Poll: pastors want IRS out of pulpit
Baptist Press
September 21, 2011

Poll: pastors want IRS out of pulpit

Poll: pastors want IRS out of pulpit
Baptist Press
September 21, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Protestant pastors overwhelmingly agree

government should not attempt to regulate pastors’ sermons through

re-evaluation of a church’s tax exemptions, according to a new survey by LifeWay


The research, sponsored by the Alliance Defense Fund, followed a related study

conducted by LifeWay Research in October 2010 that found Protestant pastors

also largely believe candidates for public office should not be endorsed from

the pulpit.

In the new study, conducted in August 2011, 79 percent of 1,000 Protestant

pastors surveyed strongly disagreed – and another 7 percent somewhat disagreed –

with the statement: “The government should regulate sermons by revoking a

church’s tax exemption if its pastor approves of or criticizes candidates based

on the church’s moral beliefs or theology.”

The earlier 2010 survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors found 84 percent disagree –

70 percent strongly and 14 percent somewhat – with the statement, “I believe

pastors should endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit.”

A June 2008 LifeWay Research survey also found 87 percent of American adults

disagreed with the statement, “I believe it is appropriate for pastors to

publicly endorse candidates for public office during a church service.” In an

October 2008 study, less than 3 percent of Protestant pastors agreed that they

had publicly endorsed candidates for public office during a church service that


Religion has emerged as a prominent issue in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Reporters are asking candidates questions about their religious faith and how

it relates to their approach to governance.

“Pastors and church people have strong feelings when it comes to moral issues

that some consider political, and historically churches have played a

significant role in shaping political opinions,” said Ed Stetzer, vice

president of research and ministry development at LifeWay Christian Resources. “Pastors,

however, clearly don’t think the pulpit is the place for politics, nor do they

think the church is the place for the IRS.”

Methodology of the survey: The August 2011 and October 2010 LifeWay Research

studies reported in this article were conducted by telephone among Protestant

pastors using the same methodology for both surveys. Churches were selected

randomly and each interview was conducted with the church’s senior pastor,

minister or priest. Size of church was controlled through interview quotas and

church location through statistical weighting to represent all Protestant

churches. The sample of 1,000 provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling

error does not exceed +3.2 percent for the total sample. Margins of error are

higher in subgroups. The 2008 voting intentions survey was conducted by phone in

October 2008 among 864 Protestant pastors and the June 2008 survey of Americans

included 1,208 adults randomly selected throughout the country in proportion to


(EDITOR’S NOTE – Submitted by the LifeWay bureau of Baptist Press.)