The Minnesota Council of Churches is a strong proponent of religious freedom and of the faith community’s role in the public square.  We are concerned that President Trump’s executive order relaxing accountability on faith group engagement in partisan politics will ultimately pollute the integrity of the voice of faith in America and turn some faith communities into partisan political tools under the banner of religion. This order signals a politicization of the faith community that our country has sought to avoid since the beginning of our nation.

 

It will open the door for donors who wish to make tax exempt contributions to a faith community (beyond what they can give to political campaigns) in order to circumvent campaign finance regulations and could make communities complicit in this act. It runs the risk that certain faith communities will become arms of a partisan politics without accountability.

 

Standing in a long line of prophetic voices, we applaud the right of religious communities to raise moral issues for public debate. We often do so ourselves.  But we draw the line on politicizing America’s pulpits on behalf of particular candidates.

 

Religious beliefs do and should influence advocacy work and voting.  However, each individual should make a determination, in good conscience, about how the teachings of their church, synagogue, mosque or other faith community shape their decision about which candidate to support.

 

Donations to churches and other non-profits are used to further the work of these valuable organizations because they are striving in faith for a better world.  If these organizations are promoting (or opposing) specific candidates, they are functioning as political organization and should instead be treated as such.

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