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October 18, 2004

Churches as Politcal Machines -- Opening Pandora's Box?

(New York Times, 10/18/2004

To the Editors:

The New York Times reported that for some bishops “there is only one way for a faithful Catholic to vote in this presidential election, for President Bush....”  Republicans bills, such as HR 235, allow religious groups to endorse political candidates and conduct partisan electioneering activities.

Political speech is the most fundamental free speech.  As churches become political machines, are they prepared for the implications that services are now political events?  Are ministers and worshipers ready for the excersize by others of their own free-speech rights?  Do worshipers really want to have to push their way through a gauntlet of protesters?  How long will it be before evangelicals are protesting at mosques, Catholics against Unitarians?  Will churches be available to those who disagree with them?

Our constitution separates religion from state and from speech so that each can have its protected domain of influence in our lives.  If we merge them, we will open a Pandora's Box of intolerance.

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