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Republicans Aim to Give Churches Larger Political Role

Republican leaders in Congress are trying to resurrect a provision that would allow churches to play a larger role in the political process and give the religious right new ammunition in their ongoing battle against reproductive rights. Currently, churches, synagogues, mosques and other non-profit religious organizations must refrain from directly supporting or opposing political candidates in order to retain their tax-exempt status. However, House Republican leaders intend to pass legislation this year that would allow the religious community to endorse and spend money on federal candidates as long as this spending does not comprise the bulk of the group’s activities, according to the Washington Post. Such legislation would potentially infuse the faltering Christian right movement that recruited a massive amount of voters for the Republican Party in the early 1990s.

Sponsored by Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-NC), the measure is firmly backed by the Republican House leadership, with 113 Republican and 3 Democratic sponsors. Opponents to such legislation, however, say that the change could provide a new way around the recently passed campaign finance law. C. Welton Gaddy, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance warned lawmakers that such legislation “would turn pastors, imams, rabbis and other would-be prophets into potential political operatives to be lobbied by the candidates for public office and used as endorsers of partisan campaigns.”

Sources:

Washington Post, 6/3/02

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