At the end of October, I heard speeches from an interfaith multi-racial group of clergy leaders who stopped here in Gettysburg as part of their travels around the commonwealth. They represented Power Interfaith, “a grassroots organization of over 50 Pennsylvania congregations committed to racial and economic justice on a livable planet.” As you know, concern is often expressed when clergy speak about political issues. What is actually prohibited is for clergy to endorse political candidates. Lyndon Johnson’s 1954 tax statute states that churches and other nonprofit organizations exempt from taxation “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office,” (IRS website).
What clergy may do is speak about social and political issues, just as they have for years by participating in the anti-abortion “pro-life” movement, for instance. The issue that especially concerns Power Interfaith is the growth of xenophobic Christian Nationalism, a movement seeking to affect both faith and nation. As Rev. Dawn Harmon from the group says, “We can declare that Christian Nationalism is a counterfeit. It doesn’t fit with what God is saying. Unlike true Christianity, it’s based on hate and separatism, while true Christianity is based on love.”