The bishop’s choice

(letter in Phila Inquirer, 7/5/08)

Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. frets about which presidential candidate conservative African American pastors should “support” (“Vote religion or race?” June 30). The answer is simple: Pastors of any race or creed should not in their official role openly support any candidate for elected office.

Religious congregations cannot endorse candidates for office without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status. They can take positions on issues but they cannot legally endorse candidates while giving any appearance of purporting to represent their congregations or trying to influence their members, and they cannot issue “voters guides” slanted in such a way as to favor a candidate.

I hope I have resolved Bishop Jackson’s dilemma: He should do his religious job, leave the politicking to others, and vote for the candidate of his choice.

Nathaniel Smith
West Chester



Filed under Election rights and laws, Nathaniel Smith, Religions

2 responses to “The bishop’s choice

  1. Jack Stutman

    As a firm believer in the separation of church and state, I am saddened and angered about how religion has crept into almost every facet of a public lives. I really didn’t pay much attention until the rise of the sanctimonious evangelical right, and their ability to elect their champion, and his cronies, to the highest offices of the land, and place two of their ilk on the supreme court, seeing firsthand their attempt to turn our country into a Christian theocracy. Luckily their champion turn out to be a self-serving idiot and their representatives in congress were involved in one scandal after another, including being outed as homosexuals. This should be a lesson to us all about not allowing one or any religion to gain too much power. Have a great day!

  2. Valetta

    I read your opinion piece in the Inquirer a few days ago and wanted to tell you I thought your writing was skillful. I enjoyed reading it, not just because I agreed with your premise but because it was concise, logical and your ideas were well thought out.

    I’d like to add the converse (and here picture me shaking my finger in our current president’s face) politicians shouldn’t get involved in religion.

    —Valetta, 7/9/08

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