A survey of the National Association of Evangelicals’ board of directors found only one who tells members of his church who they should vote for. The unnamed member “comes from a minority group where church endorsements may be part of the tradition,” the head of the NAE said.
Evangelical Leaders Survey: No Candidate Endorsements (March 2008)
By the National Association of Evangelicals
Evangelical Leaders Survey
No candidate endorsements
When asked “Does your church advise parishioners who to vote for?” evangelical leaders answered with a resounding “No!” Most included the exclamation mark as part of their answer.
“Most survey questions produce a broad range of responses from evangelical leaders but this time was different,” according to Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. “Only one person answered yes. He comes from a minority group where church endorsements may be part of the tradition.”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey provides opportunity for responders to add comments but most simply said no. The head of one denomination did explain that “We do not advise who to vote for. We continually endeavor to have a prophetic note in our preaching that addresses the various social issues—especially on issues of justice. We then leave it to each parishioner to evaluate the candidates and to make their own personal decision about who they will vote for.” Others were more blunt, like the university president who insisted that “the pulpit is not the place for electioneering.”
A longtime New York City pastor answered no to the survey question and explained that his church does “encourage our members to know the candidates in all parties by conducting an annual Civil Government Sunday, which is attended by many of the elected officials of both major political parties.”
“The avoidance of politics in the pulpit and endorsement of any political candidates certainly fits my own experience with American evangelicals,” says Anderson. “It surprises me when I hear critics accuse evangelicals of promoting specific candidates. That is a long way from reality.” However, several who responded to the survey said that their churches distribute voter guides that detail candidates’ public positions on political and moral issues.
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of sixty denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.