The survey also finds about half of the public (52%) says that churches should keep out of politics, while 43% say churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political questions. That is largely unchanged from 2008, but over the previous decade (from 1996 to 2006), narrow majorities had expressed support for churches’ involvement in political matters. The decline since 2006 in the number saying that churches should speak out on social and political issues has been broad-based, including Democrats and Republicans and people from a variety of religious backgrounds. The percentage of black Protestants who say churches should speak out on political matters has dropped sharply, going from 69% in 2006 to 53% today.
So long as it is consistent with their tax-exempt status, churches have every right to speak out on these matters (First Amendment and all that), but the shift in the public attitude is interesting (could it be a faint echo of “render unto Caesar”?), especially as a majority (61 percent) still want members of Congress to have “strong religious beliefs” and a plurality (37 percent) “believe that in general there has been too little expression of religious faith and prayer by political leaders.”
Good grief. More prayer breakfasts ahead, doubtless.