I'm honestly torn on this one. It is one of the few topics on which I do not have a fully formed opinion.
Some of the language put out by those in favor of the status quo is pretty stupid:
They seem to have ignored completely what politicking would do to compromise the credibility and lessen the integrity of religion... They would seem to place more emphasis on getting a particular candidate elected to office than on preserving the historic ability of religion to reconcile people's differences.I suppose there is something to be said for religion's ability to "reconcile people's differences". But it's not like they want John McCain elected so that he'll buy new cushions for the pews. These candidates perform a duty in political office which is actually a lower calling than their call to serve God. We have a right to have a religiously formed opinion on these matters, and it is the job of pastors to help us form these thoughts.
There is something ghetto-ish about the whole thing. "You're going to compromise the the credibility of religion!" Well, religion is not doing terribly well in many circles, nowadays. I'm not sure that those who would be upset at the pastor's behavior are not those who already have a fully-formed negative opinion of religion and its place in the public square.
So I do have some respect for the idea that religion should not be married to politics. Congregations should have a political identity separate from their identity as churches. But endorsing a candidate is not to identify yourself with that candidate.
I also have a great respect for some of my Catholic pastors here in town and I am unwilling to believe that they are merely cowed by Big Brother into acquiesence. My thought is that they have their reasons.
The Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.If my religion says that I shouldn't vote for John McCain, is Congress prohibiting my free exercise by preventing my pastor from telling me so?
I would lean towards yes.