Probably not. But Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the evangelical version of the Catholic Fortnight for Freedom, is upon us tomorrow. And in addition to receiving Christ and him crucified tomorrow, it may be more edifying today to listen to Gross interview Colbert, or watch Colbert interview Garlow than have preachers endorse candidates.
We have this idea in our minds that there’s this separation of church and state in America, which I think is a good thing. And we extend that to our politics — not just church and state, but it’s also there’s a separation of religion and politics. But of course there isn’t. Every president says, ‘God bless America’ at the end of the State of Union address. And everybody, every candidate is quoting some form of the Old and the New Testament in speeches to try and make their own moral points.
But we don’t think of … a preacher or priest or rabbi or imam, for that matter, endorsing from the pulpit. And I was fascinated by the idea that these guys were going to force the issue, because they’ve done this for five years — this isn’t the first year they’ve done it. Now they’re videotaping it and sending it to the IRS, to just try to poke the hornet’s nest of the IRS and say, ‘Please take us to court.’ Because they’re trying to get this forced into a court case, because they think they can win.
And I, after some thought and talking about it with my writers, I think they’re right. … I think they should be able to endorse from the pulpit. Now whether or not they should get tax-exempt status is another thing, because that is the rest of us subsidizing their political speech. …
I think they should be able to do it, but I also think that it’s a very dangerous thing to do — not just for our politics, but it’s also dangerous for the faith of people who are exercising that right. Because they seem to think that it’s a one-way membrane — that they’ll get religion into our politics. But they’re ignoring the fact that politics will come right back through that gate onto our religion.
And if you actually have a political party that is this religion, or a political party that is that religion, I think that’s a short road to the kind of religious civil war — whether or not it’s actually an armed war — but religious civil war that we fled in Europe. America has avoided that. And I think our politics are so horrible these days. … Why anyone would want that horrible tar on something as fragile as faith is beyond me.