and very inexpensive, you should pick it up.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
"Couldn't the principles be pluristic morality and good will which is shared by many believers and non-believers?" I like that interpretation better.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
First of all I am not a Christian and I do believe in a defined separation of church & state however I had no problem with Rev. Warren’s forum. The questions he posed where not of sole interest to Christian Evangelicals. They were of interest to every brand of faith, believer and non-believer. It is also appropriate for both Senators to address different constituencies in their respective communities in their respective forums and discuss issues that affect everyone. When people say that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles I'll agree but the question is are the particular principles which they site as Judeo-Christian only and specifically Judeo-Christian? In other words do the principles have a multiplicity of disciples out side of and including Judeo-Christian theology or were they only and solely Judeo-Christian principles. Couldn't the principles be pluristic morality and good will which is shared by many believers and non-believers?
Michelann Michelann 9 years
"Which is meant to apply to the state separating itself from churches, not to churches separating themselves from political matters" That's a very good point. I also think it's unreasonable for people to expect religious people not to base their political ideas on their faith. Their religion guides their morals and thus their voting decisions. However, I do think there's a fine line between churches advocating certain positions (and thus suggesting certain candidates) and actually turning a sermon into a political ad.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I wouldn't be so sure about the Founding Fathers' intentions (although, I'm sure we could debate back and forth on them all day). Patrick Henry's famed "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" speech took place at a church. In fact, churches were common meeting places in colonial times, so I'm willing to bet that more than a few political events took place in churches back in the day. I also think it's important to separate between "state" and "politics." To me, they are two different things.
Shadowcat14 Shadowcat14 9 years
I was appalled when I heard the debate was going to be at a place of worship and a pastor was going to be presiding. This is not what the Founding Fathers intended and I was disgusted.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I understand what you're saying, kas, but that's not the principle behind separation of church and state. And I actually pretty much agree with Steph. Social issues are inevitably political and I don't think churches should shy away from social issues because of their political nature, but I do think churches should steer clear of advocating for specific candidates/parties.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
I'd like for them to both stay seperate from each other, thanks. :)
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