Most People — And Perhaps Most Clergy — Don’t Want Political Endorsements In Church

By Andrew R. Lewis and Paul A. Djupe

Over at Five Thirty Eight, we explore public and clergy support for clergy endorsements of political candidates in reaction to Donald Trump’s Thursday (February 2) call to “totally destroy” the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which prohibits non-profits from electioneering. While there has been a bitter fight at elite levels between groups promoting separation of church and state (e.g., Freedom from Religion Foundation) versus those who desire a closer relationship (e.g., Alliance Defending Freedom), there is widespread public opposition to this practice.  And very few (surveyed) clergy approve of making such endorsements or have ever engaged in the practice. [Read more]

The following figure didn’t make it in the post, but it’s useful to visualize just how low support for endorsing candidates is and how few clergy report having *ever* done so.

Figure 1 – Clergy Support for and the Proportion Who Have Ever Endorsed Candidates.


Source: 2009 Cooperative Clergy Study.

Andrew R. Lewis is an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati. His research covers the intersection of religion, law, and politics in the U.S. You can follow him on Twitter and see more of his research on his personal website.

Paul A. Djupe is an affiliated scholar with PRRI, the former editor of Politics & Religion, and the series editor of Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics (Temple). Further information about his work can be found at his website.


  1. […] As far as obscure IRS regulations go, there is probably none more salient today than the Johnson Amendment. Enacted in 1954 and named for then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson, the regulation bars nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations—including churches—from explicit engagement in political activities (Andrew Lewis and Paul Djupe have helpfully broken down the history of and clergy response to the Johnson Amendment in a recent post). […]


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