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Two-Thirds Hear Social, Political Comments from Clergy

A strong majority (64 percent) of U.S. citizens who attend religious services regularly have heard clergy speak from the pulpit on at least one of six leading issues, according to the Pew Research Center.

Forty-six percent of attendees said clergy had spoken publicly about more than one of these issues.

“Religious liberty and homosexuality were chief among the issues they were hearing about, with four in ten saying they heard from clergy on each of these topics during the spring and early summer,” Pew reported.

“Roughly three in ten say their clergy talked about abortion, similar to the share who heard about immigration. And one in five churchgoers reported hearing about the environment and economic inequality.”

Yet, Pew found that “most people surveyed say political speech is the exception, not the rule, in their churches, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship.”

Seven percent reported that their clergy spoke about politics often, compared to 29 percent doing so sometimes, 49 percent rarely or never, and 15 percent not responding to the question.

Vocal support for or against a particular candidate by ministers was reported by 14 percent of survey respondents.

Pew noted, “The U.S. Internal Revenue Code places limits on the political activities of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, including churches; they are prohibited from coming out in favor of one candidate over another (though not from discussing political issues) if they wish to retain their tax-exempt status.”

The full report is available here.