Religious Americans say that their clergy frequently speak out on hot-button political issues, and sometimes even support or oppose specific political candidates.
A study from the Pew Research Center found that nearly two-thirds of Americans who have recently attended religious services have heard their preachers discuss religious liberty, homosexuality, abortion, immigration, environmental issues, or economic inequality. Nearly half say that their clergy have discussed multiple issues.
With so many political topics deeply tied to religious beliefs, that might not be surprising. But the study called attention to something that could be troubling: 14% have heard their preachers speak out in favor of or against a particular candidate.
Technically, that’s against the law. Churches and other tax-exempt organizations are not allowed to back or oppose political candidates, according to a 1954 amendment to the US tax code called the Johnson Amendment.
The report didn’t specify whether clergy supported or opposed candidates while actually in the pulpit, but if they did, then their churches could face consequences.