Religion and politics


In 1954, Congress drew a careful line for religious institutions, legislating that religious leaders and organizations could speak out on social and political issues but could not endorse or oppose candidates for office. Although a small number of religious leaders have recently been advocating against this rule, as has the White House, the rule is overwhelmingly supported by both liberal and conservative clergy. Why? They realize that allowing churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples to endorse or oppose candidates has the potential to undermine their missions in many ways. It can damage their spiritual and social aspirations by dividing congregations along political lines, and it can dilute their moral voices by making them little more than tools of political parties and candidates. For these reasons – even more than the law – GJC has striven to draw careful lines for our community, ensuring that we speak out about the social and political issues of our day from a Jewish moral perspective but drawing the line at endorsing or opposing any candidate for office or any political party. With so many members with robust political commitments and identities, these boundaries are not always easy for us to follow, but they make us stronger as a community and better able to fulfill our mission in the world. We should reaffirm our commitment to holding to them, no matter what Congress ultimately decides.