Spectator Editorial: Preaching Politics

Many people bring their religious convictions with them when they step into the voting booth. But that shouldn’t translate into church leaders dictating their votes.

According to an article in the Wisconsin State Journal, a Madison- area bishop required all the priests in his diocese to play a recorded message about his opposition to same-sex marriage, the death penalty and stem cell research. While he did not explicitly tell parishioners whom to vote for, the article said he made his position very clear.

It’s understandable that church officials want to influence their congregations on matters that they feel are cornerstones of their faith. But pushing people to vote based on a few pet issues alienates those who focus on other concerns.

The two major parties in our political system each take stances on a variety of issues, from social and cultural matters to economic, tax and education policy. Faith does not always follow party lines; a “religious” person may think different parties espouse his or her views on different issues. Focusing on some issues and not others discourages church members from thinking for themselves and voting their consciences on the issues most important to them.

To church members who seek religious guidance in how to vote, it seems irresponsible to focus solely on the church’s position on social issues and not on matters like the environment or government programs for the poor. To those who think politics and religion should be kept separate, pushing political views in church causes an awkward situation.

In the end, encouraging church members to follow their faith in voting on the issues most important to them would be a better solution.