Opinion: Will Tax Bill Open Church Doors Wider Still for Politics?

A place of worship has never been completely clear of politics in America. But that physical and spiritual space for contemplation and reflection may grow smaller still, and moments without intrusion from the bitterness and division in the world could grow shorter.

Tucked into the House version of the tax plan that Republicans dearly crave as “a win” is a provision that would remove a check on places of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — and some nonprofits. The in-danger Johnson Amendment of 1954, one with more intent than teeth, supposedly prohibits pastors and other faith leaders from endorsing or opposing political candidates from their perches of religious authority or risk losing their tax-exempt status.

Opinion: For Whom and What Do Faith Leaders Pray?

Were their prayers answered?

White — most of them, anyway — evangelicals, recently photographed laying hands on President Donald Trump perhaps were praying that the proposed Senate health care bill, the one estimates predicted would result in millions losing care or Medicaid coverage, would fail.

And it did.

Or maybe not. Who knows what a person prays for in his or her heart?

The GOP and White Evangelicals: A Forever Match?

Will a health care proposal that could toss “the least of these” off its rolls cause divisions between evangelicals uncomfortable with a close relationship with the Republican Party and those who feel just fine with the political association?

A shared anti-abortion stance, with the promise to appoint like-minded judges, has so far helped to keep the link between evangelicals and the GOP strong. But strains — along policy, generational, and racial lines — are showing within conservative faith groups, despite agreement on core beliefs.

 

Obama and Trump: Two Presidents, Same God

If Franklin Graham did not actually endorse Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, he stepped right up to the line — the one separating church and state. Graham was absolutely giddy post-election, when he gave credit to a force greater than the electorate. The evangelist and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse credited the “God factor” for Trump’s poll-defying win.

You might be seeing a lot of Graham, starting at Friday’s inauguration where he is one of the faith leaders invited to offer a prayer for America’s new president. It marks a resurgence of a familiar name when it comes to mingling politics and religion, and a continuation of a tradition in a country that doesn’t have an official faith but celebrates a National Day of Prayer and seems most comfortable with leaders who praise a higher power.

 

Christ Is Risen, But Campaign Discourse About Faith Has Fallen

Fewer Americans are flocking to religion, but you wouldn’t know that from the current presidential election cycle.

The politics of Washington are on pause for Easter break, but the campaign trail does not relent. And despite our separation of church and state, religion has been front-and-center this election season, often in ways that emphasize division rather than reconciliation.

 

In North Carolina, same-sex marriage goes to church

CHARLOTTE — Standing ovations, applause, the sounds of tambourines — and rainbow colors everywhere, on banners and flags and adorning the stoles around the shoulders of clergy celebrating the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal in North Carolina. In a city known for its churches, Holy Trinity Lutheran hosted an interfaith service that resembled a party, as a crowd of 250 – including many same-sex couples and their families — filled seats downstairs and in the balcony.

Though on Tuesday a federal judge said Republican state legislators had the right to challenge the ruling that said North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, on Monday night at Holy Trinity, the mood was joyous.