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pastor in pulpit

More Support Free Speech in the Pulpit, Less Trust in the IRS

By Tony Perkins

Few are expressing surprise at a new Pew Research survey showing that nearly three quarters of Americans agree “religion is losing influence in American life.” The survey finds only 30 percent of Americans believe that the Obama administration is friendly toward religion. Americans are witnessing our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage being driven out of our schools, our entertainment, our military, and our government. What has been left in its place has been called a naked public square. In the vacuum, we’ve seen all manner of things rush in to take its place — from an ugly sexualized pop culture, to the appalling phenomenon of teens “sexting” lewd pictures of their classmates.

However, the latest Pew Research survey may be capturing the beginnings of a backlash to this secularism. The media is buzzing about the growing number of Americans who want to see the church take a stronger role in addressing our cultural decline. In 2012, just 40 percent of Americans wanted to see churches address “political and social questions.” Two years later, that number has jumped 9 points to 49 percent.

The increase may also be driven in part by a backlash to last month’s news that the IRS told an atheist group that the agency would begin monitoring churches that speak freely about moral or political issues from the pulpit. The scandal-ridden IRS isn’t exactly in a position to win over Americans in its bid to massively expand it powers to police speech in the pulpit. Not surprisingly, pastors oppose the idea of the IRS censoring sermons that it doesn’t like. A 2011 ADF/Lifeway commissioned survey found almost 80 percent of pastors disagree with the IRS regulating sermons.

The Pew Research survey is an encouraging sign that our country may be more open to spiritual renewal than many realize. But the renewal that will reverse cultural decline begins in the pulpits of America. Please encourage your pastor to participate in this year’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which will be held on Oct. 5th. Go to for more information.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)


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