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Virginia Attorney General Tells Pastors to Get More Involved in Politics

Virginia Attorney General Tells Pastors to Get More Involved in Politics

Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, has made quite a name for himself in the past few years with his loose interpretations of his job’s purview (for example, one of his legal opinions could cause almost all of Virginia’s abortion clinics to close).  And now, he’s coaching Christian pastors in how to get more involved in politics without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.  He held a training for Christian conservatives last week on this very subject, part of a longer-standing commitment to encouraging “godly” government.

At the training, according to Julie Ingersoll of Religion Dispatches, Cuccinelli “told pastors that they could personally endorse candidates, hand out voter guides, and speak to any political issue they choose.”  He then issued an imperative for them to get more politically involved, saying that if they didn’t, “the other side wins.”

Critics, including Rob Boston of Americans United for the Separation of Church, accused Cuccinelli of “polluting the pulpit.”  But as Ingersoll points out, it doesn’t seem that these organizations need much more encouragement for getting involved in politics, particularly with regard to abortion and gay marriage.

Cuccinelli outlined several of the issues that he’d like for church leaders to address, saying that same-sex marriage and abortion aren’t the only problems.  He urged pastors to push for more heterosexual marriages overall, saying, “We have an out-of-wedlock problem.  I mean, real men actually get married.”

It’s true that religious leaders are allowed to engage in advocacy, as long as they don’t endorse candidates running for office – something which Cuccinelli was careful to emphasize.  But it’s telling that the only religious leaders that Cuccinelli wanted to get involved in politics were extremely conservative.  It’s unclear when the line between unconstitutional mixing of church and state is crossed, but Cuccinelli certainly seems comfortable with dancing on the edge.  After all, he’s not just encouraging churches to become more active agents in the political scene – he’s telling them exactly which issues he wants them to address.  The question is: is there a legal difference between coaching religious leaders in political advocacy and telling them to get more involved?

Photo from kcvaag’s Flickr photostream.

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72 comments

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5:05PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

I'm adding to my previous comment. THE UNITED STATES IS NOT A CHRISTIAN NATION, BUT A MUTT NATION. AND I LOVE THAT WE HAVE SUCH GREAT DIVERSITY, THAT WE HAVE CULTURES AND IDEAS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD TO ADD TOGETHER FOR OUR PURELY AMERICAN CULTURE.

4:58PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Cuccinelli has no right to use his pulpit of A.G. office to put forth his own religious views. This steams me, as I believe that one of the greatest things our forefathers did was to separate church and state. They fled from the Church of England!

4:39PM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

Tax time for churches, do you know how much property is owned by the Roman Catholic Church. I don't think they pimp for the government though. I am glad I am old, I hate to see this happening.

2:18PM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

Voted No.

10:36PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

wrong post on the previous,oops

10:34PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

And NO the church getting into politics if they pay taxes is NOT a good idea, don't be daft!

9:29PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

I saw a bit of Michele Bachmann on some news show and the anchorman came right out at the beginning and mentioned the word kooky...I think.... and she got pissed that he even mentioned it,hahahahaha

8:13PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

I am all for Religion getting involved....as soon as they (all religions) pay taxes on their properties etc. If they want to remain tax free then they should not get involved with the government. I do think it would help the national debt if everyone did pay taxes.... Rich and religious.

7:38PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Politicsions have been useing religion for centuries to manipulate 'the masses'. We're just seeing it in slow motion now so we understand how they do it.

10:22AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

If the first amendment states that the government has no business interfering with religion then it should be only fair to have religion NOT interfere with government. Except in the rituals of course.

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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