Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pulpit Freedom Day!

Others have the whole financial-crisis thing well in hand, it seems -- lucky for me, since all I have to offer is (a) I doubt Sarkozy's right; (b) I doubt Sen. McCain is more to blame than, say, Rep. Frank; and (c) I'm glad the Dow is up today -- and so I thought I'd register my regret that the intrusion of Serious Events overshadowed the news (or, maybe, "newslet") that I'd been anticipating for several weeks, i.e., "Pulpit Freedom Day" (link).

Anyway, the Washington Post reports, here, more than 30 ministers this past Sunday (intentionally) "[d]ef[ied] a federal law that prohibits U.S. clergy from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit."  (Paul Caron has more, typically thorough, coverage here; I blogged about this general matter a few weeks ago, here; and my colleague, Lloyd Mayer, has a good paper on the religious-freedom issues here.)

But wait . . . there's more!  Here's Martin Marty's "Sightings" column; here's Michael Sean Winters at America; here's pro-life activist Jill Stanek; and, for the usual overheated and underinformed rhetoric ("gambit to dash the pillar of church-state separation"), here's the New York Times editorial.

My views (for what they are worth):  (1) It is impossible, and undesirable, to separate entirely "religion" and "politics".  We should worry about a government that tries to separate them.  (I explain this view, here.) (2) The question whether and to what extent churches should be exempt from taxation should be distinguished from the question whether and when contributions to churches should be tax-deductible.  (3) I suspect there are few bright-lines available for us to deploy in order to put into practice the intuition that while we don't want the government supervising sermons and evangelization, we also don't want to subsidize purely partisan political enterprises. 


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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