Churches are for praying, not campaigning

by Dennis Coday

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As a service to clients, Catholic News Service regularly reprints and makes available a "sampling of current commentary from around the Catholic press." Here is its latest offering, an unsigned editorial titled "Churches are for praying, not campaigning" which appeared in the Sept. 30 issue of the Rhode Island Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Providence.

As this election year proceeds, politics bombards us from all sides. Politics as usual knows no boundaries. Church festivals and carnivals become occasions for invasions of politicians and their operatives' lavishly spending money on doughboys and pressing the flesh of the electorate.

Even church on Sunday becomes a spectacle of shameful politicking as pols who haven't darkened the door since the last election mysteriously reappear and seek to be seen.

In some churches, pastors and preachers willingly turn over their pulpits to politicians seeking votes. Of course, this clash of the sacred and secular is nothing more than a crass campaign commercial and political pandering at its worst. In addition to an appalling incursion of the sacred, it is also clearly a violation of the Internal Revenue Service regulations regarding the political activity of religious groups and other nonprofits. While other religious groups allow political candidates unfettered access to their Sunday congregations, the Catholic Church universally seeks to abide by the IRS rules and overwhelmingly strives to avoid turning Sunday Mass into a rally for a political candidate rather than the prayerful worship of God.

Attending Mass on Sunday is an obligation for all Catholics and truly a commitment we hope that politicians strive to follow at all times in their lives not merely throughout election season. Indeed the church welcomes all Catholic politicians to seek out the sacraments of the church at Mass and even in the confessional box on a regular basis both in and out of election season. We also encourage all churches, synagogues, mosques and houses of worship to spend their valuable time worshipping God rather than showcasing politicians in their pulpits. After all churches are made for praying, not campaigning.

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