The candidate behind the biggest Republican push to allow pastors to back politicians from the pulpit has received fewer sermon endorsements than his presidential opponent, who favors the current ban.
According to a new Pew Research survey, 1 percent of churchgoers said their pastor has spoken positively of Donald Trump, compared to 6 percent who heard praise for Hillary Clinton.
Trump was also the subject of more pastoral criticism: 7 percent said their leaders spoke against Trump and 4 percent against Clinton.
Trump’s religious freedom platform centers around his promise to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, which bars churches and other tax-exempt non-profits from endorsing or disavowing candidates, but still allows them to speak generally about political issues.
“After 30 years of the so-called conservative leaders who have been elected by evangelicals, none of them thought to advocate for the repeal of the Johnson amendment, giving evangelical leaders political free speech,” Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty University president and early Trump endorser, told Time magazine. “[Trump] thinks it is going to be a revolution in the Christian world.”
Even with the current the ban, which has been part of the tax code since 1954, about 1 in 10 recent churchgoers say their leaders discuss the candidates, Pew found. Additionally, more than 6 in 10 (64%) say they’ve heard clergy speak out about political issues. The most common issues: religious freedom (40%), homosexuality (39%), and abortion (29%).
Candidates come up most often in sermons at black churches, where 28 percent have heard their pastors praise Clinton and 20 percent have heard them oppose Trump. Presidential talk was reported far less among white evangelical Protestants, 78 percent of whom say they’ll be voting for Trump in the fall. Just 2 percent of evangelicals heard a sermon endorsing him.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today