Recently President Trump signed an executive order that seemingly changes what pastors can and cannot say from the pulpit.
It addresses the Johnson Amendment. First enacted in 1954, the Johnson Amendment bars charities and churches from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” Violating the amendment is grounds for revocation of tax-exempt status.
Basically the order tells the IRS not to go after any pastors for speaking out on moral or political issues “where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as” campaign speech. It doesn’t exactly give consent for preachers to turn pulpits into political machines.
This order will not change anything at First Pres Argenta. I have never endorsed or denounced a political candidate from the pulpit, not do I intend to. I would certainly never claim that you must vote for a certain party or person in order to be a “real” Christian. One of the hallmarks of our denomination is the belief that people of strong intellect and good faith may disagree, but we remain one in Christ.
As a follower of Christ and a church leader, I will continue to favor and speak for legislation that cares for the sick, the poor, for children and the elderly. I will speak out against racism, misogyny and homophobia. Pastors have always been and will continue to be free to weigh in on issues of justice.
I will always encourage you to vote, as I believe it is a privilege and that the voice of our congregation is one that needs to be “heard” at the ballot box, but I will never tell you who to vote for from the pulpit. From my personal Facebook page, perhaps, but never from the pulpit.