06/15/2004: "Churches Should Not Have Lobbies"
Crossing the line into the political arena is also an inappropriate act for a tax-exempt religious organization. In our country, donations to religious groups are tax-deductible, reflecting that honored place that religious organizations hold in American society and recognizing their role in making America a better place to live. However, it must be remembered that lobbying groups are not tax-deductible, in recognition of the ultimate aim of lobbying: to seek a political outcome that is favorable to the contributors to a particular group. When religious groups seek to impose their dogma on society at large, they move from being servants of the common good to aspiring masters of all. Legislators who would codify the dogma of a particular religion in law violate long American tradition as well as Constitutional principles, and risk creating a rift in the very fabric of American society, which, thank God, has so far been spared the scourge of religious conflict on the scale seen in so many places across the globe. The political power of religious groups in America is growing. Also growing is the demagoguery of those who would find political advantage in coupling the great engine of good and conflict that is religion to their political aims. Those who appreciate the dangers of governmental entanglement with religion must work to dissuade our own religious organizations from stepping beyond faith and service into the treacherous quicksand of political advocacy.