Religious leaders have long been involved in political debates, social movements, and policy discussions. In a recent piece in on The Dallas Morning News‘s Religion Blog, Wayne Slater wonders whether or not the Supreme Court’s recent decision on campaign finance could change the way religious organizations interact with the political world by allowing them to directly endorse candidates. He engages a panel of experts to address this question. Responses include the following from William Lawrence, Dean of the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University:
Some religious organizations have practiced the art of political advocacy in very effective ways, drawing close to the boundary of what is legally acceptable while clearly supporting specific candidates. Churches have done it by inviting only some candidates to speak briefly in worship and avoiding invitations to other candidates, while making it clear that the candidates’ appearances are “non-political” in character. Religious organizations have prepared and distributed leaflets described as offering voter information, yet the issues listed and the way that questions are framed can lead to “informing” voters that only one candidate or one specific slate of candidates has given appropriate responses to the topics.
What this Supreme Court decision appears to do is permit religious organizations to drop the disguises and acknowledge openly what they already consider central to their missions.
The full article can be found here.