Saturday, September 27, 2008

Do Pastors Have "Free Speech" in the Pulpit?

There is a good discussion on the L.A. Times website about how the Americans United for Separation of Church and State have been "turning in" pastors who speak too freely from the pulpit. The two opposite opinions are presented by Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel and head of the Pulpit Initiative for the Alliance Defense Fund.

Here are a couple snippets from Mr. Stanley's argument:

"In 2004, you called for the IRS to investigate a Catholic bishop who didn't even mention a candidate by name, saying instead that the bishop's comments in a letter to church members were nonetheless "code language" for an endorsement. Barry, neither government nor advocacy groups like yours should be the "speech police" to monitor and censor churches.

"From when the Constitution was ratified in 1788 until 1954, no law stopped pastors from speaking freely about the moral qualifications of candidates for office. For 166 years, churches kept on being churches; pastors did not devolve into "political bosses" even when they often spoke forcefully about candidates' moral virtues and vices."

Read the whole L.A. Times article: When do ministers cross the line?

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